Making marriage, college work

Allison Remecheck

Shimaa Shendy, junior psychology major, married her husband, Ahmed Abdullah, when she was 19. Shendy and Abdullah never dated. Their marriage was arranged by their parents.

Credit: Allison Remecheck

Love can come at any time, and for some Kent State couples, it came younger than people today might think.

According to the Center for Family and Demographic Research in an article about marriage in the United States and Ohio, couples are marrying later. In 1970, the median marriage age for men was 23.2 and 20.8 for women. In 2000, it was 26.8 for men and 25.1 for women.

But for these Kent State couples, this was not the case. Marriage was not something that could wait until after college.

High school sweethearts Betty and Anthony Scardina, flight technology major, began dating their junior year. They married last July, and it wasn’t spur of the moment.

“We knew we were going to get married about three months into the relationship,” said Betty Scardina, 20-year-old sophomore hospitality management major.

Scardina said their relationship has a special quality to it that sealed their marriage.

“When you know, you know,” she said. “You can’t describe it. He felt the same way. We both feel that way.”

Their relationship hasn’t made college much different from the average student’s, Scardina said.

“It’s kind of hard,” she said. “But even if you weren’t married, it would still be hard.”

The Scardinas’ parents play a large role in their relationship.

“My parents love him and his parents love me,” Scardina said. “It’s a good relationship. Both our families were very supportive.”

But the Scardinas didn’t let their parents in on the engagement right away. It was after their junior year of high school.

“We didn’t tell them we were engaged for six months,” Scardina said.

So far, the Scardinas’ marriage has been smooth.

“We don’t really have that many problems,” Scardina said. “We don’t fight at all. Never, really.”

The biggest obstacle they have faced is money, because school is still expensive, Scardina said, but working hard and budgeting helps.

The key to a good relationship is “definitely communication,” Scardina said. “You’ve got to make compromises.”

And you can’t forget the humor.

“You’ve always got to laugh,” she said. “Me and Anthony, we always make each other laugh.”

Being married helps Scardina keep up her morale in college.

“If you’re having a rough time in school, there’s someone to say, ‘you know, it’s going to be ok,’ ” she said.

For Shimaa Shendy, junior psychology major, her marriage to Ahmed Abdullah was a little bit different — they didn’t date beforehand.

Mutual friends of the family introduced Shendy and Abdullah, an Egyptian Islamic couple. After their parents talked to one another, Shendy’s father asked her if she would like to pursue the relationship, Shendy said.

And two months later, they married. Shendy was 19, and 31-year-old Abdullah was new to America.

“I’m the kind of person that was always looking for someone,” Shendy said. “I’m not really scared of making my life a better one. Being a housewife and being a mom, I like that.”

Since Shendy and Abdullah didn’t date, some people were skeptical of their marriage at first, Shendy said.

“My friends all thought I was crazy.”

And things were a little awkward in the beginning because Abdullah spent most of his life in Kuwait, and Shendy had lived in the United States since elementary school.

“I didn’t know how to act,” Shendy said. “He’s older; he didn’t know how to act toward me because we were raised in completely different places.

“Day by day, I learned things from him and he learned things from me. It took me a while. With the role that comes with it (marriage), I matured faster.”

Shendy said her religion is a guide to her marriage.

“Our religion, Islam, is patience, patience and more patience. Giving up things for the greater good.”

Two years later, Shendy and Abdullah are in love.

“Love, I know some people say loves comes after marriage, and I definitely believe that,” Shendy said. “I love him to death.”

“When you live with someone for such a long time and there’s mutual respect — mutuality in everything — and he’s caring, loving. I don’t think age matters,” Shendy said. “I would give my life to him any time.”

Shendy is 16 weeks pregnant and experiencing a second phase of the marriage.

“He’s very, very excited. He’s 34 now. He’s going to need a kid,” she said, laughing. “When you’re 34, you don’t have much time to raise a kid.”

Abdullah began waiting on her hand-and-foot.

“When I’m pregnant, he does so much for me,” Shendy said. “He doesn’t let me go in the kitchen. I’m sure normal pregnant people can go and cook. He doesn’t want me to cook, so I’m not around heat.

“I don’t do anything. It’s kind of a plus, it makes me want to get pregnant again.”

Shendy said she made the right decision when she got married.

“I have both lives — I am a wife, but I’m still a kid with my friends. He’s the right person, that’s probably why.”

Contact features reporter Allison Remcheck at [email protected].