When we hear of arranged marriages, most of us jump to drastic conclusions, two awkward families, one room but a whole load of delicious samosas. However the sad truth is a lot of these arrangements may be forced, and the samosas might not even be there.
But before we begin drilling into the pros and cons, lets take a look at some of the facts surrounding them.
Arranged marriages are usually conducted for daughters
They are mostly carried out by religious families
They serve as a way of finding a spouse when offspring haven’t done so themselves
They are associated more so with Asian families such as Pakistanis or Indians.
They do seem like glum ways to find love, and yes some may even be forced. Situations such as these are horrific, and result in tough 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 bullying their child into a wedding they may not want to be a part of? Certainly not…
We have conducted some research into arranged Muslim marriages and learnt a great deal surrounding Islamic marriage culture.
The majority of Muslims end up marrying through referees; 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 well until we delved deeper. Due to family respect and culture, it is difficult to say “no” to the potential match once you have visited their family and discussed marriage with them. Sound a little fuddy duddy? Allow me to spell it out…
You are looking for a lovely bride for your son. Your friend tells you of a family who is looking for a lovely groom for their daughter, fantastic! You see a photograph, and she does indeed look lovely (even with the flower crown Snapchat filter planted across her head imitating Sid from the Ice Age). You agree to meet after having a brief discussion over the telephone with her parents.
Upon arriving at the ‘potential’s’ house, you sit and discuss how happy you are with their daughter and how excited you are to get this show on the road. After a wonderful twenty minutes you are offered some tea by a girl who looks similar to the one from the picture, but also not… so… similar…
After a bout of confusion, you ask where the lovely young bride to be is, and low and behold they present you with the tea girl!
Two things become abundantly clear, firstly you have been duped. And secondly the flower crown filter really does work wonders.
But wait! You have already discussed half the wedding! You have too much dignity to lose, you can’t simply walk off! You are forced into the only respectful option – continue with the wedding.
So you return home, head held in shame, you made a mistake, but you can’t show it. You explain your ‘successful’ escapade with enthusiasm to the rest of the family and things begin to get heated. Your son disagrees and is furious. You have little choice but to fight back as you have already promised him to Flower Crown Sid. Things go pear-shaped, but the marriage goes ahead.
As you can see, these scenarios can get a little dark. So we continued our research and looked into other ways to get around this hiccup. After some painstaking Google searching we stumbled upon the world of marriage bureaus and got a chance to sit down with some owners of Muslim marriage bureaus. We managed to get a real insight into how they work and what criteria they use to match from. There was a convivial aurora about topics of marriages that were arranged, which took us by surprise as we expected it to be as dreary as the parents doing the arranging!
“Clients are educated, sensible individuals, most of whom haven’t had time to find themselves a spouse due to work or other commitments,” they said. “That’s where we step in, we send them introductions with whom their families can discuss marriage then walk away and 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!”
OK so they seemed to have solved the issue of the dreaded “oh sorry, you’re just not our cup of chai” speech. What about the photoshopped images turning Aunt Jemima into Kim K?!
“Of course people all over the planet use photo editing tools to make themselves look more attractive, we live in a superficial world,” they claimed. “We do however implement strict policies regarding photographs, as any falsified information or images will result in an immediate termination of membership. Our customers do understand this and they definitely do not want to lose their paid membership over it! Although we cannot conduct military-level background checks on our clients, we do however conduct our own research using social media and any other online resources within our rights. This helps with authenticity of client profiles. Any discrepancies are handled immediately.”
To which I replied “So, are you saying marriage bureaus finds perfectly suited matches, legitimately, and also gets rid of any potholes in the process of arranged marriages?”
“No, of course not,” they replied, “There is always potential for a bit of drama when arranging a marriage, just look to TV soaps for more detail! But we do try to make it as hassle-free as possible for our clients. And so far so good!”
To be completely honest, I was satisfied with the responses I got back from the owners and managers of Muslim marriage bureaus. I get the feeling they had prepared them well in advance and was ready for me! Nevertheless, I feel they indeed addressed the usual pitfalls when going down the arranged route. There are a few marriage bureaus in Britain, however be sure to do plenty of research when trying to find one that ticks all your boxes. Ensure you get a years membership, introductions regularly and a dedicated matchmaker. Also confirm that there will be no additional fees upon successful marriage, as many places do charge such a fee. Look out for SSL certificates if buying your membership on their website. And also consider finding a bureau that offers a money back guarantee of some sort.
It seems there is a civilised way of arranging your offspring’s marriage, which leads me to my conclusion. If you want to find someone for your kid to marry, and they are happy for you to do so, then use a marriage bureau! I will surely get my son signed up, he needs to settle down!