When we hear of arranged marriages, most of us jump to drastic conclusions, two awkward families, one room but a bunch of delicious samosas. However, the sad truth is that many of these arrangements can be forced, and the samosas may not even be there.
But before we start delving into the pros and cons, let’s take a look at some of the facts surrounding them.
Arranged marriages are usually carried out for daughters.
They are mostly made by religious families.
They serve as a way to find a spouse when the children have not.
They associate more with Asian families like Pakistani or Indian.
They seem like shady ways to find love, and yes, some can even be forced. Situations like these are horrible and result in difficult lives for many young people around the world.
Forced marriages are completely immoral and against UK law by the way! Which is great news. But does that stop some parents from bullying their kids into a wedding they might not want to be a part of? Certainly not…
We have done some research on Muslim arranged marriages and have learned a lot about Islamic marriage culture.
Most Muslims end up getting married through arbitrators; an acquaintance usually suggests a potential match and the two families will meet to discuss the marriage of their children. This all seemed good and good until we dug deeper. Because of family respect and culture, it’s hard to say “no” to a potential partner once you’ve visited their family and talked to them about marriage. Sounds a bit silly? Let me spell it…
You are looking for a lovely bride for your son. Your friend tells you about a family looking for a lovely boyfriend for their daughter, fantastic! You look at a photograph and she really looks beautiful (even with the flower crown Snapchat filter planted on her head imitating Sid from Ice Age). He agrees to meet after having a short phone conversation with his parents.
Arriving at the ‘potential’ house, you sit down and talk about how happy you are with his daughter and how excited you are to have this show going. After a wonderful twenty minutes, a girl who looks like the one in the picture offers you some tea, but also not…so…similar…
After a fit of confusion, you ask where the lovely young bride is, and come downstairs and look, you’re introduced to the tea girl!
Two things are very clear, first of all, you have been deceived. And secondly, the flower crown filter really works wonders.
But wait! You’ve already talked about half the wedding! You have too much dignity to lose, you can’t just walk away! You are forced to choose the only respectful option: continue with the wedding.
So you come home, head down, you made a mistake, but you can’t prove it. You excitedly explain your ‘successful’ getaway to the rest of the family and things start to heat up. His daughter disagrees and he is furious. You have no choice but to fight back as you promised Flower Crown Sid. Things go wrong but the marriage goes ahead.
As you can see, these scenarios can get a bit obscure. So we’re continuing our research and looking for other ways around this issue. After a thorough Google search, we stumbled across the world of marriage offices and had the chance to sit down with some Muslim marriage office owners. We managed to get a real feel for how they work and what criteria they use to match. There was a friendly dawn on the subject of arranged marriages, which took us by surprise, as we expected it to be as sad as the parents making the arrangements.
“Clients are educated and sensitive people, most of whom have not had time to find a spouse due to work or other commitments,” they said. “That’s where we step in, we send them presentations where their families can talk about marriage, then we walk away and they inform us of their decision. We do the congratulatory follow-up call or the ‘sorry you didn’t get the job’ speech.” so they don’t have to!”
Granted, they seemed to have solved the problem of the dreaded “oh sorry you’re not our cup of chai” speech. What about the photoshopped images that turn Aunt Jemima into Kim K?
“Of course, people all over the planet use photo-editing tools to make themselves more attractive. We live in a superficial world,” he said. “However, we implement strict policies regarding photography, as any falsified information or images will result in immediate membership termination. Our customers understand this and definitely do not want to lose their paid membership because of it! Although we are unable to perform activities military level of background checks on our clients however we do conduct our own investigation using social media and any other online resources within our rights this helps with the authenticity of client profiles any discrepancies are handled accordingly immediate”.
To which I replied, “So you’re saying that marriage agencies find perfectly suitable matches, legitimately, and also remove any bumps in the arranged marriage process?”
“No, of course not,” they replied, “there’s always a chance for a bit of drama when arranging a marriage, just watch soap operas for more details! But we try to make it as easy as possible for our clients! And so far so good!”
To be completely honest, I was satisfied with the responses I got from the owners and managers of Muslim marriage agencies. I have a feeling they had been prepared well in advance and were ready for me! However, I feel like they did indeed address the usual pitfalls by going the fixed route. There are a few marriage offices in Britain, however make sure you do a lot of research when trying to find one that meets all your requirements. Make sure you get a years membership, regular introductions and a dedicated matchmaker. Also confirm that there will be no additional fees after a successful marriage, as many places charge such a fee. Keep an eye out for SSL certificates if you purchase your membership from their website. And also consider finding an office that offers some sort of money-back guarantee.
It seems there is a civilized way to arrange your offspring’s marriage, which brings me to my conclusion. If you want to find someone for your child to marry, and they are happy for you to do so, then use a marriage bureau! I will surely get my son to sign up, he needs to settle down!