The Culture of Arranged Marriages in Indonesia


In this modern world, although the tradition of arranged marriages has been abandoned, it is still prevalent in Indonesia. Many people might even be surprised to discover this widely practiced aspect of Indonesian culture. It’s mostly practiced in rural areas.

Arranged marriages typically occur for different reasons. The first reason is because the parents themselves are interested in becoming in-laws and make an agreement that their children should be engaged at an early age. In this case, the children will spend a lot of time together since childhood and will get married when they have matured. Fortunately, this arrangement takes into account consent of the children.

Another reason for arranged marriage is greed. This condition usually occurs in rural areas, where parents forcibly marry children to their future spouses. The motivation behind this arranged marriage are parents’ desire for wealth or status. In this case, it usually happens without considering the child’s opinion.

A child’s age can also be a motivation for arranged marriage. Unmarried daughters beyond 25 years old may cause parents to experience societal pressure. Therefore, arranged marriage is seen as a way to solve this problem. Parents worry what the community will think of their unmarried child, and will worry if she will experience difficulty while child-bearing in her 30s.

Religion also plays a role, where marriage should be acknowledged and accepted by the parents. Parents are seen as more knowledgeable for the child about marriage. Because of this motivation, children are more accepting of the arranged marriage that their parents set up for them.  However, there are exceptions where parents would force their wishes on the child.

Downsides of Arranged Marriages

Forced arranged marriages have been proven to result in many downsides. The child will be under extreme stress as it is forced against them, leading to an unhappy marriage.

Limited time is also an obstacle, as they only have a limited time to know each other before marriage. After the ceremony, some may find violent tendencies, an unacceptable past, or clashing personalities in their spouses. In many cases, this results in trauma or divorce. Adultery, ignorance, irritation are also some of the things the spouses usually do to release frustration of being stuck in this marriage.

Other than that, underage child marriages could occur as parents seek to marry their child to a wealthy person and be an in-law of someone wealthy despite the child’s underage status.

Upsides of Arranged Marriages

Even with the array of negative effects arranged marriage can bring, it can also bring many positive effects. Arranged marriages gives spouses many chances to learn their partner’s personality after marriage. To some, it gives them the added sense of mystery and excitement in a marriage, something that does not occur in a non-arranged marriage.

Having someone arrange the marriage also gives a guarantee that you will be closer to your spouse. If something goes awry in the marriage, there will be someone to consult so resolving problems will be more effective. Unlike being in a non-arranged marriage, spouses may have difficulty getting close to their spouses’ loved ones and might have difficulty acquiring help when there are problems.

A prolonged courting period that ends in heartbreak are also one of the fallouts that could be prevented. There have been many cases where a prolonged courting period results in heartbreak. Arranged marriage could be the method to avoid this as both persons are on the same page and clearly want to get married.

Since marriage is the union of two families, there are bound to be people who dislike each other. Disapproving in-laws brings heartache and conflict within the family. To solve this, arranged marriage ensures parental approval of their children’s union. Spouses will also have less trouble connecting with in-laws as the they have been fully approved before the marriage.

Arranged marriage could lead to an everlasting marriage. This is because people can pick specific traits they prefer or want in their partner. In this way, they will be married to people they truly like even before the ceremony.

Marriage is a complicated union of two families. Whether it is arranged or non-arranged, there will always be conflicts and problems that arise within the family or from external sources. No amount of preparation could prevent it, but an arranged marriage is meant to be a precaution before the problems. However, that doesn’t mean that the culture of arranged marriages didn’t negatively affect Indonesians who practice it in the past until now.

What is your view of arranged marriages?