Love marriage is a term used primarily in South Asia, especially in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, to describe a marriage where the individuals love each other and get married with or without consent of their parents. There is no clear definition of love marriage. It is generally used to describe a marriage which was the sole decision of the couple.
According to historian Stephanie Coontz, marriages for love and personal reasons began to appear in the 14th century. It began to become popular in the early 17th century.
In 1761, Jean-Jacques Rousseau wrote Julie, or the New Heloise. The title is a reference to Peter Abelard, a 12th-century philosopher, who fell in love with his pupil, Héloïse d'Argenteuil. They had a child and secretly married. When Heloise's guardian found this, he had Abelard castrated. The story was well-known at Rousseau's time, after their letter had been published. Rousseau's book, Julie, is about the titular character and her tutor St. Preux. The book is written in the form of letters. Julie's father opposes the relation and marries her to another man, whom he considers more suitable.
According to Coontz, the marriages between Anglo-Saxons were organised to establish peace and trading relationships. In 11th century, marriages were organised on the basis of securing economics advantages or political ties. The wishes of the couples were not consider important. The bride was especially expected to defer to her father's wishes. In 1140, Decretum Gratiani was written by Gratian. It made consent of the couple as a requirement for marriage. This book became the foundation of the policy of the Christian Church on marriage.
The marriage of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert also made love marriage more acceptable in the minds of the British public in the Victoria era where love marriages were on the rise.
In India, the term love marriage is used to describe a marriage which is decided upon by the couple, with or without consulting their parents or families. These marriages may break caste, community and religion barriers. Social hurdles remain as arranged marriages are preferred over love marriages in most parts of the country.
Love marriage started becoming popular in urban areas in 1970s. Initially, love marriages occurred between acceptable communities. The boundaries between the two types have started to blur. The term love-arranged marriage is used to describe a new emerging form of marriage which contains elements of both arranged marriage and love marriage. Love marriages are seen as imposition of the younger generation's will over the older generation's wishes.
In a 2012 survey conducted by Ipsos for the TV channel NDTV, 74% of the respondents said that they preferred an arranged marriage. In 2010, the National Commission for Women (NCW) released a report stating that it had documented 326 cases of honour killing in the past year, majority of which were due to Inter-caste marriages.
In a 2014 survey conducted by the United Nations Population Fund and International Center for Research on Women, 11.7% of men and 8.5% of women surveyed claimed that they chose their partners and married with or without the consent of their families.
In Pakistan, arranged marriages are the norm and love marriage is rare in the society. Several cases of honour killing are recorded every year. In most cases, the woman is killed, however in some cases couples are killed. The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan counted about 869 such cases reported in the media, it noted that many such cases may also be unreported.
In Egypt, love marriages, especially interfaith marriages, are generally considered socially unacceptable. Interfaith marriages are often seen as a tactic to recruit members from other religion. Such marriages sometimes result in sectarian violence. According to Egyptian law, a man from another religion must convert to Islam to marry a Muslim woman. However, a Christian woman may marry a Muslim man without converting; but officials require the woman to produce a letter of approval from her church, which is rarely granted.