“Yes, I do”; “for richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health, for better or for worse…” these are lines our ears are so familiar with. These are simple lines, and are easy to memorize but carry a very heavy responsibility because it has something to do with one’s lifetime commitment, marriage. Now we ask, what is marriage? We may say, it is the exchange of vows between two people of the opposite sex who are madly in love with each other. Obviously, that wouldn’t be all. There is a more than just the superficial meaning of marriage. So what is it really like? Only those who are already in the bonds of marriage can totally give the exact definition of the word and who can descriptively elaborate how it is like to be there.
Our minds have already been set to the idea of the sacrament of matrimony. Yes, marriage is sacred. Therefore it is not a joke and should not be taken as a joke. It is a serious decision committed by two responsible individuals who totally understand what they are about to enter into. In other words, couple who will engage in it should be ready and should be totally equipped with the knowledge as to how it should be managed. According to studies there are different stages of marriage, marriage by capture, that which happened before when slavery was rampant. People would marry by capturing slaves for marriage. Another one is marriage by purchase. Some cultures still practice this which we call dowry. And for Christians, we have this marriage for love. But whatever type of marriage one is in; there are corresponding consequences or results to such marriage.
Since we live in a Christian nation which believes on marriage for love, let’s then focus on that kind of marriage. How many of our couples in the Philippines married for love? I believe everyone who engaged into marriage would say “i do”. However, despite this kind of marriage, this is not I believe the only thing couples should look into. There are other important aspects that we need to consider when we enter into the sacrament of marriage. What do our marriage laws have to say? We follow a certain requirement to be able to qualify for marriage and age is one very important requirement that couples who are planning to marry should consider. Some marry at the age of 30, others at 40 and most in their 20’s but there are also those who marry at their teenage years and even younger than the legal age. We call this kind of marriage as early marriage. Early marriage which is also referred to as child marriage is common all over the globe and has inflicted dangerous and devastating effects on young children who are compelled to tie the knot in marriage. In many parts of the world early marriage is a gratification for overcoming the family’s financial and social needs.
Early marriage is common not only among the rural areas but also in the urban. Most teenagers who engage into such early marriage belong to the below poverty families and that those usually who are involved are out of school youth. Although in some cases, there are also young people who marry early not because they are poor or they want to be secured financially with the spouse, some marry for mistaken emotions as love, we call it immaturity. Too many young people think they are capable enough to become husbands and wives and parents that they tend to forget the possible consequences of getting into that responsibility at an early age and once they are already there, they begin blaming each other for the wrong decisions or for whatever sufferings they are facing. Other than that, there are still other numerous problems a couple can face when marriage happens at an early age for them. I love Jose Garcia Villa's short story, “Footnote to Youth”. It talks about marrying at an early age. Dodong married at a very young age thinking it was the right age for marriage. It was too late when he found out that he was too young for marriage. He had grown too old after years of toil and labor for his family and so was the wife, Tinang. Worse, his eldest son Blas when he reached 18 years old also fell in love and wanted to have his own family as well. Dodong wanted to stop his son and tell him not to follow his path but what can he do, teen age love is just so powerful, far so powerful that it overpowers youthful love to triumph…
The case of Dodong and Blas is very common. It happens almost everywhere and I believe that without proper guidance, severe fights and violence could lead to broken homes and broken marriages and to that effect will further increase delinquents in our society. Although Dodong and Blas' marriage did not end that way but their common experience was an unpleasant picture of marriage at an early age. The father and son actually held on and clung to their marriage despite the hardship but how many Dodongs and Blases are there in the open who are willing to sacrifice up to the end?
I always believe in marriage at the right time. Why rush when marriage is not a competition? Remember, it is a gift. A sacrament and should be properly taken care of. It should not be treated just like any possession which you can barter with anything or for something you would like to have later. It is not something you take in like food that if you don’t like the taste, you will just spit it out. Marriage is for keeps and it is for lifetime. There is nothing wrong with marriage. It is a gift wherein two people involved should enjoy and treasure together, not to suffer from. So as an advice to the youth of today, they should not be hasty in making decisions nor rush on things because as the saying goes, regrets will always come last. So don’t just think twice or thrice, but think a million times before jumping into conclusion that indeed, you are ready to say wholeheartedly to your partner “till death do us part”.