Wedding costs can be a strain on the success of a marriage [Archives:2003/660/Culture]

August 18 2003

By Rayan Mohammed
For the Yemen Times

Life objectives tend to be the following with most, a steady source of income, a desirable occupation, and almost to all, a good marriage.
This objective has taken a more demanding turn in recent times.
With almost half of marriages in the United States ending in divorce and the number is rising in Yemen and other Arab countries. A good marriage has become harder to find and sustain in our modern time. Though reasons for a marriage's end depend on the couple and their circumstances, some attribute this decay to the first night of a marriage, the wedding night.
Weddings are a joyous ceremony, once girls are old enough to talk, planning their wedding night become an all-consuming force and takes priority to many more pressing matters. Boys begin to believe that once married, all the confusion and pain endured in their single life will be filled with focus and purpose, that by the end of wedding night, they will gain the maturity necessary to become men. And why not? Weddings are a rite of passage shared by most world cultures; it marks the point in which girls change from daughters to mothers responsible for a husband and children. Meanwhile boys change from sons to fathers who are responsible for providing homes for their families. Yet it is my belief that weddings can be a major source of disappointment that can deteriorate marriages.
From the beginning of marriage proposals, expenses soar.
Many men are expected to pay money to their bride-to-be family otherwise known as a dowry according to the Islamic tradition.
The Prophet Mohammed said that a simple iron ring could suffice as a dowry. However, many brides and their families have become more demanding to an unreasonable extent.
Not only has it become more common to ask for very high dowries, but for a list of requirements such as a washing machine or a DVD machine. Though it is vital for the bride's family to be assured that their daughter is in good hands, it is greatly discouraging for young, working class man to afford such demands, while trying to satisfy wedding costs.
However, what worsens matters is if the groom pays the dowry and meets the demands.
It is human nature that once an individual invests great effort into something, higher rewards are expected.
When a groom pays a high dowry and provides for all the demands, he expects a perfect wife. It is almost impossible to marry someone who is tailor-made for you, and it is inevitable that some sacrifices have to be made on both sides. However, a high dowry makes the groom feel that he had done enough in his partnership, and therefore his wife should obey his every command and aim only to please him, before herself. This makes the marriage more breakable.
Next, you have the wedding night.
At a point in time, wedding seemed to be about the bride and groom. However, weddings have been a contest among families, especially women, to see who can top the other family and have the best (in practice, the most expensive) wedding. From the groom's perspective, he has to provide qat for all the invited, which is pricey and has no real significance to the groom.
In most male weddings, everyone sits and chews with little attention to the groom or his happiness or in many cases, dismay.
However, weddings differ in Yemen, and this is but one example. However, it is the women's wedding that is truly expensive. Finding a dress and gold, arranging for a wedding hall and all its features, etc. are no easy feat.
Even though her dress and gold have to be of the highest style to please those around her.
Society expects the bride and her wedding to be custom-made to their tastes. However, what makes it more difficult is a constant sense of competition among Yemeni families.
Each family tries to outdo the other, spending and more on one night, whilst the groom's and bride's wishes take a backseat in an attempt to impress the guests. This
is fine for everyone except who is fronting the very high bill. If it is the groom, the same as with the dowry applies here, and therefore his expectation of his wife is set unbelievably high. If it is the groom's family, their perspective of the bride becomes bitter. If she is unable to get pregnant quickly, she will be named inefficient and irresponsible wife. If she chooses to have a career, she will be called an inconsiderate house maker and unwilling to prioritize her career for her family. The reasoning may differ depending on the family, yet the feelings remain initially the same. What may even be worse matters are if problems arise between the couple. The groom's family will not as reluctant in pressuring the groom to divorce his wife. On the other hand, if the bride's family pays or co-pays for the wedding, resentment will grow between the two families. The bride's family will feel that the groom's family should have paid for the wedding and will never adapt to them. They will blame the groom's family for any problems that arise between the couple. The relationship may be spotty at best; the bride's family will be more encouraged to convince the bride to ask for a divorce.
Marriages are not a science, and there is no real rulebook to handling one. However, from a wedding point of view, the groom and bride's wishes should become a priority over society's expectations or their parents' demands. If the bride and groom understand and communicate their wants and needs from the beginning to one other, it will help establish the true fundamentals of marriage, which isn't a lavish wedding, but rather respect, understanding, compromise and sacrifice The marriage will become based on more than a legal document but real love and respect for each other.