If you're anything like me, the idea of an arranged marriage is a foreign and, frankly, startling thought. The idea of someone else choosing my spouse is not one I like to entertain, but research suggests that there's a lot more to arranged marriages than we might suspect.
Take a look at these statistics:
40-50% of married couples from the United States or Canada end in divorce.
Only 4% of couples in an arranged marriage get divorced.
Couples in arranged marriages tend to feel more love for one another as time goes on.
Couples in love marriages tend to feel significantly less love for one another as time goes on.
Those stats say A LOT. Why are marriages arranged by parents or a matchmaker so much more successful than those initiated by love? Here's what the research says:
Every step is INTENTIONAL
Whoever is arranging the marriage takes plenty of time to thoughtfully consider marriage options. They study how compatible potential pairs would be. They juxtopose life goals, important traits and family circumstances when making a decision.
This process helps foster a sense of determination in each individual. They couple plans on making it work, and when the going gets tough — they do too! They make the conscious decision to stick together through better or worse.
As time goes on and these couples intentionally focus on loving their spouse, they gradually find they really do love each other. That love continues to grow over time.
Someone may choose who their supposed to love, but each individual seems to take it upon themselves to love that choice.
And then there's us
Why do our marriages fail too unsettlingly often? This article suggests that marrying for love indicates a heavy dependence on passion as a main motivator in a relationship. Research suggests this passion blinds us. As time goes on and the fire of infatuation dies, so does the relationship.
Dr. Robert Epstein of Harvard suggests that the growing love in arranged marriages surpasses the dying love of love marriages by about the fifth year after the union. He draws attention to the fact that the Western idea of marriage is largely based on lust or attraction.
The Disney dream
In the West, we're more culturally inclined to seek after the Disney dream. We meet the person of our dreams, fall in love hard and fast and live happily ever after. In reality, the apparent fate-driven forces that bring us together may also set us up for swift failure.
When we no longer feel the same romantic love for our spouse that we used to feel, we may see it as a sign that the relationship should end. While harship may tear us apart, Epstein says that in arranged marriages, "They get married knowing they won't leave, so when times are harder - if they face injury or trauma - they don't run away. It brings them closer."
Love on purpose
That's the takeaway. Love marriages are NOT destined to fail. No marriage is destined to fail. Do as arranged couples do and form your own destiny. Love is just as much a verb as it is a noun. If you're less in love with your spouse than you used to be, try working to love them. Make it purposeful. Plan on it.