I can only speak for myself when I say that the topic of marriage was a constant in my household growing up. I remember being 11-years-old when my cousin was getting married. I overheard a conversation amongst grown-ups discussing who was getting married next. It’s weird to hear your mother saying she wanted to get you married off at 18 when you yourself don’t even know who you are and what you potentially may want to do in your future.
I’ve always taken this knowledge in stride. I had gotten very used to the idea that a love marriage wasn’t in the cards for me, and yet somehow, it wasn’t something I was actually interested in pursuing. So either way, I never felt like I was missing out when my friends got boyfriends and dated during high school.
The domestic skills my mother taught me were never something I resented. Whilst her mindset was focusing on the future of my married life, I was more interested in learning these fundamental life skills for myself.
When I finally did turn 18, and was just starting to really discover myself and who I was, I applied for university and got in. Furthering my education was something that I felt necessary for myself. I had discovered a while ago that whilst it worked for some, I knew that being a housewife was never something I wanted to aspire to be. This was even though my mum was big on pushing for me to be a homemaker.
The domestic skills my mother taught me were never something I resented. Whilst her mindset was focusing on the future of my married life, I was more interested in learning these fundamental life skills for myself. My father, on the other hand, was the one to really push for my education and let the subject of marriage dissolve, wanting me to first finish my degree, and then think about marriage. My dad allowed me the time and space I really needed to get to know myself. He offered me a little independence to figure out what I wanted in life, more so, in regards to my career aspirations.
The Marriage March
I was in my final year of university, just a few months from graduating when my mother brought up the conversation of marriage again. I was apprehensive, but I gave her the opportunity to seek proposals for me. The idea of marriage was incredibly daunting. I can’t even fathom how young women, who haven’t truly figured themselves out yet, are able to get married and have such a huge responsibility thrust upon them. For myself, I felt like that fear and sense of anxiousness wouldn’t go away, regardless of my age. I think even now, as a married woman, it still scares me a little.
My mother had contacted several family members and told them to be on the lookout for any potentials, and as you can imagine, my family is big and there were many suitors that came through my mum’s WhatsApp. Each suitor would share their “marriage CV.” Yes, I said “marriage CV.” This was essentially a document with an overview of the suitor. It held the same information you would have in a resume with information about location, work, education, and hobbies. The only difference was a little paragraph about who they were and what they wanted in a life partner.
The Right Time
It’s important to note that I was never going to sacrifice my happiness just to please my family by going with a suitor exclusively of their choosing. I needed to be happy with him more than they did because, at the end of the day, it’s him and I, not them. They weren’t a part of this marriage, and to anyone going through this marriage march, you have to remember that you mustn’t go along with a groom just to please your parents. You may find yourself resentful for not being given more of a choice.
I’ll say this louder for the people in the back: the right time to get married depends entirely on you. That may seem hard to do, especially if you have family members that keep pushing for you to just “get it over and done with.” But really, it’s a life choice. Marriage is half your deen and you really don’t want to pursue something without being all in. I believe that one of the reasons why family members can be so pushy is because they have the mentality that women need to get married before they get “too old.” To translate this outrageous “auntie speak,” “too old” means any age above 25. Shocking, right?
I personally got married at 22, in the same week I graduated with a degree from university. I was happy to get married at this age as I wanted more time with my husband before we having kids. But this was MY choice. I am also very blessed in the sense that my in-laws are very happy for me to work and pursue a career. I know some elder family members may have a different mentality in terms of what a woman “should” be doing after marriage. However, my husband is also supportive of my want to pursue a career as I didn’t just do a degree to make my “marriage CV” look pretty.
I think it is very important for you to establish whether the family you marry into understand that you are an individual with your own hopes, dreams, and aspirations. I don’t think it’s right for you to lose who you are after marriage. It’s important to have some independence in your married life, and ladies, only YOU can ensure that you get that. Advocate for yourselves. Stay strong in your right to marry who and when you are ready to do so.