Is Arranged Marriage for You? Now You Can Find Out!

Just received a call from the company that produces Top Chef and Project Runway. They are developing a new series for the Lifetime Network and are looking for singles, 25- 45,who want a lifelong partnership. The hook of the show is that the partnership would be an arranged marriage and that your spouse would be chosen by your friends and/or family.

As odd as this might sound, I actually think there’s something to this. I just gave a blurb for a book called “First Comes Marriage” by Reva Seth that really captured the wisdom of the collective over the individual. The thing that stuck out with me most from the book is that arranged marriages don’t have the same lofty expectations as our Hollywood fantasy partnerships, which is why they’re more likely to endure and grow. Instead of starting out white-hot, they blossom over time – a much better recipe for success.

Anyway, if you are interested in finding out more, they’d love to talk to you. The producers have made clear that this is not a dating or an elimination series, and that everyone will be treated with respect. The goal of the show is to help the participants find love and happiness in a committed relationship and to document the process. It¹s not for everyone, but if this sounds intriguing to you, check out: or email Melanie Levine at [email protected]

Your thoughts on arranged marriage?

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  1. 1

    I’m in Silicon Valley, and I’ve met people who’ve had arranged marriages, mainly people who came here from India. Some of them are VERY happy – the cutest couples, perfect together. But most are not. They are unhappy, bitter, looking for an out.

    I love being set up by matchmakers – I’ve met most of my post-divorce LTRs through family and friends – but I’d never let someone arrange a marriage for me. Especially now that I’m divorced with kids.

    I’m sure the show will be watched, if for no other reason than to watch a potential train wreck start down the tracks!

  2. 2
    Evan Marc Katz

    Sounds like most marriages, doesn’t it, Dad? Some are very happy. Some are not. And I’m pretty sure this isn’t going to be train wreck TV. It’s a documentary on Lifetime, not a sleazefest on Spike.

  3. 3

    The odds against these working are astronomical. I simply can’t comprehend leaving the choice of my LIFE PARTNER to other people who can’t understand the nuance and depths of how attraction works for the individual.

  4. 4

    Though I do not think arranged marriage is right for me, I understand the culture and grew up in it. My own parents and 80% of my family are in arranged marriages. It is different for me because i grew up in the states, so I am not only Indian, but also American. Kudos to Evan for considering an issue I have pondered over most of my adult life. To quote your book, Evan, most people would trust their own flawed dating experience of their parents’ flawed dating experience. I think that myself, because who I marry will affect me long after my parents and ancestors have left this earth.

    I think fundamentally, people fail to understand what an arranged marriage is. People still have an idea in their mind that parents arrange it, and you show up and get married. It is not like that. Consider it a network generated dating service. The difference is everyone in it is in it for marriage, not LTRs, or even dating. So if you’re not in it to win it, then don’t do it. Its like your parents set you up on a blind date, but pre-screened to the max. Before you even meet the person, you know what they do for a living, their family history and gossip, astrological compatibility if you are into that, what their family and parents are like, your families already know each other, so you don’t have worry if they will get along or accept your mate of choice, religion, and native tongue will likely be the same, so that conflict is out the window. The only thing you have to worry about going into the meeting, is if the two of you are compatible. – keep your deal breakers in mind.

    The key thing is, you DO HAVE A CHOICE IN THE MATTER. You have the right to say NO. You also have the right to consider things and take your time with your decision. And you have the right to consider whether you even want an arranged marriage or not, and that is a discussion you have with your family. In Indian culture, people are not just marrying the person, but also, two families are uniting. With that mentality, it is not completely out there that family would like an input.

    With all due respect to Dadshouse, things change with the new generations. The concept of arranged marriage, as ancient it may be, is evolving. When people come from India to America, it is a culture shock. Western society is about survival of the fittest, worrying about your own self Eastern society is about group mentality – look at Japan, for instance. I am saying either is better. Sometimes self-preservation is vital. It is also possible for mind set to change once you cross the ocean. What may have been ok before is not so much in the face to all the options here. Marriage in a way is always a gamble, there is always a chance that marriage you entered into is not going to be what you thought it was or as happy as you intended. So I can see why some people would eschew the whole idea of arranged marriage, I can also see the logic behind it.

  5. 5

    I’ve got to say, I’m intrigued. It’s not often that I hear about an arranged marriage in the US. One thought I have is that from an American p.o.v., it may be difficult due to cultural norms. Yes, great melting pot and all, but I would worry that the chosen couple would be inherently biased against it, even if only a little, based on US societal norms and conventions. I hope the producers can find some really open-minded people.

    Incidentally, from past conversations with an Indian coworker of mine (who met his wife through an arranged marriage in India), NewWrldYankee’s description seems spot on. I’m just curious whether the TV show will follow that practice. The web site isn’t clear on the details, though I doubt the TV show will allow that much leniency.

    I would be tempted to apply except: (1) I don’t think I’m ready for marriage yet; and (2) I’m a little afraid that I’m not *that* open-minded, at least in this respect. I have a nagging suspicion that I would be a little negative about the arrangement, at least partially due to the fact that I didn’t have a full say over things. “You will meet pre-selected women and you will marry one of them.” For me, that’s a tough premise to start from, at least at this time. Perhaps my attitude would/will be different a bit down the line.

  6. 6

    To quote your book, Evan, most people would trust their own flawed dating experience of their parents flawed dating experience.

    I’m guessing the theory would be that your parents want the best for you and that they know you better then you know yourself….in some ways… and that they aren’t going to be blinded by the chemistry of being in love, so they are going to pick a good match for you.

  7. 7

    This is too funny. I actually wrote a blog post in June about arranged marriages, where your family and friends pick your partner. I even suggested it should be a new reality show! I want royalties! 🙂

    I actually think it’s a very interesting idea. I know for me, my family and friends would choose someone they know I could get along with and who would treat me well. And I do think a successful marriage has more to do with having common ideals and working through things, rather than the silly romantic notion of “love.” I think that in a lot of instances, your loved ones would choose a far better partner for you than you could do yourself, simply because they are going to think more analytically, and they WANT YOU TO BE HAPPY.

    Of course, that doesn’t mean I want to give up my fight to find Prince Charming and live happily ever after.

  8. 8

    One of my best friends was in an arranged marriage. She was Indian but grew up in the US. Her husband was chosen from India. She was given the choice from two different men. She chose one, he moved here, and they married. With him coming from India, he expected her to be more submissive. But she was too American, being raised here in this culture. They eventually divorced, and its been nothing but a headache for her, with child custody battles and such.
    Personally, I can’t imagine letting someone choose a husband for me. Marriage is too huge of a commitment to leave to someone else to decide IMO.

  9. 9
    Evan Marc Katz

    I’m not saying that arranged marriage is a practical solution for everybody. But I think it’s quite safe to say – if the existence of this blog is any evidence – that choosing your own partner is fraught with just as much confusion, misunderstanding, and bad decision making.

  10. 10

    ok i have to say that an arranged marriage is good and bad at the same time because if there is a person who has no idea in the dating biz it will be good to find a person who basically has no idea itheir it might work but it might be catastrophic if the couple dont agree in any way because even if they separate they might find love and true they can get an annulment but it wont be the same so yeah i guess its a good and a bad idea but good luck with it anyone who has an arranged marriage.

  11. 11

    I just read the book Evan mentioned, First Comes Marriage (good reading). Frankly there’s a lot of appeal to the notion of an arranged marriage where one is presented with choices that one is free to reject, but where the clear objective is marriage. I don’t believe in one soul mate; I think there are any number of people I can marry. The idea of looking for common values, someone you like and get along with, and making a commitment really makes sense. I think it’s the fear of commitment/grass is always greener sentiment that derails a lot of relationships, but if that is taken away, then a lot of people would be in successful marriages. Then again, perhaps our culture has become too immersed in immediate gratification and the Hollywood mystique of romance for this to work.

  12. 12
    The InBetweener

    I PERSONALLY don’t think it’s for me, but I could never understand anyone NOT wanting to choose for themselves.
    However, it does take the pressure off of you worrying that you might make the wrong decision and if things don’t work out, you could always blame those that were responsible for putting you together. 😉

  13. 13

    A-L, in response to your #11 post, I did find what you said about that “grass is always greener” mentality. I think we have alot of that mindset in Western culture. But what people forget is that they’re gonna hafta mow that grass too! I don’t think my parents could do a very good job of selecting for me; I don’t think I do all that well selecting, either. Nope, I think I’m going to have to rely on divine providence to send the one, and until that appointed time, I’m better off leaving the whole dating and looking thing alone.

  14. 14

    OMG, never in a million years. My mother would rather see me married to a known serial killer, as long as he was Catholic, than the world’s greatest guy who happened to be any other religion. My friends might pick someone acceptable, as would some of my sisters, but I have other sisters who would get me hitched to some argyle sweater wearing pocket protector type who, oh yeah, just happened to be a virgin. But he’s a nice guy, really, he is…blech.

  15. 15


    I take no issue whatsoever with the idea that God’s hand should be involved in the process of finding a mate. In fact, I think that’s ideal. At the same time, however, how is God to deliver that mate to you if you’re not willing to be introduced to him via your family, friends, matchmaker, dating website, etc? Most of God’s miracles take place by using other humans to deliver them.

    And just to clarify one other point about the arranged marriage business. The ones referred to in Seth’s book (and on the tv show that Evan linked to) allowed each person in the potential couple to not go forward and go into the marriage. Basically, their friends and family serve as matchmakers/advisers, but the person still makes the final decision. Also, the particularly appealing part is not the friends/family involvement, per se, but that both people come to the table interested in marriage and willing to do whatever it takes to make the commitment work.

  16. 16

    To some extent, arranged marriages do work.

    The problem, however, is that you’ll always be a part of a group dynamic: Indian, Persian, Greek, or whatever. If that’s your cup of tea, and provided that both parties had experiences in western (read: not the near east) societies, then it can work out.

    Personally, I’d seen Iranian couples fall apart when one person grew up in America and the other, in eastern Turkey or Iran. It helps when both persons understand what it’s like to be in a permanent diaspora while integrating another culture. And for those who’re more American than the one of the aforementioned near eastern cultures, well… it can be a challenge.

  17. 17

    I think America is ready for Arranged Marriages, but not in the traditional way.
    Traditional as is done in India will not work. What does work is a modern version done in a business setting. This is how it woks, and is currently working really well:
    The ideal candidate is an American male in their 40’s, divorced or widowed with grown kids. This way the issue of high expectations and fear of what is involved are resolved. The person arranging the marriage is not a family member but an agent also male paid to become familiar with with the customer’s former and current life style and of what will be expected of the future wife to be. The same agent then travels overseas and finds potential candidates. These are usually found in rural areas. A profile is generated that includes criminal and medical records and several visits (by the agent) with the family of the contact. If there is a mutual interest then a web meeting is arranged and the rest is history.

    This is what is called the “None Traditional Arranged Wedding”. The key to its success is lies heavily on how much time the agent spends with both candidates, specially the American male.
    Sorry but I really do not think the TV show will succeed. Americans do not have the same mentality as Middle Easterners.


  18. 18


    I think you totally missed the concept of modern Indian arranged marriage – strange, as it was explained above by NewWorld very clearly.

    I personally am such a romantic at heart that I’ve always shied away at the idea of ‘arranged’- even as explained by NewWorld. Partly, because I still have visions of meeting my future man in some coffee shop after our eyes magically lock. Partly because as close as I am with my parents- I don’t think they have a very good understanding of what kind of wife I would be, and what kind of man would suit me.

    That said, I decided to purchase Seth’s book after reading an excerpt online. It sounds like good reading, and the wake-up call I need, similar to Gottlieb’s “Marry Him.” I’ll keep y’all posted.

  19. 19


    I just finished this book- in a couple of hours actually. It’s an amazing read- to me, even more important that Gottlieb’s, because it takes on the overly-romanticized, overly idealistic view (that I admit I’ve had myself) people have of marriage, which has contributed to skyrocketing divorce rates in the West.

    Definitely something to re-read- for me, the chapter on ‘what to do if you’re a committment-phobe” is especially important. LOL

    I’m curious as to how this book was received- I don’t think it got that much publicity, did it? Shame, because I think THIS is the book most people need to read.

  20. 20

    I am very much in support of arranged marraiges and think the family should be involved even in dating to give input/advice/approval – but where I would differ on arranged marraiges is that I would want to have some time to screen the man as well. (Most especially to see how we discuss things, his knowledge, etc.) A guy could be a good man but if we both argue like cats and dogs for some unknown reason, which would not be apparent when we are separate, than that would not be as good a match as someone I can hold a good discussion with.

  21. 21
    Wendy Harris

     okay I am a psyc major and I am currently taking a class on intimate interpersonal relationships and it is documented that in the long run arranged marriages are happier and last much longer than love relationships…Mostly because both men and women in a love relationship have unreal expectations of love derivated by our culture and family views on love…No one can keep up the kind of love that our culture pushes. Most people who marry for love divorce after about four years. If there is a true friendship conponent then the relationship has a better chance, but it is still not as good as an arranged marriage. I for one have been married before and I married for high passionate love and it did not work out I am thinking about writing in to be on this show.

  22. 22

    I have researched arranged marriage off and on for years. I have lived in two cultures where a form of arranged marriage is practiced and in one i noticed that people were still getting divorced mainly because the spouses were not in love and frankly got married because everyone else encourage them to be by a certain age. That said I still like the idea of arrange marriage and will probably apply to the show. 

  23. 23

    My parents are from India and had put my ad behind my back on an Indian marriage site.  I wasn’t happy, as most of the men they chose were men that I wasn’t attracted to and had nothing in common with.  My parents weren’t going to force me to marry them, but they were pressuring me to get to know these men.   My gut feeling was that these men aren’t right for me. 

    I have thought about arranged marriage when I was in my early 20’s.  There can be benefits, but there are cons.  Just like any other marriage, it can work out or not work out.  Getting married to someone that you love is no guarantee that you will be happy.    There’s a misconception that arranged marriages are forced, when the reality is is that the parents will ask if you like the person or not. 

    I dated someone I loved for a year only to find out that we would be miserable together married.  If I had married him, I still would have been as screwed as marrying someone that my parents chose!  

  24. 24

    I wanted to add that one positive of the arranged marriage scene is that you at least know that both parties want marriage.  In the Western dating scene, women express frustration at where things are going or how to tell if a man will marry them eventually.  

  25. 25

    @Anonymous, the desire for marriage is very much culture driven.  I have several Indian born friends who are in love marriages, and what I observed during their courtships is that the attitude about where it was headed was very different than what I viewed in similarly aged friends (20 somethings, even those under 25). 

    So it’s clearly just anecdotal but none of them were dating to date around, or felt they needed to meet lots of people.  If they met someone and clicked, the talks turned serious VERY quickly, parents/families were pulled into the situation to assume their traditional roles, and so these couples were engaged and married withing 6-8 months.   The ones who dated more than one person did not stick around if marriage was clearly off the table.

    Clearly if you let your parents make the introductions in this context there is a higher probability that the person is serious about getting married (b/c honestly, it’s not as if you are part of a hook-up culture where either party has a high probability of expecting physical intimacy from the people that you meet), but there is also a HIGHER probability that the person that you are meeting is marriage minded based on the culture of origin.

    So I wonder if there are stats that show it, but I’d bet that you have a higher percentage of marriage, shorter courtships, and much less dating around on than on  A person is less likely to be a player if being a player is something they were raised to believe was wrong, or a waste of time, and not something that proves your status. 

    Not all Americans are unaware of how it works or think that Indians or other people are being forced to marry people they don’t like.  

    Of course, the biggest con that I see is that if people get into it and they aren’t compatible, they are loathe to divorce. So I might get it wrong, but I’m grateful to be in a culture where I won’t be castigated by friends and families if I think I need to get out.  

  26. 26

    I should mention, I’m pretty sure even the 6-8 month window was a long time b/c I’ve seen things move much faster for arranged marriages, providing there were no immigration/visa issues that had to be overcome.

    Most recent couple I know got married in 8 months but that seemed long and was precipitated by some logistical challenges.  I’ve seen others pulled together in 3 months or less.  

    I am always struck by how few single, over 30 Indian (as in Indian born) women I have met (and I say that as someone who has always worked with a lot of Indian immigrants and lived in areas with high Indian populations).  A few that I’ve met in the U.S. definitely slipped into American dating culture and enjoy it and don’t seem interested in marriage.  But it still seems like a rare situation.   

  27. 27
    Saint Stephen

    In many cultures being in love before marriage is a pure luxury. Majority of the world works like this! China, India Islamic countries & many parts of Africa practice arranged marriages where love develops AFTER marriage. The real ups and downs of real life soon brings ‘love-marriages’ down to earth with a bang/divorce.

    Being ‘in love’ is simply a state of mind. And given such, i believe love can be built and nurtured. Women might think they only gonna be happy marrying an ivy-league, 6 feet, good looking and financially successful guy. but all he’s enticing features wont matter one bit to you anymore when he starts treating you like crap. Arranged marriages fare better b/c it employs the help of our parents and folks who have been there and done that. First they know what is obtainable, and secondly which qualities “matters” more as regards to a good long term prospect.

  28. 28

    I believe that arranged should be considered. If you daughter or son already has an fiancee then they can focus on school work and a career. Many places around the world find it odd not to have an arranged marriage. I personally want an arranged marriage, since I am 17 and have no time already for friends and relationships I have thought on have my mom pick for me and just say go for it.

  29. 29

    I think people mistake the term “arranged marriage” for “forced marriage.” I just read Reva Seth’s book that Evan mentioned, and I love the idea that someone (parents, friend, aunt) would take my list of “marriage musts” and interview 15-20 GOOD candidates and introduce the best ones to me! I am free to say no. I love the truths presented, that we have been conditioned to expect our spouse to be our “soul mate,” to love all the same hobbies, to make us happy, to be our best friend, to “complete” us. No one human being can possibly be all of that! That’s why we have other family and friends. I realize it is not for everyone, but it sure sounds smarter to base a marriage on your most important values rather than how “hot” someone looked at the first moment you saw him/her. I am semi-interested in auditioning for that TV show, crazy or not! Thanks for this discussion!

  30. 30

    I think the concept of arranged marriages in America would be a sound idea.  Though it limits the freedom of choice, let’s face it:  I haven’t exactly made the best choices in women.  And the more successful and older a person becomes, the harder it is to find a mate.

    I also support arranged marriages, because of an incidence in which a co-worker (friend) hooked me up with a family member of his.  Initially we did not get along, but soon we just clicked.  We were both eager to make it work and were looking forward to being together.  I had even proposed (which I was terrified to do at the time), but it didn’t work out.  Still, out of all my relationships, this was one of the highlights of my dating career!

    So yeah, I would be very much interested in this concept!


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