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Guest Post: WRITTEN IN THE STARS author Aisha Saeed on Arranged Marriages 101

We are delighted to have Aisha Saeed, author of WRITTEN IN THE STARS, which released today, visiting the blog. Her post--and beautiful book--relays important information about arranged marriages and how they differ from forced marriages. You also have the chance to win a copy of WRITTEN IN THE STARS! Enter using the rafflecoptor form below. Thank you for chatting with us, Aisha!

The 101 on Arranged Marriages

When Written in the Stars opens, seventeen-year-old Naila’s life is right on track: she has a boyfriend she loves and she just found out she’s going away to college on a full scholarship. This means in just a few short months, she’ll be living in a dorm with her best friend Carla and she won’t have to hide her relationship with Saif anymore. Naila is ecstatic–but her world is turned upside down when her parents discover her secret relationship and force her into a marriage against her will. While forced marriages are a real and pressing problem, they are not synonymous with arranged marriages. The truth is there are different types of arranged marriages and some are the sort that people [including me!] enter into not just willingly but happily. Below are the three most common arranged marriage situations.

Forced Marriage: A forced marriage is when either the groom or the bride [or both] are being pressured, coerced, or outright forced into marrying each another. Forced marriages are a global problem and condemned by every nation and religion on the planet. Forced marriages are never okay. 

Arranged Marriages: Though definitely not the case anymore, once upon a time, arranged marriages were the norm the world over. Arranged marriages are how most of my parents’ generation got married in India and Pakistan. In an arranged marriage, the bride’s parents get a proposal from the groom’s family. Sometimes the prospective bride and groom have one or two meetings; sometimes they just see a photo of each other, and sometimes they never meet until their wedding day. In this traditional type of arranged marriage, the parents of the bride and groom consider the pros and cons of the marital union and then the parents make a decision. The couple is fine with this arrangement and no one is forced to say yes. In my novel, Naila’s mother tells her she never met Naila’s father until their wedding day. Naila’s mother was perfectly fine with this arrangement and trusted her parents had chosen well. She couldn’t understand why Naila would not be fine with a similar arrangement. My own mother-in-law married my father-in-law under similar circumstances and was fine with her arranged marriage; it simply was how it was done where they grew up. Arranged marriages like this do still happen overseas, in the United States, among second and third generation South Asians, etc., it’s no longer the norm.

Arranged Introduction a.k.a. Semi-arranged marriage: This is a subset of arranged marriages and while they can take different forms it is far and away the most typical arranged marriage situation you’ll see, especially in the United States, Canada, and other western countries. In a semi-arranged marriage, the couple is usually introduced with the blessings of their parents but they get to know each other and decide on their own whether or not to tie the knot. This is more of a blind date set-up than anything else. Some people get to know each other a few weeks or months before deciding to get married; others date each other for years first. Of course, because the couple was introduced for the purpose of marriage, the prospect of this commitment is usually at the forefront of their minds as they get to know each other and/or date. Parents are still typically involved in the process, though they are there to give advice rather than to decide if a marriage will or will not happen.

I myself had a semi-arranged marriage. My mother suggested I meet a young man she had heard great things about, and I agreed. Twelve years of marriage later, it’s still the best decision I’ve ever made. Unlike my own situation, forced marriages are never okay. This is why I was inspired to write Written in the Stars. I hope the story will capture the interest of those who read it, bring awareness to a global issue, and help anyone who is at risk for such a marriage themselves to stand up for themselves and know that saying no is not just an option but their right.

If you or someone you know is feeling pressured to enter into a marriage against your will, please don’t wait, get in touch with someone who can help:

Tahiri Justice Center Website: E-mail:

Unchained At Last Website: E-mail: 

Enter to win your copy of WRITTEN IN THE STARS here: a Rafflecopter giveaway

And check out the rest of Aisha's posts in her WRITTEN IN THE STARS blog tour:
IceyBooks – 3/25
Jessabella Reads – 3/26
Alice Marvels – 3/27
Pandora’s Books – 3/31
Pop! Goes the Reader – 4/2
The Young Folks – 4/6
Forever Young Adult – 4/7
Cuddlebuggery – 4/8
Perpetual Page Turner – 4/9
The YA Bookworm – 4/13
Kristin Halbrook

Kristin Halbrook is the author of the critically-acclaimed young adult novels Nobody But Us (HarperTeen, 2013) and Every Last Promise (HarperTeen, 2015). She likes many things.

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Item Reviewed: Guest Post: WRITTEN IN THE STARS author Aisha Saeed on Arranged Marriages 101 Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Kristin Halbrook