The evolution of arranged marriages

True love is the main component for a happy marriage and family. PHOTO/internet

What you need to know:

Arranged marriages have existed since ancient times and the process has continued to be developed along with technological advances. Critics and supporters of arranged marriages both agree that true love is the main component for a happy marriage and family.

In the past, arranged marriages often bore the heavy chains of coercion, with individuals being forced into unions against their will. Then, marriage was often viewed as a strategic alliance between families driven by political, economic, or even social considerations.

“I never truly knew what love was because I was married to a man I barely knew. Our lives were scripted, devoid of choice and my marriage reminded me of all my shattered dreams,” says Racheal Kobusingye.

As societies evolved, the concept of arranged marriages persisted, albeit with a shift in dynamics. Parents played a pivotal role in selecting partners, driven by a desire to secure familial interests and preserve tradition.

While some individuals found contentment and companionship, others struggled against the tide of familial expectations.

Emilly Kato and Daudi Sempijja’s relationship shows the delicate balance between individual desires and familial bonds.

“Our families introduced us and we quickly realised that our values and aspirations aligned,” Kato says, adding: “Our parents’ support and involvement provided a strong foundation for our relationship, while our personal connection grew stronger over time.”

Tom Katende reflects, “My parents had good intentions, but their choice was not my choice and this led to a constant struggle between my heart and duty.”

This shift also empowered prospective partners to have a say in their future, creating a balance between tradition and autonomy. Ruckia Nabukeera, who found love through an arranged marriage, shares: “While our families connected us, the decision to get married was left to us.”


As marriage arrangements evolved, so did the challenges couples faced. Innocent Rugyendo, a life coach, says in the past, while stability was prioritised, the emotional fulfillment of individuals was often compromised.

 “Whereas marriages arranged by parents brought security and ensured preservation of cultural and social norms, they suppressed individuals’ aspirations. Partners feared to speak out on insecurities in their marriages because they felt it was unacceptable to report their spouses to the authorities,” he explains.

However, Timothy Karuhanga, a marriage counsellor, notes that parent arranged marriages were often founded on deep-rooted cultural traditions and societal norms.

“Many societies placed a strong emphasis on familial ties, communal harmony and the preservation of cultural heritage. Arranged marriages were seen as a way to maintain these values and ensure compatibility within similar cultural backgrounds,” Karuhanga says adding: “It was not just a union of individuals, but a merging of families and their resources, creating connections between families, consolidating wealth, land, and social status. These considerations played a significant role in sustaining the practice.”

He adds that in arranging marriages, parents often drew on their life experiences and knowledge to select suitable partners for their children. They had a broader perspective on what makes a successful marriage and believed their involvement would increase the likelihood of a harmonious and stable union.

Karuhanga is quick to add that unlike today, arranged marriages alleviated the pressure on individuals to find a partner on their own.

“The responsibility of finding a compatible match shifted from the individual to the family, potentially reducing stress and anxiety,” he says.

Individual marriages

The emergence of individual-based arranged marriages signaled a new era where the preferences and consent of individuals took centre stage. Nathan Akankwasa cherishes the freedom to choose his lifetime partner.

 Ritah Tumuhairwe, a marriage counsellor, says individual based marriages benefit from the conscious choice made by both partners, which can lead to stronger commitment and better communication skills.

She stresses that although modern marriages are founded on love and choice, they may struggle with unrealistic expectations, increased pressure on personal compatibility and may lead to mismatched expectations.

“In some cases, individuals entering into a marriage of their choice may have different expectations and understanding of the relationship. While they may have had a say in the decision, there might still be underlying differences in values, lifestyle choices, or long-term goals that become apparent after the wedding,” says Tumuhairwe.

In an effort to balance personal choice with family involvement, societal expectations and group influence, individuals in these arrangements might feel pressured to make a decision relatively quickly. This could lead to overlooking certain red flags or not fully understanding the person they are marrying.

She tips: “It is important for couples to maintain a balance between personal desires and family expectations.”

The digital age

Here, online platforms emerged as powerful intermediaries, expanding the horizons of potential matches beyond geographical and cultural boundaries. Jerome Tumwine and Hannah Maya’s initial connection on a website led to a profound bond.

Tumwine notes that the platform allowed them to understand each other’s values and aspirations before they met.

“Our marriage is a testament to the transformative potential of modern technology,” he says.

Similarly, Lydia Amutuhaire and Gregory Kawuma found love on Facebook, a social media platform.

“We connected over shared interests and beliefs, which laid a strong foundation for our relationship,” Kawuma recalls adding: “The app helped us skip the awkward initial phases and dive straight into the deep conversations.”

However, the digital realm is not devoid of its pitfalls. Just as traditional arrangements faced their share of challenges, online platforms present their own complexities.

Jacinta Namusoga and Nelson Muganzi’s experience serves as a poignant reminder. Having met through a dating app, they encountered difficulties in reconciling their expectations with reality. Namusoga admits, “We painted a perfect picture of each other online, but in person, we realised there were factors we had not considered.”

Tumuhairwe observes that online platforms have opened avenues for cross-cultural and interfaith unions, fostering an environment where individuals can explore compatibility before commitment.

 Yet, she cautions: “While technology accelerates connections, it can also intensify misunderstandings if not approached with empathy and open communication.”


Enid Ampumuza and Erasmus Ogwanga’s story showcases the profound impact of online platforms on modern relationships. “We met on a dating app, and our conversations flowed effortlessly,” Ampumuza recalls.

However, this was not the case for Laban Kityo and Joyce Begumisa.

“While we met through the app, the real challenge was bridging the gap between our digital personas and our true selves. It was a struggle to get used to each other’s characters that were not evident on the screen. It made us realise the importance of open communication,” Kityo says.

Christopher Kirunda, a marriage counsellor, sheds light on the unique challenges and opportunities presented by online connections.

“Couples who meet online often excel at open communication and transparency due to their initial reliance on conversation. However, they must remain vigilant against projecting idealised versions of themselves. Authenticity is key,” Kirunda advises.