Delayed Marriage: Causes and Consequences
Al-Rakeezeh – Exclusive
Delayed marriage is a significant social issue in Iraq that has witnessed noticeable developments in recent years. This phenomenon encompasses various social, economic, and cultural aspects. In this article, we will explore the reasons behind this trend, its potential consequences, and the role that organizations and civil society associations can play in facilitating marriage among young individuals.
It has been narrated in authentic hadiths that the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, said, “O young people, whoever among you can afford marriage, let him get married, for it is more effective in lowering the gaze and guarding one’s chastity. And whoever cannot afford it, let him fast, for it will be a shield for him.”
Since chastity and modesty are obligations in Islam, and their opposites are prohibited, the Prophet addressed the youth, guiding them towards chastity. Marriage is significant in preserving one’s chastity and lowering one’s gaze.
In addition to safeguarding individuals from falling into unlawful acts, marriage contributes to social and economic stability. It aids in forming a Muslim family and builds a balanced and stable society. Marriage also steers the youth towards responsibility, as they undertake the duties of marriage, parenthood, and family-building.
Noticeable Rise in the Age of Marriage
Official indicators and United Nations data show a considerable increase in the average age of marriage in many countries, including Iraq. Statistics reveal that the average age of marriage for males exceeds 26 years and for females, it is around 22.5 years, according to 2014 data. These numbers have increased significantly since then due to security and political disruptions Iraq experienced in subsequent years, including the rise of the ISIS organization.
Causes of Delayed Marriage
When studying such phenomena, it is challenging to attribute them to a single factor, as they are usually the result of a complex interplay of multiple factors. Some contributing factors include:
1. Education and Academic Achievement: Education often plays a significant role in delaying marriage. Young people may seek to complete higher education and achieve financial independence before marrying, leading to delayed marriages in their late twenties or even thirties.
2. Economic Situation: Economic stability and the ability to provide for a stable life and share financial responsibilities are crucial factors affecting delayed marriage. The increasing cost of living, exacerbated by the internet’s influence, has added financial pressures on families.
3. Cultural and Value Changes: Cultural shifts can alter young people’s perspectives on marriage, emphasizing personal independence and career aspirations. These factors indirectly impact delayed marriages.
The Consequences of Delayed Marriage
The consequences of delayed marriage are both individual and societal. Apart from the psychological impact on individuals striving to meet their biological needs, late marriages can reshape family structures, slow population growth, and exacerbate demographic imbalances. Delayed marriages can also lead to shifts in spending and consumption patterns, as financially independent individuals may adopt different financial habits.
The Role of NGOs in Facilitating Youth Marriage
Organizations and associations play a crucial role in facilitating marriage among young people in Iraq by offering support and services related to marriage and marital life. These organizations can contribute to social stability, strengthen family and community relationships, and perform various roles, such as:
1. Awareness and Education: Organizations provide awareness programs on the concept of marriage, the rights of spouses, and strategies for navigating marital challenges, guiding young people away from pitfalls.
2. Consultation Services: Counseling centers offer guidance to young people in preparation for marriage, addressing emotional, social, and economic aspects.
3. Facilitating Marriage Procedures: Some organizations assist in marriage procedures by providing necessary documentation and guiding couples through legal and procedural steps.
4. Training Courses: Associations can organize training courses for young people, covering essential life skills like effective communication and problem-solving, contributing to the success of marital relationships.
5. Economic Support: Certain organizations offer economic support to financially assist young people seeking marriage, through grants or accessible loans, easing their financial burdens.
Early marriage can provide emotional and psychological stability to young individuals, fostering personal development and responsible thinking about future challenges. Moreover, it establishes a safe and legitimate environment for spouses to express their feelings and fulfil their sexual needs, preserving chastity and avoiding illicit relationships. However, it’s important to emphasize that early marriage also poses challenges that need careful consideration. It requires physical and psychological maturity from both partners, as well as financial and social support from families, friends, organizations, and specialized counselling centers. Ultimately, the focus should be on nurturing close-knit families, which constitute the fundamental building block of societies.