Are Arranged Marriages Better for Society?

On September 29th, a talk show about arranged marriages was hosted. For some reason, it sparked controversy. A couple of men and most women were upset about being forced to marry someone they didn’t love. Yet, over 50% of marriages fail. That means, even though most couples enter matrimony in the name of love, the fairytale ends with a divorce. If so many divorcees married for love and the majority are divorced, what happened? Is love enough?

For thousands of years, marriages were arranged. It’s a recent phenomenon that most people choose their own spouse. With an arranged marriage, you have the benefit of your parents and grandparents who shop for your mate. They have been watching specific families for compatibility. They would look at family values, attitudes of parents and children, socioeconomic class, ability to manage money, assets, etc. At the least, they would marry their offspring to someone in an equal socioeconomic class. At best, you can marry up. To do that, the children would have to be prepared to marry, understand their role and uphold the family name.

Today, you are on your own. On top of that, people are taught to be tough and independent. And the idea of compatibility has been replaced by love and romance. At the same time, women initiate 70% of divorces. Does that mean women don’t care about love? Does it mean women don’t value men? Or are men ignoring the needs of women?

In the gay community, 20% of the marriages between men end on divorce. As for lesbian marriages, 45% end in divorce. It seems women are having a difficult time getting along with anyone. In fact, the complaints in lesbian marriages are the same as heterosexual. It seems women are more likely to have unrealistic expectations about their partner or their ideas about how marriage works.

With that said, perhaps people are completely unprepared for marriage. Marriage is a legal binding contract between two people. Its origins have more to do with protecting generational wealth. It ensures the assets the couple acquired are protected and passed down to offspring.

Instead of entering marriage as partnership, there are many who have fallen into the trap of Hollywood love. That means lots of fun, excitement and surprise gifts. Frolic becomes the priority over building a legacy. When the excitement wanes, the so-called chemistry disappears. That is often the path to divorce. Or infidelity becomes a substitute. When fun and excitement are the priority, you find the brain secretes dopamine from the fun stimuli. When the person no longer receives dopamine rushes, they will seek it elsewhere. In reality, that is like being married to a drug addict. They cannot function without their high. Going to the gym is a much better way to get a dopamine rush.

On my talk show, we discussed how the US arrived in this state of dysfunctional marriages. For the most part, it began with a book written in 1819 by John Keats. The book is called, La Belle Dame sans Merci. It was one of the first romance novels. Initially the book had little to no impact on US culture. However, by the 1850s, women started to desire the romance they read in Keat’s novel. If you think about it, it may have been one of the most damaging blows to the institution of marriage. That book shaped how other romance novels were written. And it is responsible for Hollywood love themes. People have forgotten the intention of marriage. At one time, compatibility based on family values superceded love and frolic. Besides, over time, the couple in an arranged marriage would grow to depend on one another and affinity would form. Keat’s book derailed the old social structure and put society on a path of choosing a spouse based on feelings.

In addition, during the 1920s, the diamond company DeBeers created a slogan: diamonds are a girl’s best friends. Before the 20s, only rich men purchased diamonds for their wives. After the DeBeers’ campaign, all women expected diamonds. And they want a diamond that is larger than their friend’s or sister’s.

What’s more interesting is the idea of a man placing a diamond on a woman’s finger goes back to ancient Greece. The Greeks saw precious stones as having spiritual powers. Diamonds were known as the strongest stone. As a result, it symbolized protection. When a man left home for extended time periods, he would place a diamond on his wife’s finger to protect her while he was away.

The third aspect of society that has hurt marriage is the feminist movement. They convinced women that marriage is an institution where men completely dominate women. Men force women to take his last name. Then he influences her belief system and completely changes her. He also keeps her barefoot and pregnant. That mindset has women enter marriage with defensive and protective feelings. The marriage is doomed before it starts. Except, even lesbian marriages are failing. So it is not about men. So what’s missing?

In the past, parents and grandparents were involved in the selection of a spouse. While there were forced arrangements, there were many marriages that were created with the children’s best interest at heart. Parents want what’s best for their children. They would rather see their child in a healthy union, instead of one filled with strife. Through their experience, they may have a better idea of what is compatible with their child. That is not so much based on the child’s personality. It is based on values. When you add the grandparents to the equation, it becomes easier to match your offspring.

Compatibility and values is clearly demonstrated in the book, The Millionaire Mind, by Thomas Stanley. In his book, he writes about many millionaire couples he interviewed. He said they experience significantly less divorce than couples from lower socioeconomic classes. He said it was not money or image that kept them together. He found they were better at finding a mate who was compatible based on values. In fact, many of the millionaire couples did not have much money when they met. In other cases, the husband lost everything and the wife had to work. In some cases, they had success and later became homeless. Yet, they never split. The wife remained with the husband even when they had to sleep out of the car. At some point, their team effort allowed them to realize success.

I say that to say marriage is based on compatibility, not feelings or dopamine rushes. When it is an arranged marriage, the two families thoroughly explore other families to ensure the spouses and families are compatible. They may even have businesses that complement one another, like one owns a cattle ranch. The other owns a leather manufacturing business.

In today’s dating scene, when a man and woman are getting to know one another, a man can tell the women anything she wants to hear. When your parents and grandparents are seeking a spouse, they are interviewing the man and family. It is a serious process. Therefore, it will be much harder for a man to be a player, especially with the father and grandfather involved. They may want to know if the man can run the family business. Do you have the qualities of care and responsibility to look after their daughter and grandchildren? They are likely to ask questions and get answers. That means games are completely eliminated, which is the source of frustration for men and women today. When a woman is seeking a man on her own, she can be swept away by deception and the dopamine high. Conversely, the beauty and body of a woman can blind a man. When in fact, she may only care about his resources. And she has no intention of being a good caring partner to the man. In fact, she may even deny him access to her body by not having sex. There are many sexless marriages.

On a side note, many of you may squawk that you don’t want to marry someone you don’t love. On my talk show, I discussed a reality TV program called Beauty and the Geek. The show brought together 10 geeky men with 10 attractive women. The geeks proclaimed that these are women they would never have the guts to approach in real life. The women also stated that these are not the kinds of men that would interest them. Throughout the show, men and women teamed up to accomplish certain tasks together. As the show progressed, they rotated by teaming up with a different person. By the end of the show, it was amazing to see the affinity shared between them. The show was a social experiment that proved even unlikely people could create affinity. They simply need a bridge to bring them together.

To sum it up, arranged marriages could significantly reduce divorce in the US. If you leverage the wisdom of your parents and grandparents or aunts and uncles, you are more likely to choose or be paired up with a significant other based on compatibility. Since feelings are fleeting, love can come and go. However, compatible values can be a stabilizing force.

Furthermore, since parents want their offspring to marry the best person, it would be wise to educate and prepare them for their role as a spouse. First, that will make them a more attractive candidate. Second, they don’t have to play trial and error at everything. That gives the marriage a better chance of success.

When the marriage is arranged, both sides of the family are actively involved in the couple’s success. Because the entire family has a vested interest in the marriage, they serve as a support structure when the couple goes through a rough patch.

Finally, successful unions would benefit society as a whole. The more successful marriages that exist the more people look forward to participating in a union of some kind. Even corporate America will benefit. Imagine. On any given day, approximately 50% of the workforce is headed for a divorce, in the middle of one or just coming out of one. That affects work productivity. Most are distraught when facing divorce. If you eliminate divorce from society, you create a happier and more productive workforce. Everyone wins.

What do you think? I would love to hear your feedback. And I’m open to ideas. Or if you want to write me about a specific topic, connect through my blog