BY RAHUL BHAKTA Out of her many choices of colleges, Azrin Awal chose to attend UMD, chose to be a large leader in the multicultural center, and plans on going to medical school. However, her parents are going to be the ones that help her choose the man she will marry.
“I do also have the option of falling in love, and if I do, the process will be arranged by my parents,” said Awal, the freshman representative of the Asian Pacific American Association, (APAA).
Awal is from one of the twelve oldest families in Bangladesh and her family still believes in the arranged marriage ceremony. Her parents have also given her the freedom of finding love for a few years. If she doesn’t find someone by the time she finishes her undergrad her parents will also start looking for a groom.
“My father was rejected a few times, and he himself rejected a few marriage proposals before my father and mother both accepted,” Awal said.
Even though she has a choice, the ceremony and arrangements are still made by the parents. She will also have the choice of the groom once her parents start looking. Arranged marriages have changed over the years into more of an “online” type of dating. Parents and their children look over resumes and hold interviews to see if the groom would be appropriate.
According to Statistic Brain, 54 percent of marriages in the world today are arranged. Meaning that arranged marriages are still common. However, the global divorce rate for arranged marriages is only 0.3 percent. Compared to the western ideals of marriage, arranged marriages are a lot more successful in maintaining marriage through time.
“Divorce in the United States is near 50 percent, while a statistic from India showed it was near 1%,” said cultural anthropology professor Tim Roufs.
According to Roufs, even though the divorce rate is low, it doesn’t mean that the couples are necessarily happy together.
“Out of my extended family members who participated in arranged marriages, only one of my family members have ended in divorce,” Awal said.
Roufs explained that intimacy alone isn’t enough to keep couples together. There are conflicts that arise that some couples cannot deal with from finances and emotional disturbances that can cause marriage to end in divorce.
“The reason why arranged marriages are so successful is because they symbolize the bond and trust of two families,” Roufs said.
He added that couples in western counties are more individualistic, resulting in little support from families from financial and emotional issues.
With the families working together in arranged marriages, they can help prevent these issues because they have financial support from both sides. They also have emotional support from relatives because families develop a close relationship together.
“Couples work towards developing their marriage,” said Roufs.
Rouf says couples often want it to work to make sure not to disappoint the family after making all of the arrangements for the wedding. Trust is a large component of arranged marriages from the families to the individual couples.
Azrin Awal believes that since she is so young, her emotions may get in the way, so her parents would make the better decision for the long-haul.
“Our parents know us the best, thus (they) know what we want. I have faith in my parents and that they will give me good choices—and also the decision to choose at the end,” Awal said.