The Balancing Act: ‘Can Arranged Marriage Work?’


May 6, 2016


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Wedding Jitters: Do you think arranged marriage can work? I have huge anxieties about my marriage.


Sonali: The prospect of marrying someone who is not chosen by you can be a scary proposition. In an Indian context, whether it’s a love or arranged marriage, people usually get married into a family, after all. Traditionally, arranged marriage is considered a strong safety net, as similar backgrounds theoretically allow for easy adjustment.

In practice, however, chemistry and compatibility are tricky to set up, and couples generally enter love marriages having a greater understanding of each other and better chemistry (sometimes); though, if there’s a lack of family support or differences in cultural or economic backgrounds, adaptation could be difficult.

There is no one rule or research, which completely supports either kind of marriage. In my practice, I have seen evidence of both working beautifully, and, at the same time, I have seen both crumble for many different reasons.

It may be of help to meet a psychologist to discuss your anxieties and also get an insight into your own expectations of a partner. Love or arranged, what’s important is to choose a partner with whom you share a similar value and meaning system, similar life goals, and a feeling of compatibility and chemistry.

Marriages – whether arranged or love – work when both partners choose to be kind and compassionate to each other and have the ability to resolve conflicts together.

Can’t Spare The Rod: I sometimes hit my 3 year old and later feel very guilty about it. But I am often at my wit’s end, and don’t see a solution other than hitting. How can I learn to control my temper and manage my guilt?

Sonali: I can sense how emotionally torn you feel about your own behaviour. But corporal punishment, even stray incidents of it, is unhealthy for the child and also for your relationship with him.

When we hit our children, we send a message that it is all right to aggress or engage in violence. Research clearly shows that corporal punishment increases aggression in children. While I do understand that children can test our patience and discipline is vital, hitting or spanking them doesn’t tell them what the appropriate behaviour is, only what it’s not.

  Read more on healthy discipline on The Swaddle

Your experience of shame and guilt comes from an innate wish not to hit your son. In my practice, most parents report hitting their child less because the child committed a big mistake, and more because the parents are exhausted and frustrated. Choosing to engage in self-care, seeking emotional support from friends and family, learning effective methods of disciplining, setting firm boundaries, reading books on parenting, and making a conscious decision not to hit will help you curb the impulse.

Finally, engage in some self-compassion; your recognition and outreach is a sign that you have your child’s best interest in mind.


Written By Sonali Gupta

Sonali Gupta is a practicing clinical psychologist with 10 years of experience. She conducts workshops to enhance the emotional well-being of couples, parents and children. She can be reached at sonaligupta297@gmail.com. You can find more of Sonali’s thoughts on Twitter (@guptasonali) and on her website, guptasonali.com


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