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Some advice on getting married young – don’t do it


PORT MORESBY - Family relationships is a hot topic. It bothers me. In the workplace and at home, I frequently think and talk about marriage and family life.

Even at public bus stops and shopping centres or while travelling, I’m always bothered. Honestly, I’m suppressed by thinking too hard on this issue.

This dilemma started after I got married in 2008. In my young life, I did not experience this phenomenon.

All I thought about, talked about and did was dream, wishing I could find out what best the world could offer me.

Sometimes I’d dream I was in a graduation hall receiving double degrees. At other times that I was a mechanical engineer or aircraft engineer. Or maybe in the hangar fixing aircraft engines.

Occasionally I was driving an Ela Motors Toyota LandCruiser around my home village with my beautiful wife beside me and my countrymen at the back yelling with excitement.

On other occasions I was preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ to the people in my village in a well-organised community crusade. And sharing food, clothes and money with poor people who could not afford the basic necessaries.

Ah, but all these were daydreams and night dreams and fantasies. They did not eventuate in my life. I am yet to accomplish or fulfil those wishes and imaginings.

In reality, I should say I live a life full of shattered dreams, broken hopes and fruitless wishes.

These dreams and wishes are no longer in me. They are gone. Perhaps, it’s because I’m getting old. I am 30. That is a fact. On the other hand, people say that between 30 and 45 are the active years of a man.

This is when wisdom and understanding start to manifest in us. If this is true, what could be the factor that is destroying my dreams and goals as I enter my active years?

Perhaps it was my unpreparedness for marriage that resulted in me floundering in a pool of problems and challenges.

I got partnered to my beautiful wife towards the end of first semester 2008 at the University of Goroka. It took only a month and we were already on an unplanned and secret honeymoon. My wife was pregnant with our daughter by the middle of second semester.

Our relatives, hers and mine, were unaware of our deal. But we knew that when they found out it would be the end of everything. We would in trouble. We would be facing harsh penalties imposed by numerous relatives.

First they would question the integrity of our marriage. This is because we went to school in our own separate journeys to pursue studies, not for friendship and marriage. Getting married was not what they expected of us.

In addition, no formalities like the negotiation and payment of bride price was made by me or my relatives. As a result there was high chance of me being taken to court by her people and being forced to separate.

This is because girls in that part of the Highlands are a commodity to their parents and relatives. And anyway, bride price is a norm for any marriage in Papua New Guinea.

Secondly, we doubted we could progress our studies because our relatives would be reluctant to pay our school fees. Funding the studies ourselves was not possible; we were entirely depending on our relatives.

In fact, in today’s society an unemployed person raising a new family and studying is an imaginary situation.

I was bombarded with all sorts of thoughts. Why did I…., How will I….., What can I…., What have I.…, Should I…., Can I.… Those sorts of questions filled my head.

In the trauma, I knew that there was no way we could hide the fact. So I convinced my honey that both of us must reveal the fact to our relatives.

I decided we would send text messages to them using Digicel Mobile. This message was easy because Digicel was introduced in 2007 after the expensive BMobile dominance.

My wife wrote to her uncles. I send my message to my older brother and sisters stating the problem I had invited into my life.

Let me be honest, the messages did not went down well with our relatives.

Someone from my wife’s side responded that “she should show no sign in her village because if she does, she will be killed”.

On my side, the people I texted did not reply. But responses were made by others who heard rumours. They reported that “your relatives are feeling disappointed at what you have done”.

In truth, their responses were correct. Who were we to decide on our marriage and expect acceptance and favour? Was it not total disrespect to people who gave so much sweat to make ends meet and send us to school?

And marriage is a last thing for students.  Marriage is the decision made after completing studies, getting employed and accumulating wealth.

After some weeks my wife’s relatives stopped talk of killing and decided to accept the mistake. So they asked my wife to go home for holiday. They said they would also talk with me and my people.

So in the holiday period we went to our respective places. My wife went to her village while I went to mine. In my village, I was treated differently from the treatment I received when I was young. This bothered me but, then, I had got married.

After spending three days in the village, I called my wife on the cell phone to find out how she was doing. She said “the people were not too friendly like what they used to be.”

But the good news was that other things like killing her had just been said out of frustration. She requested that I show up at her village with some village leaders from my village.

I will never forget the moment I faced her relatives. I was by myself because none of my relatives decided to follow me to talk on my behalf.

(But a sincere thank you to my two diehard friends, Yakumb Yaks Anaki and Max Kor Irinaea. They were the only ones who followed me when I went to face my wife’s relatives.

Actually, I did not go there to do any talking. I went to show myself to the parents and relatives so they would be aware of the culprit who was the husband of their daughter.

This situation was unusual. On most occasions in the Highlands, relatives of the male and community leaders talk on behalf of the groom. Sometimes it is dangerous for the culprit to face the parents. The relatives of the female can fight with the man. But my wife’s father, mother, brother and sister were so kind. They accepted me as part of them.

After exposing our relationship to each group of our relatives, we went on with our studies. But we encountered many problems. Each of them challenged me terribly. And as a result my dreams and wishes disappeared. 

However the challenges did not overcome the strong feeling I had for my family. I continued to live with the woman I chose to marry, and with who I have two lovely kids, Sony and Pam.

Now I am in my eighth year as a married man. When I say that, you may think all the challenges must have left me. If you think this, you are wrong. The challenges are here to stay.

The only thing I can do is face the challenges one at a time. I have to face them as they come. In fact this world is full of problems and challenges. We cannot escape or run away from them. No one is free of them. They are there to stay as long as we live. 

I’ve found that running away from problem means adding petrol to the fire. So, if you have done your marriage already, you stick to it.

But if you are still young, don’t get into it yet. Do it later when you have a job, house and some savings.

That’s my advice. I’d take it.


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Regina Mulisya

Marriage comes with different challenges in ones live and You must have the shock absorbers to face them.

Make decicions cooperatively. I agree with Rabsuna that we all face problems every day in our lives but it's how we deal them.

Win-win decision-making aims for a plan of action that pleases you both. In marriage when you have differences, quietly express your underlying concerns, listen calmly to understand your partner’s concerns, and then create a solution responsive to all the concerns of both of you.

Gods dominion reign upon your house always. Shalom.

Jordan Dean

Life is one hell of a ride. You survived. Keep going Pawa.

Kenny Pawa Ambaisi

Caroline - Thanks a lot for your comment.

Daniel - Thanks a lot for your positive comment. Actually you were my model in writing I looked upon some time ago.

I took you as a senior brother from Enga as I am from Southern Highlands. All I can assure you is that, yes, I will continue to write as you are encouraging me.

Robert - Such a praising comment from someone senior and from other side of the camp is something I will never forget.

Philip Fitzpatrick

Enjoyed your comment Robert.

No one really mentions marriages between Australians and Papua New Guineans when they talk about "our special relationship".

There must be hundreds, perhaps thousands of children with a foot in both camps.

Kenny Pawa Ambaisi

Thanks a lot Robin and Paulus for your comments.

Robert Wilson

Pawa - Enjoyed reading about your journey into the complex and at times bewildering state of marriage.

Like you, I also married a highland girl but I took two years to woo the parents before we mentioned that marriage was something we wanted.

A major difference between us was that I am a white Australian and did not have the courage to not discuss matters with her mother and father before even telling my own lot in Australia.

Initially Jane's mum was not very happy although her Dad and I got on like a house on fire. Mum eventually came around and I was her favorite son up to the day she passed away.

The end result is now almost 43 years married, two lovely daughters and still in regular contact with family and friends in Asaro.

I can assure you that like all relationships we went through difficult times but I am convinced we were lucky to find each other and neither of us have ever regretted the decision to marry.

I hope and pray you and your wife have as much luck and good fortune as we did.

Daniel Kumbon

Pawa - A well written, insightful and enduring tale.

I always look out for the Readers Digest in second hand stores in PNG because I always find inspiring stories like this one.

Keep writing.

Caroline Evari

Such a beautiful reflection and great advice for young couples and the young generation. Thank you Pawa.

Robin Lillicrapp

Interesting reflections, Pawa. A big "Well Done" to you and your wife for your love and consistency over those eight years.

That parental testimony will be so important to Sony and Pam as they grow to maturity and discover their places in this turbulent world.

Paulus Rabsuna

Pawa, thank you very much for sharing this. I admire your courage and "never give up" mindset.

Yes, we all face problems every day in our lives but it's how we deal them. Your second last line just hits the spot. I noted that down well and will stick to it.

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