Arranged marriage de novo?

Years ago, in my parents’ generation and their parents, arranged marriages were common place in the Asian community. What people mean by arranged marriage varies a lot. They range from those marriages that are ‘set-up’ to those that are forced marriages, be it force in the physical sense or force psychologically with emotional blackmail. Clearly no one (including me) would agree that is correct for someone to be forced into marrying someone against their own choice.

But what about the ‘set-up’ arrange marriage? Is it really a terrible thing? Is ‘arranged marriage’ in this sense still such a dirty word? Or could this be the 21st century solution to our busy lives?

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Some of you may be totally lost by this point so I’ll break it down for you.

Imagine your friends Poppy and Jack. They are both single and you have always thought that they would really hit it off, if only they met! You decided to invite them both out for drinks and plan to excuse yourself after the first 5 minutes because of that old classic, a “family emergency”.

Now replace the above situation with the name Jay and Kajol, add some tea into the mix (a must for an Asian get together) swap the friend with parents and you have a typical ‘set up’ situation.

Two families who think that their children might be compatible for marriage meet up and the boy and girl can talk. There are of course lots of variations. For example, the boy and girl can talk on the phone first or arrange to meet separately but hopefully you get the idea of what I mean by a ‘set up’.

At university, I am seeing people claim tradition and do it for themselves. And I don’t just mean people are having boyfriends or girlfriends. I mean people looking for set-ups for potential marriage partners themselves or even asking for them.

Last year a friend inboxed me on Facebook and asked me if I know any “potentials” (potential spouse) for them because they were looking to get married. They were trying to create their own set up and this is far from an isolated case. Recently, a new society at uni had an event and a friend joked ‘I am going to find a wife’. This was said in jest but there was an element of truth to it too and when I discussed this comment with a friend, he agreed and said ‘it wasn’t a bad idea’. And he certainly wasn’t the only one attending with this thought in mind!

I find it funny that whereas ‘arranged marriages’ are often looked at as a terrible thing by my generation, we are now trying to do exactly that! How is asking your friend if they know any “potentials” any different to 100 years ago when your parents would ask their friends and family if they knew anyone suitable for their child?

We all like to think that we have progressed and moved on but we are essentially doing the same thing as our parents. And from the times that I have heard my Asian friends complain about the “lack of potentials in Bristol”-we may even be doing a worse job!


3 thoughts on “Arranged marriage de novo?

  1. Thanks for your comment! I hear a lot of this talk about “potential partners” too and I agree that there can be something holding each party back from making the commitment of marriage. I think the problem with uni is the age. Who is ready and stable financially to get married at 21?


  2. One thing is quite true that Asian families (pakistani and Indians) would try and marry their children within their family choices regardless of the education or progress they’ve made. Having said that it might not be a bad idea after all, if the children can’t find any compatible people as you’ve mentioned in your article then there isn’t any harm if your parents look for you. However, It is a fact that many Asian families might not allow their daughters to marry someone of their own choice easily as compared to a guy being given more liberation. Most of my Asian friends at Uni always talk about their potential partner, but most of them haven’t found anyone or if they have then it doesn’t seem that sort of a relationship that would end up in marriage.


  3. Hello, Salma.

    It was good to go through your blog. I am from India and have recently applied for Medicine in UK. My UKCAT went pretty well though I had to appear for it in New Delhi. Got four offers already and waiting on the last one now. I got King’s, Edinburgh, Leeds, Southampton. Hope I get to join in September. My uncle is a doctor already with the NHS working as a Consultant at University College Hospital.

    If I could please ask for your email, I need to discuss a few things. A lot of them actually.

    Hope to hear from you soon.

    Take care and Allah bless.


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