Arranged marriage -- where spouses do not choose each other -- is an unfamiliar and unpalatable idea to most people in the Western world. But those who practice the tradition believe that arranged marriages improve family ties and ensure a good match for their children. In fact, according to senior research psychologist and author Dr. Robert Epstem, arranged marriages have a lot of benefits -- but there can be many downsides as well.
Removes Courtship Period
The rules of courtship vary depending on the culture. In some cultures, the couple are not allowed to be alone together, and while the individuals may have some say in who they marry -- the parents, for example, might give their son a choice of three different girls -- the partners have little time to really get to know each other. That means there is not much chance for any romance to develop, nor for them to be able to tell what it will really be like to be married to the other person. The fun of dating a wide range of people -- which also teaches you a lot about how a good relationship works -- is removed from the equation.
Narrows the Choices
Because the family is heavily involved in the arranged marriage, it can be very difficult for the prospective bride or groom to get a word in edgewise. Although arranged marriages are different from forced marriages -- in the latter, the bride has no choice -- it can still be difficult to say no to an arranged marriage when there is so much pressure from the family to say yes.
Eliminates Other Options
In some cultures, an arranged marriage means that, instead of a woman going to college, she is expected to start having children and tending to her husband's needs. In this case, an arranged marriage can remove other life options for the woman in the marriage. It doesn't mean she can't go to college eventually, but it might be much more difficult for her to do so.
Focuses on the Superficial
In some cultures, the most important things to consider are the appearance -- skin color, height -- of the potential spouse, and his or her socioeconomic standing, especially when it comes to the man's occupation. Many who believe in love matches might find these things to be rather superficial.
Traps the Spouse
Divorce is rare in arranged marriages, because they start out as a practical arrangement and if the couple doesn't get along, it just means that they should work harder on the marriage -- love and emotion don't really come into play. But this can make it very difficult to leave the marriage if there is abuse -- the family might not want to admit they made a mistake in choosing the spouse -- or if one spouse simply doesn't want to be married any longer.