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Married by Mom and Dad tackles arranged marriage in America

My work as a marriage and family therapist in Scottsdale, Arizona helps to  instill hope and change through the use of techniques including: Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy, Parenting Skills Training, and Brief Solution focused therapy. I u...

Another show about arranged marriage has hit television

Two new reality shows hit TV waves pretty recently — with Married at First Sight airing its first episode in July 2014 on A&E and Married by Mom and Dad taking the idea of arranged marriages by storm on TLC this winter. In our society, where dating apps rule the new dating world, these two programs give us a reminder about a practice that has occurred over quite some time in many cultures: the arranged marriage.

The premise behind Married by Mom and Dad is arranged marriage in modern times. From a press release for the show, we learn: “Married by Mom and Dad is a modern take on voluntary arranged marriages, based on old school tradition and real world success. Four singles who have been unable to find love in the world of modern dating, have now agreed to put their future into the hands of their parents. We follow each mom and dad through the process of meeting and vetting the potential future spouses and watch their kids meet their life partners for the first time. But the real work begins as the couples get to know what they like, dislike, and everything in between."

More: Married At First Sight: Yes, people really do want to wed a total stranger

I really enjoy the idea of parents and stepparents setting up their children to find love and marriage. Why? There is something more intuitive and magical about this concept than Married at First Sight, which is a social experiment for a group of experts who combine their experience and research to pair six strangers into couples for marriage.

Previously, I approached the challenge of only using science to create love. I think we have a case of science versus intuition in the battles of these two arranged marriage shows. But, I’m going to approach this debate from a relationship-minded perspective to give you something to think about. I definitely like the concept of Mom and Dad setting up the couple. I think science in love is more complicated than just numbers and statistics, but you get a different feel for the matches when the parents meet potential partners.

More: Living together may be better than getting married after all

Both of these shows market the idea of marriage being the fundamental element that holds relationships together. According to the statistics I found on divorce, over 40 percent of first marriages end within 13 years, over 20 percent of first marriages end within five years and over 75 percent of divorced people get remarried. These are daunting statistics. It doesn't seem like the concept of marriage creates loving bonds and lasting, healthy relationships.

It’s the process of creating a healthy relationship that allows for commitment to occur as a by-product of love, not the other way around. The idea of parents helping to select their child’s partner has something to it. Who knows you better than your mom and dad? I find this intriguing and possibly a more prudent way than allowing science to dictate the match. Even with the parents' intuition and knowledge of their child, the difficulty with these shows is they both take out the dating process to grow a relationship, which might sometimes be a necessity in relationship growth toward commitment. Let’s give credit to the process of getting to know someone with time and progress.

More: How to adjust to married life after the wedding frenzy

Married by Mom and Dad and Married at First Sight are conversation starters that allow for some deeper thinking to occur on marriage, love and relationships, all the while providing a lot of entertainment on our TV screens.

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