This is an extract from my One Body book. I defend arranged marriage as a morally acceptable option, though of course only in the case where both members of the couple freely consent (without that, there is no marriage). But yet it seems that one ought to have a romantic love for the person one is going to marry. I respond:
[L]ove is always a duty, and the love needs to be appropriate to the relationship. Thus, it is one’s duty to love the person whom one is to marry, and it is a duty to love the person in the way appropriate to the person whom one is to marry. Of course, if one does not know anything about this person, the love cannot be very specifically developed. But it can involve the three aspects of all love: one has a disposition to benefit this person (should one find out what the person needs), one appreciates the other at least as a person, a creature of God, a fellow human being and someone with whom one can engage in sexual activity, and one intends such a union with this person. (The sexual aspects of this union may be the easiest to intend for a young and sexually curious person!) All the while, one can remain open to the mystery, the surprise of the other person. And in this way, the arranged marriage is not so different from an unarranged “love match”. In a love match, too, one must remain open to the enfolding mystery of the other person, traditionally including a lack of sexual knowledge of the other person. In any case, marriage and sex themselves can change people in unpredictable ways, and some of the knowledge of the person prior to marriage is likely irrelevant. Every love must involve a willingness to adjust its form to changes in the beloved and in the relationship, and must remain open to new things.
It is not so much wrong to marry someone that one does not love, as it is wrong not to love the person one marries. Love is required of us always, under all circumstances. It is wrong not to love the person one with whom one shakes hands, the person one sentences to two years in jail, the person one gives a free meal to, or the person one marries. Of course a different form of love is required in each case. However, what primarily distinguishes the different forms of love is the type of real union toward which the love is directed and the aspects under which the beloved is appreciated. If one marries, one ought to have a directedness toward sexual and personal union with the other person, and an appreciation of the other person insofar as this person can be united with. But for this one needs only to know the other person as a fellow human being of the opposite sex with whom one can unite sexually.