A couple lovingly hugging each other while laughing at the beach.

Arranged marriages, where family plays cupid, unfold differently from modern love stories in movies and novels. Instead of swiping right on a , you’re saying yes to meeting your well-meaning aunt’s friend’s nephew. You’re discussing over tea rather than talking about favorite bands on the – if you can even call it a date.

Everything about arranged marriage seems so foreign and, quite frankly, terrifying. But for some couples, it can be the beginning of a strong and fulfilling relationship. Below, we talked to a licensed psychologist to better understand what this unusual practice looks like behind closed doors.

First Comes Arranged Marriage, Then Comes Love

Modern-day arranged marriages place emphasis on the consent of the parties involved. Families, or matchmakers, are only involved in introducing potential partners, but the decision to walk down the aisle ultimately belongs to the couple. Such was the case for , a clinical psychologist, when he first met his wife.

“I married her out of logic, not out of love,” he reveals. Their shared core values, outlook on life, and respect formed the soil on which they grew their love. “We’ve been together for 11 years and in all that time, we’ve rarely fought.”

Despite the couple’s successful union, Delvi acknowledges that an arranged marriage requires a lot of self-reflection. Both parties must be willing to confront their own biases and before tying the knot. “Some people agree to get set up due to pressure from their parents. Some accept it because they’re worried about their age. Only a small percentage of people go into it simply because they’re ready. So, I’d say the biggest challenge is to align your expectations and vision in the relationship,” he explains.

The “Getting to Know Each Other” Phase Is Crucial

Delvi doesn’t think an arranged marriage and a love marriage are as different as people make them out to be. In both cases, a couple should screen for at the start of their relationship. “Marriage is a lifelong conversation. You talk, you listen, you misunderstand, and then you talk some more. Rinse and repeat,” he explains. “If you find it hard to communicate with a suitor during the courtship period, don’t settle. Move on to someone else.”

The process of finding a life companion is not one to be taken lightly. It’s important to check for compatibility from the outset. Delvi suggests engaging in a deep conversation every week or more often. “Ask about their daily routine, finances, parenting style, or random stuff that can help deepen the connection. Actively learn about each other’s emotional needs and wants.” From there, you can see a glimpse of how they’ll handle bigger issues in marriage.

How to Have a Healthier Relationship With Your Spouse

Whether you’re considering an arranged marriage or holding out for “true love,” you’ll need to put in some effort for the relationship to work. Love may be important, but these things are just as essential, if not more, in sustaining a marriage.

Don’t expect your partner to be your everything.

Take responsibility for your own emotional well-being. When both partners are individually content, they bring their best selves into the relationship. “Couples should aim to complement, not to complete each other. That’s the goal. If you rely on your spouse to feel fulfilled, you set the stage for disappointment and frustration,” Delvi says.

Argue to understand each other.

Relationship conflict is bound to happen, no matter how perfectly matched a couple may seem. Arguing with your SO is normal, healthy even. But turning it into a competition of who’s right and who’s wrong can be damaging to the relationship.

Rather than trying to control your partner, focus on controlling yourself first. Step out for a few hours if you need to cool down. Then, think before you talk. Delvi recommends using the “When you do…, I feel…” template to express your point of view in an argument. Also, watch your tone. Remember that you’re talking to someone you respect and care about deeply.

Celebrate small and big moments.

When you’re with someone almost 24/7, it’s easy to take them for granted. You’ve seen them at their worst, after all. But according to Delvi, you should always show your appreciation every day to keep the spark alive. Give them a compliment. Send them a silly, unexpected text in the middle of the day. Rub their back when they’re tired. Have a romantic dinner once a week – not just on anniversaries or birthdays. Every physical touch and quality time spent together can increase your bond.

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An arranged marriage may not appeal to everyone, but to people like Delvi, it may very well be the best decision they’ve made in their lives. Ultimately, happiness in a relationship doesn’t hinge on how you met your partner, but on how you nurture the connection together.