Stop Rushing – The Modern Day Marriage Phenomenon

By: Rawan Khalil

Being in the early twenties, sounds like the perfect time to further explore what one have learnt about themselves when they were teenagers, the perfect time to affirm all the exploration, to turn dreams into reality, to dive deep into work to build a future for one self and whoever may or may not come into one’s life. How can that happen if you have a child you’re taking care of? How can that happen if you are in a relationship which requires commitment as well as both time and effort?

Lately, I have been noticing this phenomenon by talking to people who go to university in Egypt; people (and by people I mean a shit ton of people) are getting engaged/married at the age of 18-23, and the majority being girls. That might sound normal, but should it be “normal” for someone to get married in the midst of them building their future and in the midst of their studies?

Being in a relationship requires both time and effort, especially if that relationship is: marriage. Marriage is where “stability” should be established but how, in the age of wildness and instability? How can two people reach that “stable” expectation when they themselves are unstable study-wise, emotionally, sexually and mentally? I genuinely do not get it, I don’t get that someone would be ready to sign themselves up to marry someone at the age of 17! All the opportunities they have to grow within themselves; with no constraints or any foreign interference will fly away.

Let’s take this from an Egyptian boy’s perspective. Just out of school, still in university, no work, no cash, depending solely on parents. (Of course here we’re taking on board Egyptian stereotypes of the man having to be “the man of the house”, of the man having to keep the house together- I mean this is a boy getting married at the age of 20, Egyptian stereotype 101). This boy is expected by his ‘wife’ and her parents to be capable of spending money on his house to keep her and  possibly their child content. Now, this boy has two options, the first being continually depending on his parents, or having a low-paid part-time job which would probably lower his focus on his studies in return lowering his grades and overall providing him with less job opportunities in the future.

Let’s take this from an Egyptian girl’s point of view, she is expected by almost everyone to get pregnant in a year’s time to be able to meet the stereotypical social expectation of “fertile”. She’s also expected to be able to comfort her husband when he’s home whilst also cooking, washing dishes, cleaning the house, and possibly taking care of the their child. All of this meanwhile studying in university. If she gets pregnant, that means she has to get maternal leave to take care of her child, thus lowering or fully removing her concentration in her studies and in several scenarios ends in the girl dropping out of university, terrible grades, or not working after university, which is a disadvantage for her, her house, her child as well as a complete halt in her progression and growth both as a person and in her work.

Let’s remove all the stereotypes and take a different perspective at this- an almost hypothetical perspective , where both sides of the relationship are showing equal investment in their house, and in the relationship. Meaning, that all household chores are equally distributed between both partners, so both partners are equally responsible for the house. This also translates, that both partners are going to invest money to keep the house going, so both partners are going to have to work which again may or may not decrease their concentration on their studies.

Another point, which I think is very important to discuss thoroughly is pregnancy. Bring a new soul to life, a human which is yet to blossom, which both parents are going to explore and nurture. My only concern is, that at the age of e.g 20 a person is yet exploring themselves, how can they explore another person, how can they help another person explore themselves. It’s not that its impossible but it’s creating a pause in two other people’s growth and exploration to themselves.

My objection to people getting married in their early twenties is directly linked to how it would negatively affect their life in the future, and how in many ways it’s not beneficial to them in the future work-wise nor growth-wise! I think it’s quite logical for a person to choose themselves first, to be just a little bit selfish rather than sacrificing everything they have to satisfy ancient society expectations. If I’m being honest, I don’t think anyone should only aspire to marriage, as it’s a relationship between two people which supposedly bounds them together eternally, but how so if it’s not based on love and mutual feelings and it’s only based the hope to be capable of meeting expectations. And we wonder why divorce rates are rising exponentially?

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