Fa Abdul, a theatre director, writer and media trainer, married her first boyfriend at the tender age of 20 while still studying for her Chartered Institute Management of Accountants (CIMA) degree. Sadly, it ended in divorce when she was 35 .
She first met her ex, who’s also her second cousin, when she was 12 years old. They never talked at the time. At most, they merely stared at each other. She was the shy type, and she attended an all-girls school, which made her timid around boys, including her ex.
Furthermore, Fa was also well protected by her immediate family members from many outside influences, including boys.
They went on their own separate lives until about six years later, when they finally started talking to each other for the first time. By now she’s already 18 years old. When she turned 19, he asked her out on their first date, which eventually led them to their marriage, a year later.
Fa said she married early because she fell head over heels for him. As he was her first date and first true love, she also felt energised by the rush of emotions.
Her family did protest against Fa marrying at such a young age.
Her elder brother thinks she’s rushing into the marriage, because her decision was influenced by her hormones. He blames her ex, who at four years older, should have made a better decision than to rush into a marriage so quickly.
As for Fa’s parents, instead of marrying early, they preferred for her to finish her studies first, and work on her career before making such a life-changing decision.
As mentioned earlier, Fa’s marriage ended after 15 years, and looking back now, these are the lessons she wants to impart to couples looking to marry at a young age. For her, she defines ‘young’ as being in your late teens or early 20s.
1. Get to Really Know Your Partner, Beyond the Dating Stage
During the dating stage, everything’s always nice and dandy. It’s not easy fully knowing a person when you’re not living together. Furthermore, the dating and honeymoon stage is superficial, with both individuals promoting the best version of themselves.
In Fa’s case, it was only after her marriage that she and her ex-husband got to know each other, such as personality traits and daily habits. These are important things both parties need to know in a relationship.
Therefore, Fa says, before deciding to spend the rest of your lives with someone, invest the time and the effort to really get to know your partner so you can make an informed decision about your marriage.
2. Listen to Your Family and Consider Their Input before Making a Decision.
While you don’t have to let them decide important decisions such as who to marry, at least consider their advice on why you should or should not marry your partner. They’ve eaten more salt than you’ve eaten rice, which is a saying to mean that they’ve had far more experience than you, both good and bad in their life.
In this case, Fa decided to follow her heart to get married instead of listening to her family’s advice of finishing her studies and to start working first. The latter would have been a better choice for her at that stage of her life, as a young, 20-year-old lady.
3. Love Doesn’t Pay the Bills nor Does It Prepare You for the Real Life
Fa thinks it’s best to know a person for at least one or two years before taking the leap and getting married. Make sure you’re financially secure so that if there are any marital problems, you’re financially independent and can make the best choice for you and the kids. It’s an easy mistake to make when you’re young, overlooking the financial matters and focus on the emotional part only.
Fa also thinks that a good safety net (having stable income) not only gives one confidence, but it generates respect from other parties. Both confidence and respect are crucial values in a marriage. When the purchasing power comes only from one side, over time, it could deplete the sense of respect towards the other party with less income. When that happens, the sense of confidence (from the one without / with little income) can begin to shatter.
At the same time, Fa also advises any couple to discuss thoroughly about financial matters before tying the knot. For example, who pays the bills, rental, grocery, insurance, savings and allowance for the stay-at-home wife. These questions are crucial even before saying “I do”.
4. A Married Couple is Still Two Different Individuals with Different Wants and Needs
There’s a misconception among couples that when two people get married, they become one. This isn’t true. These two married individuals will never become one – if they do, that only means that one of them have to give up themselves to accommodate the other, according to Fa. She advises every couple to learn about each other and understand their school of thought.
A couple must also take into consideration their cultural and education differences and how it can impact their marriage. For example, if a partner is highly educated and the other is not, there can be a tendency to give more weight to the opinion of a highly educated person in a marital conflict or argument. It’s important to pre-empt such scenarios and the solutions, so one does not get into a marriage unprepared.
Also, bear in mind the age you’re getting married. A person’s mindset at 20 years old is different compared to his or her mindset at 30 years old, so how a 20 year old behaves and what they want at that age may affect the marriage as well.
These factors need to be considered before a couple decides to marry at a young age, to ensure that both parties are fully prepared for their marital life.
Now You’ve Read the Advice, What’s Next? To Marry or Not To Marry (Yet?)
We hope this piece doesn’t give you second thoughts from marrying at any age or to any person you want. It’s meant to serve as a timely reminder before we make such an important decision in our lives.
Marriage is more than an exchange of vows. It’s a life-long journey and a commitment to stick through thick and thin with your partner.
At what age did you marry? Do you guys know anyone who married young? Tell us more about it in the comments section!
Like this article? You might also like to read 5 Ways To Know If You Have A Future With Your Partner In Malaysia!