Benish: Welcome everybody. Nazir, why late marriages?
Nazir: We need to look at the sociological and economic setup. It has become a norm that a person should be well settled before he/ she can think about marriage. By that time it’s already very late. The focus is career and not marriage.
Sameem: See, I am single and can sleep even on a couch or eat anything but when you’re married, you’ve responsibilities. Getting prepared for those responsibilities is what results in late marriages.
Benish: Is it mostly an urban issue?
Sameem: I am from a village in Islamabad and yes I feel it’s mostly an urban issue. In rural areas most people are married off by 25. In villages you have economic security in the form of land, rice fields, orchards etc.
Benish:Nazir said the focus is career not marriage. Isra, your take on it?
Isra: Well, honestly I should have been married four years ago. My mother was married at 21 and tells me, “I had three kids at your age.” So I feel yes I am late at 28. Parents play a big role in late marriages because they burden you with aspirations and make you focus on career. They should counsel you that marriage is a very important part of your life. There is a notion that our daughter should not be dependent on her husband.
Benish: Rabbi at 23 you are the youngest here. When do you want to marry?
Rabbi: As early as possible. Marriage is the best thing that you can do. It brings a sense of responsibility. My father married late and when he retired from his job none of his children were settled in life. In contrast an uncle of mine married at 22 and his children were well settled when he was still in job. He has no worries but my father had to work after retirement to support us.
Benish: I think if you marry early you can adjust better with your spouse. But with age you get stuck to you values.
Isra:I completely agree with you. If you marry early you’ll grow and learn with your spouse and children but when you marry late you have already experienced life and that creates difficulties.
Benish: Some families don’t react well to choice marriages. Is this another reason for late marriages, Sameem?
Sameem: Well, as Rabi said marriage is the best thing and if you add to that the person you fall in love with, then it can’t get any better. But many times parental pressure leads to ending your relationship which in turn leads to late marriages.
Isra: You know it is said that “shaadikaladoojokhayepachtaye, jonakhayepachtaye”. Why not have aladoo of your own choice? That will make life better.
Sameem: The whole process is set down for us with rules that parents will find a match for you. Better find it yourself and simplify the whole process.
Nazir: Yes, of course. The whole middle man thing and not finding a match of your choice complicates the process. We are a Muslim majority society but our rituals are so complicated and against the teachings of Islam. Islam allows you to choose your life partner but here your whole ‘khandaan’ will go against you over such a thing
Isra: Yes, not following religion is a big problem. But who cares about that now.
Sameem: A huge problem in our society is that ‘two’ is not a family here. The whole clan gets married. It makes the process time consuming.
Nazir: The extravagance of the marriage rituals is also a great problem. You really need to be financially secure to afford that.
Sameem: I have always fantasized getting married like in Hollywood rom-coms. A simple marriage in the church. But as Nazir pointed out, here it is like making a blockbuster film. The preparations start a year in advance.
Benish: Rabi you want to chip in?
Rabi: Our socio-economic boundaries restrict us. In Kashmir job opportunities are so less that it takes a huge time to build a career. Our personal growth is also restricted. We are dependent on our parents well into the 20’s. How can we marry early when we are ourselves dependent?
Isra: We don’t look for a compatible life partner but another money making hand in the family. Materialism has crept into our society. Marriage has become an investment.
Rabi: Another factor is children. If you marry early you need not have children right after marriage. My sister married when both she and her husband were students. They studied for four years, got jobs and then in the sixth year of their marriage had their first child. In late marriages you have no options but to opt for children right after marriage.
Benish: What are the remedies then?
Sameem: The responsibility lies actually on the parents because they are the ones who bring us up. The problem has to be treated at the family level and the whole perspective needs to be changed.
Isra: Very true. Our social make-up is such that if we talk about our marriage with parents they take it otherwise. You just cannot open up to them. They will never tell you about the importance of marriage in your life.
Nazir: I believe social organizations can come up to help people avert late marriages. Also media can play a huge role in counselling the people.
Rabbi: We need to look beyond the caste and economic restrictions. The important thing should be finding the right person.
Sameem: Also the process needs to be simplified.
Nazir: Yes, Islam preaches a simple marriage. That can really help.
Benish:Sameem drew a great analogy earlier. A Kashmiri marriage is surely like a big budget film. Let’s wrap up with the effects of late marriages.
Isra: The greatest effect of late marriages in girls is not being able to conceive. This is creates medical issues and rift in the families. For many girls the pressure of not finding the right match because they have crossed marriageable age leads to depression as well.
Nazir: Late marriages lead to greater generation gap between parents and children.
Isra: You should be there for your children when they need you.
Rabi: I think late marriages lead to misunderstandings between the couple.
Sameem: I really haven’t experienced any effect of late marriages because in my family and extended family I am the only one marrying late. So I can’t talk about it but I would like to repeat that we need to go for simple marriages.
Isra: Simple marriages. A big yes and that can really make a difference.
Rabi: Don’t be afraid of responsibilities. Just get married.
Benish: I feel this is a great note to end today’s debate. Thanks everyone.