American attitudes towards arranged marriagesWhy is it that Americans don't agree with Arranaged Marriages? 

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brettd | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

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Mainly I believe is because the concept of marriage in modern day Western Civilization is still quite different from societies such as China, India and Pakistan.  In the West we are still socialized to marry for love, and that romantic attachment between the individual and the institution of marriage is also religiously rooted in Christian society.


This wasn't always true, however, in dicier economic and social times, such as the 1800s or the Great Depression, Americans married for security and economics at much higher rates.  The pursuit of happiness was not nearly so high on the motivational scale as mere survival.  People also tended to have larger families and marrying off the kids to someone who was decent meant one less person you had to provide for.

In the societies where arranged marriages are still common, you do find more economic distress, larger families and a religious tradition.  So perhaps our view of these marriages is only different due to our high standards of living, and the multicultural, multi-religious nature of our population.

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Karen P.L. Hardison | College Teacher | eNotes Employee

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It is not true that all Americans are against arranged marriages. Americans of mixed national origins, such as newly immigrated families to the US, may adhere to arranged marriages. In addition, practitioners of the Unification Church beliefs adhere to the practice of arranged marriages. Having said that, the overwhelming majority of Americans are against arranged marriages for the basic reason of belief in the power of romantic love and the power to exert the right of choice. A popular American adage goes something like this: "If my choice is a mistake, then at least it was my choice and my mistake." The virtue of this reasoning must be felt as it can seldom be explained.

It seems that Americans have taken the principles of literary Romanticism to heart and held tightly on. It seems Americans are most aptly depicted as metaphorically the symbolic descendants Marianne and Willoughby in Jane Austen's Sense and Sensibility. Of course the more high-minded argument is that Americans turned the philosophical presupposition from community dependence to independence with advancement--even in love and marriage--being dependent upon merit (meritocracy) rather than upon externals of life. 

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rrteacher | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

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Arranged marriages were not at all uncommon in American history (though less so than in other cultures.) During the colonial period, in particular, as elites sought to solidify their position in society, they often used marriages as a means of doing so. It is important to understand institutions like arranged marriages in their cultural and social contexts. That said, there is almost no social, economic, or cultural factor that would incentivize this practice today, and so, as carol-davis has said, it won't catch on here, and indeed is weakening around the world. 

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carol-davis | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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As an American, I would never say that something is not appropriate for the country in which it is accepted unless it physically harmful to an individual.  If other cultures believe in arranged marriages, then they should continue with that custom as long as all of the parties are in agreement. 

For Americans, it is not a custom that I would find appropriate.  Although a lot of marriages are not successful, I still believe that everyone  has the right to find the person with whom he/she will spend his/her life.  

There are things that should be changed and required before a person should be able to marry even in America. 

Reconstructing marriage will require taking a serious, unsentimental look at a wide array of public policy decisions in the light of a new understanding of what marriage as an institution requires. . . .

  • The marriage age should be raised to 25. 
  • The couple should have to go marriage counseling or classes.
  • The parents on both sides should be involved more because they are a part of the family for the married couple. 
  • Divorce should be much harder to obtain. 

With these changes, marriage in American might be more successful. 

Why do I believe that arranged marriages are not appropriate for Americans?

By the time Americans are ready to marry, it is doubtful that they would listen to their parents in choosing someone for them to live with for the rest of their lives. 

As a parent, I might want to have discussion rights with my child concerning who she is marrying.  I would never want the responsibility for selecting my child's lifetime partner. The results might be the blame game when the  marriage did not work out. 

Americans teach their children to be independent and be able to make their own decisions. They want their children to stand on their own two feet.  If the parents selected who their children were to marry, it would seem to be hypocritical since the parent has taught independence. 

In our culture with so many differences in religion, class, finances, political beliefs, it would seem impossible to be able to put it all together for the child. That must be their responsibility. 

It is an old tradition to ask the father for the girl's hand in marriage.  This is about as far as the American's are going to allows parents to be involved. 

It is doubtful that anything like an arranged marriage will ever be a consistent part of the American culture. 

 

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tinicraw | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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Looking at different examples in English literature, arranged marriages were usually about land, title, and social climbing/acceptance. Catherine doesn't marry Heathcliff because he has none of these qualities in Wuthering Heights. In the Oscar Wilde's play, "The Importance of Being Earnest," Lady Bracknell emphasizes that one's name and social status are more important than education! But as immigrants found a new land in America, they also did not find "old money" or "old land." There weren't any old institutions to be accepted into by marriage. Early Americans had to marry those who could hack out a life on the frontier, bare many children and teach them to work and rough it in order to survive. I can't think of many, if any, works of American literature that concentrate on the arranged marriage as a principle of practice, possibly due to the reinvention of life as defined by those who came to America to change the way life was lived previously.

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Michael Ugulini | (Level 3) Educator

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Most Americans, and many in other countries, don't agree with the practice of arranged marriages because it is the antithesis of freedom of choice and the natural development of love. Arranged marriages have an aura of people being nudged, even coerced, into a relationship that is not always based on genuine feelings of attraction and common interests. This is not the case 100 percent of the time, but can be the case numerous times.

Americans want to make choices as befits their dreams and goals. The nation was founded on this principle. This applies to a host of areas in their lives. To put constraints on this choice is unnatural to Americans. Arranged marriages can be very successful -  that is not the issue here - the issue is making decisions concerning marriage based on total free will, without having to worry about what families who wish to arrange a marriage think and promote.

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e-martin | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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Generally speaking, arranged marriages are not part of American cultural tradition. That may seem like an unsatisfying explanation, but it has to fit into any conversation we have on American antipathy to the idea of arranged marriage in addition to other factors. 

I agree that American culture places an emphasis on free choice and self-determination. This marks our values regarding so many things, from religion to politics to financial decisions. Removing the power of choice from an American generally goes against the grain of the American value system. 

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litteacher8 | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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In general, I would suggest that Americans are very independent.  We tend to view arranged marriages as old-fashioned.  Yet, as the USA Today article points out, sometimes old-fashioned is not a bad thing.  The article describes the Unification Church’s methods of arranging marriages.

Arranged marriages like LaValley's may seem odd and outdated to modern Americans, but that's precisely the point, Unificationists say.  (USA Today)

The article also points out that in some religions and some countries arranged marriage is still actually quite common.  I think in general, however it begins, a marriage is a marriage and marriages are hard work.  Just because you love someone when you marry does not mean that love with last, and liking someone might grow into love.  There is no way to tell either way.

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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I believe that Americans don't like arranged marriages for two main reasons.  First, we believe too much in personal freedom.  We think that people should make their own decisions rather than having other people control our lives.  Second, we believe in love and romance.  We think that people should marry because they are in love with one another.  We do not think that they should marry because their parents think that they would make a good match or because there are business ties between the families or anything like that.  Because we believe in romance and in personal freedom, we don't like arranged marriages.

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maria-vivanco | Student, Grade 11 | (Level 1) Valedictorian

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Arranged marriages are usually arranged by parents. Americans aren't very fond of this because of the belief that everyone is free and should do what they want to do> Arranged marriages are viewed selfish because the people getting married have no choice in the matter. Arranged marriages weren't very popular in the US anyway because religion doesn't require it.  

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francy17 | Student, Grade 11 | (Level 1) Salutatorian

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It's probably because of the attitude promoted in society that everyone should do what they want with their own life, and also the growing disobedience to parents and not wanting someone to tell them what to do. Movies in the western culture display youthful attractive individuals enjoying each other, running away to live happily ever after, and doing whatever it takes to be together they will overcome the obstacles.

I do think too that selfishness has become a large part of arranged marriages. For example, his family is rich we are rich prefect match kind of thing.

I don't think that all Americans are against it; it's just not the popular thing anymore.

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