A marriage does not just come down to ‘love’ or ‘arranged’

Published: July 15, 2012

The success rate of marriage doesn't depend upon whether it was arranged or not but rather on how two people understand each other.

A few days ago, whilst skimming through the The Express Tribune, I came across a blog entry titled “Why one should love arranged marriages,” by Sidrah Moiz Khan. Ms Khan’s piece set out to discuss the age-old debate of arranged vs. ‘love’ marriage. However, rather than giving a balanced account the author, being an ardent supporter of the former method of union, gave a diatribe that seemed more suited for Khawateen Digest (Women’s Digest).

As such, I felt the need to formally reply to Ms Khan’s blog.

Before I begin, I wish to clarify something. I find the terminology chosen by the author to be beyond irksome; I am referring to the distinction made between ‘arranged’ and ‘love’ marriage. The reason being that this distinction manages to associate many negative connotations to a ‘non-arranged’ form of union.

I am often left bewildered. How can a marriage of any kind be without love? Surely that is a key component in a successful marriage. I suggest that we correct our terms of reference. As such, I will use the terms ‘traditional’ and ‘non-traditional’ to substitute for ‘arranged’ and ‘love,’ respectively.

The article begins:

“One only finds the recipe for matrimonial bliss, after coming to terms with it (drawing room meetings)”.

From the very on-set the author advises ‘young girls’ to remain submissive and to spinelessly accept that being judged in the comfort of their own homes is a ‘rite of passage’ of some kind. This is the crux of the issue. Surely, we should promote an individual’s active participation in the matter of marriage, or shouldn’t we not?

It is after all one of the biggest decisions of their life, no?

Then the article goes on to say:

“Arranged marriages may seem awry to some, but you only realise when you have undergone or seen cases in which love marriages don’t quite prove to be the best way out.”

Forgive me, for I do not see how this bolsters the positive aspects of traditional marriages in the slightest.

Marriage is a gamble regardless of how it happens to come about. It is destiny, it is fate. How we make it work is down to how we are raised and educated. Respect and equality are values that children must be instilled with anyway. Life is full of hurdles and accepting defeat when faced with marital disputes would be plain ridiculous. Reacting rationally to such situation is an ability that we should teach our children, to prepare them for any kind of problem not just marital.

The success rate of marriage doesn’t depend upon whether it was arranged or not but rather on how two people understand each other; how their perceptions differ or concur with each other; how patient or impatient are the couples in slippery situations.

The author further states:

“People who usually fall in love are bound to be blinded by passion that love ignites in you. On the contrary, arranged marriages are well-thought out, considered and then arranged.”

Oh, really, is that the case then? Well this might not be if we are educated to respect the sanctity of marriage as a union to begin with.

We must realise that this is probably the biggest decision of one’s life and not something to be embarked upon on a whim. Those ‘blinded by passion’ are clearly not in love but are merely infatuated. Yet, we would not know the difference between the two because we, as a society, are taught to fear the very notion of ‘love’. Even uttering the word in a conversation is treated with astounding negativity.

Remember that love doesn’t automatically warrant ‘bahayai’ (indecency) or ‘baygairati’ (vulgarity). It is a natural phenomenon. Do not fear it, embrace it. After all, it is the ultimate aim of traditional marriages that you so solemnly support, is it not?

Then the article shines some light over parents and their benevolent intentions:

“Parents want the best for their child; when it comes to choosing someone you want to spend your life with, you can actually give benefit of the doubt to your parents.”

Perhaps in an ideal society all parents would be well intentioned as you would like to believe. But even if they are, this is beside the point. Parents are not the ones getting married, are they now? Parents must encourage children to grow up to make their own decisions in life, and this goes for career choices too and many other facets of their children’s lives.

It seems to me that some of us have found an exit strategy by pinning down the blame over our parents shoulders in case our marriage fails; definitely easier then owning up to your own shortcomings for sure. Even in an ‘arranged’ affair of marriage, parents must encourage their child to engage in the decision-making process and to actively consider the outcomes themselves.

Ultimately, everyone is entitled to their own opinion and in no way do I intend to berate either form of union. We often say everything is down to fate. However, there is only so much that is predetermined. We must differentiate right from wrong and blind traditions from religion.

I am not suggesting that one form of marital arrangement trumps the other. I merely wish to convey that failure of one does not make the other better or vice versa. Regardless of the form of union, whether love or arranged, we must concentrate on preventing their breakdown by taking the matter of marriage seriously from the very start when decisions are made.


Maryyum Mehmood

A British-Pakistan who really identifies deeply with her roots.As of September she will be enrolling at King's College London for an MA in South Asia and Global Security. She Tweets @marymood

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • NO JOY

    In an arranged marriage all your relatives and so called well wishers push you into a well,however in a love marriage you willingly jump into one.end result is same…Recommend

  • A.

    Very good. You look younger than the other author from your pic but your article is a lot more sensible than hers.Recommend

  • http://computerandyou.net Abhishek

    Yupe… It could be accidental as well… :PRecommend

  • Sidrah Moiz Khan

    Thanks. Your opinion changed my perspective completely. Love marriage here I come!!Recommend

  • B.

    Awesome article … you have a great future in writing Recommend

  • Cynic

    So are you in favor of hanging on for 10 years to better understand each other and then get married and at some point get divorced as it happens in the west. Misunderstandings can arise any time.Recommend

  • manish

    @ author:
    let’s go back to the time when traditional marriages were in vogue.
    As far as i can recollect from my childhood, though it is quite faint recollection, that back then we had joint families and member of several generation lived under one roof.

    the house was divided in two parts: JANANA & MARDANA.
    the elder males never ventured into JANANA, and even if the situation demanded so, they always made loud sound before entering the portion, so that all the ladies recognise, and be civil.
    likewise, even young husbands seldom talked to their own wife in public, let alone showing any sort of affection. they had to take all their decision by themselves, and consulting female folks was considered insulting for a man’s honour.

    also, womans entire life was spent within the for walls of house, with other ladies and they never even new the roads of their own village let alone knowing about the geography of the entire country. only thing which brought them intimacy was the act of procreation, and even that was possible only during night. So the maximum time that you could spend with your wife was barely an hour, and even before you develop any kind of bonding with your wife, you were already father to 4-5 kids, at the age of 25 years.
    you would get busy in raising childrens, and most of the time couples celebrated golden jubliees, without really knowing each other(this i know from personal experience, as their daily bickerings knew no end, and the only thing that brought them together was some close relatives death, and nothing short)
    and actually there was no need of even knowing each other. since you married into a family of your father’s knowledge. your well-being rested on your father-in-law, your economic need was taken care of by mother-in-law, and your husband bringing anything solely for you was frowned upon,
    so this kind of system suited for agricultural societies, and the modern life based on industry and service sector, can hardly afford that stagnation, so it forces us to change our ways..
    but old habits die hard…we will keep them till we choke ourselves.

    SINCE TIMES HAVE CHANGED. and if you go for love marriage, you have to take responsibility for your failure..
    if arrange marriage fails, you have the luxury of blaming your mother, father, and the entire society.
    And as the society changes further and further, you will find the debate shifting closer to love marriage.
    PS: sorry for the long story, but it should make it clear that arranged marriage is a kind of anachronism in today’s world..Recommend

  • Parvez

    Your choice of ‘traditional’ and ‘non-traditional’ to substitue for ‘arranged’ and ‘love marriages’ is way off the mark . If you had skipped that part your write up has made some good debatable points.Recommend

  • Qasim

    “Marriage is a gamble regardless of how it happens to come about. It is destiny, it is fate. How we make it work is down to how we are raised and educated. Respect and equality are values that children must be instilled with anyway.”

    This is the crux of the article and so very true. Thanks for writing…Recommend

  • B.


    lol you’d let the brilliant points made by the author be disregarded over the matter of semantic, how idiotic Recommend

  • SAK

    In our society divorce rate is far lesser than many countries, does it make marriages more succesfull. No, coz, The matter lies purely on how you measue the succes of a marriage.
    In my opinion few years of good relation in one case (ofcourse spending all life with loved one is better) may be better than spending all your life just trying to keep it intact.

    Please be open to divorces, it would realy make our marriages better rather than worse. Recommend

  • Luckless

    Phases after marriage are very important and quick decisions can spur one into a lifetime regret if marriage is not working on successfully. Egos must not come in between and crisis in life that pose a serious threat to couples should be dealt with more maturity then with pressing a panic button or something.Recommend

  • Sindhu

    The previous blog was so idiotic, I think you shouldn’t even have bothered to write a reply.Recommend

  • http://India Feroz

    Firstly, it is rare to see a marriage that is “made in heaven”. Secondly, there is a big difference between dating and living together. Both love as well as arranged marriages have equal chances of success/failure. When one is young the hormones are buzzing and this causes aberrations – infatuation or lust is often mistaken for Love. It takes at least a few years of living together for a couple to really know if they are compatible and love each other.Recommend

  • Muhammad

    I think in the end its all about your personal choice including the right to choose an arranged marriage. Things cant be defined always in the western sense specialy when we dont have enough social and pyschological research of our own community.

    A study was conducted in school children where two groups asian and american children were asked to choose a colour they like after telling them a colour that their moms chose for them. The results showed that asian children chose the one their parents liked and were more happy with that choice.

    Thus the criteria for hapiness is diffrent in our culture and should be taken as such.

    What should be discussed is the importance of improving the marriage laws and awarness about them rather than discussing a personal choice of a person.Recommend

  • Sohaib

    One hardly comes across an article which is so fairly narrated. We live in a traditional society which has mixed believes between culture and religion hence making a mess of all. Marriage is a failing institution all around the world, even in Pakistan. The rate of divorce is increasing thou it has slowed down for a while in these times of economic recession. Women and wine are settled for wife and water in these tough times. I think, you have beautifully put forward an unbiased picture of marriage. Love marriage is always regarded with a negative connotation, where as traditional marriages are respectful in the society. I strongly suggest to all the people of my generation to fall in love and if not than atleast make their own decision and follow their heart.Recommend

  • usman

    i think there is always a second option,we should try rather saying that it,s not working anymore and get divorcedRecommend

  • Sabih Shad

    Love the person you marry, instead of marry the person you love!Recommend

  • http://blogs.tribune.com.pk/author/430/faraz-talat/ Faraz Talat

    “However, rather than giving a balanced account the author, being an ardent supporter of the former method of union, gave a diatribe that seemed more suited for Khawateen Digest “

    Does that remark come with Burnol, because somebody just got burned.Recommend

  • Maddy

    “How we make it work is down to how we are raised and educated.” Says it all.

    Finally something good to read which is objective that too from a young lady on such a debatable topic. I like it. Thumbs up. Recommend

  • Parvez

    @B.: If that is how you have interpreted my comment then I must be an idiot.Recommend

  • http://www.tanzeel.wordpress.com Tanzeel

    Cat FightRecommend

  • Bliss

    Well, my beloved boyfriend deceive me. then heartbroken, i go for my parents choice once, and then i realise that the person is not for me. I got divorced and then marry another man of my choice, and he doesnt turn out to be good either. I then end the marriage again.
    Now i having failed twice in love and once in arranged marriage, i feel parents make the best decision, because i personally have no other option.
    so for a person like me, if i had failed twice in arranged marriage and once in love, i would think that love marriage is a blessing, but since i have failed in love twice, and once in arranged, i think arranged is a blessing.
    However, if this time my marriage fails again, i dunno what will i do? marriage is a gamble! jo khaye pachtaye jo na khaye woh bhi pachtayeRecommend

  • Shadytr33

    On most ET blogs I criticize but this article is really good and made a lot of sense. From studying Islamic Law, religion doesn’t prohibit love marriages. So I personally prefer love marriages as the two people tend to find out whether they are really compatible with each other or not rather than getting a surprise after getting married and then either opting for divorce or dragging the marriage for the “children’s or respect’s sake”. Again, Sensible article. Recommend

  • someone_going_through_stuff

    “Perhaps in an ideal society all parents would be well intentioned as you would like to believe. But even if they are, this is beside the point. Parents are not the ones getting married, are they now? Parents must encourage children to grow up to make their own decisions in life, and this goes for career choices too and many other facets of their children’s lives.”

    Ive said this to my parents a trillion times….Recommend

  • manish


    ever, tried to find a reason why your marriages are failing..hasn’t it got something to do with your attitude, rather than the word A or L prefixed before your marriage..Recommend

  • http://www.fahadfarooqui88.blogspot.com Fahad Farooqui

    Dear Author,

    I hope you are well now that you have explained your point of view on ‘Love’ vs ‘Arranged’ Marriages.

    I have read both Articles, your as well as the one by Ms.Khan. Here is the thing, I AGREE with Ms. Khan that arranged marriages work better speaking from what I have observed up till now.

    Where as the feeling of having to spend my life with a complete stranger; brings with good old migraine back. So, Yes, I partly agree to your opinion at one point in the article as well.

    I hope we all have a blissful union when its time.


  • manish


    what if religion prevented love marriage?
    you would not fall in love…
    come on, bro not everything has to be religiously sanctioned. we have a free-will. and it needs to be practiced.Recommend

  • umar

    lame… i still believe that post by Sidrah Moiz Khan was the right one, everyone has his own views.. yes its a gamble but we cant gamble our lives
    dont offend yourself with love or arrange.. just see pros and cons Recommend

  • Deendayal M.Lulla

    I am a 55-year-old visually-handicapped person (blind in the left eye,and with low-vision in the right eye). I was already blind in the left eye,and cataract had started developing in the right eye. I do not smoke,do not drink,and no other bad habit. I am a journalist by profession,having worked in Indian Express group of newspapers. My wife left me just 17 days prior to my surgery in the right eye. When I needed her most,I was left alone,and she also took away our only child – our daughter who was a toddler (8 years old). Not only this,she filed police complaint,followed by legal notice,and a divorce case. Her pretext was good – she never allowed the daughter to spend time with me – my daughter could go out with anyone,but not with her father even inside the building. My wife was preparing ground for divorce. I never ill-treated her,did not demanded dowry. I bought my flat,and other requirments like television,washing machine,fridge,among others for a decent living. I procured a landline connection for my brother-in-law. Yet my wife left me. We fought a bitter divorce battle – seven years in the familycourt,and one year in Bombay High Court. I was completely blind ,and yet the family court judge granted divorce to my wife on the grounds of cruelty. Tell me,how could a fully-blind person cause cruelty to his wife. My wife was not able to prove any of the 15 allegations of cruelty against me. I produced medical certificate issued by a government hospital in support of my complete blindness. Later,I came to know that the family court judge was corrupt. None of the 85 documents I produced in the court were considered in the judgement,and without any reason mentioned by the judge. Till today,I have not had access to my daughter for more than a decade. I call myself the most unfoutunate father,and I have taken up cudgels for judicial reforms,and violations of human rights of the children,and the parent,whoare denied access,love and affection of the child by the other parent having custody of the child. I have even written tothe United Nations on this issue,as even the UN Charter on Child Rights is silent on this issue. My divorce case became front page headline of India’s leading newspaper ,as I was granted maintenance,as it is very rare that a husband is granted maitenance in divorce cases. I tweet –

  • Nandita.

    Sidrah mentioned,in her blog,that the probability of an arranged marriage failing is far lower than a love marriage.Does that mean that people in the sub continent have stumbled across a magic formula (arranged marriages) to make marriages work? Far from it. Divorce rates have always been low in the subcontinent.I belive a lot of that success can be attributed to the fact that divorce was and is in so many ways still taboo here.Women in the subcontinent are quite tolerant of abuse-physical or mental as compared to their western conterparts.You’d even come across loads of educated and financially independent women here who stick around in bad marriages.Their reasons for doing so are varied.Some do so for the sake of their children,some do so because they want to avoid social stigma.Can you classify such arranged marriages as successful just because the spouses didnt end up divorced?
    Then there women who are uneducated or not financially independent.These women have no choice but to put up with the abuse that comes their way.So you see,not being divorced does not necessarily mean that a marriage has been successful.

    Let us not delude ourselves into thinking that arranged marriages are the way to go because our divorce rates have been low for decades.Divorces have been uncommon probably because we care too much about what Mrs Sharma or Mrs Khan next door would say if laadli betiya(darling daughter) came back home with a divorce certificate and two children in tow.Recommend

  • Nandita.

    Having said what I did in the earlier post, there is no fixed formula for making a marriage work.but I feel that two individuals need to get to know each other well before tying the knot and then get married if they think they’re compatible.Ofcourse,the real test begins once you’re married;You have to work hard at building your relatioship.

    Sidrah mentioned something about trusting your parents judgement when it comes to marriage.Different individuals from the same family can have extremely different personalities and different preferances.Your parents and you may not even have the same taste in food or clothing.How,HOW can parents then make such a vital decision for you? It’s funny that most adults dont trust their parents to select their clothes for them but are okay with marrying someone their parent chooses!Recommend

  • http://www.hassanposts.com hassan mehmood

    You girls will never be out of this “arranged marriage vs love marriage” discussion. hahahaRecommend

  • http://tradersutra.com hariharmani

    @Deendayal M.Lulla: Courts are biased against men,my heart goes out to you,fair well.Good day Recommend

  • http://tradersutra.com hariharmani

    @Nandita.: All kidding aside,I’m married for almost 50 years ,pretty soon my wife is planning a big bash,what brought her to searching halt is my determination to be no show.I have told my wife,I detest controlling any one,it is pure evil,dominating is sin,she is free to live her life as she ,see fits.Even to use word as such as ‘my or mine’ turns me off,even that is possession,evil.How do you avoid this?very difficult.She has her own career,does not need me for anything,she has her own life,friends ,her temple,she is trustee there,I have never gone to her temple,how a Meerabai and a confirmed ‘Nastik” live, at peace? I do very well,never seen Bollywood movie for 1/2 a century, nor plan to see ever,do not watch silly sissy game Cricket ,most people tell her,they wished their spouse gave them so much latitude.I do not consider that compliment,she was born free and I’m no one to give her this or that.I hold to my conviction,knowing what I know,I will stay away from organised ritualistic marriage,it is very ristictive,confining and robs both male and female of freedom.This just my personnel view.Being married,I do the next best thing,get along.See ,I can be reasonable and civil,if you write sense.Never ever any malice,good day.Recommend

  • NO JOY

    one of my friends gleefully told me how lucky we south Asians males are.most of us,he added, would remain unmarried for life ,had there not been an institution called arranged marriage in place.Recommend

  • Dr.Collins

    The recurrent obsessive ‘talk’ of marriage is something that I have become desensitized to, particularly when engaging with people from Islamic/Asian backgrounds in the course of my career due to the fact that this is the only thing that keeps them awake at night, which is pretty insane because there are bigger problems than just the infatuation with the pointless ceremonies of procreation; I mean come on people get a life! Why this obsession? Is this all you guys ever talk about? Think on these things and please for Godsake don’t ruin your children s’ future by forcing then into marriage or ‘arranging’ it for them (which often is nothing but a guise for forced marriages). Have mercy on your kids and let them do whatever they please-sexually speaking.Recommend

  • Baba Ji

    Baysharam ?Recommend

  • manish

    @Deendayal M.Lulla:

    sir, tell me whether it was arranged or love marriage..
    also you behaved with your wife not as a husband, but as a sugar-daddy.
    a husband, like wife, has certain inalienable rights upon his wife, atleast in our part of word, and you did not exercise them……it is not about beating her, but telling her that you are also father to your daughter….

    i empathise with you, but the events in your life does not seem in any way related to the post here…Recommend

  • Shadytr33

    What if religion prevented love marriages.?? LOL.. Didn’t you just read my post ? I said Islam has no restrictions on love marriages.. There is no question of what if’s and whatever. But I don’t know about your religion.Recommend

  • Recently Engaged

    Thanks God , i didn’t read this a week back. Such a spoiler it is.
    I am happily engaged (arranged).Keep Rihanna’s word everyone that yes sometimes ‘WE FOUND LOVE IN A HOPELESS PLACE’ :DRecommend

  • Shadytr33

    To all those people who think religion is so cruel and it doesn’t allow women to marry freely,
    Islam “allows” love marriages. Period. And also according to Hanafi school of Islamic law, a woman doesn’t need permission from any of her guardians to marry the person of her choice. Only one requirement is that the couple should let other people know after getting married that they are married. Recommend

  • Shadytr33

    All religious people practice free will. In terms of marrying someone, every religious person has the right to choose who to marry and who to not. You might think of religion as a cage, but to many others, it’s common sense. Religion just provides guidelines and boundaries, like not to steal, not to cheat (generally and on your spouses), not to indulge in drugs and alcohol, not to kill/murder. These are pretty simple things to comprehend. But if you’re so bent on exercising free will then go ahead steal, cheat, indulge in whatever gives you a buzz. Good Day.Recommend

  • Umar

    Does Islam allow love before marriage? How our prophets got married? Should we follow our Islamic ideology or follow the western cultures where there is no more family culture? Recommend

  • Gupt Rogue

    Kudos. Sensible article.Recommend

  • Shadytr33

    Yes Islam does allow love before marriage. How is love defined ? For a guy, he has fallen in love with a girl and they eventually seem to have an understanding and feel they are compatible with each other. So they wish to marry. It is allowed.
    Whats not allowed is fornication or any physical relationship BEFORE marriage. For example, I study in a co-ed institution. I have am a friend with a girl. We develop feelings for each other. It’s better for us to get married (if both of us agree on it) and further continue the relationship.
    What Islam doesn’t allow is the concept of GF’s/BF’s where people indulge in all kinds of behaviors and then just break up “just like that”. Remember Hazrat Khadija liked the Prophet and she proposed marriage to him. Everything is fine under the umbrella of Marriage.Recommend

  • http://ameermirza.wordpress.com Ameer Mirza

    Nice read.

    Ameer Mirza

  • Basit Ijaz

    Love marriage can also be arranged, so author’s terminology i.e. ‘traditional’ and ‘non-traditional’ seems valid and more accurately describing type of marriage. To read more about Pakistan, its history, culture and politics visit http://www.pakistanexaminer.comRecommend

  • Deendayal M.Lulla


    My marriage was an arranged one. I do not how you have concluded that I am a sugar daddy.

    A perfect couple do not make marriage a great marriage. A marriage is great when an imperfect couple learn to enjoy the differences,fights,and bitterness.Recommend

  • Speak the truth

    i think the relationship can only be truly successful if our relationship with God is harmonious…..and that applies to both the individuals..that is the only true formula for a successful life together in this world and in the nextRecommend

  • Abdul Samad Shaikh

    Dear Ms.Marryum,

    I would simply like to state that yes love is a natural phenomena and very beautiful one, created by ALLAH, but it is us who have changed the essence of it thinking of ourselves as intellectuals.

    ALLAH who has created the feeling of LOVE has also taught us how to make appropriate use of it, LOVE your parents, brothers & sisters, relatives and your wife after marriage. Yes without LOVE the existence of marriage is vague, but it is well said “DO NOT MARRY A PERSON YOU LOVE, BUT LOVE A PERSON WHOM YOU MARRY”

    In Islam there is no such concept of love marriages, there is not a single example where any of the prophets or their sahabis carried out a love marriage, but indeed all the examples tell us their grateful attitude towards their wives after marriage.

    Yes Islam allows one to make his own decision but than again it has defined certain parameters for it, just as before marriage you can meet the person once in presence of an elderly person from the either family, you can have a look at her not gaze her and have dinners & lunch at different Zamzama cafes to built understanding, because very well said by the MS. Khan that it is such an emotion that makes a person blind, and all the charm between the two ends even before the marriage.

    Also in meetings between couples before marriage both the parties tend to portray best of their attitudes, because they meet for few hours, well dressed, wallets full of money, with no responsibility. But reality is different, that they realize once they get married because only then a person’s real character is known, before that it is a merely a fairy tale that shatters and usually the female finds it very difficult to adjust. So it is better that the female gets to know the exact reality in the first place.

    Last and most importantly, there is no doubt that ALLAH makes a better decision for a person than a person can make for himself, because he is the wiser of all. And letting your parents to decide your life partner means that you have submitted your will infront of ALLAH and HE surely will make the best decision for you via your parents, yes as I mentioned before you surely do have the right to make the final decision. Recommend

  • anonymous

    i disagree……certainly, arranged marriages have higher success rate due to a million reasons. sidrah moiz khan was right.Recommend