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by Omoy Lungange, at 01:00 am, February 16, 2012, Lifestyle

Love Match vs. Arranged Marriage

Young adults born to at least one parent who immigrated from Africa to America face the challenge of juggling two cultures: the American, and their African cultures. They experience two family systems particularly different in the way marriages are decided. On one hand, there is the "love marriage" taken for granted by their Western peers and, on the other hand, the "arranged marriage" encouraged by their parents.

In a traditional African community, parents emphasize communal values, which are reflected in the family system. Family members, live together in multigenerational households, where parents guide each child into an authoritarian religious tradition, an inherited occupation, and an arranged marriage. A person marries whoever is best for the family, and for the larger groups in which the family is enveloped. Romantically based passion love is discouraged, for the fear it would disrupt smooth social functioning and sometimes, prestigious status. Instead, there is this notion; love between spouses will develop slowly and steadily after marriage into a family of shared responsibility and experience.

With the popularity of reality TV shows competing for love such as, Real Chance at Love, the Bachelor, Rock of Love, children brought up in the United States quickly adapt to the fairy-tale standards of their new surroundings while parents hold onto old beliefs.  Families subsequently lose control over their children's work, place of residence, values, and marriage choice as children (more specifically young adults), gather their unique abilities and competitive skills to find their own jobs; develop their own beliefs, and join the Western dating scene, hoping to eventually marry the person they love.

Old values are then weakening, giving way to autonomy and individualism as dominant ideologies within the traditionally based African household.  Most young adults of some African immigrants have said they truly want to be in love; they ‘want to feel that…’ Feeling and experience the freedom to choose. Although the inevitable intergenerational conflict is strenuous and painful for both sides, modern values of romantic love usually prevail.

On the other hand, it is important to note that, not every young adult agrees that a romantically based love-marriage is better. For most, the concept of arranged marriage makes absolutely sense. Too many children of African descents raised in the United States, believe that although the idea seems bizarre at first, in practice it works in a lot of cases.  Many explained in the following, the advantages of why arranged marriages work. 

They first speak of the difficulties adapting to the American lifestyle.  How you grow up and how you learn to socialize is extremely important. If you have not learned to date, you can't deal with the dating game in this culture. In that way alone, it is difficult being single in America. As a result, arranged marriages become more of an option. Another advantage of arranged marriages derives from one’s concept of family. Because their world is their family, most of the young adults trust the wisdom of older relatives. Ideally, they believe the older relatives make good decisions for the younger generation and the rest of the family to follow.

Arranged marriage is an old traditional and cultural institution practiced in some parts of Africa and in the old days parents had complete control over the matchmaking. Today arranged marriages are not always authoritarian as it used to be.  In many cases, parents are doing the groundwork but the individual is in control in choosing his/her spouse. Potential mates are allowed to meet before marriage and they have the final say. Among the children brought up in the United States, more and more of them are choosing this trend, also known as "self-arranged" marriages.

In conclusion comparing love marriages and arranged marriages, one is never better than the other. Both require a lot of work and a lot of compassion. Thus, the best way to insure a strong, loving marriage is to find a balance between both “love marriages” and “arranged marriages.” To be more specific, individuals ought to decide how their mate selection will take place. Some can conduct this selection by themselves, while others may prefer to get help from someone else, like their parents or a matchmaker.

However, the chooser must remember, there is more involved in the choosing of a partner than convenience or pure passion. A strong marriage will require more durable foundation than love alone.  A wise young adult should care deeply about how others view his/her potential mate.

Parents, siblings, friends, relatives and co-workers, should be able to attest to the potential mate’s honesty, integrity, faithfulness, character, loyalty, kindness, godliness, and compassion. And of course, there may be times when people will share something unkind. Don’t discard the negative information regardless… Listen carefully and long enough, in due time, facts about your potential mate’s nature will be uncovered. 

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