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So here is yet another article on a well-marinated subject full of the same ingredients except tossed in a slightly different order. Bear with me and we will walk through the different aspects of this mosaic called “How to find a life partner.” For the sake of brevity, I shall label “the system of love marriages” as L.M. and “the system of arranged marriages” as A.M.

In L.M, people marry the person they love. They first get engaged and then get married. Love is at a peak initially. In A.M., people love the person they marry. It is said, “They first get married and then get engaged.” Love evolves and grows from the bottom up.

Sushama Kirtikar
In L.M., the decision to marry is based on mutual attraction, love, individual habits and nature of the person. In A.M., the decision to marry is based on a larger grid: compatibility of culture, family background, language, religion, food habits, career choice, etc. In L.M., dating is considered a prerequisite for finding a life partner. Westerners believe in starting the dating process in the teen years. In A.M., the teen years are focused on learning and abstinence (Brahmacharya stage). Seeking, finding or relating to a boyfriend/girlfriend distracts from full concentration on studies. In addition, the emotional ups and downs that are par for the course in dating deplete a person’s energy and are considered detrimental to the academic development of a healthy young adult.

In L.M., the emphasis is on flexibility and personal freedom to choose. In A.M., the initial preference is that of the parents but the final decision is still that of the two young adults. True, in the past, the youngsters were not given a voice. Today, rigidity of this system is a myth. It has evolved over the years and become a pseudonym for ‘blind dates’ set up by parents. There are fewer and fewer conservative archaic arrangements. There has been a meteoric rise of the more liberal version of arranged marriages.

Statistically, the divorce rate used to be higher in L.M. In the U.S., at least 50 percent of first marriages end in divorce. It is to be noted that second marriages seem to be more enduring and successful which speaks to the wisdom that comes with age and maturity.

Statistically, divorce rate used to be lower in A.M. Sometimes, this marriage is considered a marriage of two families, which provides an inbuilt system of checks and balances and thus further prevents fragmentation of families. Sometimes however, the couple stays together at the cost of personal wellbeing, to prevent disintegration of the extended family and avoid the social stigma of divorce.

In L.M., the quality of marriage may be better because both choose the partner and they agree to the union having a fair idea of what to expect from each other. In A.M., the quality of marriage may be compromised. Partner compatibility based on values, interests and personality may have been overlooked completely in the zest to ensure a rock solid family background, or sadly based on the greed for a large dowry, which in itself is appalling to think this dinosaur still roams freely on the paved streets of modern day.

Ostensibly, one system seems to be better than the other depending on the factors being held under a microscope. There is no black-and-white answer. The pros and cons of each system tally up fairly squarely. It is the preference of all the players in the field and that is ultimately what matters most: the voice of every single person involved in the process. It has to be an inclusive process. Each family as a unit gets to decide its own manifesto.

Sushama Kirtikar, a licensed mental health counselor in private practice, can be reached at (813) 264-7114 or e-mail at

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