05-26-18 – Blog Queen - Sarah Raplee

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Romance in Arranged Marriage - Oxymoron or Possibility?

By Shobhan Bantwal

Despite my 40-year-old arranged marriage and my conservative childhood in small-town India, I’m a hopeless romantic. Surprised? Why else would I write my India-centric stories bubbling with drama, emotion, colorful ethnic characters, rich cultural elements, and most importantly romance?

Contrary to popular belief, most modern Indian arranged marriages are rooted in mutual liking and respect. Most couples have the choice of rejection if they take an instant dislike to each other or have serious doubts about a future together.

While many think a "romantic arranged marriage" is a contradiction, I believe it is possible to have romance in a relationship built on a practical foundation. In fact, when parents of potential brides and grooms research suitable matches for their children, they invariably choose someone with similar family values, and compatible economic, educational, and social backgrounds.

But then again, falling in love and finding one's own soul-mate can be such fun!

Some folks seem to view arranged marriage as a quaint and antiquated custom of two strangers entering blindly into a loveless union forced by their elders. Nonetheless, from personal experience and the examples amongst my family and friends, I can safely say arranged love is the kind that may be slow to ignite, mature, and stabilize, but it is an abiding love that often lasts a lifetime. I call it “arranged love.”

In my humble opinion, romance is not always about roses, champagne, and diamonds, although it does have a special appeal. Sometimes being there for each other in sickness and health, through the ups and downs of life, raising children, and sharing a few laughs is more precious than wine and moonlight.

Besides, isn’t every marriage or long-term relationship a gamble to some degree, no matter which way the partners meet? I have to confess though, that my fiction is vastly different from my personal life. In my stories, the hero and heroine fall in love, experience some wild adventures, and often go against cultural dictates.

My latest book, The Reluctant Matchmaker, is the story of a petite Indian-American woman, Meena, who falls in love with her super-tall boss. Things get complicated when he requests her assistance in finding a suitably tall bride for himself. So is Meena going to help him or find some way to make him fall in love with her?

I would love to hear your thoughts on love and life-long relationships.

You can reach me at my website: or my Facebook page.


Sarah Raplee said...

Hi Shobhan, I think people in western countries have heard so much about the negative stereotypes that we don't realize there are many more happy arranged marriages than unhappy.

I love learning about Indian culture through your stories!

Shobhan Bantwal said...

Thanks for the comment, Sarah. You're right in that the western stereotypical ideas can be rather negative, so arranged marriage gets a bad rap. And there are indeed some very coercive and unhappy arranged matches in India, but in general the more modern ones are between two educated adults who know what they want from the relationship and are willing to work towards making it a happy one.

Judith Ashley said...

I love the term "arranged love". Thank you for showing the realities of an arranged marriage. Not as dramatic but much more satisfying!

Shobhan Bantwal said...

Thanks for the support, Judith. In my culture and age group, arranged love is the norm. Anything outside of that is considered rare or unusual, LOL...

Margaret Tanner said...

Hi Shobhan,
Sorry I must have missed this when you originally posted it.
Great blog, I like the term arranged love. I write historicals so arranged marriages to consolidate family fortunes etc. are not uncommon.