Do arranged marriages work

By M.Farouk Radwan, MSc.

What the word 'work' means

Arranged marriages sometimes do work and in other cases they don't. Let me first make it clear that the word 'work' here means that the couple live together happily.

If both couples didn't get a divorce but they were unhappy then this is a said to be a marriage that didn't work.
In this article i will explain to you why arranged marriages might work in some cases and why in some other cases they never do.

How love happens

In my previous articles about love psychology i covered extensively the topic of falling in love so i will just give a brief intro here.

Throughout our lives we develop some important psychological unmet needs. In my book How to make someone fall in love with you i said that If we found a person who can help us satisfy many of those unmet needs then we will fall in love with them.

The degree of attachment towards that person will depend on the amount of needs that person can help us satisfy. This whole process happens on the unconscious level and that's why most people won't really know why they are in love with someone. See How does the subconscious mind work & Why we fall in love.

Do arranged marriages work?

Now that you know how love works it's time to know why arranged marriages sometimes work and in other times they don't.

An Arranged marriage in many cases can be a very random process where two people are put together randomly without a proper understanding of their psychological unmet needs.

If it happened that most of the psychological needs of those people were satisfied through the relationship then the marriage will certainly work. But just as you may have already guessed the factor of randomness is too high that the chance of this happening is too low.

So if the chance of being satisfied in an arranged marriage is too low then how do many arranged marriages work?
Here is what happens to the couple after an arranged marriage:

  • 1) They get used to each other: One of the reasons we get attached to certain people is that we get used to their presence. This is one reason why some people suffer after breakups as they lose the person they got used to. When people live together they start getting attached to each other. The familiarity leads to attachment and so some couples might start getting along. See Mere exposure effect theory
  • 2) They accept it as fate: Many couples start adapting to the arranged marriage by considering it their fate. While those partners might not be that happy they still manage to survive as a result of believing that this relationship is their destiny
  • 3) They don't find other options: Many couples remain in their relationships, even though they are not happy, as a result of believing that they have no other options. People with low self esteem are more likely to remain in relationships that don't make them happy

How to make a arranged marriage work

This section is intended for parents who plan to arrange marriages for their siblings. If you do care about making an arranged marriage work then here is what you need to do:

  • 1) Understand the psychological needs of your sibling: When you understand the psychological needs of your sibling you will be able to pick someone for them who can satisfy those needs
  • 2) Understand the psychology of your sibling's partner: If you want an arranged marriage to work then you need to understand the psychology of your sibling's partner. If you found that this person is not a good match for your sibling , based on their psychological needs, then don't let this marriage happen
  • 3) Allow for a test periods: Do not let the marriage happen before the couple interacts together for some time. If any clear signs of dissatisfaction happened then don't let the couple proceed with the marriage

The conclusion

Arranged marriages can work but you need to be very careful with them. A proper knowledge of psychology is needed for you to be able to make two people find each other interesting. Do this the wrong way and the couple will either divorce or become miserable.

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