By Mohamed Al Mehyas
If you asked me 10 years ago where I would see myself a decade later, I would have never imagined being where I am right now. As a 26-year-old husband, father and a hard-working engineer in the oil sector who got married at the age of 19, I feel fortunate for where and who I am today. Because of my early marriage, I was able to achieve many of the goals I had set for myself. In other words, early marriage was the life-changing decision that made me who I am today.
After graduation from high school, I sat with my mother and told her about my interest in marrying my cousin Muna. My mother supported me, as she thought that both of us were meant for each other. I had almost never talked to Muna before, and I did not know her well at that time (we usually have a formal relationship with our female cousins). But if you ask me what was the reason I wanted to marry her, I would say it was love at first sight. The marriage arrangements went smoothly because of my father’s support, and we got married in June 2012.
“Early marriage was the life-changing decision that made me who I am today.”
At that time, I was a sophomore in university in the US, and so my wife joined me in the same university to complete her studies. It was not difficult to adapt to our new lifestyle. Both of us knew our responsibilities towards each other and we treated each other with love, trust and mutual respect. We never hid our feelings towards each other and we always avoided distractions when we were together. In addition, we knew how to balance our social life, studies and marital life. In my opinion, it was (and is) very crucial for me to spend most of my time with my significant rather than spending it with friends or colleagues. However, this does not mean that I did not spend time with friends, but I would organise myself to make sure that I gave most of my time to my wife.
On May 2015, we both graduated and came back home to the UAE. A few months after I started working in the oil sector, we had our first child, Ahmed. Having a child is a huge responsibility, but it has made us happier and closer to each other. Last month, my wife and I celebrated our seventh anniversary; seven years of good and tough times. A lot of things have changed in these years, but one thing has stayed the same: our love and respect towards each other.
“Getting married early has a lot of perks that cannot be enjoyed if you were to get married later in life.”
Our life is filled with joy and happiness, and I have noticed how being married has improved many aspects of my life. Getting married early has a lot of perks that cannot be enjoyed if you were to get married later in life. The first perk is that we had the chance to make great memories with each other at an early age by experiencing new adventures and places together. Second, whenever you are down, your life partner is there for you to encourage and support you. I remember a lot of times when I had difficulties in my studies, especially in my very last semester, and Muna was always there to support me and lift my spirit. Additionally, I became more considerate towards our financial life. This helped us save enough capital to start Muna’s jewelry business. Lastly, I was a father at an early age (23), which is significant because I feel closer to my children in age, and so they can think of me as a friend when they grow up, and not just their father.
“Keep in mind there are challenging times in marriage as well as good times.”
One of the challenges couples might face in early marriage is the financial burden of the wedding. I think people can overcome it by planning their wedding within a specific budget that suits them. Besides, our community is collaborative and people tend to help each other out. We were raised with these values. Parents especially can help by lending money to their son (or daughter). There is nothing that makes our parents as happy and pleased as watching their son or daughter getting married. Another challenge young individuals might face is the stereotype that society has about young individuals (i.e. that they are ignorant and irresponsible). In fact, I have met with many ambitious young students who are responsible; some of them were married at my age or younger too, which actually encouraged me to do the same in the first place.
To sum up, early marriage can be one of the greatest decisions you can make in your life. In my case, I became a father at a young age, I made many great and unforgettable memories with the person I love early on, and I became more responsible financially. But the most important thing is that I married the woman I love.
“Another challenge young individuals might face is the stereotype that society has about young individuals (i.e. that they are ignorant and irresponsible).”
If you’re planning to get married, my advice to you is to just treat your significant other the same way you want to be treated, and keep in mind there are challenging times in marriage as well as good times. As a result, you will achieve great accomplishments in your personal and professional life. Living with a person who understands you and cares about you will make you successful in all of your life aspects. As authors Dr.Paul Napper and Anthony Rao state in The Power of Agency, “You want to associate with people who are the kind of person you’d like to be —people who inspire you to learn and do things you might not believe are possible”. And that is exactly what I have experienced in my marriage.
The views of the authors and writers who contribute to Sekka, and the views of the interviewees who are featured in Sekka, do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Sekka, its parent company, its owners, employees and affiliates.
Mohamed Al Mehyas is an Emirati petroleum and natural gas engineer living in Abu Dhabi. He is interested in issues that concern our society (especially youth issues), and how to find solutions to solve them. This is his first published article.