An email: “Advice for an ageing old maid?”

How does the idea of a ‘marriageable age’ influence the lives, the freedom, the choices and the happiness of those involved?
Also, why is this age considered ‘marriageable age’? The answer to this also conveys how we view marriage. 
Sharing an email.
Hi,
 
I came across your blog when I was Googling life-changing advice. It is insane that I am writing to a complete stranger to share something about my life on a public forum, but I could do with some honest advice. 
My problem is not unique or something that hsn’t been discussed before, I am sure. If there is someone else’s experience I can learn from, do point me to the relevant post. 
 
Here is what I have to say, and ask:
I am almost 29, Indian female and on the verge of giving up a lot of good work I’ve fought really long and hard for in life, because my parents are old, and want me to get married, and get married  FAST, because I am nearing 30. Is that all it takes to decide to get married?
I studied engineering, mostly because it was my father’s dream, worked in the IT sector for a couple of years, and then quit to pursue a career in what I really wanted to do – journalism. I managed pretty well — working with reputed Indian and international brands. The pressure to get married has been there since I finished engineering. I was 22 then. It has been seven years, and of course it has only increased and is now threatening to consume my very existence.
I have worked in two different cities, apart from the one that I live in (one of the four major metros). It was only when I moved out for my second journalism job a couple of years ago that I figured the kind of person I want to be. Apart from keeping the pressure at bay, the new city, the new setting and the right set of people made me understand that it is okay to want to be happy and have a life that does not require you to abide by the rules your family sets out for you. It was also the only job that made me happy.
I dated a guy for three-odd years, and that did not work out. It left me a little jolted, but nothing extreme. I am okay getting married some time in life, or may be find a partner and live-in. However, I DO NOT, absolutely DO NOT want to get married because I am a certain age. The need for companionship seems to hold no logical meaning for parents and family. How does this work really?
I had to quit the job-I-ever-really-liked and move back home to be with my parents because their attempt at finding a suitable boy in that city did not yield any results and my father wasn’t keeping well. The emotional blackmail and drama almost killed me then, and I had to quit and come back home. I have been home for nearly a year now, working at a job that has a big name but no satisfaction, gone to extremely traumatic prospective groom meetings, absolutely abhorred and cursed myself for doing so, but done it anyway because I tell myself it keeps my parents happy. My brother is extremely understanding, but because these guys see no reason for me to continue being unmarried, he has also been asking me to consider marriage.
The problem here is, my father does not keep well (he’s 72, and has recently undergone open heart surgery and is on dialysis), my mother is stressed all the time, both of them are losing health. And after meeting/talking to at least 20 men in 3 years, I feel no more inclined to wade through a sea of bad-looking, extremely close-minded men (mostly) online who only want a wife because most of their friends are married. If at all I get married, I want to enjoy the process.
I am not even allowing myself to date someone or actively look for guys on my own because I stay at home and have limits on when to get home, which leaves me no time to socialize post work. Also, I really dislike the work I am doing right now.
For the first time in years, I was really beginning to understand the kind of person that I want to be, the kind of life I want to lead, and now I cannot because there is this sense of guilt and not having done right by my parents.
I want to move out, I am even considering studying for a year, but am stalling the application process because I am scared. Is there any way to do it without killing my parents? I really do love them and care about them, but I felt closer to them when I wasn’t staying with them.
I am absolutely unhappy and get bouts of insane fear, thinking about how I could just give in to the blackmail, which includes stuff like “If you don’t get married soon and something happens to us, you re responsibe”.
I know this post is rambling on, but I really do not understand this fixation with marriage. I also do not understand what holds me back. Maybe the fact that I have very few savings, if at all. It is tempting sometimes to just give in, marry a man that is handpicked by the family, and just “settle” and “compromise”—two favourite Indian parent words. And then I think of everything I have given up and gone through, and realize it’s not worth it.
Thanks much.
Related Posts:

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

Shuddh Desi Romance : When Getting Married and Staying Married is not an Indian woman’s life purpose.

Separated she smiles.

How important is it for an Indian girl to get married?

Are these advises and suggestions possible for an Average Indian Woman to even consider? Will she be able to think that way… educate me

An email: “The relatives seemed to be offering ‘condolences’ for me to my mother, having the misfortune of having an ‘unmarried’ daughter…”

Yes I am single so? – Nirjharani

Why marry? – Careless Chronicles

Only when raising ideal daughters in law is not their goal, would Indian parents be able enjoy having and bringing up girl children.

Marriages are sold to Indian women in a glossy cover…?

And they said financial independence will solve all women’s problems for all times.

68 thoughts on “An email: “Advice for an ageing old maid?”

  1. Been there, done that. Still happily single at 33.

    1. Know that you are not responsible for your parents’ health. What you are feeling and what you are being made to feel is that is that your parents are not well because of you. That is not true – do not buy into it. Their taking stress over a non-existent issue is the reason for their ill-health. My mother kept saying that I was the reason for her diabetes and that I would kill her. Really? She is still alive! But it killed our relationship. Your parents will continue to live and flourish too once they stop making your life the focus of their existence.

    2. Don’t focus on your parents’ health. Their lives and health is in their hands, not yours. They can choose to stop trying to exercise control over their daughter. What you have to focus on is your health. During this phase, my health declined rapidly because of the stress. Even today, I have not completely recovered, but I am in much better health now. Don’t fall into the trap and look after yourself.

    3. Move out again. If you continue living with them, they will either kill your health or your relationship or your spirit. Don’t be afraid. Take strength from your friends and other people in your life.

    4. Remember that you are an adult and that you need not submit to silly rules and curfews. Go out and socialise, make friends.

    5. It is natural that you love your parents. But understand that they are abusing you. Yes, it is abuse. It is emotional manipulation. Do not give in to it, and call their bluff openly.

    6. Once you move out, tell them that they have to stop this nonsense. Keep down the phone when they start talking nonsense and tell them clearly why you are not interested in visiting them more often. They will eventually get the message. It took mine 6 years, but you HAVE to fight. You can’t go along with the flow and then expect them to back down.

    7. Stop meeting those guys and refuse to compromise on this respect. The point here is not your meeting guys but your parents’ pressure and your own self-respect. I actually met an interesting guy through them but they killed that too by saying ‘Oh, you think he’s interesting. We’ll have the wedding next month. I just dumped the poor guy and RAN.

    8. Do what makes you happy. No one else is interested in your happiness. Neither society, nor some unnamed guys, nor even your parents. You have to work for your happiness, choose to stay away from drama, build your life around different parameters, and find success on your own terms.

    9. Consult a doctor. They will tell you that the statistics of people dying because of their daughter’s lack of marriage is zero. It is not a disease. It will not kill anyone.

    “It has been seven years, and of course it has only increased and is now threatening to consume my very existence.” – I empathise with this so much! I have faced exactly this. But I assure you, it will reduce once you put your foot down, maintain a distance, and make them understand that they have no power over you. But it will never quite go away, and that’s okay too. You’ll learn to deal with it, once your life is set on your own terms.

    Liked by 6 people

  2. Woah! Time warp. That sounded like me at 29.

    Was in a pretty similar situation at 29. I was actually looking for the same things from marriage you mentioned. Met a guy (on shaadi.com). “Fell in love”. Married before I turned 30. Then things went haywire. Slowly.

    Reality Check #1: You are NOT responsible for your PARENT’s HAPPINESS. They are adults. They’re responsible for their own happiness and their own choices.

    Reality Check #2: You are responsible for YOUR OWN HAPPINESS. Blaming them for drama and blackmail is well, ‘victim’ talk. You are fully capable of making your own choices. Move out. Go get a job you like. Give yourself the freedom to be yourself! Don’t sit around being miserable and cursing them for your misery.

    Reality Check #3. With all the wisdom that almost 4 decades on earth gives, me I will honestly tell you that compatibility, love, companionship in a marriage mostly go out the window under pressures of routine, bills and kids – in fact, especially childcare. When you look beneath the surface of any marriage, I haven’t seen a ‘happy marriage’ where the woman hasn’t had to make many ‘unseen’ sacrifices/compromises. So just take the compatibility / love / companionship part of marriage with a pinch of salt. It goes out the window after a few years anyways. Try reading “Committed’ by Elizabeth G.

    Overall, you seem to have a head on your shoulders and sound capable. So what’s really stopping you? Confront your fears, let go of the parental guilt, and move on.

    “Ja Simran, Jee le apni zindagi” – DDLJ.

    Feel free to write/call me directly if you’d like to talk.

    Liked by 5 people

    • I have friends who have happy marriages even after being married for a while, and having kids. They still share compatibility, love, companionship, in spite of having routine, bills and kids. The women in the equation have not made sacrifices – at least not more or less than their husbands. Maybe it is your own marriage that you should introspect on?

      Liked by 3 people

      • @Fem, you took the words right off the tip of my tongue – again!

        @Richajn, I am in a marriage that does not require me to make any compromises. Neither do my husband and MIL. I have had to work very hard to be in this spot, but I am living proof that it can be done.

        Liked by 1 person

    • Hi, I have also lived almost 4 decades and I can tell you that love, compatibility and companionship do not go out of the window under pressures of routine, it’s what makes it bearable and gives you strength and peace after a hard day. I live in a happy marriage (no quotation marks) and whatever compromises I have had to make are similar to those my husband has. I haven’t read ‘Committed’ but ‘Eat, Pray, Love’ by the same author was a fun read.

      Liked by 1 person

    • @”I will honestly tell you that compatibility, love, companionship in a marriage mostly go out the window under pressures of routine, bills and kids – in fact, especially childcare.”

      I have seem many ‘love’ marriages among friends that have literally died under the pressures of kids-child care. In the early stages, both parents talk about noting but the child. This might be mildly interesting to their friends with children, its a total turn of to those without. Its only so many times that I can pretend a kid is cute before I start avoiding them. Then this early euphoria turns into the woman giving up job/ career to become the child nurse-maid and the father avoiding home to not have to deal with the household work-wife-kid. In inter cultural marriages, this turn into war for the child where parents and grandparents try spoil the child into learning ‘their ways’ and we are all left to deal with a spoilt brat.

      @IHM, would you consider doing a post to ask your readers if there are any who have no children by plan. And why and how they came to that decision. Very interested in knowing how Indians and others feel about this.

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      • My husband and I are one of the few couples we know who have decided to remain child free. We could provide reasons (or make up excuses, according to some) for not wanting to have kids, but the underlying reason is that we’re just not interested. Some of the reasons are just what you mentioned above. My mum is perfectly okay with this, but my dad would have liked to have grandchildren to pamper and entertain. My FIL believes in live-and-let-live and never broaches the topic with us. MIL, though, persistently brings up the topic a few times a year. I’ve told her very clearly that we are NOT interested in having children of our own. If in the future, we do feel like bringing up a child together, we will happily adopt one. My husband has no patience for her pestering, so he mostly ignores her and sometimes curtly tells her to cut the topic. So far, it’s going ok. I hope there’s no drama like blaming our decision for their tension/health issues.

        Liked by 1 person

        • @”If in the future, we do feel like bringing up a child together, we will happily adopt one. ” Hugs!
          That’s how we feel too. Right now, we are not feeling any overwhelming maternal/ paternal urge, if we do sometime in the future we will adopt. The question we get asked quite often is: “Whom are you earning all of this money for”. Ourselves, is that so hard to believe? When I am in a bad mood I say for the dogs at ASPCA who are on my will😛

          In our case my parents have given up , FIL is no more, MIL is a pest, it comes up publically every time we meet, even though we explain it each time very patiently. I think she hopes that everyone joining her each time and implying that I am a defective piece might either cause her son to leave me or convince me to prove that I am a ‘true woman’. Really, she never thinks her son would agree. This is something we discussed before marriage since we didn’t want to have children or dupe our partner of that choice.

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        • Hugs right back! Thankfully, we haven’t been asked that question yet, or haven’t been publically confronted about it. I love your answer about the dogs at SPCA, though. In our case, we could easily point out that we’re earning for ourselves and our two Dalmatians😉 Seriously, though, I do not understand this whole business of earning for your kids. For a while, yes, but I like the idea of supporting kids and teaching them to support themselves after a certain age. The whole inherited wealth thing just cheeses me off. I’ve already asked my parents to let me know how they plan to distribute their possessions. If they’ve decide to donate it all, I need to make sure it reaches the intended people/organizations.

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    • I don’t know why we buy into this concept that all women sacrifice/ compromise in marriage. It’s really not true. It doesn’t have to be like that. I have not made one single sacrifice and neither has my husband. We do actually share bills, social obligations and housework very very equally. We’ve been together for 12 years and married for 3 so this is not some honeymoon period either.

      I refuse to ‘sacrifice’ anything.. and I don’t expect him to sacrifice either. We talk about how futile such a life would be.. that it’s important to be true to yourself with family and in-laws from the start to create boundaries.. and so on.

      It’s really not that impossible. I realise I perhaps lucked out but I also feel like the ‘sacrifice’ cycle will continue until we stop accepting it.

      Liked by 2 people

    • Hi Richajn,
      When I got married 14 years ago, my hubby was penniless. For first 7 years, I was paying EMIs and bills, but these pressures of routine, bills, and childcare only brought us more closer. If I have compromised, he too has. We have differences and disagreements, but at the end of the day we smile at each other and are enjoying our companionship.

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    • “I will honestly tell you that compatibility, love, companionship in a marriage mostly go out the window under pressures of routine, bills and kids – in fact, especially childcare. ”
      Simply not true. I’m in a happy, compatible marriage – both my husband and I have made some compromises – giving up some personal freedom and time to be there for kids – giving up some career choices – but no heart wrenching sacrifices – and nothing one-sided – we are both there for each other.
      A happy marriage is not some amazing, magical, impossible thing. It just takes 2 reasonable people who love each other and are committed to each other. Sometimes, only when 1 spouse is reasonable and the other is unreasonable/feels entitled/refuses to go to counseling/refuses to acknowledge problems and work on them, it is difficult to make the marriage work. Then the reasonable spouse has no choice but to walk away from the marriage and keep his/her sanity.

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      • I did want to clarify my above comment. It is not simple or easy to have a happy marriage because a marriage is like any other relationship – between parents and children, between siblings, between friends. All of those relationships work only when there’s mutual respect and fall apart when there isn’t. Any relationship requires some adjustments, but by that I don’t mean giving up your sense of self and your dreams. Any relationship requires us to accept some weaknesses in each other, as long as fundamental values aren’t being sacrificed (honesty, equality, for instance). So, yes, it’s not easy and requires work. But I wouldn’t go so far as to say a happy marriage is impossible or non-existent. Even with kids and bill paying and chores, it IS possible to make it work if there is mutual respect.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. You surely know that Indian “culture” thrives on sacrifice, guilt, conformity, and shaming – these are constructs that parents use to control and steer their chidren in a direction of their choice.

    This actually works very well when children are young. But as an adult, do you see yourself functioning optimally as an individual if you were to give in to the emotional blackmail? I sure as hell don’t.

    Remember that the guilt you feel is nothing but a socially transmitted disease. Let it go, and do whatever it is you want with your life.

    Worst case scenario – your parents will be heartbroken and blame you for their ill health for the rest of their lives. But that isn’t your problem, it’s theirs. They are old enough to understand that an indvidual can only be truly happy if their life choices are completely autonomous rather than influenced by social expectations. That holds true for them, and for you.

    Good luck.

    Liked by 4 people

  4. Dear LW, I will start with the last bit first. You are right, it’s absolutely not worth it.
    This guilt and blackmail works in your case only and only because you let it. Nothing I do can kill someone unless of course it is something of the criminally endangering sort. People sometimes, at times driven to desperation by their own belief systems, age, traditions, circumstances, etc, and forfeit all rationale and logic, even sensitivity and often even respectability. Marriage is neither a rite of passage nor a joke. Besides, you’re simply not ready for it. That’s evidence enough. That’s all you need. I don’t like saying this but your parents’ methods are perverse, of course being mindful of where they’re coming from (I’m only talking about the cultural factors here). And, you are aware of this fact.
    Having crossed paths with such people, I can say only this from my experience: Stay on course. Do what you believe it. Giving in might seem simpler but recognise the real devil behind – and that is to enter a strangle hold of the very same culture that is trying to scuttle your dreams and goals and is making you miserable. I wish you all the best should you decide to get married, hope you have a great union. However, know also that should you later on regret doing so, the number of reasons that make you feel desperate may multiply – your parents might choose the same blackmailing path then, your new family will have traditional expectations from you.
    Finally, you don’t give up all your good work. If you must marry, marry while keeping your career alive on the side. And let this side be a very important and in no way less significant focus area for you. Look for that kind of guy only. Make sure your parents know and appreciate your needs. Make this a quid pro quo if you must.
    And finally, this is your life to live. If you don’t stay true to your self, what else have you got anyway? What about your peace of mind and your happiness? Think hard. Don’t back down. Be nice to parents. But stay strong.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. You know living at home near your parents for an year had made you more weak. Find your job away from home once again, move there. If they hold you responsible for their stress and bad health. Are not they responsible for your bad health and stress too?

    Make yourself understand, Talk to them less. Live on your own, You will get the confidence. Socialize more. Surround yourself with like minded people. Maybe read more blogs which keep you in high spirit, And one more important thing, Tell them clearly your goals.

    AND do remember whatever decision you make now, YOU will have to live with it. Marry a wrong person, just coz your parents are in hurry, You will have to pay for it. Maybe later on your parents feel sorry or say you few words of sorry, but many years of your life will be wasted.

    YOU ARE NOT WRONG. BE STRONG AND STAY STRONG.

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    • “AND do remember whatever decision you make now, YOU will have to live with it. Marry a wrong person, just coz your parents are in hurry, You will have to pay for it. Maybe later on your parents feel sorry or say you few words of sorry, but many years of your life will be wasted.”

      This is very true. A friend of mine had a very satisfactory and fulfilling life but her mother kept crying about her not being married and held her responsible for her younger sisters being single. This, in spite of the fact that she herself was abandoned by her husband with three young children and left literally penniless. I have known her when her hunger and lack of food showed in her face, her cheeks had sunken in, etc. Today, the friend has a child, lives separately away from her husband and is extremely unhappy. Sisters have put their foot down and refuse to even look at a guy. Mother keeps crying and wishing she had not force her daughter into marriage. What’s the use? A bit too late. Years of her life is wasted over a whim.

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      • Agree with that completely. Marriage is something that should not happen under any kind of pressure. If it happens under pressure then the persons bound in the union will not be happy.
        Marriage is an institution where two persons have trust and love for each other. Of course they will commit mistakes but they have to learn from those mistakes and move on. They have to learn to love the imperfections of each other. And these feelings will not come under any pressure. It should come naturally.
        So, one should get married only when he/she is ready mentally. Otherwise it will be a decision to regret for rest of the life.

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  6. Been there and done that too… 33 and still single and wil continue till “I” want to…the society and the family have this socially conditioned way of controlling the female sexuality …either they name it otherwise..but its the same!!
    1- as i agree with Fem in particular and other women also.. pls do move out of your house.. and get a job in other city.that wil help u figure out for urslf other than worrying about your parents,.
    2- Ur parents are also victims of social conditioning .. hence such behavior. do not fall prey!!! Give them the best of doctor and care… but do not succumb to thier pressure.. its ur life ..take command.
    3. i have also been struggling with this for past 7 years …and blv me i have survived and you will too!!

    Fem- My story is same as u girl..keep it up and loved you for this- Doctors will tell you that the statistics of people dying because of their daughter’s lack of marriage is zero. It is not a disease. It will not kill anyone

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Actually Indian society runs by the saying, “what the society will say.” Everyone is saying the same thing and passing the question to the so called society. So the pressure comes upon us to pacify the societal needs, not ours. It’s really tiresome.

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  8. I would advise the LW to be firm and not get married unless she is ready. Moving out is the best thing you can do for yourself. 29 is not the age to be living with curfews and restrictions on your movements. The best would be to get that job in another city.

    Meanwhile don’t broach the topic at all. Feign some illness or a nervous breakdown, bring it up whenever this topic is broached just like they do — lousy thing to do, but that might make them relent. Nothing will happen to their health if you choose to stay single – I’m sure they realize that, but are using poor health as a trump card to emotionally blackmail you.

    Indian parents really need to learn to leave their grown up children alone. I’ve just published a post on this very topic, today. I hope we can be a more independent, self sufficient generation of parents, and teach our children to be so. Have a read… http://e-pinion.blogspot.in/2014/11/what-indian-parents-really-need.html

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  9. Do not rush into marriage because if your heart is not into it. Sooner or latter it will affect everyone who is around you and you will be worst hit. My suggestion as you have good experience.

    1. You will get a good job in a metro city. Move out and set up your own home. Show to your parents that you have a home in which you’re happy.

    2. Engage yourself in your hobbies.

    3.Tell your parents that you will move out of country if they force you to marry up. In case your parents want you to be with them then they may stop pressurizing.

    4. Apply for further education (you have mentioned in your mail) without telling to anyone. Process will take atleast 6 months. If you are really interested then take it up , it will open new avenue in life.

    5. Start making friends and try to be happy.

    You can use reverse emotional blackmail.It works sometimes.

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    • Emotional blackmail works both ways. I know, it isn’t a good way but they do it, so do you. I told my parents I’m not getting married if I can’t marry the guy of my choice. After a lot of drama finally they relented. My mother blames me even now for her bad health and sleeplessness. It doesn’t bother me anymore, not ever since I stopped feeling the guilt. And yes, it did affect out relationship in a big way.

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  10. I had written a whole post which somehow disappeared after posting !
    Please handhold your parents and tell them their wishing you,pushing you to get married which in a hurry might be a compromise might not solve all their problems or yours !!
    Its likely you will become another statistic : in the sense unhappily, nonchalant marriage !
    Mean while keep hunting,dating,meeting all prospects with open eyes and mind! Don’t take this arrange marriage meetings too personally ! I have met weirdos in blind dates too ! Don’t say no to meeting people if basic criteria are met if you do wish to get married !
    Meanwhile you can search or date on your own too !
    If you don’t want to marry at all please make your parents understand that nicely and mention u do take responsibility for that !
    ……….
    I keep meeting people with open mind ,I forget weirdos,boring or ill mannered men and their family members once either I say no or the guy says no ! For me its Indian dating,I never tell no to meetings to my parents if basic criteria are met ! My parents have never blamed me ever as a result !
    And I have still not found anyone ! Now, in my community, men of my age are a trickle who are marriageable !Most good men are taken in 30s ! As you grow older, you will have to compromise even more!
    So think carefully, and do accordingly !

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      • Also a man who actually wants to get married, work on a relationship, take responsibility and is interested in a household ! Some men I have met are so disinterested ,for them getting married is just something to do and get over with !
        Yep,that ends my katha on marriageable man !

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        • Yes, I completely agree.

          My ex-husband was one such man. In his heart of hearts, he didn’t really want to be married, but being the only son, felt it was his duty to marry.

          Also, many men who are forced into marriage also believe that anyway, the woman will make all the adjustments.

          In addition, they will get sex and food, so it doesn’t look like a bad bargain from the man’s point of view.

          Nobody expects the husband to compromise anyway, so many men don’t ever realise where they went wrong.

          I have a colleague/friend who is married to such a man.

          She has always lived apart from her husband, because of his complete disinterest in being a father or husband.

          Yet now, she is insisting that he live with her. Her daughter is 15 and wants nothing to do with the father.

          My colleague is trying very hard to ensure that some bond, however fragile, stays between father and daughter.

          Even though her husband is emotionally unavailable, she is blamed by her in-laws for not “keeping him happy”.

          In our culture, women are blamed even when the man is at fault.

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        • @Cosettez, I hear you. I have been single and married and divorced and married again. I like being married. I’m not cut out for the single life and I have known that all my life. I’m a sucker for romance!

          But if I had to choose between being miserable because I’m single and being miserable in my marriage, I’d stay single. What would you choose?

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  11. Do you want to be married.? the why doesnt matter, do you think you will be happier marrie dthan single. if the answer ot his is YES then go and look for compatible men, meet then thru whatever means is available to you. BUT
    if you dont think marriage will make you happy or dont see a reason for marriage or have doubts then wait till you meet the right person who makes you want to spend your life with . then see if you want to be married.

    Parents will be parents no changing them. ignore and move on. drop the guilt, you didnt ask to be born they are parents not your child.you cant pick them. some get lucky ,some unlucky some inbetween🙂

    Im a parent, I try not to project what i had and needed at their age on my kids. however the older generation is not privy to this. why i dont know but their conditionng is much more than ours.

    I got married very young, yes it was a love marriage and walked out when my parents gave me an ultimatum.everyone thought i was v lucky having landed such a fab guy . he was my soulmate /companion.i thnk i was very lucky mtg him as i did, we are from totally 2 diff lives and mtg was pure luck but beyond that we wanted what happened to happen. we were young but not naive. so you will know what you want, we are all human and possess that instinct. dont doubt yourself.

    As for compromises , its upto you , when we married i had 10K in my a/c , i married him and moved to bombay , he was very wealthy. i had quit my first job and had total of 2 ysr exp. for a long time i would not touch his money, i found a job and worked. and contributed , i felt i made a huge sacrifie moving, but soon realised it would have been stupid to uproot him and his business to do what, live with me in my PG acco in my pay?. so in a sense yes it was a compromise. but for the good of the family, he’s done plenty too, trying to convince me that we share everythig was in itself a task for him🙂
    marriage is one day at a time, but just make you are happy in it.when you feelstifled is whenits not meant for you.

    long comment sorry for taking up so much space IHM

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Once upon a time when I was in the exact same spot as you, one of the things that worked for me was reverse blackmail “If you keep pushing me on this marriage this against my will, I will physically harm myself, and you will have to face the blame”. It did really help to some extent.

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  13. “… I could just give in to the blackmail, which includes stuff like “If you don’t get married soon and something happens to us, you re responsibe”.

    In addition to all the very sensible pieces of counsel you’ve received above, here’s my tip to fight fire with fire.

    Every time they bring up your potential culpability in something happening to them- tell them, “Okay, sure, get me married to someone, and if I am unhappy for the rest of my fricking life, YOU’RE RESPONSIBLE.” I wonder how they’d react to that.

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    • In my experience, they’d launch into a tirade about how compromise is the key to happiness in a marriage – because men will be men, and the success of a marriage is really in the hands of the woman (aurat hi ghar ko sanwaarti hai, aurat hi bigadti hai).

      Then they will give you examples of women who are in abusive marriages and refuse to give up (humne bhi to itna kuch saha hai). Basically you’ll be told that sacrifice is expected, and if your marriage doesn’t work it is mostly because you didn’t sacrifice enough.

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      • Sometimes, when I hear such things, I wonder.

        In Indian Culture, what expectations do we have of men?

        Since it’s a woman’s kob to make marriage work, what exactly is the husband’s role?

        No, I am serious. Sometimes, it’s as all husbands are required to do is earn a living and impregnate the wife.

        Everything else is the wife’s responsibility.

        Liked by 2 people

        • Remember this?

          Karyeshu Dasi, Karaneshu Mantri; Bhojeshu Mata, Shayaneshu Rambha, Roopeshu lakshmi, Kshamayeshu Dharitri, Shat dharmayukta, Kuladharma Pathni

          Basically a woman has to slog in the house, give good advice (but only when asked, of course), feed her husband like his mom would, be slutty in bed, be beautiful like lakshmi, be patient like the earth, and keep the household values intact to be considered a good wife.

          I am yet to see anything to this effect for the ideal husband.

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  14. Dear LW,
    I know 7 people, who married under exactly the same kind of pressure that you are currently facing.
    Society, blackmail, ill health, weeping, yelling, chest pain every possible weapon was used.
    Now, 6 out of those 7 ppl are suffering and wish they could go back in time and do things differently.
    Only 1 out of those 7 is happy. But that is because she walked out of the marriage that was forced down her throat.
    You mentioned that you quit an IT job and jumped into journalism.Which means you DO have courage, you CAN chase dreams.Bravo!
    What else do you need to live life ?
    Dreams and Courage.Not MARRIAGE!

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  15. The concept of love and marriage, in our country is especially over rated. Yes love is a beautiful emotion- and sometimes marriage is a logical progression of it. Sometimes, it isnt.

    But really, marriage takes more than love to survive. Its not so much about ‘sacrifices’ and ‘compromises’ but rather a will to make it work with someone because of the life you hope to build with him/her. And for that to happen, you want to remain married to that person.

    For that you need to introspect on whether you actually want to get married and are open to the idea of an arranged marriage. If it is a yes, on both fronts, continue seeing the matches, but define your life partner needs narrowly- to weed out meeting the unwanted beings. Tell your parents your non-negotiables and deal breakers- that way they will feel that you indeed have listened to them and may perhaps, give you the long rope while they keep the hunt on.

    If you want to choose your own partner, whatever time it may take, you need to state it over and over consistently. Ask your parents- would they rather have a 30+unmarried, but happy daughter who is in a job she loves or an unhappy ‘divorcee ladki’ who was forced into a bad marriage by her own parents, also stuck in a job she hates. Both the situations are looked down upon by the society and will cause them and you some grief . But in the former, their daughter is at least happy and hence will make the efforts to make them happy too.

    Its tough to keep your sanity during emotional blackmail. I know it through personal experience. But the only way to tide over it is through consistently being firm in your views and decisions.

    Or so I hope🙂

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  16. Dear LW,

    I understand where you are coming from. I understand the pressure you feel from your parents, and even your understanding brother. Your brother realizes that your parents are “worried” about you; “who will take care of you after we’re gone? we just want to make sure you are “settled”. think about our health/happiness. There is a time for everything, and you are getting too old”…these are things that I’ve heard (and continue to hear) over and over again, and especially now that I’m 30. My parents are by no means bad parents, but this is what they know. Their “duty” is not done until their kids get married, and not just married, have a lavish wedding that everyone will talk about “forever”, even if it costs them more than what they can afford. Your brother, older or younger, is trying to be the “voice of reason” and be the mediator between you and your parents.

    But, dear LW, the question comes, what happens after marriage? I’ve been there where you are so close to giving in, to the point where I said everything that I thought the person would want to hear. I said everything the way my dad told me to….I downplayed my PhD that I’m pursuing. I let others answer for me when it came to questions about when I’d finish my degree, what I will do next, how much am I willing to compromise, what I can cook, what I feel, what I think…..I let others answer all of those with the hopes that I will make my parents happy and proud that I’m married. Luckily for me, things never worked out with any of the guys. Be it the guy’s choice, his parents, or mine, I really lucked out. Because if I (or you) were to give in and just say “yes”, that will be the story for the rest of your life. You will not be in a relationship that started off with mutual respect, rather one where you gave your parents greater authority over your decisions. You may get married to someone wonderful who gives you everything you want from a marriage, but you won’t be able to appreciate it until you are willing to…for you, you’d have married to keep your parents happy, not because YOU DESERVE to be happy. That is the key difference between you fighting for yourself or allowing your parents to decide.

    I met guys for almost 8 years, and each time, though my parents allowed me to continue to pursue my studies, I felt that I was being a bad daughter because I wasn’t married. They tried over and over again to set me up, and nothing prevailed. I didn’t date because dating is a big no-no in Indian culture (this according to my parents who left India over 35 years ago). I built up guilt for all those years, and it led to my depression. I stopped eating, and had times of thoughts of ending all of it. Nothing was gained from any of it…only I got sicker. Dear LW, as someone said above, your happiness is your responsibility, your health is your responsibility. Your parents made their choices and have lived life as they see fit. Now it is your turn. You are not “bad” or “against the grain” because you want to do what makes you happy. You are that much stronger for it! Your story is similar to a many of ours, and when you are in doubt or feeling weak, read this blog and find strength in what these wonderful people have been saying. Good luck, and please stay strong!

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  17. Oh golly. I was there too… and I really wish I hadn’t given myself into the nonsense of disbelieving what I knew was my personality and the way I wanted to do things. I made some awful choices under pressure, which took a while to get undone. What I realized later was:

    My parents’ insecurities are not my insecurities. I never feared being single, they did for me. Fear is contagious. Stay around long enough and you’ll be infected with it. And fear grows, exponentially. If there was a kernel in your heart, then being around people who are also scared can nurture, fertilize and blossom that kernel into a banyan tree. I was living apart, and clearly that wasn’t enough in my case. It was the routine phonecalls that really used to bog me down. Now I can recognize when the conversation is going someplace I don’t want to discuss and can politely stop it at source.

    I know of a girl who married under pressure of a mother’s illness, only to end up in a bad marriage that took a few years to resolve to divorce. When you are under pressure, friends whom you would never consider as marriage material seem OK. You start deluding yourself into thinking that it’s all companionship and adjustment yada yada but baby, you need the love and sex too. I get annoyed simply recalling all the advice I got like – “You have to compromise” – as though I was in a business deal negotiating mergers and acquisitions.

    If you don’t like you job – quit. I don’t see the point of having an education if you can’t be employed in an activity that you like; especially when much of you self-esteem is derived from the employment. When my professional life was in the doldrums, I felt more under pressure personally because I badly wanted something in life to work out and was blind to many character points of my then partner. Basically, emotions from work feed into relationships and vice versa, at least for me.

    You have to go back to loving yourself completely, the way you are, and make choices fearlessly, as you think is best. Yes, you’ll make mistakes, but big deal – at least they all arose from conscious choices that you made, as opposed to choices that you allowed to be dictated to you?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Love this. // I never feared being single, they did for me. Fear is contagious. Stay around long enough and you’ll be infected with it. And fear grows, exponentially. If there was a kernel in your heart, then being around people who are also scared can nurture, fertilize and blossom that kernel into a banyan tree. I was living apart, and clearly that wasn’t enough in my case. It was the routine phonecalls that really used to bog me down. Now I can recognize when the conversation is going someplace I don’t want to discuss and can politely stop it at source. //

      Like

  18. Dear LW, at 72 your dad is probably anxious to see you “settled” and sad to leave this earth before seing your children. But from what you say he was around 40 when you were born. I was around 40 when my youngest child was born and the joy of meeting my baby was mingled with the idea that maybe I would never know her partner and kids and be able to help if she struggled in her family life… Well, that is my fate, not the problem of my child, and your dad needs to come to terms with his sadness and regrets – it does not belong to you. Meanwhile you are scared to lose him, because you love him. Don’t burden him with your sadness, don’t pretend to do something for his sake that you don’t want to do, that is trying to escape the truth of your pain.

    Probably your father and your family are all very proud of you even if they don’t say it. Expressing one’s true feelings in a gentle way while acknowledging your loved one’s feelings requires great courage. Sometimes just listening is best. But I think it’s well worth the effort.❤

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  19. Dear LW, I can feel your pain. On the one hand, I understand why it’s important for your parents to see your married. One of the motives is perhaps to know that you have a support system after they’re gone. What parent doesn’t worry about the prospect of leaving their child ‘alone’ on earth when departing? Btw, this is not something I sympathesized with when my own parents were pressurizing me to get married, but now that I have a child myself, I can at least see where they are coming from – although it would be more important for me to see my child happily married, than to be ‘just’ married. Cut them a little slack, but tell them to do the same for you.
    I agree with one of the commentors who said you should continue to meet people with an open mind. I mean, even if you were dating and not going through this arranged marriage kind of meetings, you’re bound to meet at least some losers/unpleasant people. Keep an open mind.
    Good luck with your endeavors. Move out of your parents’ home. They’ll probably not understand no matter how much you reason with them, just make your peace with it and know that you’re doing right – even by them. What’s the point of you being unhappily married – is that not something they’d regret too? Good luck.

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  20. See how the conditioning depletes the confidence of taking matters in your hand? Despite you being educated and financially self sufficient. I hate it. I hate how our people scare women into surrendering. You sound pretty strong already, just stop the guilt from taking over. Yes, your parents are abusing you. They might not know that they are since it is the norm. Trust your instincts and do what you strongly feel. Know that in the end it is your life that is going to be affected. You have to live with the choices you make.
    First things first, try talking to your parents. Start by saying that you love them but you have to make your own life decisions. No high pitched screaming stuff, sit them down and calmly talk. Please sort out your profession. Take up that job you liked. Since it has hugely affected your happiness it is only fair to sort it first. I agree that staying close to so much pressure can wreak havoc on your mind and relationship.
    Next, see if you are really ready for marriage. If not wait it out. Yours is no age for curfews. I’m sure you can go out with friends after office. If parents feel unsafe, let them meet your friends so they know who you are going out with. Meet new people and make new hobbies. Keep yourself occupied. Ask your parents to do the same.
    If you are ready, tell them your priorities and how you want to get married and to what kind of person. If they understand, good for them, else, atleast you tried. Do what you want to do.

    Liked by 1 person

  21. Whatever/whenever you decide to do, do NOT marry a guy/family you do not like, just so you can provide ‘relief’ to your parents.

    Just to alleviate the distress of your loved ones, you have NO right to cause distress to another person/family. And that is precisely what you are very likely to do, if you start a new relationship with a negative attitude.

    And if you are conversing with matrimonial prospects, make it absolutely clear what your situation and ‘pressures’ are. So, he will also know what he is signing up for and gauge for himself whether you guys will work for each other or not.

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  22. Indian parents are a difficult species in matters of marriage and children!! Just like others my advice would be not to marry just because of the pressure. It will be a disaster no matter what. If you do wish to get married however, tell them that you will meet guys but take your own good time in knowing the person and then deciding. I was in a similar situation few years back, with the only difference that I wanted to get married, therefore I was open to meeting guys they suggested. I went on many blind dates if you may call them…some set up by them,…some I directly contacted through these marriage portals. I met some weird, some not so good and some good people. I just took them as experiences and did not brood too much over the disappointing ones. Honestly, meeting so many people who shared the same goal of finding “the one” was an overall enlightening experience..some were hilarious stories, some sad and depressing for a day or two..and some just different experiences…..It gave me many insights into human behaviour and how many different kinds of people there are. I am still very good friends with one…

    Anyway…to cut the story short…
    – marry because of the reasons you believe in
    – DO NOT give into pressure, it will be a torture later on
    – give yourself time and think if/ why you do or do not want to get married..now/ later or may be never
    – once you have sorted this…you will be in a much better position to put your point across to your parents and handle the situation

    All the best!

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  23. Thank you all. I’ve got more support here than I ever thought possible. Yes, I will move out, and maybe even study outside the country. I may have been “ready” for an arranged marriage at some point, as a means of appeasement, but no amount of open mindedness could have prepared me for the kind of men I eventually did end up meeting. Now I don’t think I care about either the concept of marrying a random stranger or looking at a sea of men who want to constantly over sell themselves online (or offline).

    I’ve tried the “what if I am unhappy for the rest of my life”, the “I do not want to get married” and “give me a break from your matrimonial onslaught”, and each one of these do not make a difference beyond a few days.

    I get where my parents are coming from, but I also feel extremely hurt that they refuse to see how I am slowly degenerating and becoming more and more unpleasant as a person. I am the youngest child, and well, I was “supposed” to have been married off at 22. Yes, 29 is no age for curfew, and yes, there is no gentle way inform your parents that you want to move out because you cannot sustain any conversation you have with them for fear of being akd to get married FAST, like tomorrow, or maybe by the next weekend.

    I know it won’t be easy, because not only are we a “we-do-not-question-the-norm” society, we’re also a “we-need-to-judge-and-tame-our-girls” society. However, a big shout out to all you awesome people who toook out the time to respond to a very very long and rambling post. I draw a lot of strength from your support.

    And Fem, aren’t we all already a club? Some of us just do not know we’ve qualified for the membership just yet.🙂

    Liked by 4 people

    • A couple of thoughts I had while reading your post and this comment

      So yes, move out. When you are under someone else’s roof it is pretty difficult to stand your ground.

      You might also try to change the tone of communication with your parents. There is no need to be combative with them – I assume you still love them and they are good parents besides this thorny issue. And I am sure it comes from a place of concern and worry, misguided or not.

      You can keep things civil and declare certain areas of conversation off limits. I think commenter Megha already said that this is how she handles it – and this really is the solution. Indicate that when you dont want to talk about something you really mean it. Cut short a phone call or a visit if necessary (once you’ve moved out) but don’t give up the relationship. Your parents will eventually learn that you are your own person but they will not if you keep pandering.

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  24. Dear LW, what you are facing is classic case of parental abuse. Exceedingly common in our society, but just because it’s everywhere doesn’t make it right. I agree with others’ advice. Stick to your guns. Do not give in to the emotional blackmail. Get back to the kind of job/career you love. Move out. Get your life back.

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  25. A cousin (around 27 years old) in the same situation (same emotional blackmail) told her dad (who was then 60-ish) categorically “Assuming you and I both live till 100, you have 40 years left, while I have 60. It makes more sense that I take care of my mental and physical well being to manage those extra 20 years !”. The reply stunned the dad, he didn’t talk to her for over a year. This is about 7 years ago, right now she is happily single and hopes to settle down only when she wants to. As for the dad, he is fit and fine, doesn’t broach the topic of marriage with his daughter, enjoys Glenfiddich/JD/Red Label that she brings for him every time she returns from her travels abroad and gleefully boasts about her successful professional life to everybody he knows. That’s life, be blunt and strong and everybody just adjusts around you. Sometimes you have to do that with your own parents.

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