I was asked to answer this often & fiercely debated question on Quora. The question poser was comparing Indian style ‘arranged marriages’ v/s marriages in the ‘west’. Divorce statistics were thrown at me. Here is what I feel though.
Stability of Indian marriages has NOTHING to do with the style of the marriage. More to do with the social mores. ONE of the reasons for the relative stability is the deeply ingrained secondary status of the woman in the marriage.
The patriarchal system
- makes the woman feel that it is her responsibility to make the marriage work at all costs.
- places a stigma on the woman who separates from her husband.
- makes it difficult for divorced women, especially one with kids, to seek remarriage easily.
When I look at a lot of marriages in India, I see that the reason they seem stable often is the tremendous sacrifices the woman makes to keep them that way. Divorce is, often, perceived as being worse than living through the marriage, how much ever a sham it may be.
If it is a ‘love’ marriage, a quaint Indian term that only means that the man and woman have fallen in love before marriage and decided to marry, apart from all these there is also the pressure of “what will people say if this does not work; after all I chose my husband myself”.
PS: I do not wish to imply that there are no happy (& therefore stable) marriages in India, whether arranged by the family or ‘arranged’ by the couple themselves. Of course there are. Just as there are happy marriages outside of India too. We have all seen a number of them. However, the fact still remains that the style of the marriage makes little difference to the stability.
This answer of mine has now also been posted to the Huffington Post (here)