Whittaker Associates is looking for guest writers for our 2014 monthly newsletters. Want to participate? Please email Jami Gibson. This month, Shivani Adhikari, who works for WA Analytics in Kathmandu, Nepal explains her take on marriage, a universal institution, yet vastly different from culture to culture.

Is Arranged Marriage All That Bad?
By Shivani Adhikari

As a daughter raised in a Hindu household in South Asia, you are expected to fulfill certain roles and duties. Before you are even able to comprehend their meaning, you hear things like, “We are going to find a suitable husband for you,” and “You will have to leave this house, and live in someone else’s house some day.” You fight, you scream, you can’t imagine leaving your parents, you think you never will.

As a teenager heavily influenced by Western and Indian movies, arranged marriages sounded so constricting, scary even, like a disease you would have to live with the rest of you life. How can you marry someone your family picked? They can hardly understand you most of the time. I felt bad for my older cousins that were getting married, and I made sure I asked them if they were happy. I would either get “yes” or “this is how it is” for an answer.

During my college years in the U.S., I saw many marriages based solely on love fail. It made me wonder what makes a marriage work? The idea of arranged marriages slowly started making more sense to me. I do believe there has to be attraction between the couple to get married, but there are many other factors that play a huge role in keeping a marriage intact in my opinion. This is where I think that arranged marriages might have a slightly more successful rate.

In modern day arranged marriages, you have choices, but they are restricted. Matches are picked because the suitor matches your family background, education, social status, religion, etc. There is a compatibility comparison at different levels before the relation is moved forward. The meeting is arranged, and it is up to the boy and the girl to decide to take it any further.

For me personally, meeting the boy was more of a comic situation. Very apprehensively, I went to meet the guy who would end up being my husband. In the days that would lead up to us confirming our wedding, the amount of information I got on him and his family (very important) from friends and relatives I would not have been able to collect in 10 years. Love is beautiful, but to make the decision to spend the rest of your life with someone, it takes more, and arranged marriages, to some extent, make sure there are enough pieces together that the marriage does not fall apart.