The divorce rate is much lower (4-6%) for arranged marriages than for traditional ones (40-45%). India leads the world with the lowest divorce rate (1.1%) with 90% of their marriages being arranged in some fashion. Are arranged marriages better than love matches? There are pros and cons to each type.
In some cultures, especially Asian and Middle Eastern ones, divorce is less acceptable than in the Western world. Spouses may be informally separated which would not be reflected in the divorce statistics. In areas where domestic abuse is higher, there may not be a support system in place for women wanting to leave their husbands. Some families paid a dowry, so disentangling is more complicated. Having a divorced offspring may bring shame to a family. These are external forces keeping a couple together.
Parents or matchmakers determine the personality traits, outlooks, interests, and temperament of a person and find a suitable mate with similar qualities. The young people are from the same background, educational level, class, and religion to ensure compatibility. Some of the divorces in the West are due to vastly different backgrounds which become insurmountable when problems surface down the road. The parents check on potential mates’ backgrounds and more modern ones may hire a private detective.
It is a myth that a man and a woman do not meet until their wedding day. The Qur’an also states that consent is required by both parties and they must meet before the wedding. Muslim parents may select a potential partner, but the two talk to each other (supervised) to ensure they are comfortable with the suggested choice. If these two young people do not like each other, then the match making process starts over.
Hindus and other groups have the young people meet to determine compatibility and if they could make a go of the marriage. Some match makers show a person photos of prospective partners and eliminate the definite nos. This is not about forced marriages or child betrothals.
Parents are realizing that with dating sites, women in the workforce, universities, and out in the world, that some love matches are inevitable. When this occurs, parents on both sides then take over the arrangements. They meet each other, check on the backgrounds, and finances before giving their blessing. They would then arrange the wedding. This is a more hybrid type of arranged marriage.
In a traditional situation a young couple may fall in love and the relationship sizzles with passion. The flame burns brightly and disillusionment can set in when the flame starts to die. Some of us are guilty of not really seeing a guy as he really is, but rather focus on the sexual part of the relationship. In arranged marriages, it is just the opposite. They start out in neutral and as they get to know a potential partner or spouse, love grows. The fireworks come later in the marriage and this may be one reason why the divorce rate is lower.
In arranged marriages, it is two families merging together, so there is motivation to help the couple with problems that crop up in their relationship. Elders and other higher ranking people may be a part of the match making process, so are invested in that relationship. The couple then receives community support and encouragement which is sometimes lacking in traditional marriages. Having this network can assist with this life transition.
How can traditional marriages have better divorce statistics like arranged ones? The happiest ones that I have witnessed have been ones where the couple came from similar backgrounds, such as marrying the boy next door. In these cases, families may already know each other, which makes it smoother for the couple. When the two families are helping the couple, seems like interfering in-laws would be less of an issue.
Pre-marital counselling helps with learning communication patterns, discussing finances, and discovering if they are compatible. Problem areas are addressed. I had several callers in a radio interview ask me the percentage of people not getting married after pre-marital counselling indicated that the couple was not a good match. Good question.
In arranged marriages, the community is behind the spouses and if the community supported a couple in the West, perhaps this would lower the divorce rate. Realistic expectations regarding sexual passion long-term, may enable couples to enjoy companionship that comes with a stable marriage. However people get together, respect and communication are essential ingredients for a strong marriage.