“I am writing in my story to show that there is hope if we are just courageous enough to reach for it.”

Sharing an email.

Dear IHM,

Reading the last couple of e-mails posted on your blog is a bittersweet experience. Bitter – because of the sheer amount of crap that, we as Unmarried Independent Women of Indian Origin have to face. Sweet (well a little bit) – because at least there is hope for the future as we are (hopefully) a growing breed.

I want to share my story, both as a warning to not succumb to the immense pressure that is put on us and also because I truly believe it is worth forging our own path. I in no way speak for every Indian woman who has faced the insane pressure that is put on us, and I also recognise the many privileges that I enjoy – financial independence, physical distance from India, and parents who though living in India and under constant pressure are genuinely supportive for the most part.

I was born in India, and moved overseas in my late teens for university. I am now 29 years, and have lived overseas and independently for over 11 years now. When I was 24 years my parents began talking to me about my marriage (I do not say “getting me married off” as I do have wonderful parents and not once was it about them doing their duty alone). They asked me if I had anyone in mind and I did not at that point in time (they were open to the idea of “love marriage” – though I do think they were glad to note there was no one). Thus began the arranged marriage “meet-cute”. Looking back (hind-sight is 20/20), even though I knew instinctually that this was not the right path for me there were two reasons for my acquiescence – a) even though my parents never gave me the “our duty” speech it was there – a looming spectre over why my marriage was being though about in the first place, b) I had been single for a few years by then and wanted to meet someone and had very halcyon views on “happy ever after”.

To cut a long, familiar and much laboured over story short. I got married, there was abuse and I got divorced. Now through all of this my parents (especially my dad) have been my rock of support. Looking back at the scared 24 year old I was I can honestly say I don’t think I would have been able to walk away from my abuser if it wasn’t for my parent’s unflinching support. This I belabour only because the most depressing period each month for 2 years (yes that is how long the Indian system takes!) was the visit to the civil courts in India for my divorce hearing. My stomach turns even today two years after my last visit when I think about that place, and the many young women I saw there, (many on their own with no support) each month hoping for the justice that for many never came.

Today two years after my divorce has been finalised (I moved back overseas after my divorce was finalised) I am again hearing the marriage drum beat. This time around though the difference is that my parents have much thicker skins and are much more likely to tell people to F#$! Off! Don’t get me wrong they are not immune to the pressure that “Indian Society” places on parents of unmarried daughters. They are looking at proposals that they receive, but that all-encompassing fear that I will NEVER get married is not present. Today they can acknowledge (albeit not happily) that even if I NEVER get married it is NOT the end of my life and a happy, satisfied and full life can still be mine.  Today they are very comfortable telling people that their son is NOT good enough for me. Today they let people know that any consideration for marriage will only happen after a minimum of a year of me knowing the guy. Today they acknowledge that my no is a NO (not that I could not say no before but I better have had a damn good reason), and I don’t have to have a reason for it. Today lack of “connection” is not derided as a silly sentiment. I don’t say the above as some sort of “right way” to do the arranged marriage thing, I just state them to highlight that they now have no compunction STATING THEIR CONDITIONS.

However the most important differences I can see have been in me.

Over the last four years (over the course of my divorce proceedings and post it) I have dated a few guys, had sex with some of them and am currently single and “playing the field”. This I say because you know what, now I know what I want in/from a guy/relationship/sexually. I don’t have the idealised notion of coupledom in my head that I had at 24. I know the areas in which I am open to negotiation/adjustment/understanding, and more importantly I am absolutely sure about the areas in which I.will.not.budge.

I define my boundaries now, and I have met people who respect them. I have met/gone on dates with guys that have proven to me that there are some wonderful men out there and that just because they are wonderful does not mean they are right for me. And no I don’t have to have a reason as to why I will not date them. I have realised that I don’t need to provide a reason for my singledom to anyone. I don’t see any couples (and here I refer to heterosexual/cis-gender couples) having to provide a reason for why they are together, so why the hell should I!!

I can honestly say that when I was younger I didn’t think there was anything worse that could happen to me than divorce and rape (no I have not been raped). This I believe is largely a function of our “Indian mentality” that equates our worth (women) as human beings with our sexual organs, hymen and fecundity. When I think of the movies I grew up watching (and god knows that Bollywood has a stronghold on our collective Indian psyche), the women who were raped/divorced deserved it (as they were “bad girls”) or it was a sacrifice that they made at the altar of family (brother/husband/son/father) honour. And once said sacrifice was done they had fulfilled their purpose in life and could die (kill themselves). Today I know that I am NOT defined by my marital status or by what some physically stronger than me pervert chooses to do with the organ between his legs. Today I have no words for the craziness of my thinking back then. I can only shake my head in awe of my stupidity.

I have always been frank and honest with my parents and am completely open now with regard to my view (extremely dim) on the arranged marriage system. They realise that I will never marry anyone through that system, because I have told them that bluntly. However I have no control on their choice to not rebuff every proposal that comes their way, I just don’t participate. They are aware that I date men here and are open to the idea of me being with someone who is not Indian.

Most importantly though I have learnt to SET BOUNDARIES with my parents. This I think is an area that I (and I generalise – most Indian kids) fail in abysmally. No, not telling my mother every little thing I am doing is not me being a bad child. It’s being an adult!! I don’t need to tell my parents all the details of my life. They do not need to know if I am kinda sorta dating anyone. They do not need to know about the guy I dated for 3 months and then decided to amicably split with. Why…because if they do the kind of pressure that puts on you to make something work that just isn’t working is immense. Not talking about certain areas of your life that they quite frankly do not get to have an opinion about does not make you an ungrateful child, it make you a fully functioning adult.

I want to state clearly that I do not blame my parents for my marriage or my divorce. I think there is an expiry date on that particular get out of jail free card and it expires when you have the independence (financial/educational) and awareness to make your own choices. I do not even blame that silly 24 year old that I was, I can just look back and go WTF was I thinking! If anything I blame the thought system in which I grew up where a wedding was seen as this ultimate prize to be aimed for and where there was no second place, it was get a ring/mangal-sutra or go home (ideally find a corner to wallow in and never show your face in ‘polite’ company again).

Today I am looking to find love, companionship. Here I don’t talk about marriage/relationship or the nothing dichotomy that exists. I talk about that ephemeral human connection that we all need and hope for. I am never going to give myself permission to cut off that hope. I look for that but I am under no illusion today that I in any way am entitled to it. Yes, I deserve love but no I am NOT entitled to it. All I can do is live my life with all that I have and play the cards I have been given.

I chose to write in to IHM and request (hope) that she publishes my letter, because too often the encouragement we hear are from women who have forged their own path and found love/relationship telling us that there is hope. And while that is very important to hear, I do believe that there is joy, hope and a happy life when we haven’t found love as yet (if that is what you are looking for).

We also hear from single women who are our companions on this journey and they tell us to stay strong but don’t necessarily tell us that we all at some point feel that it would be nice to have someone to share a drink with, someone who gets our silly jokes. There is a deep seated dogma that we need to be constantly on the up to prove that even single people can have happy full life’s. I certainly don’t see couples looking like they stepped out of the centrefold of Home & Garden constantly, so why the hell should I somehow have to prove the worth of my single life!! Yes there will be days when you wonder when it will be your turn to find love (again if that is what you are looking for), but there will also be days that you will look at your life and stare at the sheer wonder of it.

For all the women who have written in before me that prompted me to share my story I say most importantly prioritise yourself…make yourself happy. Meeting people should not be a chore; going on dates should be fun, and if you don’t want to meet anyone you damn well should not have to provide an explanation why!! Go out on dates, don’t go out on dates, make new friends, remove the ones that drag you down, cut people off that have no respect for you, your life and your choices, learn something new, sit at home for the full weekend in your PJ’s looking at cute dog pics, do whatever it takes to make yourself happy. You deserve that!!

I wish all of you love, light and peace.

D

88 thoughts on ““I am writing in my story to show that there is hope if we are just courageous enough to reach for it.”

  1. Wow. This has broken the spell of gloom and doom I was under after the last few emails. I wish I had this much common sense and strength at your age…too late now, but I am glad there are young women like you out there who are happy on your own terms and have the courage to live the life you want…wishing you, LW, all the best from my heart…and also to all the other LW before you…

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  2. Many thanks to the writer of this email, for putting down the right words that I’ve been searching for quite some time.
    And thanks to you IHM, once again, for creating this platform where all of us can connect!

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  3. Dear D,
    Thanks for sharing. I am currently where you were at 24. Newly married and about to get divorced. The (short-lived) marriage was pure torture. Though the divorce proceedings haven’t officially begun yet, I already consider myself a single woman.

    Your letter just shines through with optimism and hope! Thank you for that.

    My parents are also now telling me to find someone on my own – since obviously the arranged marriage route didn’t work out for me. I have told them very clearly that at THIS moment I am not interested in anyone – even to date. Mom still gets a sad little puppy dog expression on her face when I say that. But, they have accepted it. This is better than my mom telling my brother(to my horror) that if I didn’t get married I would be a burden on HIM!!! (This was in the initial stages when they hadn’t accepted my decision to walk out on my marriage – I was the arrogant, spoiled brat, blah, blah, blah) I am financially independent – I help out my parents financially occasionally, I splurge on my parents – take them out for dinners, movies, buy them stuff and I am STILL a burden?

    All the best to you D, Wish you all the happiness in life – whether single or with someone😉

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    • OMG …this is same situation like me ….my mom too gets a puppy dog expression …after the abuse for two years i do not want to try a arraned marriage routr ..not really sure i want to get married at all …
      My parents too did not support me even after seeing the amont of injuries but luckily my brother and sister stood by me ….
      My mom feels taht i may be a burden on him …so he told everyone at home (we are a joint family) that they can rest easy as i am independent and its his headache on why and how he will support ne

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  4. D. … your letter made me smile and feel happy.
    It could have been mine. I was married at 24, spent a year in utter misery, and divorced at 25.
    I am 30 now… and can honestly the last 5 years have been some of the happiest of my life. Though I am in a wonderful committed relationship now, and .. even contemplating marriage all over again , but when I was just divorced and single… it was perfect freedom and independence.
    I went out when I wanted to, I met people i wanted to, dated men i wanted to, slept with men I wanted to, , was all single when I didnt want to date, and was very very happy , and fulfilled. There was just no sword looming on my head, no deadline for my expiry date, no endless explanations.

    And now I am with someone ONLY because he adds more happiness, to what was my already very happy life.🙂

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  5. Excellent, girl!

    “Most importantly though I have learnt to SET BOUNDARIES with my parents. This I think is an area that I (and I generalise – most Indian kids) fail in abysmally. No, not telling my mother every little thing I am doing is not me being a bad child. It’s being an adult!! I don’t need to tell my parents all the details of my life.”
    I can’t agree more with you on this!!

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  6. Now this is what I woukd say excellent, for once I read a experience which although bad but the lady has some excellent advice..
    A lot of positives. Good going mam and all the best. I hope lot of people read this and get inspired and instead of doing the usual actually do something..

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  7. *stands up and claps* I cannot thank you enough for writing this e-mail. I am 25+ too, and exactly have the same reasons for not being able to say a NO. If not anything, this post gives hope and a lot of reasons to do what I do now – being an adult and saying a NO. Thank you, Thank you. *hugs*

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  8. The folks who read these blogs and make comments are the ones who are aware and enlightened about the problems that exist around us. But most of the people facing the struggle are unaware that a problem exists in the first place and keep being pushed into doing things, without realizing they are being pushed. They too feel that these things are given. No questions asked, no answers given. The first step is awareness. I am really glad that i stumbled upon IHM’s blog. You people have made a real difference in my perspective. Parents should be made to read these blogs and comments. Maybe it will help in reducing the pressure and stress they unwittingly put on their children.

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  9. THIS! You said it, lady. More power to you!!

    Happiness research shows that marriage doesn’t make anyone significantly happier. It only makes *some* people *marginally* happier, and those people were pretty happy single to start with.

    SO, in order to have a good, happy marriage, we should start with focusing on personal happiness. Cos guess what, people who’re looking to fill a big, gaping void in their lives with marriage end up attracting and marrying OTHER people who’re also looking to get married for similar reasons. Never a good idea being a place-mat or treating a spouse like one.

    I love how D has taken charge of her life and happiness. I wish more people would begin to see marriage as something they should enter into when they WANT to, and with someone they WANT to be with. Instead of thinking of it as something that absolutely positively must happen and then going about looking for the most optimal choice on the market.

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  10. Thank you for sharing your story, D, it was very inspiring and heartening to read you.

    “Yes there will be days when you wonder when it will be your turn to find love (again if that is what you are looking for), but there will also be days that you will look at your life and stare at the sheer wonder of it.” Indeed!

    Wish the world is blessed with more parents like the one you have been. And after reading you, I am also immensely hopeful that level-headed women like you will certainly change the way our society is defined, for the better.

    take care and stay happy for you sure deserve to be!

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  11. It was great reading this letter.
    I wish the writer all happiness, whether it is in being single indefinitely or being married at some future date to the right person.

    Ihm, are there any female readers or followers of your blog who are over the age of 50 and still single?

    Most or your readers/ participants appear to be in their mid or late twenties or early thirties. At this age, it is possible to brave it all alone if the lady is educated, holds a good job and is financially independent and is also in reasonably good health.

    I am wondering about the experiences of single financially independent women who, while valuing and guarding their independence, who, while refusing to make any compromise on their specifications for a life partner, ultimately cross the final age frontier and realise that from now on life must be lead all alone. There is no further prospect of getting married and having children. I suppose such women will be in their late forties or early fifties.

    I would welcome any such woman reader sharing her experience and how she copes now and how she plans to cope with life when she reaches old age.

    If no such reader volunteers to write, may be younger readers who know about such women, can write about them?

    Regards
    GV

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    • Great idea, GV! I wish to hear from such women too. The only reason my parents are on my case about getting married again is because they think ‘You can do it now because you’re 30, but in another 10-15 years you’ll be sick and tired of the single life and will want a husband and family.”

      My usual answer is that i’ll cross that bridge when i get to it. But it would help to read first-hand experiences of how things change for the single woman as she gets older.

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    • Reminds me of my aunt, my mom sister. She never married. She had a lot of proposals as a young woman, and she visited their home and saw unhygienic toilets and kitchens and in her words ” I didn’t want to spend my life cleaning other peoples mess” .
      She has a comfortable life that she has built all by herself, has lived alone for most of her life, save a few years when she looked after her mom (my grandma, in her last few years) , and a couple of years that my bro and I lived with her.
      She is pushing 70 now, but many years ago, when she was about 55, I did ask her once if she ever regretted not marrying, and if she missed the companionship? She said she does sometimes, but believes that of all the choices she had , she has picked the one that was the best, even if not ideal.
      But of course, she oversimplified it , explaining to a teenaged me.
      I should ask her more , one of these days.

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    • GVji, Our troubled Indian minds always set an age frontier to marriage. Marriage is for companionship and more. Does companionship have an age barrier to it?
      And, why do we always associate children with happy marriage.

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      • Also most women are widowed in their 60s and 70s. So the much-vaunted companionship of marriage is denied to them when they most need it.

        I think women should prepare themselves for self-sufficiency in old age regardless of marital status.

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    • GVji, well I can think of Rachnaji who is in her early fifties.

      I am 37-years old myself and pondered over this when I was contemplating divorce.

      In my opinion, it makes little sense to rush into marriage simply because you scared of growing old alone. I’ll confess that it was one of the biggest factors in my deciding to marry at the age of 33. Getting married out of desperation is the biggest mistake of my life and I’ll always regret my weakness.

      However, I realised that happiness is a state of mind, and old age is lonely only if you think it is. I have come to accept the possibility that I may grow old alone and partnerless. To me, that is infinitely better than growing old with a man whom you have little affection or respect for.

      I also see that many of my mother’s widowed friends lead happy, active and fulfilling lives and they inspire me to do the same.

      Of course, I may think differently when I actually hit fifty. However, I’m hoping that meditation and yoga will make me strong enough to face whatever come my way at that age.

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      • absolutely. You can add books, blogging and other things that interest you. If we think about it there is so much to do and so little time. I too feel everybody, both men and woman should be prepared for self sufficiency, have some personal interests and hobbies so that if and when time comes when somebody is alone he/she is not dependent on others for happiness. All the happiness is inside us and its time we start finding it

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    • I have so much to say against this one statement:
      “I am wondering about the experiences of single financially independent women who, while valuing and guarding their independence, who, while refusing to make any compromise on their specifications for a life partner….”
      – A single financially independent woman NEVER refuses to compromise. Only the level and degree of compromise varies depending on the situation. She is just thoughtful. As a matter of fact if you see the many women here, they have learned the lessons the hard way i.e., after compromising way too much.
      – Valuing and guarding independence is everyone’s right. It is not just for financially independent woman. They just have an upper edge b/c of their independence.
      – This idea of marrying should not be directly related to having someone to take care when one grows old. This is one fairy tale with baseless foundation which has been so strongly fed into the minds of millions of Indian women who are forced into matrimony every other day.. Many of us would have preferred if India has better elderly care instead of having to rely on marriage for old age .
      – An Indian woman are mostly expected to heavily depend on husbands and are in fact educated on how its great to die as a suhagan. BUT if something goes wrong, they are never taught to tackle the same. So, why question only single women?

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    • I have two friends who are single and past 60 , now. But the times they were young, it was sheer torture for them to be single. One of the friend, a courageous person, had to share the family responsibility and brought up her siblings. She has great endurance and used to give back people , if they pointed out her singledom! She is very popular among our friends too. Only sad thing was, she wanted to marry, and could not find a suitable guy, in 1970-80 ,who would share her family!

      She is a positive person , and enjoys life now.

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  12. I will say your scenario is one that people need to acknowledge more and more, and not as an aberration but as a realization that even the arranged marriage system has its own pitfalls and is no guarnatee of a happy married life as it is often made out to be.

    You lived your life the way an Indian girl is “supposed to” . You got married as an Indian girl is “supposed to”. And yet the life did not turned out to be what it was “supposed to be”.

    You did not failed the system , the system failed you.And with that experience you have now rejected the system, so has your parents. Good riddance.

    I only wonder why people do not see this possbility of their being wrongs in the arranged marriage system in the first place. Why do they believe that arranged marriage does not have the potential for any troubles ? Where does this holier than thou attitude towards arranged marraige comes from ? Why assume that simply because it is an arranged marriage it will be a happy marriage?

    Why does it take an abusive marraige and a divorce to acknowledge that this system does not work for all and neither does it work in all scenarios.

    Sometime you need a strong shock to come out of your pre-concieved notations. I guess thats why?

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  13. Dear Letter Writer,

    This is the stuff that needs to be said more often, pain is real, happiness is real and there are many shades of grey in between in all our lives . Learning from your mistakes and taking charge of your life, this is what growing up is about, and it is not the same as growing in years.

    I wish more people thought like you.

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  14. I am mostly a lurker on IHM’s blog and have commented only a couple of times before. But this post is so well written and filled with positivity that I had to leave a comment.

    To the letter writer, I am in awe of the strong positive person you are! My best wishes are with you for a happy fulfilling future! Cheers!

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  15. Hats off to you Ms.D!. Wish there were more girls like you. Keep up that spirit.
    We all owe our happiness to our ourselves. (Men & Women)
    Glad to read such an encouraging and lively mail after a long time. Wish more young girls get to read such mails.

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  16. Dear D,

    Standing ovation for you! I read your letter first thing this morning and it has set me up nicely for the whole day! I agree with every word.

    I finally SET THE BOUNDARIES with my parents recently (at the age of 30 and I am single), regarding my opinion on arrange marriages and how I will not go through this system. I only wish I had done this 5 years ago. But hey ho, its never too late for a good cause (and that good cause is MY HAPPINESS for a change)!

    I will admit that I am shaky after standing up for myself (finally) mainly because I am worried I will lose their love but there comes a point when you have to say ” I am an adult, why am I still tolerating this” and “that is their choice”.

    Many thanks once again.

    Best wishes.
    SW

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  17. Bravo! I wish I had someone to tell me this when I was 18, or 20 or even 3… When I still had no idea the shackles of societal pressure and mental conditioning could be broken!
    I am going to pass this on to my soon to be 17 yr old daughter.
    Stay strong, stay happy.

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  18. Dear D,
    Thank you for this wonderful message of hope.
    I could feel myself saying all you have wonderfully put in your letter few years down the line. The one big change my divorce brought in my life has been that I have actually drawn the line for everyone around me (not just my parents) declaring where my independent thinking and life begins where I am just myself and a mother to my daughter.

    I totally resonate your thoughts that being alone doesn’t equate to being lonely. Working towards a happy self in the present and also in the future isn’t just a chore but a responsibility we owe to ourselves.

    Stay strong, stay positive and wishing you the best in all you do.

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  19. Great and inspiring writing.,wonderful free spirited attitude.
    Take home messages
    1.Yes we all will make mistakes. Important thing is to try not to repeat it.
    2. Once an independent adult u cannot blame your parents for each and everything. You decide your future , not them.
    3. Being happy and enjoying life is more
    important than anything else
    4.

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  20. Sparrow and Ruchira,

    Thanks for responding to my earlier comment.
    Of course there is no age limit for seeking companionship.
    Any age is good enough. However, marriage is more than companionship and includes it.

    Advancing age is a definitely a handicap when one’s intention is merely to postpone marriage till one finds the right partner. Advancing age does not matter only if one has decided to stay single.

    As age advances, one’s health does not remain the same.
    For women, the reproductive age is definitely a time limit unless she has no intention to have children and prefers instead to be childless or adopt a child.

    Even if one has a child during the woman’s forties, just before menopause catches up, the child would in most cases not have had the benefit of strong and healthy parents for support during its formative years. A couple may end up having children of the same age group as the grandchildren of others. I also wonder if child bearing at this late age is healthy for the parents. Will the children born to aged couples also not start life with handicaps? May be medically knowledgeable people can comment on this.

    There are situations in life, when one needs a spouse and any number of relatives, siblings or companions will not be enough. If you are incapacitated, and need help even to visit the bathroom, your good companions too would throw up their hands. You need your spouse to do all kinds of unmentionable things. I have not needed my spouse till I crossed sixty. Today, at 63, and with my recent health issues that affected me during the past three years, I am convinced of the importance of having a spouse.

    Of course paid nurses and ayahs can be arranged later but during an emergency, only a spouse will be around to help. If a man develops chest pains at night, he will be handicapped if he is unmarried. Two persons earnings and savings will result in a lot more financial security than the earnings of a single person. The advantages of marriage are too numerous to be listed here and I will not dwell any further on this.

    I am writing all this to stress that marriage is not to be scorned though it need not be everyone’s compulsion.
    The elders who show concern when their sons/daughters remain unmarried for long are perhaps motivated by these considerations. Let us not misunderstand them.

    Let the youngsters, by all means, take their time, and be choosy when selecting their spouses. I have no issues with those who reject arranged marriages. Let them choose their own partners but while they take their own sweet time doing so, let them be aware of advancing age also. I believe 25 and 27 is a good age for women and men (respectively) to start. These days 30 or even 35 is not too late.

    But there is an age limit which if crossed will result in a marriage that does not give full benefits to the partners. My personal opinion (debatable) is that 40 is an age which if crossed, severely handicaps a person seeking marriage and he / she might have to reconcile to staying single. If a man / woman has not found a suitable partner after 15 long years (from the age of 25 to 40), he/she may now find it even more difficult.

    Of course this does not apply to divorcees, widows or widowers but merely to those who haven’t been married before.

    That’s all, from me.
    And now let me sit back and count how many of you thumb me down!
    Regards
    GV

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    • Quote:
      I have not needed my spouse till I crossed sixty.
      Unquote:

      Before you flame me, let me clarify,
      I meant I have not needed her for medical emergencies at home!
      Thank God my wife does not read this blog
      Regards
      GV

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      • I agree with the email writer , and i’m amazed at her wonderful mind and mature thinking. i truly feel she will be happy in whatever the situation, most happy people given ok circumstances will remain happy🙂
        But i also agree with GV , I’ve been married over 2 decades + and no it was n ot a arranged marriage an dyes it was againsta ll odds and family opposition but when i sit back and think about my life before marriage and after, i see them both as happy, different but happy, i enjoyed my working single days staying in b’lore alone, and i also enjoyed my married days. i didn’t like the little babies days much🙂 but that was because of 2 boisterous twins. i thnk i could have been a wee bit happier with one child at a time. but meh…
        now that my boys have left to go to college, i enjoy life, i have way too many friends🙂 a busy work life and too many distractions but when i come and see my husband even if it’s for a short while somehow i feel happier, content and the feeling that i have someone in my corner belonging ONLY to me ( i can’t describe the feeling) and thought i don’t have DIL searching plans ever, i want my boys to find love, passion and have what i have. i don’t necessarily care if they conform to marriage or not or whatever but i want them to have a companion, someone who will be there ,sharing their life, their fears,their secrets someone with whom they are closest too. their PERSON. and this can be a trial and error thing, they can marry and realize it’s the wrong person and do the whole thing again, but in my mom mode i want them in life to have partners. maybe it’s a reflection of they having what i have but i want them to taste the love, passion, companionship, joy of their own PERSON> i know makes me terribly old fashioned, but ehhh

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        • Thank you Radha for your support.
          I too have been happily married for 37 years and am a bit traditional in this matter. I strongly believe in the institution of marriage and feel distressed when some persons say it is an outdated institution and show contempt for it.
          I am always concerned when young people who are nearing thirty are still unmarried but I don’t make a nuisance of myself by drawing attention to this fact and inquiring about the reason.
          I have noticed some of the readers here have been overly harsh on the parents of unmarried youngsters.
          As the lone representative of the generation of parents, in this blog, I thought I should say something in their favour too.
          I was not expecting this comment to be well received and am hardly surprised at the 7 down pointing thumbs so far. But I am gratified to note that these are matched by seven up pointing thumbs.
          This is at 9:20 pm this Thursday.
          Let’s see the final score after discussion ends and attention shifts to the next blog post.

          Kudos to IHM for offering a great platform for these discussions and also to these email writers for sharing their experiences so freely.

          Regards
          GV

          Like

        • Well GV , i consider myself of a bit older generation too. both my sons are off in college and i’m very surprised at how much me and my spouse are enjoying ourself. basically no problem for me to travel with him anytime, my job can be delayed and so can his, we do as we please, not much of a routine and no exam cares. we visit the boys when we can maybe once a month and they come when they can and we have so much fun then. but what has blown me is both our dependence on each other, we laugh alot and somehow have gone back to our pre-baby days. we also seem ot spend more time together prefering each other company over work (yes laziness!!)
          I don’t necessarily want marriages for my boys but i want what i have too. and now i think at this age i prefer to be with him more than alone. again if i had a bad marriage i’m sure it would be reverse.
          As for parents getting beat up, sometimes we deserve that more so the previous gen but wanting what you think is best for your child will not change. even when my parents disowned me, i felt anger and pain but they lives acco to the social mores of their time. they have changed, we don’t keep in touch much but they have accepted, performed other love marriages, i think as society changes people will change too. there is no 1 right way. they did what they felt was right we did what we felt made us happy.

          Like

        • “I agree with the email writer , and i’m amazed at her wonderful mind and mature thinking. i truly feel she will be happy in whatever the situation, most happy people given ok circumstances will remain happy
          But i also agree with GV ”

          Same feelings here🙂

          Like GVjee, I too consider myself to be traditional when it comes to the idea of marriage.
          If I had the maturity I have now during my marriage, I would’ve probably rejected my husband(but I still feel he is the one for me, it’s confusing). But, I am not in a bad marriage. I have been married for 9 years now and there were times when I seriously considered walking out of this marriage. But I stayed, I don’t know why.. may be I lacked the guts, I seriously don’t know. But that feeling passed… Now, I don’t mind being married, at all. I am not saying this in a bad way, like I have gotten used to living with him. I cannot seriously pinpoint as to what changed over the years, may be I matured, may be my expectations from him changed. I moved from a phase from where I only saw his wrong, to a point where I can see where I was wrong as well.. moved from a phase of “how could he” to “he is not so bad after all”.

          Overall I am loving the person I am becoming in this marriage. And I don’t think I would’ve become the now “me” if I were not challenged the way I was challenged in my marriage.

          Disclaimer -These are just my experiences. And I don’t mean to compare them with really bad marriages or mean to put down those who have found the courage to walk out of bad marriages!

          Like

    • I would just like to add my two cents about having children later in life. I had my son and first daughter at 32 and 36, and then we decided we wanted to try for a third child when I was 39. I was lucky to get pregnant immediately, and delivered a healthy girl after I turned 40. In the US many educated couples don’t begin to have children until they are in their 30’s because graduate degrees and getting settled in life take several years. I did not feel I stood out as much older than the other parents because in the US there is a wide range of ages for childbearing, with more and more women having healthy children after 40. Now that I live in India, I see that that might be more unusual here and I have seen that ages for marriage and childbearing are more set in stone. I am a very active person in good health and feel that my age was never a negative for my daughter.

      Like

      • I am in a medical profession, but not an obstetrician. With increasing age, the risk of Down’s syndrome does increase. There is also increased risk of having a complicated pregnancy, with hypertension/ gestational diabetes. However, to reply to GVjee’s original comment, like everything else in medicine, this risk has to be weighed against the benefits of a later pregnancy. One might have been poor and unmarried at 25, and at 35, is married, rich and able to take a couple of years off work without any career issues.

        If you read We Need to Talk About Kevin, it shows how an uncomplicated pregnancy and healthy child may not ensure happiness, and read this New Yorker article on how a difficult conception, complicated pregnancy, and less than healthy child can also be a fulfilling experience. The article makes me cry everytime I read it, be careful if you are in public…🙂
        http://www.newyorker.com/archive/2000/02/21/2000_02_21_087_TNY_LIBRY_000020250

        Like

    • I think you raise some valid concerns about health and the possibility of loneliness. I’m approaching 30 but I still don’t have any definite plans to be married. If I do miss out on the chance to be a biological mother, then so be it. It’s basically the same with getting married, if I end up alone, then so be it. In the end, I’m the one who has to live with the decisions I make. That goes for everyone, so if I were I wouldn’t worry about those 30 and 40 year old’s who haven’t settled down yet. They’re probably very happy in their current state.

      As far health, as I said that’s a valid concern, but at the same time, many people still lead very active and healthy lives as they advance in age. I don’t know about India, but in the US there are a lot of wonderful retirement communities.🙂

      I am writing all this to stress that marriage is not to be scorned though it need not be everyone’s compulsion.
      The elders who show concern when their sons/daughters remain unmarried for long are perhaps motivated by these considerations. Let us not misunderstand them.

      That’s understandable, it could however imply that people should get married so they can have someone to take care of them in their advancing age, and that doesn’t sit well. 😦

      Also it’s not exactly scorn many feel towards marriage, it’s merely just anger. But that anger is justified. I’m speaking from a sociological/anthropological standpoint when I say this, but marriage has never been about love nor companionship. The idea of marrying for companionship is a recent phenomenon. Marriage still has a lot of negatives, and to me they outweigh
      what’s positive.

      I am one of those people who feel marriage is outdated, especially how it’s structured. There’s refusal to adapt to the changing times and that turns me off to marriage even more. I know you read IHM’s blog, but as you’ve seen there has been a lot of discussion about women’s career goals and what have you. You’ve probably noticed that many women are worried that they may have to give up their careers and independence if they were to get married. To me that’s not fair.

      That’s why I don’t blame a lot these women for not wanting to jump into marriage, because that would mean loosing their freedom, independence and even their happiness just for a partner (with the possibility of him being abusive) and just isn’t worth it.

      Like

    • GVjee, You of course are speaking from the point of view of a male in a healthy relationship with your wife, when you speak of the help you receive from your spouse during your illness.
      I wonder how it will be for an ill woman in her sixties if she is in one of the many unhealthy marriages around. If she had no children, or only had daughters who had been “married off”, could she expect much help in her daily life from her spouse? Would the husband in such a marriage be willing to take care of an incapacitated wife? I imagine it might be siblings or even wives of siblings who will come over to help if there were no daughters or DILs to help.
      In general, since women tend to live longer (and are healthier) than men, is the potential “help in old age” much of a factor for today’s young women to consider marrying someone (they may not be compatible with)?

      Like

    • GV, your point regarding need for a spouse to look after you when you are ill is interesting. Being a Dr, that too an Internist my bread and butter are ppl of old age. -:) Most husbands in my area are elder to their wives by anything between 5 to 12 yrs. Also the life expectancy of Men is less than women by around 5-8 years.
      So when these guys are sick and bed ridden they are assisted well by their fairly healthy wives. But when the women needs assistance they won’t have husbands to
      help because either they are dead or too ill
      for useful assistance. So a man can hope to have his wife as a care giver in old age but not vice versa.

      Like

      • Nisha and Arun,
        I concede your points.
        But if a woman never marries she loses any chance of having a caring husband or caring sons and daughters.
        So those who don’t marry are not necessarily better off than those who do.
        Of course a bad marriage where the husband is indifferent is a different matter altogether.
        But why assume the marriage will be bad?
        If the partner is selected carefully, the chances of getting a good spouse are better.
        Even a late marriage is better than no marriage.
        Thanks for responding.
        Regards
        GV

        Like

        • GV,
          I have also seen wives (mostly younger with small kids) with chronic illnesses beiing dumped by their husbands at their house with their parents when ever they fall ill seriously and is not able to work … Never seen a husband being dumped like that.. -:)
          I have also felt that some Widows seems to have much fulfilling and exciting lives after the death of a dominating husband.
          Thus in a Patriarchal society a woman do not get the same benefits from marriage as a man. She may suffer more in marriage than in remaining single.

          Like

  21. I’ve been a lurker here for ages, and I’m not given to commenting, but this I had to respond to!! A big THANK YOU to the LW..I cannot tell you how emphatically I was nodding my head at everything you’ve written. I will probably take a printout of this to read on my bluer days..Thank you so much for writing this!

    Like

  22. An acquaintance of mine never married,and i have been a witness to her life.
    She is a dignified women full of maturity and laughter,but i think the smile never reaches her eyes.I have never seen her truly happy.Now that could be my judgement.
    Though her brother,with whom she stays, is supportive,his wife often minds her interference in their life.She is always seen as ready to babysit or fill in for other chores and be a productive member of the family still.She willingly complies and does her share of work.She could ofcourse have lived on her own,but admitted once that she wants to be alone and not lonely,and hence enjoys whatever time she gets,by being part of a family still. Now i agree that women get a raw deal in marriage,and hence believe that a single life is better.But to much extent,single life is a lonely life.One can lie and fill it with hobbies and other sundry interests.But at the heart of it you crave company,spice and love with all its bittersweet moments and memories.

    Like

    • If you think a single person’s life is lonely, what of the numerous people who are in emotionally empty marriages. We assume that the very act of getting married will ensure that we have lifelong emotional, physical and fincial security. A marriage certificate does not guarantee that we will share a loving partnership with somebody. Being in a bad marriage can be even more lonesome. I speak from experience.

      Like

      • I agree there are emotionally dead marriages as well,but at least marriage should be given a chance.
        You seem to be forgetting that men get divorced too.

        Like

        • If you read my comment carefully, you’ll see I haven’t used gender-specific pronouns. My comment was about “people” not only women.

          Like

      • “We assume that the very act of getting married will ensure that we have lifelong emotional, physical and financial security.”
        Getting married/having a child for security is somewhat similar to going to a casino once an year, hoping you would have a million dollars by the time you retire. You have to come up with a better plan.

        Like

    • Who exactly made you spokesperson of single people? It is silly to say that the majority of us leading happy lives as single people are lying. So hobbies and other interests must be thrown out of the window, and we must all get married and have babies asap? Every person is different, and I actually found your comment disrespectful. Your opinions may be different but they apply only to YOU.

      Like

      • I did not claim to be anybody’s spokesperson and this is my own view.Marriage is like friendship,but is seldom treated as such.Why should we be disgusted with marriage?Even western countries, despite having a high divorce rate,believe in marriage and this institution has not been done away with.
        And a happy man espousing marriage does not mean that his wife is necessarily oppressed.

        Like

  23. Loved this post!! My SIL’s life was exactly like yours, she finally walked out after 2 years of marriage, she has been divorced for 10 years now, she is 35 and single and not dating any one, but she is happy and enjoying life!! My MIL would get depressed and forced her to do meet some knuckle heads, thankfully that didn’t work out as she put her foot down.
    They even asked me to promise them that I and my husband (her bro) will take care of her, I told her that we will always be there for her no matter what, she is my sis not a SIL and she doesn’t need any taking care of, she is a top executive in a top notch MNC and is financially very sound. I also asked her not to paint my SIL as a victim.
    My SIL is very happy that even though her own parents didn’t stand by her, me and my hubby were always with her.

    On the other hand, my own sister is in a love less marriage, she is married to some one who has still not been weaned from his mom’s breast! who still wets his pants if he sees an angry stare from his parents. Still, my sis feels that she doesn’t want to handle the societal discrimination for divorcees and chose to stay with that ass hole. Sorry for hogging space.

    Like

  24. Such a logical and clear-headed email! applause!🙂
    We seriously do need more such real life examples to show women that divorce and marriage is not the end of it! There is so much more to life. A journey to find your inner happiness and peace.

    Like

  25. Very heart warming post, D. Life comes with no guarantees, and it is wonderful that, like many others, you can find happiness in whatever life is offering you at any particular stage.
    Vishvanathjee, having a spouse is no guarantee that he/she will be around when you have a medical emergency! I do believe in the institution of marriage, not as a necessity., but as a choice that is made when you are lucky enough to find someone with whom you want to spend the rest of your life. My teacher, whom I have often blogged about, never married, but lives, post-retirement, in the same apartment complex as her siblings and a niece. She is a person with many friends and an open house. It is rare that someone is not visiting her. In her seventies now, she leads a busy and active life. She and her siblings have seen each other through illness and the death of one sibling. They are all very positive people.
    Another woman whom I admire greatly comes from a very wealthy family. She has devoted her life to social upliftment, and, several years ago, adopted a child. She has never married and has not regretted it.
    Another youngster known to me married for love, was divorced after a few years- apparently her husband fell out of love with her and refused to continue the marriage. She was, initially, very disturbed and broken-hearted. She has focussed on her career, has many friends, and is leading a happy, independent life. She has a housekeeper who runs her home efficiently, and a dog whom she dotes on. Her family initially tried finding suitable matches for her- with huge pressure from the extended family, but have now accepted that she is happy as she is.
    There is a huge range of options for happiness!

    Like

  26. Thanks for sharing your thoughts..they are big inspiration to me.. I’m 34 unmarried [ yeah as yet] not single by choice but by circumstance…..i have not found any one. But i have hope and will to survive the pressures and choose a person on basis of what i want.

    Like

    • Seek and you shall find🙂 i feel bad when i see this , in my perfect utopia, everyone should get what they desire. people who want to get married should get good partners, people who don’t shouldn’t have to feel censure or pressure, people who wants kids should be able to have them and people who don’t should also have that choice without pressure. we as people should work towards this. work towards making conditions where every one gets what they want.

      Like

  27. before saying which is best, I can see so many of you leading a unhappy life with partners selected by a third person (parents become 3rd person when coming to an individual’s life)- so many of you saying Hinduism preaches arrange marriage- those of you don’t know Life- Hinduism for ur info, preaches the most modern ethics always- if u r accepting someone without any personal interest in an arranged marriage, you can know what it means. and it is a Sin. it is your life to decide- the chance is yours- you choose between love and arranged- but don let anyone make the final decision on you and thus giving them a chance to live your life- there are few things you should never give others- ur socks, ur footwear, ur dresses and the choice of your life. Wake up. You have only 1 chance to live- how to do it- YOU DECIDE.

    Like

  28. Pingback: “I am writing in my story to show that there is hope if we are just courageous enough to reach for it.” by Indian Homemaker | Violence Against Women 2012

  29. Hi,
    i am completely agree with your view and feeling and want to contact you if you allowed. my short intro is following-
    Myself is 33 year old, 5’5”, whitish color, slim, good looking boy. My academic qualifications are M.A., B.Ed,and Ph.D. I have qualified NET, CTET & UPTET examinations for junior classes. Presently, I am working in LIC as an Assistant; and trying to get the post of Assistant Professor in Degree Collage or at University level. Besides, I am already established as a thesis writer, and now trying to come in the field of fiction and story writing as well.
    According to my very observation, the sole bases of doing marriage in India is some worldly measures such as quantity of income, profession, property to be possessed, dowry to be offered, family back-ground, and external appearance or beauty. These measures are often proved to be failure to create sustainable friendship or deep rooted love between husband-wife, which is most important thing to pass life together with peace and happiness. This is the very cause, by which, Indian families have often being reduced into a quagmire of perpetual tension, strife, discord and dissatisfaction as well.
    But, whenever, by chance or by efforts, marriage is being put on some spiritual measures such as equal features in personalities, sameness in views and feelings, equal stage of mental development, and equality in level of consciousness; it convert into a sustained friendship and create deep rooted love between husband-wife, that can create peace, satisfaction, harmony and happiness in the life of spouse.
    Therefore, I am not a supporter of traditional norms of marriage such as Religion, Caste, Region, Dowry, External Appearance etc. Being a feminist and revisionist, I want to established natural bond of marriage upon sameness of feeling, interests, views, state of consciousness, stage of spiritual development and so-on. So-that, the natural color of friendship and love can be seen in post marital life.
    If, you are interested to know more about me, then you can peep into my blog-think2makechange@blogger.com or email me.

    Like

  30. I loved the letter. Although I am standing at the chowrah of my life with respect to my marriage… the letter was soothing after an evening full of tears and fears. This is my first time on this blog.. … I believe I am gonna follow it ardently.

    Like

  31. Hi there,

    Thanks for sharing your story…. Very inspiring and in hindsight i wish i had your strength of character…. I say hindsight because life gave me a second chance but I completely screwed up. i lived abroad for a 6 years, was a divorcee (arranged marriage)my mother would visit me for 6 months at a time but she started controlling me. I lived in a house share, so mum and I had the same room, I was always under her nose, from work I had to call her 3 or 4 times, take re every where I went etc…soon she gave me an ultimatum that I am 30 now and if I do not move back to India she will close the doors of the house for me. She even rang my friend to tell her this. In a few months I was back in India living with my mum. I was working but if I ever stayed back for an hour for a meeting, she would call and start shouting. I was not allowed to go out with my friends and had to accompany her for ghazal nights, poojas, grocery shopping etc… I met someone at work, i new at the outset that i was selling myself short, he was a nice guy but we were financially very far apart, also our backgrounds, educational qualifications and overall personalities were v v different, every one said don’t do it. He was the first thing that came my way and I looked at him as an escape from my mum….after a lot of drama we got married and rented a place near my mum as she lived alone. 3 months later I was pregnant. The guys family never accepted me, my mum hated him but on his face was v sweet to him. All was well till I moved to my mom’s place in the last month. Soon after the baby came, my mum told him to move in as he spent most of the time at her place due to me and the baby, she said not to waste rent and that she lived alone in a big house, he moved in and hell broke loose. As soon as my hubby would go to work, Mum would talk about him, his looks, his finances, education his family, his bathroom manners etc. I know she was right but I had a new born baby, was weak after a c-sec and besides the damage was done, I was married to him. She called him phatichar, called my child a Kutte ka pilla. It made me v v sad, I stood up for him but as a result she would behave coldly with me. On our first anniv, she had a kitty party at home, she got my hubby to cook, later she told him that she saw no difference between her servant and him. we decided to leave the house, then she started crying and used emotional blackmail.

    This went n, I was depending on her as I was a new mom and weak emotionally, mum used this and brain washed me…. Often we would fight and she would ask us to get out of ‘her’ house, she would say that we are using her! She brainwashed me so much that I turned against my hubby, I have lost him and broken my marriage. Now i have moved back abroad as mum said she cant show her face to society due to my deeds, my hubby has filed for divorce…..it’s not easy being a working single mum, again my mother comes to live with us, I am 35 and my child is 3. My mother still so controlling, I can’t talk to my friends freely on the phone, I have to take her every where I go, I do NOT use her for chid care, I pay for everything here and paid even when we were in India… I bought a pedestal bin but mum put it away in storage saying use it later! If we go shopping and I want to buy something she will say no don’t buy it. If I say lets go for coffee, she says no! I am sick of it. When she is in India, I call her everyday, I buy her things to make her comfortable. I really care about her but her bossy nature, her attitude and the crap that comes out of her mouth(pardon me using this phrase), just makes me detest her! We only have each other but we need space, we are inside each other 24 7

    She doesn’t go out alone, has no friends here, gets bored and takes out her frustration on me. I asked her to do some charity work, she refused, I suggested the library,she said no! I aught her to use the iPad, not interested. I am sick and tired of her. As much as I love her, I also hate her. I don’t think I will be happy till she is with me but I love her so deeply that if anything happens to her, I will heartbroken. I am in a fix. Please help me….

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  32. Pingback: An email: “Advice for an ageing old maid?” | The Life and Times of an Indian Homemaker

  33. Pingback: One nice post | journeyofmythoughts

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