A primary reason why arranged marriages continue to find favor even in this age of personal freedom is that the practice assures a certain degree of familiarity with a potential partner’s economic and marital status. However the close-knit clan kinship system which earlier offered more information on prospective alliances is disintegrating today and one often does not know who he/she is marrying. Here are a few ways to investigate a person you are considering marrying as part of an arranged alliance.
Tap the family network
Family events like weddings are common occasions when parents look for potential partners for their children. In most cases of arranged marriages, the proposal is brought forth by some member of the extended family. If you are on good terms with the family members of the grandaunt or paternal uncle who has suggested a prospective partner for you, ask them more about the person – his/her family, education and profession. However if you are not comfortable asking such details, rope in siblings, cousins or trusted relatives who can do some background checking for you. Every extended family has at least one member who makes it his/her business to know about others and this person is sure to prove a mine of information on your prospective match.
Ask the help of friends
Often family members are not forthcoming with marital or financial details of a prospective partner if they feel these may jeopardize a promising alliance. In this case, look for friends and acquaintances common to you and your prospective partner who can tell you more about the latter. Cultural celebrations and community get-togethers are ideal occasions to ask around as you are sure to meet someone who used to live near your would-be partner, took tennis lessons or went to college with him/her. Sometimes mutual friends may not be keen to divulge personal details and in this case you can tap past acquaintances, course-mates or neighbors who may not be overly bothered by scruples.
Visit the workplace
In order to get a complete picture of the person who you are about to marry, it is crucial to know about his/her professional life. See if you know someone from his/her office or workplace. If not, then explore your social circle for someone who does and ask to accompany him/her to your prospective partner’s workplace. This will not only let you investigate his/her professional and financial status but also allow you to get an idea on the kind of person – well-liked, hardworking, opportunistic, careless - he/she is. In the event that you know nobody at all from your would-be partner’s workplace, you could also pretend to be a customer, client or some other interested party in order to obtain entry to the workplace. However be careful how you play your cards here since a slip-up can not only lead to embarrassment but also land you in trouble for impersonation. Investigating at the workplace can help you verify the claims about designation, salary and job profile in case of someone who's working for an organization.
Use a direct approach
Many times a first-hand exposure to your prospective partner’s social life can work better than investigating through third parties. In many traditional societies, arranged marriages meant that prospective partners were rarely allowed to meet each other before the actual wedding. However with changing times, families no longer mind the young people going out on dates once an alliance has been formalized. So encourage your would-be partner to take you to his/her office parties or favorite hang-outs. Keep your eyes and ears open for signs that someone may be hiding something or eager to share some information. Look for awkward pauses in a conversation or abrupt changes in topics and then follow them up later. You may be able to get more from a casual guest at a friend’s birthday bash than from a mutual friend or family member.
Hire a professional
If your upcoming marriage is part of an arranged alliance, it is unlikely that you will be living together before the wedding. This means that you have less access to your partner’s cell phone or computer for doing a long-term background check. However these days there are several kinds of mobile phone spy softwares available in the market and you can register for wide range of electronic surveillance services. On the other hand, if you wish to obtain definite information on the person’s past and present circumstances without getting your own hands dirty, your best bet would be a private investigator. But before you hire a private detective, make sure that the agency has a valid license to carry on its business. Also insist on a written contract which clearly specifies the charges and kind of information it is expected to provide. Private investigators can be rather expensive so consider your finances before you decide to use this option. Interestingly in many cultures where arranged marriages are the norm, private detectives may be hired by the families and not just the would-be bride or groom to investigate the authenticity of information given during marriage negotiations and the overall suitability of the prospective match.
There are several reasons why you may want to investigate the person whom you are being encouraged to marry as part of an arranged alliance. Unlike lovers, would-be partners here know little about each other’s private lives and past. A guy may seem like the ideal match unless one discovers that he already has a child by a previous partner. Or an apparently shy young woman may have a history of drug abuse. Besides these there are health as well as financial issues too since potential matches may not be forthcoming about STDs or bad mortgages tucked away in a secret corner of their lives. In cultures where the social stigma and legal complexity associated with obtaining a divorce is huge, it makes more sense to thoroughly investigate a potential match before going ahead with the wedding. Arranged marriages are after all based on the practical, as opposed to emotional, suitability of a marital alliance and if one needs to make a few enquiries to be assured, then why not?