Arranged Marriages Pakistan Style

There’s More To Them

arrangedThey say marriages are made in heavens. But, in reality, there is more to marriages than just simple heavenly connection. This “more to marriages” is obvious in societies where marriages have deep social connotations and they are not merely a union of two people at their own sweet will. That social connection is most visible in arranged marriages.

Recently, during the traditional marriage season in Pakistan, which starts September each year and ends during Spring, roughly March); millions of couples tied the knot. Being a social butterfly, I was excited to attend some weddings and most of them were arranged marriages. With our conversation on intimacy and relationships, I was asked to share with our readers my experiences of the mechanics of arranged marriage in Pakistani society.

Arranged Marriages: Cultural Connections

Pakistani society is different from any other Asian country in a number of ways. The traditions and culture prevailing in our country are an amalgam of local customs with a strong religious undertone for a majority of population. With the influence of media (digital and social alike), the culture is fast evolving with glimpses of modernism adding another dimension to an already diverse culture.

This adaptation and influx of other cultures are more evident among the “marriageable age generation,” while the parents of the brides and grooms to be are still relatively conservative. The widening of the generation gap is increasingly getting obvious when it comes to selecting a spouse. The preferences of parents do not usually conform to what the younger generation seeks in their partners.  This (at times) sets the marriage on a collision course, especially when the marriage is arranged against the will of either of the potential partners.

arranged marriage

Marriages are arranged 99% of the time here in Pakistan. When we say “arranged marriage,” in purely Pakistani social settings it means where the parents of the bride and groom fully consent and endorse the union of the couple. Marriages that happen without the consent of parents are called “love marriages” and are socially rejected. The couple may be considered social outcasts and it can take years to regain social acceptance. In some cases, they never are and the couple may be “on their own.”  More extreme cases, although they are increasingly rare now, are the ones where the couple may be subjected to social discrimination, physical harm or even “honor killings.”

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Are Arranged Marriages Evil?

Going by the western standards, it is surely evil to force two people to marry without their consent. It is so in our society and Islāmic teachings, the religious code followed by most Pakistanis. The process of arranged marriage as I have explained earlier, follows the consent code in most cases (although not always) among educated middle and upper class.


The custom followed in an arranged marriage is to find a partner of suitable background (education, family standing, appearance and financial viability). The families meet; girl and boy can meet in a joint family sitting (though they do not get to officially date), the families weigh each others suitability. If deemed compatible on all these counts, the union is given a go ahead. Girls are mostly not allowed to dissent to this choice and is expected to accept the parent’s opinion and they usually do, while men have a better chance to differ.

Arranged marriages are mostly successful here as they are the cultural norm, receive social approval and the couples have the support and backing for such unions. “Love marriages” do not enjoy similar successes due to the social pressures and subsequently have an higher divorce rate.

My opinion, despite being a modernist, is that what works well in a given social setting is the best solution for that community of people. Arranged marriages is woven into the fabric of Pakistani society at present, so speaking from our perspective, they work for most people in Pakistan.

What is your experience or perspective about arranged marriages? Share your thoughts with us in the comment section below and let us have a conversation.

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ContributorNeelma Tashfeen is our special Contributor from Pakistan. She brings to our buffet of conversations issues, topics and a perspective from a culture and a part of the world that many of us have not or will never have an opportunity to visit. Neelma is a freelance writer with a Master’s degree in English Literature and a Bachelor’s degree in Education and lives in Islamabad, Pakistan from where she has shared with readers stories of the lives of women in that country.

Her most recent article for us was “Spring Has Arrived – In Pakistan.” You can contact Neelma directly at

We respect each others faith, culture and way of life on this blog. It is never our intention to proselytize, convert, pressure anyone to any particular point of view . Even when we all do not agree on all practices, norms and ways of life in any part of world, respect is our guiding principle.  Join in our conversations – subscribe and receive a daily update of our posts, as well as Weekday Wisdom© – a dose of motivation right to your inbox Mondays through Fridays.



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10 thoughts on “Arranged Marriages Pakistan Style

  1. Thanks for the valuable feedback on the content. its indeed not always desirable to have arranged marriages but “what works best” in a social setting is the best way of go about a social union. Its understandable that most western societies can not understand the social dynamics of eastern side but then we all live in our own social spheres.

    1. Ms Claudette

      Thanks Neelma for sharing this perspective with our readers. 🙂

  2. I love Neelma’s posts! Such a fascinating glimpse into a life that is completely unfamiliar. Thank you!
    dltolley recently posted…The Knose KnowsMy Profile

    1. Ms Claudette

      Thank you for visiting and for confirming that we are doing a good thing by even slightly opening other worlds. 🙂

  3. I am not a fan of arranged marriages at all and I frankly dont k ow anyone who has gone through one. I do know that in our culture it is practiced too in the rural areas…I do respect other people’s cultures and traditions, I just dont wish it on anyone. We are created with free will to chose our life and that includes our life partner….!

    Thnaks for shading light on a different side to arranged marriages though!

    1. Ms Claudette

      That is our mission – to share insight, widen and broaden the conversation. We don’t have to agree. Heaven knows that I (Claudette) do not necessarily share all of the views of Contributors here but it is theirs and so we respect them. Thanks for sharing your thoughts Julie. 🙂

  4. Interesting post. I’m not a fan of arranged marriages. I know alot of people that have done that and are now divorced. Having said that many are quite successful but I still am not a fan of it. Thanks for sharing 🙂
    Stephanie D’Laroy recently posted…Leukaemia Foundation’s Worlds Greatest Shave 2016 | Hit 92.9FM Radio Station InterviewMy Profile

    1. Ms Claudette

      I am not a fan either but I respect other people’s culture and choices, as I hope they respect mine. That is our intention on this blog – to share the stories of women all over – even the parts that is very different than our own this side of the world. Thanks for stopping by Stephanie. 🙂

  5. If that is all you know then it might not be a bother to you. For me personally this would be a no no for me. I do not think I could manage this at all but to each his own. I would never place my daughter in this position either
    Fashionable Librarian recently posted…Pole Dancing – Out of the ClosetMy Profile

    1. Ms Claudette

      Even if I supported it, my daughter would not have anything to do with it! Unless she comes to me with a relationship issue, I date not even comment on it! Learned my lesson but as you said, if that is your culture and what you grow up knowing, who are we this side to say otherwise. Our intention is to always be insightful. This world of ours have so many different ways and understanding differences is important. Thanks for dropping by.

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