The arranged-vs-love-marriage debate goes back a long way. The West has generally done away with arranged matches, but the issue is still unsettled; the institution of arranged marriage is still alive and kicking.

Ardent advocates of both types of marriage exist. Some cynics, however, argue that it doesn’t make much of a difference whether a marriage is arranged or ‘love’. Due to a lack of better options, I have been forced to use the conventional prefixes (‘arranged’ and ‘love’), which leave a lot to be desired really as both arranged and love marriages have something in common: Love inevitably forces the couple to make a lot of arrangements, and love lurks somewhere in arranged-marriages too. It is still an arranged-marriage even if you fall in love with the photograph of your betrothed.

Supporters of arranged-marriages contend that a collective decision is bound to be better than a man deciding on his own. A little reflection tells a different story, however. Probability dictates that a solitary man is more likely to find a decent wife than his mother finding the ‘perfect’ daughter-in-law. Not just that, but other family members will also want a say. In fact, it will be a miracle if all of them end up agreeing on any candidate.

In praise of love-marriages, it is often said that the couple already knows each other by the time they get married. I doubt if they do, really. In a country where there are no live-in relationships (thankfully), and limited contact overall, it’s easy to present the best version of oneself, raising false expectations that are bound to result in disappointment and disillusionment after marriage. In this regard, love-marriages are no different from arranged-marriages, where both families can behave impeccably until the union.

ALEENA ANWAR SIDDIQUI,

Karachi.