30-03-2012
Why Armenian youth avoid getting married
“If you hit the girl with a hat and she doesn’t fall, then she is ready for marriage.”
According to the National Youth Report, more than a third of Armenian youth ranging from the ages of 27-29 are single, and every fourth 30-year old is single. The “legitimate” age for girls to get married is 17, and for boys it’s 18. But 100-150 years ago, single youth at that age were considered desperate. According to ethnographer Gayane Shagoyan, the oldest example of premature marriage was Grigor the Illuminator, who got married to a 9-year old girl when he was 11 years old. Throughout the centuries, that age changed due to different edicts and the church regulation and gradually increased. In the 19th century, it was accepted that the girl had to be at least 15 before getting married. People living in different regions gave different explanations regarding children’s premature marriage and they mainly took maturity into consideration. Since marriage was also an economic agreement between the two families, different factors were taken into account. The age of marriage could be conditioned by the man’s army recruitment (during the rule of Czarist Russia). During Turkish rule, to avoid seeing their children captured by Turks or Kurds, parents either married their children early or made girls look like boys. The “evolution of free will” for girls was conducted in the following way: in ancient times, whenever people went to ask for the girl’s hand in marriage, everything was initially decided, but they asked the girl’s opinion in any case. As a sign of agreement, the girls would nod. In some cases, the bride-to-be would simply touch the present that the other family had brought and give her consent. Later, in certain regions, the girl had the right to speak, that is, give consent by speaking. Among single youth, in the two years following the age of 29 they begin to have a lack of desire to get married. In more or less civilized societies, the boy and girl decide to get married, with whom and to get married at all or not. According to the national report, whereas girls in the 18-19 age group are relatively more prepared for marriage, the number is the same for boys and girls in the 20-24 age group, and the relative quantity of single boys or boys preparing to get married in the next two years in the 25-30 age group exceeds the number of girls. Armenian youth mentioned different reasons when asked the reason why they don’t get married. The top answers were “I don’t have a soul mate”, “I want to be free”, “I’m not ready/have no intention”, “I’m not self-established”, “I’m thinking of my career”, etc. According to psychologist Mamikon Tosunyan, psychology, as well as social-economic conditions have an impact on single youth. First and foremost, people are more precautious and in panic. The heavy social-economic condition compels them to be more precautious and very often youth fear taking responsibility because they are uncertain about the future. The report states that economic conditions are more common among men, while culture is more common among women. The ratio between men’s cultural and economic motives is 2:1, and it is 11:1 for women. The psychologist explains this in the following way: “The model of a successful life that we accept in our days also has a great impact. A person has to receive an education, pursue a career, achieve some success and then think of starting a family.” Alongside those who have wrong notions of the idea of being liberal are also those who say “there is no appropriate person for them”. “Even though it is a common view, it is incomprehensible. For instance, there might be a lack of an appropriate person when speaking of the level of satisfaction and the level of education. A girl from a well-to-do family might want to get married to a boy from a similar family. The other side is when there are no feelings. Many people are busy with their daily chores and work and don’t have time to get married, and there is not much contact. Perhaps that is when there is no appropriate person,” says the psychologist. On the other hand, as Mr. Tosunyan states, youth want everything to be ideal. They don’t understand the idea of achieving something together. “They want a home, a car and a good job. But that doesn’t happen overnight. The picture of marriage in magazines has a great impact on Armenian youth. Youth above the age of 25 and in their 30s have a hard time making a choice. They have a harder time looking at the issue because they are successful, have their own notions and don’t find it easy to choose a partner for life. That refers more to men because women are more willing to start a family.” Getting married is perhaps one of the most complicated issues for Armenian youth, but to not make things more complicated, we can simply follow the advice of Greek philosopher Socrates who said the following when asked about marriage: “Try not to be like fish that fall in the net and try to get out of it, and when they do, they reach toward it…” Tsovinar Karapetyan