“Your work is to discover your world and then with all your heart give yourself to it.” ~ Buddha
My mother called me early last week for a sporadic chat. 🙂 Naturally, we volleyed gossip back and forth; we shared our Thanksgiving plans, spoke about Houston happenings. I listened in on her take on cold-weather attire & trends (style tips which she recites verbatim from Vogue magazine). Then she casually interjected that a few of my close friends had been asking about my “relationship status”.
“You know everyone’s been asking about you. I just had dinner with Maite and Jorge a couple nights ago. Maite was asking if you were getting married soon,” she said. “She got married last year…you remember…she was 29. She says you should be ready to get married soon.”
Really??? C’mon people.
This is definitely not the first time that I’ve been asked about marriage plans or pressured into considering a monogamous-state. Over the past 7 or 8 years, my parents, family, extended-family, 2nd, 3rd & 4th cousins, friends and nosey-Nelly’s have all pestered me about this lifestyle choice.
More often than not, as soon as I mutter a “No, I’m not ready yet” or “I’m still young. I’m enjoying life [awkward laugh]”, a consistent look of disappointment and (often times) pity creeps onto their faces. And when it happens to be a group of my dramatic, all-consuming aunties, I never hear the end of it. So I sit back and let them run their spiels. They rummage through my relationship history, throwing stones…kicking up dirt…
“Well (Name) was great. What happened to him? He spent so much time with you. We really thought you two would be together.”
“(Name) had a lot going for him. He was ready to settle down! Can’t believe you let that one go.”
“I can tell (Name) loves you a lot. You really should push him to get married before he finds someone younger.”
There’s so many more tangents that I could go off on, and so many more arguments I could make against any proponent of marriage (or even just the quotes above), but I shall do so another day. [Not that I don’t already have statistics on my side…or real-life examples of friends and relatives who belong to that divorce statistic.]
Today, I shall use the rest of THIS post to address the highlighted quote above.
But first, I’d like to start off by asking the question (and perhaps one day, I’ll remember to ask the next person who throws the marriage card in my face):
What does marriage mean to you???
You should already know that it doesn’t mean the same thing to you as it does to me. However, I do acknowledge and respect others’ opinions (but I must admit there are some ambiguous ones out there) –> marriage means more money and shared wealth, marriage is companionship, marriage means being able to start a family, marriage means a lifelong partnership, marriage means uniting with the love of your life, marriage means two souls becoming one, marriage is a holy gift from God…etc.
It’s all so vague though, isn’t it?
What really gets to me though is when people ask and try to push the idea of marriage on me, when they themselves have some shallow, somewhat-skewed perception of what marriage is. Let’s go back to the comment my mom made:
“She got married last year…you remember…she was 29. She says you should be ready to get married soon.”
What’s wrong with this statement? Firstly, I believe it’s the inferred reasoning behind it: it’s a status move, it’s jumping on the band-wagon so I don’t get left behind, it’s an attempt to fit me into societal molds. What they’re telling me is that marriage is a superficial, status-glorifying setup. It’s a ring on my finger. It’s a bridal shower. It’s an extravagant wedding. Granted, I understand this all leads to what is considered conventionally important – owning a home, creating a new life, starting a family, settling down. Wrap it all up though, throw a bright bow on top and it still looks like a ploy to garner approval from society. From my community. Ultimately…to fit in.
Which leads to my next point: There ARE those who have given-in and have fallen prey to an illusion of what marriage is, what love is; who wanted to fit in and jump the band wagon before they were even ready. They got married and what happened to them? Divorce? Separation? Did they have any idea of what being ‘ready’ really meant? Were they ready?
Definition of ready adj 1. a) completely prepared or in condition for immediate action or use or progress; b) made suitable and available for immediate use. 2. a) willingly and mentally disposed
In the context of marriage, ready is being physically, mentally, emotionally, monetarily disposed to give yourself willingly and wholly to someone else. Right?
But guess what…I’m not ready to do that yet!!!!!! It wouldn’t be fair of me to enter into a partnership where I’m still searching for MYSELF. I still haven’t figured out the purpose of my life. I haven’t figured out what I truly want to do or be. How on earth can I figure that out if I’m busy trying to make someone else happy? If I’m willingly and mentally disposed to give my partnership the highest priority – then what happens to my dreams?
The misconception is that a partner will make up for what you lack; your partner is the yin to your yang. What most people don’t realize is that you can’t enter into a marriage as a “broken” person expecting someone else to make you whole. And if you do, you’ll soon realize that they are never…enough.
You must understand who you are as an individual first. What you want. What your strengths are, what your weaknesses are. What you’re capable of. What your foundation and constants are. What you can offer. Where you want to go. Because how can you expect to take a journey with someone when you have no idea where you’re going? When storms arise, do you have a lighthouse to lead you back or keep you on track? There’s nothing sadder than two people who are unsure of themselves – it’s like the blind leading the blind.
Which (somewhat) segways into what marriage means to me:
Marriage is a bridge on which two people can share similar mission statements.
Everyone has their own goals and priorities in life; I’m not here to judge. By all means, if it’s status, if it’s a family, if it’s money, if it’s beauty, truth and love…to each his own. So my advice: Figure out what your own personal mission is. Once you’ve figured that out, no one will look good to you unless they ARE good for you. When you’re finally able to share those aspirations with someone, you’ll be one step closer to a happier partnership. [But marriage definitely isn’t for everyone – more on this in an upcoming post]
Until that happens, I believe that marriage is no place for you.
I’m 29, and nearing what society considers to be the ripening age…but at least, I’m being honest with myself. I can admit that I’m not there yet. I’m a little too selfish at the moment to give up the search that I’m on; this journey of self-awakening. I’ve yet to establish what my mission statement is.
However, I can bet that IF and WHEN I am ready to get married, you’ll be able to ask my partner and I about our projected 5-year, 10-year, or lifetime goals…and guess what…we’ll sound harmonious. We’ll share similar missions. We’ll know who we are individually, and what we can accomplish collectively.
But until then (dearest mother, friends and family of mine), when you ask, expect that I’ll give the same answer: