After a devastating breakup, many people tend to have a rebound relationship. In India, people have rebound marriages instead – also known as arranged marriages. Just to be clear, that’s not always the case; I was only being snarky because it’s true.
For those who are lucky enough to not know what an arranged marriage is, allow Merriam-Webster to explain it. As the term implies, it is “a marriage in which the spouses are chosen for each other by their parents”.
It goes without saying that the bride and groom may or may not be happy with this decision. Nor is it guaranteed that the union will blossom into love. While this is reason enough for arranged marriages to be banned in this day and age, I believe there are far more reasons why this archaic practice should be made illegal. Let’s take a look, shall we?
1. People will actively work on making themselves dateable
One of the biggest flaws of living in a society that approves of arranged marriages is that people do not work on themselves. The reason? They know that one way or another, their parents will manage to find a significant other for them. Since they are guaranteed to find a life partner irrespective of how problematic they are, they make zero effort to work on their character flaws.
Because whether they are abusive, unfaithful, self-centered, or plain boring, they will eventually be hitched. At the most, people focus on their career and appearance, which although important, is secondary to self-awareness and personal development. If arranged marriages are outlawed, people will have no choice but to learn the skills needed to attract a romantic partner into their lives.
2. Casteism will be replaced with intercaste and even interfaith unions
At the beginning of this article, I made a dark joke about ‘rebound marriages’ in India. Unfortunately, while people do indulge in this nonsense, a worse scenario is far more common: caste-centric marriages. Like people everywhere around the world, Indians too date before marriage, even though it is often in secret. Sometimes the relationship doesn’t last, and sometimes, people fall for each other. But many of them cannot get married even if they want to. Even when they are heterosexual and therefore, socially allowed to wed.
What stops them is the caste system, an ancient system that among other things, dictates people to marry within their caste. Let alone marriage, intercaste relationships are also taboo and reason to “honor kill” here in India. The arranged marriage system helps keep the caste system alive, due to which lovers are forced to marry on the basis of caste. Religion is also a major divider here, with interfaith marriages being just as taboo as intercaste marriages.
3. Ageism will reduce
The majority of us Indians believe that one is no longer marriageable past a certain age. Though times are definitely changing, there is no denying that ‘the right age for getting married’ criteria still holds major sway today. Owing to patriarchy, matters are worse for femalekind across all socioeconomic classes. Any girl past the legal age of 18 is literally or metaphorically hounded to “settle down while she has time on her side.” A 25-year-old single girl is regarded as a ticking time bomb. While a 30-year-old singleton has brought shame to her family.
Wait, did I say legal? I must be dreaming. Child marriage is a disgusting age-old custom that’s very much prevalent in my homeland. While the ingrained ageism of the arranged marriage system cannot be solely blamed, it cannot be denied that it does play a role in the existence of child brides in India.
4. An intimate partnership won’t become a family affair
An arranged match is the result of the approval of two families. And maybe it wouldn’t be so bad if the concerned families left the couple alone post the wedding. Sadly, that isn’t the case. It’s a commonly accepted notion here that marriage is not just between a couple, it is also between their families. Parents and even relatives think it’s their rightful place to interfere in a relationship that’s meant to accommodate only two people. Talk about toxic behavior!
Given that couples also cohabitate with the man’s family post marriage, the lack of boundaries and personal space becomes even more problematic and poisonous. The relationship suffers because couples are not allowed to resolve their issues by themselves. And if the marriage doesn’t work out and results in divorce, things become even more complicated.
While any Indian reading this will relate, people of other cultures may have a hard time believing modern India is still following such regressive conventions in the age of hookup culture and dating apps. If you are one of them, check out the show ‘Indian Matchmaking’ on Netflix, wherein a matchmaker called Sima Taparia exposed the ugly aspects of the great Indian arranged marriage.