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The Pros and Cons of Arranged Marriages for Women of Colour: Debunking Myths and Misconceptions

What is an arranged marriage?

An arranged marriage is a union where the spouses are chosen by their families, relatives, or matchmakers, rather than by personal choice or romantic attraction. On many occasions the couple do have the final decision to proceed with the union or not. 

two hands holding two wedding rings

In this type of marriage, the decision-making process typically involves considerations such as cultural background, socioeconomic status, education, and family reputation. While the level of involvement varies, families often play a significant role in arranging the match and facilitating the union. Arranged marriages are prevalent in various cultures worldwide and are often seen as a means of strengthening familial ties, preserving cultural traditions, and ensuring social stability. 

Arranged marriages have been a topic of both intrigue and controversy. Often steeped in tradition and cultural significance, these unions carry with them a unique set of pros and cons that warrant exploration. By delving into the nuances of arranged marriages, we can better understand the complexities involved, debunk common myths, and shed light on the experiences of women of colour within these arrangements.

Pros of Arranged Marriages

  • Preservation of Cultural Heritage: Arranged marriages often serve as a means of preserving cultural heritage and traditions within communities of colour. These unions reinforce cultural values, customs, and practices, providing a sense of continuity and belonging for individuals and families. The union is agreeable by both the groom and the bride's family. 

  • Community Support: Women of colour in arranged marriages often benefit from extensive community support networks. These networks can offer guidance, assistance, and resources, fostering a sense of belonging and solidarity within the community.

  • Financial Security: In some arranged marriages, considerations of financial stability and security play a significant role. Families may ensure that women are financially supported and have access to resources, alleviating concerns about economic uncertainty.

  • Empowerment through Choice: Contrary to popular belief, many women of colour actively participate in the arrangement process and have a say in the selection of their partners. While family input is valued, women often have agency and autonomy in deciding whether to proceed with the match.

  • Long-term Stability: Arranged marriages often prioritise long-term stability and commitment. With families involved in the matchmaking process, couples may receive support and guidance to navigate challenges, resulting in enduring and resilient relationships.

Cons of Arranged Marriages

  • Limited Agency and Choice: Despite claims of empowerment, some women of colour in arranged marriages may experience limitations on their agency and freedom to choose their partners. Societal and familial expectations can exert pressure, leaving women feeling obligated to comply with traditional norms and values.

  • Gender Inequality: Arranged marriages, particularly in patriarchal societies, can perpetuate gender inequality and reinforce traditional gender roles. Women may face expectations to prioritise family duties and defer to their husbands, limiting their opportunities for personal growth and self-expression.

  • Cultural Stigma: Women of colour in arranged marriages may encounter cultural stigma and judgment from both within and outside their communities. Negative stereotypes and misconceptions about arranged marriages can contribute to feelings of marginalisation and isolation.

  • Lack of Compatibility: Despite efforts to match couples based on shared backgrounds and values, arranged marriages do not always guarantee compatibility. Differences in personalities, interests, or life goals may emerge after marriage, leading to discord and dissatisfaction.

  • Risk of Exploitation: In certain cases, arranged marriages can be used as a means of exploitation or control, particularly when women lack agency or autonomy in the decision-making process. Forced marriages, coercion, and abuse are significant concerns that women of colour may face within arranged unions.

two wedding rings looped on a string

Newlyweds may find themselves in need of various types of support beyond their family network as they embark on their journey together. Financial guidance can help them navigate joint finances, while marriage counselling offers tools to enhance communication and resolve conflicts. Legal assistance aids in understanding rights and responsibilities, while assistance with setting up a household and managing home services eases the transition into married life. Career guidance supports stability and growth, while access to health and wellness services ensures their physical and mental well-being. Community support groups provide a sense of belonging, while religious or spiritual guidance offers support from faith communities. Educational resources, social support networks, emergency services, and technology support round out the spectrum of assistance available to help newlyweds navigate the challenges and joys of marriage.

In conclusion, arranged marriages for women of colour present a complex tapestry of advantages and disadvantages. While these unions offer opportunities for cultural preservation, community support, and financial security, they also raise concerns about agency, gender equality, and potential for exploitation. By debunking myths and misconceptions surrounding arranged marriages, we can foster a more nuanced understanding of the experiences of women of colour within these arrangements. Ultimately, it is crucial to advocate for the empowerment, agency, and well-being of women of colour in all forms of relationships, ensuring that their voices are heard and their rights respected.

two hands holding wedding bands

Seeking Support

As a counsellor, Rashneel provides a comprehensive range of support services tailored to meet the diverse needs of individuals seeking guidance and assistance. Rashneel's approach emphasises empathy, active listening, and collaboration to create a safe and supportive environment for clients to explore their thoughts, feelings, and concerns. When individuals seek support from Rashneel , they can expect personalised attention and a non-judgmental space where they can freely express themselves.

Rashneel offers various types of support, including individual counselling sessions, couples therapy, family counselling, and group therapy sessions. In individual counselling, Rashneel works closely with clients to identify and address personal challenges, develop coping strategies, and promote self-awareness and personal growth. Couples therapy focuses on improving communication, resolving conflicts, and strengthening relationships through effective communication techniques and conflict resolution skills. Family counselling sessions provide a platform for families to address issues, improve dynamics, and foster healthier relationships within the family unit.

Additionally, Rashneel may facilitate group therapy sessions, offering clients the opportunity to connect with others facing similar challenges, share experiences, and gain support from peers. Rashneel's approach integrates evidence-based therapeutic techniques, such as cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT), mindfulness-based interventions, and solution-focused therapy, to help clients achieve their goals and enhance their overall well-being. By offering compassionate support, practical guidance, and empowering individuals to make positive changes in their lives, Rashneel plays a vital role in assisting clients on their journey towards healing, growth, and self-discovery.

a smiling woman with long dark hair


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