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Are Arranged Marriages or Marriages for Love the Best?

Updated on August 17, 2016
Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty has advanced degrees in preventive medicine and health psychology, with 35 years of work in allergy and other autoimmune treatment.


Can Arranged Marriages Work?

The truth for me is that I would prefer marriages for love to be more successful than arranged marriages, but I actually think that either type can be successful.

Success depends on the people involved. However, I think there needs to be a certain measure of compatibility between the partners in in order to ensure the success of the relationship. Warring partners are not going to succeed for long.

Arranged marriages, to my mind, are business arrangements made in order to join families for economic and social status reasons. However, they can be successful as business relationships and the two marriage partners can even be happy in them if they are kind and respectful to each other. Some even fall in love.

Arranged marriages, to my mind, are business arrangements made in order to join families for economic and social status reasons.

Inuit Couple and Child


The Scent of Love

The Eskimo nose kiss is really a ritual of smelling a potential partner to see if they are compatible, and a way of recognition between partners.

Doing the tango after all these years.
Doing the tango after all these years. | Source

What does a couple need to have in common?

I'll be answering the question from the perspective of someone that has done psychological and vocational assessment and couples' counseling, as well as adding some information from my own life. Aside from all that, many scientists feel that attraction is really based on the sense of smell. A person too close to your own genetic makeup will not smell as attractive to one that would be more distant from you. This is supposed to reduce the number of genetic defects in the children that would result.

Healthy "mate"-type relationships that can endure and bring everlasting joy need a bit of variety between the two partners or spouses comprising the couple. This requires commonality in core values, with some differences in other types of preferences.

As an assessment specialist a couple of years ago, I completed the eHarmony questionnaire myself to see what was on it. I was impressed by how much it covered and how many different aspects of life it involved. The test also included some questions that asked the test-taker if, when push came to shove, you could live with this quality or preference in a partner, or not? I thought that this was very useful.

However, I had one more category that was "non-negotiable" for me than the ones eHarmony grouped into the "non-negotiable" compartment and I would have had to work that out later if I had joined eHarmony. Overall, the questionnaire left enough flexibility in the areas left in the negotiable categories to make life as a couple interesting. I thought is was a good assessment tool.

I must say, though, that after 60 days, no matches were found for me in the eHarmony database. That made me feel like the biblical "Little owl on the rooftop, crying in the wilderness." I also felt that eHarmony could be a scam at that point, but I don't know. All that is certain to me is that it costs $50 a month. Should people need to pay for matchmaking services? With the population of our country and the world increasing, I don't see anything wrong with it - as long as it is a legitimate business and has real people in its database.


For example, when I directed a half-way house for individuals with MR/DD (mentally challenged) that were transitioning into independent living in the city, someone signed them all up for a dating service as a joke. Screening was very lax at the dating service, so many of out clients' feelings were hurt and the "matches" made for them were very angry and some were even scared.

As for similarities required for a healthy relationship, a couple can be given the IPAT 16-personalityy factor questionnaire separately and the results can be compared. For a healthy relationship, not all the categories should come out with the same scores. The tool examines 16 personality aspects, each on a 1-10 scale known as a Likert Scale in which 1 is "not at all like me" and "10" is "definitely like me" or words to that effect. This test is used for matching employees with jobs effectively as well, so I think it is a good starting assessment.

The test measures personality factors such as Extraversion-Introversion, Resilience, Suspiciousness, Abstract thinking, etc. (see the sample results table). You can see that some opposites will work well together and some won't. For example, I don't think you can place a trusting person with an extremely suspicious person; the one will talk to everyone, and the other perhaps won't let anyone in the house. So, some judgment must be used in looking at he IPAT 16 results and then they should be discussed with the couple together. There are other tests as well to determine personality types and such and any of them can be useful or not, depending on the case.

Sample, the IPAT 16 Personality Factor test


A Good Match

In my experience there are a few things that should match in a couple:

  • 1) Language and Culture or understanding of each other's language concepts and culture. Language is an anchor and bedrock foundation part of a person's personality and worldview; each language contains concepts that are not present in other languages. It's not just different words and different customers.
  • 2) Faith or Spirituality. This is too large an area to examine fully here, but I think that a couple should share the same basic beliefs in this category. If not, it is almost better if one partner is agnostic or atheistic than to have a different deity-based faith. Further, I think that someone who regards nature as their base of spirituality can likely get along with most other people. Cutting through all this, a couple with differences in this area can agree to disagree and commit to the relationship in the long run.
  • 3) Approach to Money and its Use. This is a big stumbling block in relationships of all kinds and can be very complex. It is something a couple should discuss and agree upon, making whatever compromises can be made. It can be a very good idea to visit a financial expert to get some information as a couple regarding finances before making a long term relationship.
  • 4) Children. Couples must come to an understanding about whether the relationship will produce children (if at all) biologically or through adoption, how many, and how those children will be raised.


Effective Relationships


  • Feel good about themselves.
  • Feel generally positive and productive, encouraged by their partner to excel and grow.
  • Feel that partners are accountable to each other and to society.
  • Feel that they have a purpose.
  • Feel that they contribute to society by having a good relationship.


  • 1) Respect your partner as an individual with all the rights that you have, all the time.
  • 2) Say good morning and good night every day! Use good manners and communication.
  • 3) Express your appreciation to each other, for small and large things.
  • 4) Understand your partner or mate, including the concepts in their language and culture, even if it's "only" from another state or the other side of town.
  • 5) Fight fairly. Don't bring up past arguments. Do not use shouting, name-calling, put-downs, sarcasm, eye-rolling, sneering or words like, "You always..." or "You never..."
  • 6) Understand that there is no boss in a relationship - your partner or mate is not your employee and not your possession (at least in most Western cultures). There are two partners in a relationship -- At different times, one or the other will bear more responsibility and work, but not forever.
  • 7) Don't be afraid to seek the help of a disinterested third party if problems arise - seek the help of a counselor or a pastor or spiritual advisor.
  • 8) Remember that just wanting to be with someone is not enough for a good relationship.


© 2007 Patty Inglish MS


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