Sunday, 25 November 2012
It is common practice in modern Western society for a couple to fall in love and spend time together in order to get to know each other well before deciding to get married. In other cultures, religions, and societies, however, the order in which these events occur can be switched around.
The Unification Church, for instance, which was started in 1954 by Sun Myung Moon, still believes in the age-old practice of arranged marriage. Unification couples are set up by head members of the church. Marriages are held in mass ceremonies known as Blessing ceremonies at which hundreds of couples get married at once. Most couples getting married at these ceremonies have never before met, or met for the first time only days before, but they are determined to make these marriages work because they believe that because they were brought together by the church through the Blessing ceremony, their marriage is not sinful.
Additionally, some Eastern societies still predominantly practice arranged marriages. These marriages are usually set up by family members or religious leaders. Although the marriages are arranged by other people, today, it is no longer an obligation for the two people involved to go through with the marriage if they do not think it would work. It is now common practice for the couple’s families to arrange an introductory meeting time for the two people, and the couple-to-be takes the time to talk. If the two people feel, from this initial introduction, that they could make a lasting relationship work, they proceed to set up a wedding date; if not, they break off the arrangement.
Do arranged marriages generally work out? Although their marriages are generally arranged, the Unification Church has a much lower divorce rate than the general population. Today in the United States, about 50% of marriages end in divorce; among members of the Unification Church, that rate is only 30%. Many people argue, though, that these statistics are not indicative of the success rate of arranged marriages in general. After all, in order to be a practicing member of the Unification Church, a person must live up to certain moral and religious principles that the general population, as a whole, does not commonly observe.
In India, arranged marriages set up by family members or professional match makers are the norm. The divorce rate is only 1.1%. Of course, in India, there are societal pressures to remain married, as a couple who divorces brings great shame upon the entire family; therefore, it is doubtful that this statistic accurately illustrates couples’ satisfaction within their arranged marriages. It is also believed that the low divorce rate in India, as well as other countries in that region, is partially a result of their society’s repression of women. In some cultures, women are very much still dictated by men and are still considered "property."
Of course, an arranged marriage and a marriage in which love is present are not mutually exclusive. Many people in arranged marriages say that although they were not in love with their partner when they married, over time, they grew to love their partner as they spent more time with that person through living their daily lives together and being forced to work in a partnership.
Are there lessons about marriage in general that we can take away from those who are in arranged marriages? Why do you think the divorce rates among people in arranged marriages are so low?