My opinion on arranged marriages
In many countries in the world, arranged marriage is still a common practice even today. Outcried as archaic by many in the west, people in other countries – for example, in India – maintain that the tradition forms an integral part of their culture, with many benefits to both the men and women that are subjected to it, and society as a whole.
Could this be true? In light of rising divorce rates and more and more western adults deciding not to marry, it is easy to decry Western traditional values as crumbling away. However, one should keep in mind that the reasons for this are manifold and cannot be summarized in a quick one-liner. By no means should one jump to the oft-repeated conclusion that “in a Western love relationship marriage is often the end of love”. Instead, many married couples realize as they live together that the greater freedom that Western women enjoy today – the freedom to work and have a career being one of the most important ones – often clash with the cross-cultural cliches of how a marriage is supposed to work, with the man being provider and breadwinner and the woman staying at home and raising the children. Thinking along these lines also reveals one of the greatest flaws with any “marriage before love” propaganda: while a woman can indeed learn to love the husband she has been assigned, it is much harder to love the implicitly assigned role as a rote house worker and underprivileged citizen of society. For arranged marriages always come with an often unrecognized flaw: to arrange a marriage, one has to have a certain preconception of what each partner wants. And while in an ideal world these preconceptions would indeed match what the spouses-to-be actually desire, there is a real danger of these preconceptions being based in traditional values, which will result in a marriage where the woman has to make a choice between fulfilling the role she has been assigned, and living a life of freedom and with the opportunity for personal growth.
I am not saying that arranged marriage necessarily produces an unfree relationship, and yet it is necessarily the product of an unfree society. For even the couples for who it works and who can have a stable and happy arranged marriage without either having to make concessions beyond the Western normal have been deprived of one of the Modern era's most important freedoms: the freedom to explore both who you really are, and what you really want, in the search for a partner.