The Pressure to Marry
The Pressure to Marry
By Awais Aftab
Q. Your parents have been trying to get you engaged and married for quite some time now.
Yes, you cannot imagine the immense pressure I am under. In my family, it is unusual for a girl studying in college to remain unmarried by the time she graduates, let alone stay unengaged. I have graduated and I am still single, while all the cousins of my age group have been married off. My relatives are always telling my parents that if they wait too long, meri umar nikal jaye gee, and I won’t get any good rishtas. Some relatives are even so audacious as to ask if there is something wrong with me. So, understandably, my parents are quite panicky and are desperately trying to get me engaged to secure my future.
Q. How does it make you feel?
Infuriating, of course! Whether I stay single or not, it is none of their business. Why are they so interested in my marriage? And it makes me depressed. It is exhausting to take in all the rubbish people throw at you. I don’t know how long I can keep up.
Q. What is your age?
Q. That isn’t so much. I know of girls much older who are still single and focused on careers.
Such examples are rare and uncommon. Generally, it’s not an acceptable option for girls of most families in Pakistan.
Q. Why don’t you want to get married for now?
I don’t want to marry some guy. I want to marry someone of my own choice, someone with whom I am mentally and emotionally compatible. Furthermore, I want to marry on my own terms. I want to be an independent working woman. I am not someone with an ‘expiry date’ that I have to rush into marriage with the first rishta available. I know that there are girls who are very comfortable with this whole arrangement of marriage, and they themselves want to get married early. Well, good for them, but I am not comfortable with this arrangement, so why should I be pressurised into this?
Q. Are you in a relationship with someone?
Not presently, but I was. It didn't work out. It lasted two to three years. We discovered that we had too many differences, so we both decided to end it. This is also something my parents are really concerned about. They had never approved of the relationship, and even now they feel that it has soiled my reputation so much that I might not get a good rishta any more.
Q. What is your biggest fear at the moment?
I am afraid that my parents will soon lose their patience. Someday I’ll just be informed that my rishta has been finalised with so and so, and I wouldn't really be able to do anything about it. That really scares me and is a source of great anxiety.
Q. Why do you think your parents insist so much that you get married?
They mean well for me in their hearts. They believe that there is only one particular lifestyle that can ensure happiness for a girl, and that is to get married at the right age to a financially settled boy from an honourable and well-off family. With all the rishta competition and the gossips, my parents feel that they have to ensure my future, and that by delaying my marriage, they are risking the happiness of my whole remaining life. Plus, in our society parents have this notion that it is their responsibility to get the children married in the proper way, and they are trying to fulfil that responsibility. Unfortunately, this is not what would bring me any happiness.
Published in Us Magazine 23 September 2011.