An arranged marriage is one in which a third party member selects a spouse for another individual, thus eliminating the courtship stage. Arranged marriage is a tradition widely practiced in Africa, the Middle East and South Asia, and it is typically a tradition that has been passed down through the generations. The practice is most prevalent in cultures in which casual dating is uncommon or discouraged. In such cultures, arranged marriages are considered the norm by young people.
In cultures where arranged marriages are prevalent, it is typically believed that traditional courtships are too driven by emotions and couples cannot make logical choices. The practice seems to be successful in some ways; statistics indicate that, in the United States, the divorce rate among couples that had arranged marriages is much lower than the national average divorce rate. Arranged marriages, on the other hand, place a greater emphasis on family and intergenerational relationships than the actual marital relationship.
Matches are typically selected by the young people’s families, but matchmaking agents, priests or religious leaders or another trusted third party may play a role in the choice. Parents who opt to select matches for their children typically have been matched by their own parents. In some cultures, parents feel pressure to play matchmaker, and if their children opt to find their own matches, it is considered a failure on the part of the parents.
Several factors are taken into consideration when deciding on a match. Such factors include caste, reputation, religion, vocation, language and age.