It is clear there has been a shift away from the traditional form of arranged marriage, involving a matchmaker and formal introductions where the couple meet only after they have been chosen for each other. But there is still a particular approach to marriage in Asian culture worldwide. Marriage is important to young Asians: even in the UK they and their family usually hope they will be married or at least engaged by the age of 30, even though the rest of the population is marrying later and later – or not at all.
While the new generation of Asians has adapted to the lifestyle of their country, they also maintain Asian cultures and traditions, as shown by the approach to their search for a life partner. The majority will still want to settle with an Asian Marriage Partner if possible.
Although few marriages in the Asian community are arranged in the traditional meaning of the word, the extended family remains involved in the search for a life partner – even if they have to resist the urge to take over as matchmaker! The difference now is that young people are given the choice to find love, and meet and get to know each other before making formal family introductions. At this stage the family will consider the suitability of the match before any engagement or wedding is announced.
We now have a second and third generation of Asians who have a balance of cultural understanding that covers both East and West with equal ease. Many communities, for example Telugu and Kerala, have migrated widely but would still prefer a spouse from a similar background. They expect more freedom in their marriage choice, while still respecting the wishes of their elders and family traditions.
However, there is a growing contradiction to this tradition. There are a growing number unmarried after the age of 30, showing how the change in marriage trends has affected Asians. Most of these people are now in good positions and stable employment looking for partners, yet often it is difficult to meet a suitable partner.
There a clear reasons for this: young Asians are more likely to go to university, graduate at 22, find a job and enjoy it. Time passes quickly after the first few years of establishing a career and suddenly you are 30 and still single. Clearly someone who is used to this independence is not about to ask the local Matchmaker to take over the search. Instead they are taking the initiative to find a suitable match themselves, often using the power of the Internet.
Through responsible online matrimonial agencies they find confidential and respectable introductions to like-minded prospective partners of an appropriate religious and ethnic background. Online dating and marriage agencies are no longer the last resort – many attractive and articulate couples meet this way, knowing that the fragmented offline social scene would not otherwise bring them together.
The reputable online marriage and dating agencies offer full confidentiality with the opportunity to select or reject potential partners’ profiles and correspond by email to find out more about each other. They can then choose whether to meet, and what form that meeting should take.
An established agency (usually with a paid subscription) will normally ask clients to state their intentions – marriage or dating – so the young person can meet someone who is serious. This online matchmaker trend is fuelling a fundamental change in Asian marriage traditions.