Monday, 10 June 2013

The Age Factor

Marriage and AgesMy husband and I are one month apart. His birthday comes before mine. I once asked him, would you have married me had it been the other way round? Even if he did, would others have let him marry a girl technically elder in age than him?

Does age matter all that much? Some say age is just a number. Yet, nearly in all married couples around me, husbands are senior in age than their wives. The age difference typically reduces as the generation becomes more recent. Only once in a blue moon, I learn about a rare case in which the wife is older than her husband. Generally, it is not preferred that a boy should get married to a girl elder than him, at least in this part of the world.

One explanation could be that in this male-dominated society, the age seniority automatically translates into a power of superiority for the man who typically has more authority to be in-charge of the household. Another reason could be that boys are usually considered to be more immature in comparison to girls of the same age. Hence, the age difference might be a preference to bring both individuals at par to lead their married life.

The trend of a bride being younger than the groom becomes a concern when girls start getting disregarded in marriage proposals because of their ages. This happens when prospective girls fail to satisfy the age parameters required by the other party. The latter is typically looking for a younger match for their 'near perfect' son. This becomes a burden for girls and their parents alike. Moreover, prospects for girls who have surpassed the 'desired' age bracket grow limited in every respect. Sadly, this is how the Pakistani society has been fabricated.

It is amazing how a society that claims to staunchly follow the principles of Islamic faith can conveniently choose to ignore one of the foremost indications from the Prophet’s (Sm) life. Ironically, Prophet Muhammad’s (Sm) wife, Hazrat Khajida was quite senior in age than him when they got married. It has been reported that at the time of marriage, Hazrat Khajida was 40 and the Prophet (Sm) was 25 – or for sure less than 40.

This is the country of believers who claim to hold Prophet Muhammad (Sm) in the highest regard and who know Hazrat Khajida was his first wife and several years elder than him. Then why is there this general unwise concept that a groom should be older than his bride? And why is there a social stigma attached to women who have transcended the 'right' age, as if they are no more eligible to lead a peaceful happy married life?

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