A Facebook post by a Muslim woman has been shared thousands of times and is being credited with opening people's eyes to the advantages of arranged marriages.
Nazreen Fazal, originally for South India and now living in Riyadh, bombarded her prospective husband Ameen with emails before their marriage – the couple exchanged around 80 over the course of a week. She told the BBC: "We weren't flirting or indulging in small talk. These were serious back and forth discussions about our priorities in life, where we see ourselves in a few years, our expectations of a partner etc."
Among her questions were, "What do you think about women working?" "What do you think 'abuse' means?" and "When do you want to have children (if at all)?"
She said: "The divorce rate is quite high in cultures where people meet their own spouses. I think part of the reason is not being aware of each others' priorities and deal breakers." She recommends putting the same care and thought into relationships as into investing in a business.
And who's to say she's wrong? Fifty-five per cent of marriages around the world are arranged and only six per cent end in divorce. In the US in 2014, 53 per cent of marriages ended in divorce; in Belgium it was a staggering 70 per cent.
Critics of arranged marriages, on the other hand, are quick to point out that figures don't tell the whole story. People – women especially – might very well like to be free of their arranged marriage but divorce laws are too strict. And many marriages are arranged for women who have no choice in the matter, either because of their age or economic dependency; such marriages are classed as "forced" rather than arranged, and in Afghanistan 80 per cent fall into that category.
But still, isn't Fazal on to something? The divorce rate among Christians is high enough, though lower for practising Christians than the general population. Would a more serious approach to identifying potential pressure points before marriage help? And what might these pressure points be? Here are some ideas.
1. What do you think about money and careers?
Do you both want careers or is one of you content to be a home maker? Which one will it be?
2. Do you want to own your own home or are you happy renting?
Owning is an investment; renting offers freedom of movement but less security. Your choice says something important about you.
3. What matters most to you about a job – how much it pays or how satisfying it is?
If one of you wants to change the world through working for a charity and the other wants to maximise income, you might clash.
4. Do you want children, and if so when? And what will you do if you can't have them?
This is a fundamental question that can't be ignored.
5. What sort of church do you want to belong to?
Theology aside, what makes us happy in a church is largely down to our personal psychology. It's really important to identify what that is.
6. How much time are you willing to put into church life?
If one of you values time together and the other is focused on church, you might clash; it's important to be clear about your boundaries.
7. What do you think about the roles of men and women?
If one of you is a complementarian and one is an egalitarian, you may well have problems.
8. Do you like each other's family and friends?
When you get married you aren't just a couple; you take on a whole network of relationships. You have to be able to deal with that.
9. How would you deal with conflict?
Again, it's psychology: some people bottle everything up, others explode. There's a huge potential for misunderstanding. You need to be clear about what you're facing and whether you can deal with it.
10. How would you define abuse?
If this seems like a turn to the dark side, it is; but hidden abuse can happen in marriages, and Christian marriages aren't immune to it. It's important to be clear about unacceptable behaviour from the very start.