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.

An email: So my chances of finding a groom through the arranged marriage system seem very-very bleak…

Sharing an email.

Indian parents seem to face constant ‘peer pressure’ to parent in they ways that their great grandparents’ and their neighbours did. This often makes it difficult for them to let their children make sensible choices. What would be your advice to A Woman with a Flaw? 

Dear IHM,

I have been reading your blog for some time now, though I have never left a comment. Your blog-posts encouraged me to write my story and I will be grateful if I can get your/ your readers’ opinion on the confusion I am going through…here goes my story:

 I am a 29-yr old single female, living with my parents. I work with an MNC in NCR. I have an elder sis, she is married, stays/settled in US – both she & my BIL work and I have a cute nephew who is 4 now.

I will talk about myself a bit; I will go point-by-point (& have tried to be chronological):

–          I have a rare congenital i.e., by birth syndrome (though its occurrence is random, overall it affects 0.03% of the population) which could have been a lot worse given what all people can have and they go through if they have this syndrome BUT for me it means the following – I have an eye disease for which I regularly use eye medicine(s), have to go for eye check-up once every quarter, have had quite a few eye surgeries till date though for the past 10 years or so my eye-condition has been stable and the check-ups have become more like a “ek baar aa kar dikhaa dena” routine. Though I am lucky I can use my eyes for pretty much everything, I work …I drive…..Even after having a pretty fucked-up eye-related incident (I almost lost vision of my right eye just 2 months before my board exams but I persisted and gave my exams that year & ended-up with a decent score and  admission in a good DU college) when I was in 12th. In a sense, I have been lucky… I could have fared a lot worse as I could have had developmental/ growth issues coz of this syndrome.

–          I have had a serious relationship with a guy about two years back, we worked in the same company then. We were in a relationship for close to two years, we had thought of getting married …and almost when the time came, he chickened out!! …. You may be wondering that he suddenly got to know about my eye problem but hell no, he knew about it from the beginning, I never hid anything from him, he knew all about what I went through when I was in 12th and my quarterly visits to the eye-specialist …and he was okay with it, we have had our discussions around it. I wanted to be sure that we both know what we are getting into. ……..But almost when we had decided to go further ahead in the relationship…..I don’t know what happened..??? He just couldn’t talk to his parents, he didn’t even say he will be (or, will not be) able to convince his parents…. we are from different communities too. All I know is he backed out, when I needed him……..I was broken and shattered ….but I guess life goes on, I just couldn’t bear to see his face everyday (we worked in the same team) and I left that company and found another job and Life went on. My family knows about it and we haven’t been in touch after that.

–          Last year, I went to US for a few months, I met a guy there (not Indian) ….we were on the same project, same company. He seemed to be a nice guy and we did talk a lot …almost on anything other than work. And one day it happened, we slept together (and a few times after that) ….there were no talks about a serious relationship either from his or my side….or anything like taking it forward etc. We knew it was casual and when our trip came to an end we both went our ways….no talks of will try to keep in touch or let’s meet again or anything.

I told my sister about this. She went hyper and was furious !!………I told her I am an adult and I know what I am doing. My parent don’t know & thank god for that.

–          I have loved investing. I always somehow had this feeling that I need to work to earn, I incur my own expenses & try to contribute in common household expenses too. I have this feeling that even if I get married some day or especially after I have kids (if I have any, that is) I will ever stop working…..I love the feeling of independence (& the associated perks) my job provides me, its like my identity…I think I will NEVER stop working at least not until I have saved enough for my post-retirement days.

–          I have my own car & I an investing in a house, which is taking a huge financial toll on me……I have taken a home loan for it & may also require a additional interest-free loan from my parents to fund my house (which they are ever willing to give 🙂 ….I have told them I will repay them even if it takes me 20 years…..

–          One more thing, we are two sisters, no brother…but our parents brought us up I think in the most gender-neutral environment they could have…..no talks of if we had a son, (agar beta hota toh) and even no talks of tum mere liye kisi bete se kam nahi ho (you are no less than a son to me)…………we were respected & treated for who we are – Two Individuals……… & yes, I have tremendous respect for my parents; I don’t think I would have been able to achieve half of what I have, if they were not there.

After all this rambling, I will come to the issue…..as all parents, my parents would also like to see me settle down (aka see me married)….now the problem is I haven’t been able to find “The Elusive One” for me….atleast not till now………. and, if I go by the arranged marriage system (all the damn matrimony sites…) the talks don’t proceed any further coz of (you guessed it right!!) my Eye Problem, after all who would want such a DIL for their son ??…..So my chances of finding a groom through the arranged marriage system seems very-very bleak…..I am not against marriage but I do believe I will hold out for the right guy …..As much as I would want to get married, I don’t think I will get married to any random guy just for the heck of getting married

My mother has taken the societal pressure (of me not married, in a community where the right age for girls to get married is 24-25 and if you cross that well only god can help you…..) pretty well till now, till I recently turned 29 !!………………BUT now, she is going all hyper, she is almost ready to fix me up with any guy (her minimun criteria seems to be – the person should have XY chromosomes)…………..the other day, my mother almost uttered If you were a boy, you wouldn’t have faced all this, I don’t know what to believe but she does seem to have a very valid logic here, isn’t it how the Indian society functions ??

I have tried to reason out things with my otherwise logical mom…..but it seems to be a losing proposition these days…………as she sees my younger cousins being engulfed by matrimony one-by-one !! and my generally by-my-side dad also have started seeing ‘some’ streaks of logic in her argument of getting me married ASAP. Though, thankfully my dad understands my side of the story too…….but for how long, I am not sure?? My sister  supports me on this, if she had her will, I would have been in US staying with her and living life on my own terms….without any societal pressure.

I have thought of finding another job out of NCR and staying on my own but financially I can’t afford it right now L …unless I give up on my dream of having my own house.

It’s not like staying with parents has become a hell for me…..it sure has become a lot more difficult. I don’t understand how a simple topic about house can become a discussion-point about my matrimony……. E.g, ghar toh khareed rahi hai, gharwaala bhi toh hona chahiye ! I can only say, a few of my friends are still single so I am able to show them some examples that I am not the only one J……but then in the heat of the argument the comparison sets in, THEY are NORMAL, YOU are NOT.

What does the future hold for me ??……… I don’t know. Am I expecting too much out of a society which anyway considers that the only appropriate thing for a girl is to get married (And only then she will be considered happy & settled) but what if the girl is not perfect, has some “flaw” like me…..

Somebody, my parents went to with my rishta for their son, suggested, to my parents, “why don’t you get your daughter married to a divorcee/widower”. My parents felt insulted and were furious……………trust me, I have no problem in getting married to such a person if I like him, I will go ahead with the relationship…..but is it the only option left for me given my “flaw” because by this logic then I become a less-worthy person who should be happy with whatever she manages to get…….isse aur kaun shaadi karega-types (who will marry her anyway ??) , in a society which more often than not want their DILs to look like porcelain dolls…….

I have never been so confused, felt so helpless in my life before……Not even when I had almost lost my vision in my right eye just two months before my board exams or when I broke up with the only guy I ever loved with so much intensity, ….it was a trying time for my family but we stood together. Do I have a chance of getting married to a person of my choice or, my optimism is just a dream & all hogwash and the reality is very dark and very different, very different for a girl with a FLAW……..one like me.

From,

A Woman with a Flaw

Related post:

Physical Disability and Arranged Marriages.

Yes I am single so? – Nirjharani

Why marry? – Careless Chronicles

Some happy relationship rules. Add yours?

These rules make even more sense after the last three posts.

  1. If a man wants you, nothing can keep him away. If he doesn’t want you, nothing can make him stay.
  2. Stop making excuses for a man and his behavior.
  3. Allow your intuition (or spirit) to save you from heartache.
  4. Stop trying to change yourself for a relationship that’s not meant to be.
  5. Slower is better.
  6. Never live your life for a man before you find what makes you truly happy.
  7. If a relationship ends because the man was not treating you as you deserve then heck no, you can’t “be friends”. A friend wouldn’t mistreat a friend. Don’t settle.
  8. If you feel like he is stringing you along, then he probably is.
  9. Don’t stay because you think “it will get better.” You’ll be mad at yourself a year later for staying when things are not better.
  10. The only person you can control in a relationship is you.
  11. Avoid men who’ve got a bunch of children by a bunch of different women. He didn’t marry them when he got them pregnant, why would he treat you any differently?
  12. Always have your own set of friends separate from his.
  13. Maintain boundaries in how a guy treats you.
  14. If something bothers you, speak up.
  15. Never let a man know everything. He will use it against you later.
  16. You cannot change a man’s behavior. Change comes from within.
  17. Don’t EVER make him feel he is more important than you are…even if he has more education or in a better job.
  18. Do not make him into a quasi-god. He is a man, nothing more nothing less.
  19. Never let a man define who you are.
  20. Never borrow someone else’s man.
  21. If he cheated with you, he’ll cheat on you.
  22. A man will only treat you the way you ALLOW him to treat you.
  23. You should not be the one doing all the bending…compromise is a two way street.
  24. You need time to heal between relationships…there is nothing cute about baggage… Deal with your issues before pursuing a new relationship.
  25. You should never look for someone to COMPLETE you… a relationship consists of two WHOLE individuals… look for someone complimentary…not supplementary.
  26. Dating is fun …even if he doesn’t turn out to be Mr. Right.
  27. Make him miss you sometimes… when a man always know where you are, and you’re always readily available to him – he takes it for granted.
  28. Never move into his mother’s house.
  29. Never co-sign for a man.
  30. Don’t fully commit to a man who doesn’t give you everything that you need.
  31. Keep him in your radar but get to know others.

This is said to have been written by Oprah in her book (Not sure though). Thanks for sharing Ashwathy!

Separated she smiles.

My Gym friend and I walked out of the Gym, to be welcomed by a slight drizzle and soft breeze. We got into the car, and rolled the windows down. Radio One was playing some catchy Bollywood song. I did not want to stop driving, it was just the kind of weather to make you wish to finish all your outdoors jobs. We wanted to basically gallivant.
This friend is one amazing woman. Can’t believe she spent the whole of last year fighting for mobility and pain relief. Almost the whole of last year she spent walking in and out of hospitals. Regular, supervised exercises and lots of determination has totally cured her.
A good amount of her troubles were caused by the emotional stress caused by her unpredictable, short tempered, violent and abusive husband. She walked out of her marriage.Her husband is in the same city and their only child spends weekends with his dad.
At first I thought and assumed that she was ‘hoping things will work out and they will get back together’, we all love happy endings, and what other happy ending was possible? But I realised I was SO wrong! She was happy, she was really content ALONE. She does not want another man in her life.
She loves the freedom from unhappiness and physical pain. She lives with her mother, who dotes upon her (her father died many years ago). She enjoys her job, she enjoys her classical dancing classes, she has a busy life, a loving family, close friends and a determination to live her life. And to live it on her own terms. Seeing her so happy reinforces my belief that good, happy Singledom is as good as a Happy Marriage and a million times better than an abusive marriage.

Adding this link I found on Mad Momma’s blog, it’s about singledom.
Here’s another link which talks about how singledom can be a fairy tale ending!

How important is it for a girl to get married?

Settled and Secure?

I have always felt that if Indian parents were not too worried about a girl getting and staying married most of their (girls’ and their parents’) problems will be over. From the careers they choose, the clothes they wear, the way they walk, talk everything they do is done keeping in mind the only future the daughter has – being a good wife to some magnanimous guy who will condescend to marry her if he’s bribed with enough dowry.

Indian parents will sacrifice their daughter’s dreams to get her what they consider a dream catch…oops match.

The girl must marry, not necessarily to someone she gets along with, but to someone who will provide her security. This choice, generally from the same community, is not foolproof. But the girl must pay with her happiness, peace of mind and freedom for SECURITY. Sometimes she must risk her life for SECURITY.

Just think how easy our daughters and we will breathe, if we weren’t raising them to be secure wives, if we raised them not as girls but as individuals.

If we raised them to be self reliant, loving, responsible, independent, thinking, caring, dependable, confident, happy individuals.

If we unshackled our daughters from the ‘duty’ of getting and staying married.

If we allowed our daughters to marry as and when they meet the right kind of life partners;

If we supported them when they chose to marry someone who respected them as equals; someone who took it for granted that they will use their own heads to think;

Someone who loved his own family and respected and cared for hers;  and accepts that she might do the same;

Someone who was a human before he was a man, not someone who would compete with her, but someone who thought they, made a team.

No pressure to give dowry. No worry that she will not be the proverbial ‘son’ to you. She will proudly be your daughter, and if you wish your Shravan Kumar in your old age.

Can you imagine how a girl’s life would be if her parents were not so worried about her getting married?

Edited to add: If happiness is truly what we want for our children, let’s show them how to be responsible for their own lives, and let’s set them free. Read what Dipali Taneja has to say, here.

Edited again to add: I found this absolutely fantastic post, read it to know how perfect our present day, marriage scenario is.

Added on 13th Sept 2008 : I find Amrutha’s post on arranged marriages simply brilliant, some of the comments discuss marriage and divorce.