Say you are a fresh graduate at that age of 23, a male, starting a carrier with a salary, say RM2000 per month. Monthly, extracting your expenditures on foods, transportation (public or motorcycle), electricity, water, phone, house rent and other expenses, say you can save about RM800 the most.
Then, because you are a good son, you send some money to your parents or relatives about RM300 per month. This will give you a balance of RM500 of saving. For the first year, maybe you are very discipline with your budget, so you save about RM5000.
The next year at the age of 24, you meet a girl of your dream. Both of you plan to get married after one year or two. Ok, that's fine, it gives you time to save some more money and some more time to prepare the basic necessities for a 'happy' family? a car and a roof to live under. That year because you are a hard worker, you get a raise of 10%.
Since you are also a gentleman, you make sure some money is put aside to spend on dates and gifts for your girl, so 10% goes for her. Like the previous year, after much sweat and Meggie- eating months, you save another RM5000. You are paid 2 months bonus. So, another RM4000 is added to your saving. So, your total saving now is RM14,000.
You decide to spend about RM8000 on a brand-new RM40,000 car down payment. So, you net saving that year is RM6000.
The next year at the age of 25, you are doing fine at work. But because now you have to pay for car every month, your total monthly saving is cut down to about RM400. You save roughly about RM5000 that year. No bonus that year because your company is doing poor. So, your total saving in the bank is RM11,000.
Then, you decide to get engaged with your girlfriend. She said OK. So, need to buy an engagement ring. RM1500 is spent on ring plus 'hantaran pertunangan'. So, your net saving that year is RM9,500.
The next year at the age of 26, you get promoted. Your salary now is 1.5 of your starting salary at the company. Good news! You think. "Ok, this year I will get married". You also are 'gersang' already. :)
So, you ask your fiancée "how much is the dowry (hantaran)? "She say, "berapa-berapa yang u sanggup". You ask,"RM5000 ok?". She replies, "I okay je. Tapi my mom tu. Dia kata grad oversea macam I ni mane boleh letak rendah-rendah. Paling kurang RM10,000 tau!".
Your eyes 'terjegil', air liur 'meleleh' and you faint on the spot. "Where else in the world can I get extra money?", you say to yourself. But, because you are very determined to get married with your dream girl and in the name of love, you work really really hard that year until you are awarded "The Best Employee of The Year".
You get 3 months of bonus. You also do some side business to supply ayam pencen. So, roughly your net saving at the end of that year is RM20,000.
Ok, now you are 27 years old with enough saving in the bank to pay for the dowry. But then, come your mom saying,"Anak mak nak kawin ni mesti la buat grand grand. Kita sewa khemah besar-besar, jemput penyanyi ke artis ke sorang dua datang buat persembahan. Lauk pauk kita cater aje la ya? RM10 je sekepala. Baju kawin ko, kita sewa yg cantik-cantik dan mahal-mahal sket. Kita jemput dalam 1000 orang datang ok?"
You did a quick in-the-head-calculation, "1000xRM10=RM10,000, penyanyi lagi, khemah lagi, buta-buta je RM15,000!!! Tu tak masuk cincin kahwin lagi!!" You say,"Mak, nak buat apa membazir-bazir duit ni?" Your mom replies,"Apa pulak membazirnya? Kau kawin sekali je seumur hidup.`Biarlah buat betul-betul." You insist,"Tapi mak?"
Your mom says, "Dahlah, kau jangan nak buat malu mak. Cik Tipah jiran kita tu buat kenduri kat hotel siap dato, datin, tan sri puan sri lagi datang. Mana la mak nak letak muka kalau buat kenduri kecik kecik?".
Anyway, you finally get married. But, a beautiful happy life after marriage that you dream of with your wife does not last long. You have debts around your waist, interest gets higher every month, cannot afford to pay them, you wife gets tired of you asking money from her, she accuses you of being irresponsible husband for not being a good provider, blah blah blah? At the end, you two go into separate ways? You get divorced.
Problem breeds problem? Sometimes we wonder why marriage institution is failing in our country. The above example may not represent the whole phenomena in our culture,but perhaps it gives us some ideas of the problems young couple these days are facing in getting married from my perspective.
The Root Cause of The Problem... There is something wrong in our culture. I really think there are some practices in our culture in Malaysia (Malay culture specifically) that do not make sense and especially they are contrary to the teaching of Islam. These practices are well-rooted in our culture that unfortunately because of them, many people are 'afraid' to get married, or simply feel like they cannot afford when they are actually can afford.
These are some of my observation and summary analysis:
(1) Marriage should be done in the most modest way but in Malaysia, it is ought to be done in the most lavish way. Competition on whose wedding is the most grandeur is almost unavoidable. Fame is usually the reason why people spend unreasonable and wasteful amount of money for a wedding.
(2) The "price" of a woman is measured according to her perhaps educational status not according to her knowledge and understanding of Deen and piety as suggested by the religion. The saddest thing is that "price" is put on women, who are supposed to be, if God-loving, kind-hearted and pious ones, "priceless"! 'Dowry' system is adopted by the Malays from perhaps the Indians who came to Malaysia long time ago.When the 'dowry' is put too high and men can't afford to pay, marriage is usually delayed or cancelled. An effort to build another small brick unit of this Deen is delayed or perhaps destroyed only for this reason.
(3) Marriage should be a quick and easy process for the couple not hard, which eventually becomes a burden. These days, we make marriage so complicated that people are afraid of getting married. When I was in the Sydney, I saw Muslim brothers and sisters getting married at the mosque, with just some sweets as the main course for the guests. The guests who were invited to witness the ceremony were usually whoever prayed jemaah at the mosque or some close relatives and friends. There is no point of being extravagance. We should focus on the life after wedding not the wedding itself. Wedding is only a door to the marriage house. Why should we spent a lot of money to decorate the door so beautifully, when the inside of the house is then left empty, dark and unattractive?
...and the pressure is on men...^^