Sunday, August 26, 2012

Why do Indian arranged marriages work?

[caption id="attachment_607" align="aligncenter" width="300"] Why Do Indian Arranged Marriages work?[/caption]

(continued from previous blog "why do Indians go for arranged marriage")
Needless to say, bio-digital break did not help me to find suitable answers to a profound question "why do Indian arranged marriages work".

When I see around, there are many arranged marriages which almost never break. They may not necessarily be "then they lived happily ever after" kind of marriages. There would be fights, misunderstandings, deceptions but the marriages survive more often than not.  They are not ideal marriages, they are no role models but still they survive.  The divorce rates from such a counter intuitive match making process are  much lower (~10%) as compared to rest of the world where matchmaking is quite prolonged, there are almost infinite choices but more than 50% marriages end in divorce.

What is intriguing is why do such marriages work? Are people who get married this way actually "happily married"? Frankly, I did not have an answer till I stumbled upon a few TED talks.

As per Helen Fisher, as an animal a human being is not borne to love but borne to reproduce and propagate the species. No doubt love is a feeling or a drive that is unique to human being but that means to an end. To effectively achieve this, human brain evolved in a very unique way. There are 3 attraction centres in our brain, one for lust, second for romantic love and third for attachment.  Apparently, lust centre makes us want the partner, love centre helps us to zoom in on one preferred partner and attachment centre ensures we stick around long enough with our partner to raise the child. So lust and love are intermediate steps to achieve attachment which is an end goal for human being as a species.
Arranged marriages happen because - The  whole process is designed towards eliminating step 1 and 2 and directly jump on to step 3. The commitment to stay attached to the partner makes up for lack of lust or love.

But does this supposedly sub-optimal way of getting married actually make them happy? Isn't their happiness like sour grapes? Dan Gilbert's TED talk had the answer. As it turns out human brain has evolved to manufacture happiness in our brain. We keep chasing it outside but actually it is inside our brain. Experiments where  subjects are subjected to many choices and had freedom to change their mind at any point in time were a lot unhappier than those who had to make their mind once and were not allowed to change.Extremely counter intuitive, surprising finding from Harvard labs. This is exactly what happens in arranged marriage.

Decide based on what you know, make up your mind, never turn back and make it work. I am not sure if propagators of Indian arranged marriage knew it. Probably they did not. Perhaps, they stumbled upon a system that works. Not an ideal system, not everyone's cup of tea but it just works!!

"Why we love , why we cheat" Helen Fisher explains 3 pleasure centers in the brain. But she says arranged marriages will cease to exist, for the very same reason :)

"Why are we Happy?" Dan Gilbert explains people who have more freedom to make choices are less happier than those who have limited choice

Read extended short story version of Why Do Indians blogs with a few more interesting indian inscrutable ways in Why Do Indians..? - The Book

No comments: