Monday column: A big reason so many Omanis are still single

Opinion Sunday 25/February/2024 15:03 PM
By: Saleh Al-Shaibany
Monday column: A big reason so many Omanis are still single

Many young Omani men and women prefer not to get married in a hurry and some never at all as the increasing social pressures take a big dent out of their marital confidence.

The official statistics show that since the year 2010, about 36 percent of eligible Omanis, both men and women, marry well into their 40s while 42 percent after their mid-thirties and only 22 percent marry in their 20s. In contrast to the statistics between 1970 to 2009, when 78 percent of Omanis were married in their 20s.

But why do Omanis now prefer to get married late compared to the last 15 years? There are no statistics to show the reason for it but lower pay when they get a job with increasing costs of living is being blamed by Omanis who are reluctant to get married. In other words, it is affordability.

The other reason is that some Omanis do not see the marriage values the way their parents saw. Perhaps frequent divorces or constant quarrels they see in married people are putting them off from making the marital decision.

Also, when people are overwhelmed with choices they tend not to choose at all. They continue to be single convincing themselves that they still have time. It is when the years roll by and leave their youth years behind as they grow older into the middle age.  So it is not that they shy away from marriage but what they see in front of them is a repressive wall which they find hard to break.

Is it the breakdown of tradition that is shifting pure Omani cultures in family matters away from young people in the last 15 years? It could well be that. The fingers are pointing that way, according to many traditionalists. Gone are the days when a young married couple live with parents and their children raised by grandparents.

Those days, any cracks in their marriage would be quickly fixed by the parents who live with them. At the same time, their expenses are shared by the parents, removing financial stress from them. But some would argue that since many Omanis are now educated and work, the couples can help each other with the costs of living.

However, the professional part in their marriages erect another wall between them. For example, a woman would argue that “why do I need a man in my life when I earn my own money?”

Young Omani women are now much more educated than they have ever been before.  They are employed and well paid. They feel the independence of being single without a man lurking behind their back leads to freedom. So another factor is independence and no responsibilities. It is one more reason young people find that being single is more attractive.

Having said that, will that trend continue into the next decade? Sociologists would say nature has its own way of controlling population. Limited number of marriages lead to less number of children being born a year.