“LOVE” is a universal concept that causes some people go to extraordinary measures.
Sok Sopheaktra says she got married five years ago without gaining permission from her parents. Because of her love for her husband, she was willing to do anything to be with him.
“My husband and I loved each other so much, even though we had known each other for only a month,’’ she explains.
“He told his parents to ask for me in marriage, but my parents said our horoscopes weren’t compatible, so they didn’t want us to get married.
“That’s why we decided to run away, so we could get married.”
Im Borin, a 54-year-old fortune teller and almanac writer, says: “Knowing the horoscopes of a couple is important.”
He says a couple can be well educated and wealthy, but if their signs don’t match, they will not be happy together. He also says he mainly talks only to parents.
“Young customers hardly come to my place; mostly it’s parents. They ask for their kids’ horoscopes to see whether or not the couple will be happy together and get on well with each other in the future.”
Tit Lida, a 23-year-old junior at the Institute of Foreign Languages, says she got married four months ago.
When she married, however, she did not even know her husband; it was arranged because her parents believed in their horoscopes.
“My parents went to a fortune teller who told them that my husband and I would live happily.”
Somchan Sovandara, deputy head of the department of psychology at the Royal University of Phnom Penh, says “love” is indefinable, but horoscopes can be helpful: “Horoscopes is the norm we should follow.”
Sok Sam Oeun, executive director of the Cambodian Defenders Project, says it’s a person’s right to choose his or her own partner.
All he can do is tell couples about the obstacles they may face if they opt for the wrong partner.
“In Buddhism, the religious way is to avoid problems, but sometimes that’s hard. I just tell my children, and then it is up to them.” Pa Sothona, a 23-year-old who works in sales and marketing at Phummon Khmer Travel and Tours, does not have a girlfriend right now, but he agrees with Sok Sam Oeun that people should be able to choose their partners without interference from their parents.
“This is the 21st century. We have the right to choose our own partners. It’s not like ancient society, and parents should trust their children.”
Pa Sothana believes people’s horoscopes are too fatalist.
“Our horoscope assumes we are predestined for a particular path, but it doesn’t take into account the fact that we have free will, and we can create our own path,” he says.
Heng Chhorda, a 20-year-old freshman at Norton University, doesn’t really believe in horoscopes either. “Happiness doesn’t happen because of our sign,” she says.
Instead, she believes philosophical books offer a better understanding of true happiness. “I think that if everyone read these types of books, fewer people would get hurt or suffer. Most of these books don’t talk about astrology or horoscopes.”
Tit Lida also suggests that parents and children should try to understand each other more when it comes to marriage.
That way, hopefully they can reach a compromise, she says.
Even if a couple’s signs are compatible, parents should let their children decide whether they will be happy together, Tit Lida says.