While watching the recent Japanese morning-drama called Gochisosan (ごちそうさん), there were a couple scenes in where female characters had to do omiai (お見合い). An omiai isn’t exactly an arranged-marriage, but the idea is that you are arranging a meeting between a potential bride and groom. The two families sit at opposite sides of a table, possibly at the bride’s house, or some other suitable location, with a matchmaker (nakōdo 仲人) sitting at the head of the table. On one side is the bride and her parents, and facing them is the groom and his parents.
As the two sides eat a special feast, they get to know one another and see if the bride and groom are a suitable match. They might meet up to two more times, and make a decision then. The drama takes place during the Taisho Period (1912-1926) and arranged marriages were much more common then. Now, they are pretty rare, usually between wealthy families or very traditional ones only. Younger people might instead do something modern called a gōkon (合コン), where a bunch of guys meet an equal number of girls and drink and talk.
Arranged marriage is an interesting concept though. Westerners usually see it as a bad thing, but an Indian friend of mine got married a couple years ago through an arranged marriage. His parents, and his parents’ friends had discussed marriage many years ago when the kids were young, but my friend still met his bride in person and went on a few dates before they decided to get married. I’ve met her and she was really nice and they seem happy together. I have other Indian friends who got married through arranged-marriages too.
But of course, some marriages fail. My hunch is that the failure rate of arranged marriages is probably about the same as modern marriages, but I can’t prove this. Parents usually want to find a good husband/wife for their children, so they don’t want to choose bad candidates of course. So, arranged marriages in most countries are not haphazard, but usually have some kind of process that is well-developed and minimize the risk of bad couples. But even if they pick a good husband/wife, it still doesn’t guarantee the marriage will succeed. Even if people meet someone by themselves, it still doesn’t guarantee the marriage will succeed.
Either way, as long as the bride and groom have a chance to decide if they want to marry that person or not (it’s not forced), I think the marriage has a chance to succeed.