The words “arranged marriage” tend to bring up visions of Old World, outdated traditions, but did you know that many in the modern world still find success in these unions? Even in countries like the United States, where most couples choose their own spouse, matchmaking services are becoming more common. The adherents of certain religions, such as Orthodox Judaism and Hinduism, still largely practice some form of arranged marriage. A hallmark of the Unificationist tradition is its parent-guided engagement process and Holy Marriage Blessing ceremony, and many Christians adhere to the courtship model, where parents are much more involved and children date with the clear expectation of marriage.
Arranged marriage isn’t for everyone, but with favorable statistics such as low divorce rates, it’s worth looking into the ways in which arranged marriages approach love. Even those who don’t have an arranged marriage can learn from these unions and might consider adopting some of these practices and attitudes:
Involve the Family
This may seem antithetical to the modern, independent person, but involving the family in the marriage process has some definite benefits. Our parents know us better than we think, and can give perspective based on their experience. We all know, at least theoretically, that when we marry, we don’t marry only our spouse. Usually that union comes with a whole new family.
For couples who have involved their parents in the engagement process, it’s much easier heading into marriage knowing that everyone is on board. There’s a whole support system of people cheering them on. While it’s not essential, most couples will tell you that the support or lack thereof makes a huge difference in the success of their marriage. You don’t have to have your parents pick your spouse in order to reap these benefits. Talk to them, ask them questions, and listen to their advice. Let them meet and get to know the people in your life, including any significant others.
Prioritize Emotional Bonding over Physical
Physical intimacy is an essential part of a healthy love relationship, but it also has a way of clouding our vision. The rosy glow of new love sometimes can distract us from important warning signs or from asking certain questions that could be deal-breakers down the road. Getting to know someone, their hopes, dreams and plans for the future, is a big part of an even deeper kind of intimacy, the kind that leads to lasting relationships.
Speaking of plans for the future, make sure to ask the tough questions before getting in too deep. What are your deal-breakers? Couples who come together through a third party focus on growing love over time. In the beginning it often comes down to these kinds of practical but crucial considerations. Take a look at this list of questions to ask before you get married, for some ideas.
Get Real about Love
We’ve all heard it 20 billion times, but it’s worth repeating: Love is NOT just an emotion. Yes, we can feel love, but we also have to build it, nurture it and practice it even at times when our spouse is being a complete jerk. Isn’t real love about two partners who strive to bring the best of themselves to the relationship?
While we’re on the subject, can we also forget about Prince Charming and Cinderella? Nobody is perfect. If we are waiting around for someone who is, it’s going to be a long, lonely life. It’s not about finding the perfect person, or even “the one,” whatever that means. Here is where couples of arranged marriages think practically. Instead of looking for perfect, they prioritize. What are the traits that are most important in the person with whom you will spend the rest of your life? Honesty, loyalty, compassion, selflessness? Instead of thinking about who you would like to sit next to on a picnic in the park on a perfect spring day, ask yourself, “Who do I want next to me when my mom is in the hospital and I was fired from my job and my dog got hit by a car?” Committing to marriage means being in it for better or worse—and there is always a worse. There will be tough times, and that’s where true love really shines through.
So there you go! You don’t need to have an arranged marriage to gain some of its benefits! Even those of us who are already married can use these tips as a refresher. Bottom line, marriage is a commitment that should not be entered into lightly. It’s also beautiful and fulfilling. There will be ups and downs, but you’ve got a lifetime to figure it out!