Seth, now 32, is happily married with a two-year-old son, and has become an advocate of the principles of arranged marriage, which she suggests her own experience reflects. This does not mean that she supports the kind of marriage in which the parties are left without choice about whom they marry. Rather she believes that common backgrounds and shared values – which underpin the Asian tradition of arranged marriage – are more likely to lead to an enduring relationship than the chance meeting promoted so enticingly by Hollywood and a culture that clings to the notion of spontaneous romantic love.
What Seth argues in her book, First Comes Marriage, is that if you build the components of a marriage with care, love will grow. She cites her own parents, whose marriage was arranged in India and who have been together for 33 years, and she has developed her case by talking to more than 300 women whose marriages were arranged. According to Seth, the divorce rate for such unions is between 5 and 7 per cent (compared with a 40 per cent failure rate in the UK) and a 2005 study showed that over time couples in arranged marriages report high levels of happiness and satisfaction.
It makes sense: have wise elders pick someone who is compatible, and learn to love them later.
It’s heresy to suggest anything decreasing individual autonomy in the West, such as that love isn’t a mystical process. It’s a strong friendship, with respect and sexual attraction.
So we flog on with miserable marriages, multiple divorces, and having to get used to our partners screaming out the wrong name during orgasm. A society of sluts, we take that same sexual insincerity and apply it to everything else. And we justify it in the name of sex being fun, etc.
It makes more sense to look at what works.