Throughout the past decade, marriage between young Cambodians was traditionally dependent on financial support from the couples' families. However, a new wave of youth is trying to make great strides in saving up to support themselves in marriage.
T Newlyweds, now, are just starting out in their financial endeavours, according to Professor Sambo Manara, Deputy Director of the History Department at Royal University of Phnom Penh. Previously, he explained, the trend was to get married after reaching financial stability.
Professor Sambo said that three factors make it difficult for young Cambodians to save up money for marriage now: the individual, society, and environment.
The individual factor, he expanded, means that today's young generation are used to their parents taking care of them financially. “Therefore,” he said, “they have a mindset that they will always get something from others.”
The society factor, Professor Sambo said, is a trend inherent in today's domestic job market. Because employers suspect that young Cambodians are reliant on their parents for money, and therefore not hardworking, they are reluctant to hire them for new jobs.
And as for the environment factor, he said: “This creates and leads to the cause of why youth do not try and earn money.”
Professor Sambo said that because today's young Cambodians observe the environment around them of others not working - or simply waiting for an inheritance form their parents - they learn and repeat the same habits, and make no efforts to earn money for themselves.
Thirty-year-old Tok Kimsong, who is recently married, works as an agriculture project facilitator. Unlike many others his age, he relies on his own earnings to support his marriage.
“I'm self-dependent,” he said. “It is difficult to save money since we have to spend a lot, too,” adding that before marriage, he was able to send his extra money to his siblings in his home province.
Mao Sophany is Tok Kimsong's wife. She's 25, and works as a development facilitator at Youth for Peace. She said that she's proud of her husband, since he can stand on his own two feet without relying on others.
“This shows that he values marriage, and he put in a lot of effort until we got married,” she said, adding that her parents agreed on her marriage too.
Tok Kimsong said that since the marriage, he has faced some financial difficulties. He recommended that someone who is planning to marry should not waste too much money on material belongings, and should spend only on necessities. He also recommended that couples keep their savings in a bank and collect interest.
Some couples, however, still need help from their parents to support the marriage. Twenty-seven-year-old Sok Kong, an assistant at the International Centre for Conciliation, was financed by his parents when he got married - and continues to receive their monetary support.
“I feel ashamed that I still depend on them for this marriage. I also feel ashamed with myself,” he said.
Sara Lida, a 53-year-old housewife, says that saving money for marriage will ease the burden for the couples' parents and also maintain a sense a pride. She supports four children without the financial help of her family.
“It is good if couples can find money and marry [without financial support]” she said.