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Friday, July 17, 2009
In considering marriage, stick with tradition
What will you do if your independent-minded daughter who is going to get married says she wants to do away with the fuss of a wedding?
There is a good chance that she is only informing you, not asking for your permission. You know how kids are these days. Still, you'd tell her: Don't.
Not that she will listen. But we parents have to try, so our daughter at least has the statistics on her side when she is leaving the nest.
And the statistics for women who marry without a wedding ceremony are not good at all: 20% of them end up facing physical and sexual violence. The odds go down to 15% if they had their wedding, and to 9% if they had both the wedding and a marriage certificate.
No, I am not making this up. It is from research entitled "Families With/Without Experience of Violence," by Churnrurtai Kanchanachitra and Suporn Jarassit from the Institute For Population and Social Research, Mahidol University.
True, how couples marry cannot guarantee a smooth marriage or prevent divorce. But we don't want to take a chance with our girls, do we?
Apart from wedding ceremonies, other variables in the study, which covers 2,816 women in Nakhon Sawan and Bangkok, include spousal communications, protection from relatives, and childhood experiences. Interestingly, a love marriage cannot guarantee if marital life will be free of domestic violence. The odds are quite close (about 10-16%) whether the marriage is decided by the couple, by the woman or the man alone, or by their parents. The risk is highest, however, if the marriage is the woman's decision alone.
The wedding ceremony factor, meanwhile, is more important than who made the marriage decision. Even more important than the marriage certificate itself. Although a marriage paper is often equated with marital commitment and security, the study shows it does not guarantee violence-free nuptials. In fact, the risk is highest (55.6%) for women who did have the marriage papers but not the wedding ceremony, followed by those who neither had the paper nor ceremony (54%), while those who had the ceremony but not the marriage certificate fared better (48%). In other words, the social recognition of the nuptials is stronger than the law in protecting women. The study, confirming the importance of tradition, shows that women who married without any ceremonies faced the highest risk of domestic violence, twice higher than women who had both a wedding ceremony and marriage papers.
So for any single women out there who want to take the plunge while retaining their legal and financial independence, it is wise to follow tradition. The wedding ceremony is not only for your parents, it is for your own future safety.
How to reduce the risk further?
It is generally believed that if the couple stays with the wife's family, there is nothing to fear regarding domestic violence. The study shows otherwise.
Be it living with parents or in-laws, having relatives living nearby, or frequent visits from relatives, all this is no help if the relatives cannot really provide support. But if they can, the violence will drop by half.
Unfortunately, this support does not help at all when it comes to sexual violence.
Lack of communication, frequent heated arguments, and childhood experiences of domestic violence figure prominently as the factors affecting domestic violence. Though easier said than done, more open talk and self-restraint help put the brakes on violent outbursts and end the vicious cycle.
And check the future spouse's family background. It is bad enough if one partner experienced domestic violence in childhood. But according to the study, if both husband and wife, as well as their mothers, were victims of domestic violence, the chances of wife-beating in that household would be 100%.
Not convinced? This study (in Thai) and other research on Thai families in the social and demographic transition make interesting reading. Go to:http://www.ipsr.mahidol.ac.th/IPSR/AnnualConference/ConferenceV/Article2009EN.htm
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