Search Menu

Auntie SparkNotes: Should I Agree to an Arranged Marriage?

Auntie SparkNotes: Should I Agree to an Arranged Marriage?

Dear Auntie,

There really is no nice way to say this, but I have controlling Asian parents. I'm 18 years old and my parents are considering giving me an arranged marriage. In this day and age I don't think that should apply to me, even if that worked for them. I haven't ever dated or even been kissed before because of the rules my parents set down. I need advice on whether or not I should go through with something like this because it is so life changing. Should I be passive and just trust my parents that they will make the best decisions for me, even when it's not what I want?

Well, that depends, Sparkler. Do you believe that it's possible that the "best decisions" for you can be made without your input, against your wishes, in service of an agenda that has nothing to do with your beliefs, your values, or your happiness?

I know what my answer to that question is, but it's your answer that matters, here—and whatever the answer, it's important that you take this opportunity to arrive at it on your own. Because you're not used to doing that, are you? You've been living in service of someone else's ideals, you've been told that your parents know best in all things, and you've been taught that your own values and beliefs are to be left unexamined because they're not worthy or important.

I mean, you're so unconfident in your own judgment that you're asking me if it's okay to use it.

And in service of helping you find your own way to a solution that will work for you, I'm going to give you the following thoughts to ponder: At what point, if any, will you become your own most trusted authority on who you are, what you want, and how you prefer to live? At what point, if any, do you believe that what you want matters more than your parents' wishes or your culture's norms? What would you gain by living, and loving, according to what somebody else has prescribed for you? What would you lose if you were to insist on making these choices yourself? And if the answer to both of those questions is the acceptance of your parents, then is keeping that acceptance worth the price of your autonomy? What does it say about their judgment, and their values, that they would rather see you obey than find your own way? Whose interests are your parents serving if they insist you conform to a path that doesn't fit?

The spectre of an arranged marriage is beside the point; it's your relationship with your parents, and with yourself, that you need to iron out the terms of. You need to decide when, if ever, you'd rather risk their disapproval than submit to their control. You need to decide how much of your life, if any, you want to leave in the hands of people who don't particularly care who you are or what you want. And whether or not you could be happy with a husband selected for you by your folks, you need to realize that you won't be emotionally healthy or whole if you're only a passenger in your own life—and that's true when it comes to the little decisions as well as the life-changing ones.

Happy deciding.

Got something to add? Tell us in the comments! And to get advice from Auntie, email her at
Want more info about how this column works? Check out the Auntie SparkNotes FAQ.

Topics: Advice
Tags: parents, auntie sparknotes, relationships, arranged marriages, marriage

Write your own comment!

About the Author

Kat Rosenfield is a writer, illustrator, advice columnist, YA author, and enthusiastic licker of that plastic liner that comes inside a box of Cheez-Its. She loves zombies and cats. She hates zombie cats. Follow her on Twitter or Tumblr @katrosenfield.

Wanna contact a writer or editor? Email