We all know the story about the annoying, old aunt, right? The one where she kept cackling ‘you’re next!’ at every wedding until you did the same at the next funeral? Okay, I have a lot of those. Not just maternal or paternal aunts, but the friends of the family and friends of my parents, which Arabic values dictate I should call ‘aunty’.
Living away from home hasn’t stopped them doing the whole marriage routine.
‘Amne, habibty! Why don’t you want to get married?’ they ask, right after the squealed ‘HELLO!’ and just before the ‘how are you?’
‘Darrrlingggggg. Don’t worry! There are sooo many good men out there. He’ll come! Just stop being so resistant!’
As someone who does want to get married one day, I had never quite known how to react to this. My response used to be something along the lines of ‘not now, aunty! I’m still in uni. I’ve got plenty of time’.
Alas, that excuse ship has well and truly sailed. I’ve graduated. I’ve been working for the last year. I have my own apartment and I’m settling into life. Somehow, by being one of the only girls I know who graduated from university (let alone finished high school) and didn’t slip strainght into the arms of a handsome stranger, it means that I don’t want to get married.
I mean, I always knew this was going to happen – I had seen the older girls drop off one by one. They would finish high school with a diamond ring sat snuggly on their left ring finger. As I grew older, the girls around me started whispering of engagements and marriage. A handful sat through the last few classes of grade 12, absent-mindedly twirling the ring around, completely enthralled by the thoughts of their upcoming weddings.
They were too young to be married, yet somehow it seemed to be the thing for ethnic girls to do. Growing up in the cultural melting-pot that is Western Sydney, I was one of the odd ones out.
‘Has anyone come to ask yet?’ the others would inquire, almost in a competition to see how many suitors had come knocking, asking my parents for the honour of my hand in marriage.
‘Are you parents looking?’ they would ask, pushing the onus to find me a man onto my family
‘Have you been going out to the festivals? Maybe you’ll hook one there!’ they would suggest, giving me ideas of venues that I could go to in order to be seen by a mother or aunt who was staking out the local girls for their son or nephew.
In 2010, the median age at first marriage in Australia for men was 29.6 years and 27.9 years for women, an increase of more than three years since 1990 (26.5 years and 24.3 years respectively). That is definitely not the case in my world. I would say the median age at first marriage in the girls I know is around 19. Maybe 60% of the girls I know who got married at a younger age are still happily married. Some are onto their second or third (serious) engagement or marriage.
At the ripe old age of 22, some girls are onto their second or third child. My mum had given birth to all three of us by 25. So as you can see, I have fallen way, way, waaaay behind. I am that poor apple, forgotten on the tree, slowly rotting away… just like my ovaries – well, if I were to believe my mum and aunts, that is.
That’s not to say that I think people definitely shouldn’t be getting married so early. In some cases, it works out brilliantly and they live happily enough ever after. Some of the girls I know appear to be happier than anyone else – stay at home mothers who are raising their children to be fine young men and women indeed, completely content with what they have. I’d much rather that young, sexually active couples are married – I mean if you’re sleeping together and having babies, why would the idea of marriage be a difficult one to consider? It just hasn’t worked out that way for me.
But back to my mother and aunts.
My parents are just worried about me and want me to be happy. They’re worried about me being alone – I can’t be upset about that. However, at the moment, I feel like a tyrannical, self-obsessed narcissist who thinks that the morning sun literally rises out of her behind. These aunts seem to think that the reason that I’m not married is because I’ve just decided I won’t. Like it’s a challenge to society. It’s like they see me and my parents in a competition with them and their daughters. On the one hand, the fact that their daughters are married makes them better than me. Those girls have won – what else could you possibly want from life? On the other hand, by not being married, I have suddenly insulted everything they are about. Not just insulted it. I have defecated on it over and over again. By not being married, that see that as me screaming out ‘I’M BETTER THAN YOU. SUCK IT!’
Up until recently, the constant barrage of WHY WON’T YOU GET MARRIED was exhausting. It’s a strange thing to be so affected by, but constantly being told I needed to find a man before it’s too late just drained me. A majority of conversations I was having with my family and their friends involved marriage in some way and either ended with ‘you’re so stubborn!’ or ‘there, there, little one. It’s all naseeb (or fate)’.
The best part about this isn’t the fact that they won’t stop harassing me about it. It’s the fact that there isn’t really anyone suitable right now. So these people are on this determined war path to get me married to… well nobody in particular. Just someone. Anyone.
I’m excited about marriage – finding the right partner and settling into a cosy little family. I categorically refuse to marry someone just because they’ve given me the honour of considering me to be theirs *eyeroll*. Sometimes I just want to throw out Lily Allen’s ‘Hard Out Here’ – ‘Don’t you want to have somebody who objectifies you?’
When suitors come knocking (or calling), the Lebanese community collectively holds it’s breath, waiting for me to say yes. When I don’t, there’s a lot of confusion. What’s funny is that most of these aunts complain about their husbands and the characteristics they wish their husband’s had or didn’t have are the same ones they’ll chastise me about wanting. Women have actually told my parents they need to restrain me a little – ‘no man is going to accept a woman who lives alone and works so hard and has her own house.’
I constantly feel like I’m on the defensive about why I’m not married. I’m actually starting to hate being around big groups of Lebanese women (yes, hate is a strong word). When I’m able to take a step back and realise I’m young, I have plenty of time, it’s alright to be single and I’m not being unreasonable, it’s great! The responses I should give should really be something along the lines of ‘aunty, I will when he comes along,’ but instead I get pretty defensive. I reply to all all the comments they make, one by one. Engaging in this argument is probably not the best thing to do.
*sigh* Oh well.
I’d love to hear other people’s experiences with this marriage mission – how do you respond to the nosy aunts? Do you experience something similar?
This article was republished on Mamamia.com.au
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haha Amne, my parents and the Bangladeshi community are exactly the same. Apparently, when I turn 24, i’m going to have officially become a spinster and no man will want to marry me, and good lord won’t that just be the worst thing in the world? *eye roll* Great post, its nice to know im not alone in this, although it’d be nicer if neither of us had to deal with any of it haha.
Yaayyyy! I mean, it’s partly on our parents, partly the community and it’s all just very confusing! What if I want to be a cat lady 😦
Good luck – if I had a brother/cousin/uncle I’d totes hook you guys up.
hahaha uncle? and I’m good without guys at the mo, but thanks :p
Dont be a cat lady, dogs are better ;P
This is so interesting! I’m 25 and not married and under absolutely no pressure from my parents, but for some reason I’ve started having these strange thoughts about time getting away from me… No idea where that has come from!
My older sister and her partner are unmarried, but own their house and intend to be together forever but aren’t interested in getting married. This annoys me because frankly weddings are fun and the best parties. And I want to be a bridesmaid at least once.
I suppose it’s really up to the people involved. If it’s meant to happen it will. In the meantime though I can understand that the constant questions from family members would get extremely frustrating!
I’ve been told by so many unmarried women in their mid to late 20s that they feel time is completely escaping. There are quite a few who are torn between continuing on the path that they’ve happily been on, and actively seeking out a man because they feel they should, even though they may not want to.
Weddings are ammaaaaaazing. You should totally send in an application to one of those surprise-wedding-type shows to get them to think they’re going on a holiday but actually they’re getting married! (Don’t really do that, they may shank you).
Yes but it might be worth it…
I came here to read about skinny girls and Kookai, where I was all, “Yes! Why does everyone not think this way?!”
The eyeliner story made me smile and giggle.
This one, though, had me literally laughing out loud at the second sentence 🙂
To get back on point, I’m 29 and single. The marriage question is now very seldom asked, and only by those who don’t know me very well. Part of me is relieved, because you know, no more awkwardness and defensiveness. Another part of me is kind of worried and perplexed, about if or why they seem to have given up on me
That is very flattering! I’m so happy to know people are enjoying my brain vomit!
When I wrote my post, I had a few friends who were slightly older say similar things. It seems that once you get closer to 30 (or heaven forbid as an unmarried woman, actually slip into your 30s) people either finally understand and back off, or it literally becomes the only thing they’ll talk about. I know people in both camp and I’m not sure which one is the more enviable position to be in.
So long as you’re happy, Theresa, there is nothing more important in the whole wide world! If a husband is something that you’re wanting one day, I hope that life throws him at you. Who knows, he may very well just appear out of thin air!
I guess some people will feel a bit threatened by you being quite happy to stay single until Mr Right comes along, but I’d stick to my guns! My parents married very young and are still happily married more than 50 years later, but they never put any pressure on us. I’m sure that’s partly due to the pressures put on them to follow in the family business etc etc. I got married for the second time last year at 51 and it was the best party ever, we’re so happy together – there’s no age limit on finding happiness!
Very happy to hear about your happiness! It’s those things in life that make us feel good that matter!
I came to find out about the skinny girl issue…and shared it on twitter..!! I LOVE how you describe yourself as fat and not ashamed of it al all!! You’re beautiful, I have so many chubby cousins that are so depressd about their bodies but they are absolutely gorgeous people. I wish I could somehow show them that!!!! I’m skinny and have had the whole “eat something, you’re just bones” type of comments shoved down my throat.Thank God I learned how to deal with it!! I then read the hijab benifits and now this!! I LAUGHED so much!! definitely enjoying perusing through your blogs. Definitely love your mind set!!! & I can relate to you on every level!! I’m also not married & working and its like “WHY AREN’T YOU MARRIED” is the only question anyone ever asks me. Its not like I don’t want to get married, but I don’t want to settle for that absolute bi-polar weirdo that went off when my dad said no (Thank God) as he asked him for my hand in marriage. Thing is, its not like I can post an ad online Seeking Kind Loving Man with a so-so sense of humor and is clean with a job ( I actually could, and would probably get results, but I’m pretty sure even desperate women will cringe at the sight of clicking that “post” button. All in all, I believe in Gods plan. I have a 40 year old cousin who still isn’t married and she is a really beautiful, smart kind woman. It baffles me. I told my best friend about that once and she told me, “if you’re meant to marry, then you’ll marry, if you’re not, then you won’t. But I bet if you’re patient, then you’ll get a fine Mr. Thing in Heaven…which is you know…permanent!!! ) So I’m greatful either way. All I know is live for the now, and the next time somebody asks you when you’ll get married. You think “Can I SEE in the future??!” but you tell them “Only God knows”
Thank you so much for your kind words! I’m glad that it’s resonating with you – sometimes it’s great to read your experiences coming from someone else. It makes the process much more manageable! Just carry on being yourself and doin’ your thing and somehow life will sort itself out. You seem to be working on who you are as a person at the moment, I think that’s the most important thing anyone can do for themselves. Good stuff!
So glad to hear you’re enjoying yourself here!
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