According to Moghaddam et al (1993), interpersonal relationships in Western Cultures tend to individualistic, voluntary and temporary. Those in non-Western cultures are more collectivists, involuntary and permanent.
Individualist cultures place a large emphasis on the pursuit of individual happiness. In contrast, in collectivist cultures such as India, relationships are seen as unions between families rather than individuals. The families play a much greater role in the formation of relationships, often using systems of arranged marriages. Once formed they can be quite difficult to end. Hui & Triandis (1986) support the existence of individualistic and collectivist cultures and concluded that collectivism can be defined as concern by a person about the effects of their actions.
Voluntary and Involuntary Relationships
Marriage in western society is based on Cupids Arrow model of love (falling in love) and in collectivist cultures marriage is seen as a match between families. According to Kerckhoff and Davis’s (1962) filter model, our choice of potential marriage partners is limited demographic variables (age, education, ethnic and religious backgrounds etc.) so to this extent relationships are ‘arranged’. However, this western shift to more non-permanent relationships is relatively recent. Fifty years ago divorce was rare. This change may be due to urbanisation and mobility. Gupta and Singh (1982) found that couples in India, who married for love, reported diminished feelings of love after five years of marriage. However, those who’d undertaken arranged marriages felt more love over a period of time. These findings reveal that passionate love ‘cools’ over time and there’s scope for love to flourish within arranged marriages.
In cultures where arranged marriages may occur, dating is accepted to a certain degree, but love is left to be defined and discovered after marriage (Bellur, 1995). Fletcher (2002) points out that in traditional cultures that practice arranged marriages brides and grooms are typically given some choice in the matter. Munck (1998) found in Sri Lanka men and women who like one another usually let their parents know of their choices in advance through indirect channels.
Arranged marriages are far more common in collectivist cultures, where the whole extended family ‘marries’ the other extended family. For example Iwao (1993) found that almost 25% of marriages in Japan were arranged. This contrasts with individualist cultures where the individuals marry one another. Fiske (2004) argues that in Western cultures marriage is motivated by romantic love between two mutually attracted individuals, who freely choose to commit.
Myers et al (2005) supports the argument that arranged marriages can be highly successful. They studied individuals in India living in arranged marriages and found there was no difference in marital satisfaction compared to individuals in non-arranged marriages in the USA.
In general divorce rates of arranged marriages are much lower than on those who marry for love and even more surprisingly, Epstein (2002) further supports this as he found that in about half of arranged marriages the spouses reported that they had fallen in love with each other. However lower levels of divorce rates may not be a true reflection of the quality or relationships in arranged marriages.
Goodwin (1999) argues that in China divorce leads to sever consequences as individuals are likely to face rejection by their families. Unlike western societies, it is easier to find a new partner and maintain a relationship. In Saudi Arabia a man is able to divorce a woman without any reason whereas a woman may divorce her husband if she has specifically stated it in her marriage contract. This may explain why divorce rates are low in Saudi Arabia as it is not a simple legal procedure as it is in many western countries. In addition women in Saudi Arabia face severe…