The Thin Air of Rocky Mountain -4 (Musim Kahwin Muda)
In the early 1980’s Malaysian students’ communities in the USA were affected by “Kahwin Muda Syndrom”. News about students getting married from various places were frequently heard. Believe it or not, it was contagious. A fellow STARian, a friend of mine was married as early as 1981 at the age of 17 in Emporia, Kansas.
Within our group, Nazlee took the lead. He was then approaching 18 years old. He was married to Niza while we were in Pueblo in 1982. Breng and Azah then followed suit. They were also married in Pueblo and for this event, I was the witness for the ceremony and in a conference call, Azzah’s brother handed over the right to be Wali to the Imam of our mosque.
I was also influenced by the episodes but was not very certain on how to go about. But once we were in Malaysia for holiday and parents were involved, the agreement was met and the ceremony was held. I was married to Hana in August of 1983. Few weeks later, Badhrul married Meen and later in Corvalis, Jadid married Elina, followed by Kaio in Athens and Cik Pah in Pueblo. By the time we graduated, out of 19, 11 were already married (Nazlee and Niza, Breng and Azah, Hana and I, Badhrul and Meen, Kaio, Cik Pah, Jadid). That was about 60 %
In those days, students committed to marriage driven by many factors. Some did it for the sake of convenience. Some were deeply lost in love. Some were practically inseparable and marriage was the only solution. Some were protecting themselves from falling into sinful settings. Some did it for the sake of dakwah. Some were inspired by the fact that when one was married there would be more reward from God for any good deeds performed. Some were trying to get out of the fact they were there without their mahram. Some were just following the trend. There were many other reasons, many other motivations.
Marriage in early age have both advantages and disadvantages. We had gone through our various experiences. Some were smooth, others were difficult. Having children before securing a job, for example, can be tolerable to some, but extremely difficult to others. A person who was once very eager to make commitment, later when caught unprepared, would only regret. It had to do a lot with public perception, family acceptance and personal readiness. Life was always challenging for young couple, and even more so when they became young parents.
I had seen many examples where ties excitedly knotted earlier in young adulthood ended up broken when they reach middle age, in the era of the so called “mid-life crisis”. When boredom overpowered affection; when problems were many – both at work and at home; when temptations come with various options and alternatives; when somehow the thinking were not straight; men and women alike went through a period full of trials and challenges. Some survived, others didn’t.
People say that wisdom comes with age. On this I have to concur. But this doesn’t mean that young people are not wise, nor that it says that people shouldn’t marry at young age. One matures faster after marriage. Shouldering the responsibility, especially as parents makes you age and at the same time develop wisdom significantly faster. You also accumulates grey hair earlier and faster. You also become grandparent sooner than average. The good thing is that, before reaching retirement age, most of your children would be more or less independent – either married or at least completed college educations. You can then do whatever you like subject to your physical fitness.
If you ask my opinion on this issue, my answer is short – DON’T. Do it when you are more prepared. The reality of today’s world require more careful forethought. It is more challenging than before as culture and values had changed, along with the development that we now enjoy. On average, people are now thinking differently.
We had gone through ours. Last august was our 26th anniversary. Although I’m not in the habit of celebrating anniversary or birthday and the like, let me put it on the record that I really treasure this 26 years of marriage. As life progressed following its course, my love and affection towards Hana would only increase as she has always been a wonderful partner. A pampered child, raised in comfortable settings, she had almost everything she needed. I would never forget those days in our early phase of marriage, when we had little money to spend, she adjusted her priorities and we managed to establish a simple, yet a happy life. We both swallowed our ego. Lots of adjustments were made as we came from two different world. I’m thankful to Allah the Almighty for giving me the “goods of the world”, part of what we asked for everyday, Rabbana aatina fid-dunya hasanah, wa fil aakhiratu hasanah…