J'cans postpone marriage for flashy weddings

June 15, 2017

President of the Jamaica Theological Seminary, Reverend Dr Garnett Roper, says there needs to be a change in the thinking of many Jamaicans that they need flashy, expensive wedding ceremonies to in order to get married.

Roper believes that the idea that a wedding must be a lavish affair is one of the main reasons many persons opt not to get married.

“People have an idea that they should have a certain photograph of their wedding day, and until they can get that, they don’t have a wedding,” he said.

He argues that because the cost of a wedding is so high, people postpone their marriage until after they have children and purchase houses.

“A wedding can cost anything. Even churches promote the idea of an expensive wedding, and that is the greatest obstacle to marriage,” Roper said.

Women rights advocate Nadeen Spence added that marriage is a phenomenon that came about late in the history of our country.

“One of the reasons why we have so many common-law unions is because marriage, if  is common now, it is because it is a recent,” she said.

However, she doesn’t believe that waiting till later on in life to get married is necessarily wrong because it reduces the chances of divorce.

Meanwhile, senior lecturer in sociology at the University of West Indies, Dr Orville Taylor, believes that while there are a large number of common-law unions, these person may enjoy stable relationships.

“In many cases, men and women who live together for five years and above but are not legally married in terms of not having gone before a judge or a pastor (a marriage officer), these individuals may well have more stable unions than people who have actually gone before a pastor,” Taylor said.

The provisional statistics from the Registrar General Department (RGD) for live births occurring in the first quarter of 2017 shows that of the 6,840 births in that period, only 836 of the babies were born in wedlock.

Given the fact that majority of the children in Jamaica are born out of wedlock, Taylor does not believe that this is something that will significantly affect the development of children.

“The average person who is born out of wedlock is a well-adjusted individual who is participating society,” he said.

Taylor believes that the development of children is more likely to be hampered in marriages where a parent or both parents are abusive. 

Meanwhile, Roper is of the view that the high number of births outside wedlock is not a question of immorality. Instead, he said this is linked to the fact that persons can’t afford what they believe to be the ideal wedding.

“The great obstacles is not so much the morality or not because Jamaican people are not any more or any less promiscuous than a typical western society. The problem is that they believe a wedding is a middle class affair, and until they can afford a wedding, they do not get married," he said. 

“We have to break away marriage from wedding, and then we can get more people getting married and starting their family after that public expression of their commitment to each other,” he said.


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