Middle Eastern and South Asian countries are known for arranged marriages. What is an arranged marriage? To simplify the term, it basically means your family or an extended family member/friend sets up your marriage with someone you had little or no contact with whatsoever. This may mean that you’ll be meeting your significant other for the first time on your wedding day at the ceremony because your parents believe they are more wise and in a higher authoritative position to make a right decision for their child. This is a common practice in many cultures, including my very own – Pakistan.
Fact: Percent of marriages in the world that are arranged is 53.25%. Now that is a higher statistic than love marriages. This is something that has been happening for hundreds and hundreds of years. My own dear parents met for the first time on their wedding day. Just imagine exchanging looks with a stranger one minute and in the next, that same stranger is whom you’ll now be calling your spouse. I am not justifying this practice because both types of marriages do have their own pros and cons, but studies show that arranged marriages are more successful than love marriages. Again, not taking any sides; everyone has their own belief and each marriage has its own circumstances/story. So back to my parent’s story – that was 34 years ago and not surprisingly, this custom, as we Asians like to call it “rasam,” is still alive and being practiced as a dignified tradition. But just like the world is changing and everything is becoming more modernized, so have arranged marriages. In today’s day, in many cases a “semi-arranged marriage” takes place.
The idea is still similar with a prospective, suitable match being found for the guy/girl. The difference now is that many individuals are able to exchange numbers and have actual face to face meetings before any serious decisions are made. Although some used to have this chance before too, it has only recently become fairly common. Now, as society has advanced along with the modern world, more and more families are observing this. This tradition is being maintained in a way that culture is still holding its same value and respect. It really depends on how open- or close-minded your family is to this idea and to what extent. To give you a meaningful example, if I may say so, I consider myself to have a “semi-arranged marriage” instead of the typical “arranged marriage”. My husband and I were given the option to reject the wedding proposal before the marriage took place. My husband and I were able to exchange conversations on the phone. Alhamdulillah (all praises and thanks to God), we were able to meet and get to know each other before tying the knot.
Keeping the culture and religion in mind, many of our meet-ups were with older relatives present with us, whether it was an aunt, uncle and/or cousin. Semi-arranged marriages also have boundaries to maintain and enforce to prevent dishonor on both families.
So to wrap it up, YES, semi-arranged marriages are REAL. I am one of the thousands of people as a “sample” or “case” you could say.
Why not give you guys a little briefing on how my semi-arranged marriage is going?If I have to describe my experience thus far in one word, I would say BLESSED. Believe it or not, I was one of those brown girls raised in New York City who had the thinking “oh nah, I would never marry a guy my parents choose.” Even till this day, when I run across an old friend from high school or college and they ask about my marriage, they get stunned to hear that I did a semi-arranged marriage. Now, you’re probably thinking what caused me to change my mind.. hmm, I would be too. I grew up watching a lot of Bollywood movies and wanted that fairytale love story. But with time, you realize it’s not realistically that easy. Everything falls in place at the right time. You have to put your faith in God and trust Him. He will work His magic in ways you’d never expect. My mom would always tell me about marriage proposals and I would right away say no without hearing anything about the guy. One day, I randomly said to her, “You know what? I think I’m interested in marriage.” A few months passed and she told me about a proposal (from Umer, the man whom I married). I automatically first stalked his Facebook page, haha. And so, from there it all started. Alhamdulillah, I am so glad for changing my view point on arranged marriages because that led me to my paradise on Earth, in this duniya.
Disclaimer: I am not here to encourage or discourage any sort of marriages. Everyone is free to their own will. God bless all!
I got it from my mama xoxo