Social traditions prevent the proper choice of a life partner [Archives:2008/1199/Community]

October 16 2008

By: Mohammed Ahmed Saeed Al-Kaladi
[email protected]

I am writing in response to Al-Kholidy's articles in the Yemen Times on marriage the core of which I perceive to be: “Are love and education ideal standards for successful marriage or not?”

Social traditions play a significant role in choosing one's marriage partner. In Yemen, for instance, parents choose partners for their children and the latter usually do not know their wives or husbands before marriage. It is rare to see a young man choosing his future wife without consulting his family first, asking for its support and agreement.

Freedom to choose a partner for life in such an environment does not exist, and early marriages aggravate the matter, as persons who have not yet reached adulthood are not fully prepared for the responsibility marriage involves.

Thus criteria for marriage such as love or education are irrelevant. The satisfaction of one's family comes above all.

A boy cannot choose his wife, and the girl has no say in the matter since the arrangement is in the hands of their families. Most of the time, the boy and girl are not even consulted.

Arranged marriages can be successful. Yemenis, in my opinion, have inherited the instinct of accommodation to their fate as determined by God.

This philosophy helps Yemenis to accept that, if not determined by fate, they cannot marry the person they love.

If love and education are so necessary for a successful marriage, Yemeni society mostly ignores their importance.

I call on all members of society to uphold the importance of love in marriage and to consider a huge percentage of educated Yemeni women who are waiting their turn to marry.

Social problems related to marriage are many, with expensive dowries, cross-class marriages and tribe allegiance as just some of them. I invite Al-Kholidy to address some of them in his next columns.

Love and education are important in choosing a life partner for some, whereas they are not for others. But, however the union is decided, complete satisfaction of both partners much be achieved for the strong basis necessary to start a new family.