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Family Law Blog

Channel 9’s ‘Married at First Sight’ – Are they onto something?

Posted by Malcolm Gittoes-Caesar on 6 May 2015

In a day and age where reality television is the norm, Channel 9’s show, Married at First Sight, has caused uproar in parts of the community. A petition is now calling for the show’s cancellation, before it even makes its debut.

If you’re unfamiliar with the concept of Married at First Sight – the show aims to arrange a marriage between two strangers, matched by relationship experts and neuropsychologists.

The concept of an arranged marriage (essentially what the show seems to be doing) is unusual in Western culture, where individuals decide who they marry, after dating to decide if a relationship is worth pursuing. In other cultures, arranged marriages are seen as the more logical, wise and accepted custom – based on the rationale that young people are immature, inexperienced and lack the capacity to make the best choices about their relationship.

Again, while Western cultures may struggle to understand this concept, advocates highlight that studies have found, time after time, that arranged marriages have a much lower divorce rate than ‘love marriages.’ This may be the case, however the reality is that there is also an equal or stronger belief that divorce is not an option where arranged marriages are the custom. This causes complications when a violent spouse is involved or there are numerous instances of family violence as divorce will ‘shame the family.’

In our experience, deciding to separate is difficult. It can be made more difficult when violence, cultural issues and children are involved.

Married at First Sight is viewed by some as making a mockery of how relationships are formed, the ways people get to know each other, and decide to stay in a relationship. The show may not help make the public aware of the reality of how difficult an arranged marriage can be.

If successful marriages are to be gauged by looking purely at the divorce rate, then arranged marriages are the way to go. However, until a study is conducted with respect to the level of happiness in a marriage (and even that is subjective), there is no quantifiable data which can shed light onto which marriages are more successful.

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