real life

'I'm 20 years old and I'd let my parents arrange my marriage.'

Alex Lilly


I’d let my parents arrange my marriage.

Wait. Although my mum’s side of the family is Indian and arranged marriages have happened within my extended family, I’m not talking about that kind of ‘arranged’, the one that involves a 12 year-old girl being whisked off to somewhere like India or Pakistan/Afghanistan/any country with the suffix ‘-stan’, forced to marry a sweaty, balding, 50 year-old man.

I don’t mean like that.

Just to clarify, I am certainly in no hurry to get married and I’m not even from a traditional Indian family. I just turned 20, I’m half way through my degree and even though I have a boyfriend I’m pretty happy with, I am nowhere near ready to be a wife.

But if I were ever single and ready to find my better half, my parents would be the first people I would go to for guidance.

Modern arranged marriages are very different. These days, if the girl were keen, then her parents (only with her full consent, of course) would try to find someone who fits her requirements of looks, religion, career and if they’re from a good family, for example. The girl will receive photos and can reject as many people she likes. When she meets someone who she clicks with, they’ll meet up, get to know each other and the rest is pretty straightforward. Done.

Plus, if you’ve ever seen Bend it like Beckham, you’ll know that the Indian community is like a slick communication network that will be able to find you plenty of suitable candidates. Like eHarmony, but better.

Although many people think it’s all about religion and ancient culture, the modern process has its benefits. So here are four reasons why I would let my parents be my wing man and woman…

Number 1: Values

They have the same as I do, ranging from political beliefs to sense of humour. Not only have my parents taught me what sort of person I should be, I would trust them to spot someone who they thought I would be compatible with. And even though my mum likes to dress our dogs up and my dad’s ‘dad jokes’ are cringe-worthy at times, they have got their heads screwed on properly and would be pretty good matchmakers if the time came.

Number 2:  I don’t want to get divorced. Ever.

Arranged marriages used to be about keeping the culture alive and although it sounds clinical and unromantic, it’s actually quite effective, especially with divorce rates skyrocketing. Don’t get me wrong, I love the idea of falling head over heels with my own Mr. Darcy and all that old-fashioned romance, but when it all boils down, I want a marriage that my husband and I would be happy in.

My maternal grandparents all dressed up

Number 3: It’s in the family and it worked.

My maternal grandparents were young Sikhs and had never met when they were married. It sounds very traditional (to be fair, it was) but they loved each other until the day they died. And, even though I was pretty young when that happened, everyone who met them agreed that they were perfect together talk about it years on.

Number 4: After a while, dating isn’t fun.

I know friends who have been with commitmentphobes, narcissists and greasy sleazeballs, just to name a few stereotypes. I’m not ruling it out altogether, I mean I haven’t had much experience, and we all need those stories of heartbreak and horror to talk about and to learn from, but life’s too short to spend countless dates with another guy who “just got out of a serious long-term relationship.”

In an article from the New York Times earlier this year, Brian J. Willoughby, an assistant professor in the School of Family Life at Brigham Young University said that because arranged marriages remove all the anxiety and butterflies of traditional dating, they can actually work. He says, “Arranged marriages start cold and heat up and boil over time as the couple grows. Non-arranged marriages are expected to start out boiling hot but many eventually find that this heat dissipates and we’re left with a relationship that’s cold.”

It sounds logical; all the “he loves me, he loves me not” business is left behind and both parties know what they’re getting into straight away. You know how people say that you have to kiss a lot of frogs before you find your prince? Turns out, the world is crawling with frogs. And I don’t want to hang around for the prince and I don’t want to deal with the frogs.

I talked about this with my sister and she said that whilst she’d want our parents’ approval of the man in question, she’d want to pick the guy herself. After all, she said, she’s the one who’s getting married and who’ll have to deal with the person till death do them part.

Fair enough.

But as for me, if normal dating fails me, I know two people who have never failed me.

Alex is an intern at Mamamia and iVillage Australia, a second year journalism student at UTS and a Mean Girls nerd. When she’s not eating, sleeping or waiting for the next royal wedding/baby to come, you can find her tweeting here and blogging here.

Would you ever let your parents chose your partner? Who do you think they’d choose for you?

00:00 / ???