I do… or Do I: The rising age of late marriages
With maturing generations, the traditional characteristics of dating and intimacy have also evolved. Still, the one question has always remained the same: the right time for marriage.
Imagine you are a woman in your early 20s who came home for vacations. Your mother is thrilled to see you and the reunion is going so well… or at least it did till she dropped the bomb… when are you planning to get married?
Today’s women unlike before are not so keen to tie the early knot, or at least until they reach a certain age – say 27 or 28. This is partly because they do not need marriage for security. They might have over the years seen members of the family who have married early, now restricted to household duties. They are not satisfied with basic education or a low paid job… they need more.
For centuries women had very little choice about whether and whom to marry and almost no choice in whether or not to have children. Death ended marriage sooner than divorce, which is the absolute opposite today. A husband owned his wife’s property, earnings and sexuality and had the final say in all decisions relating to house, family and particularly ‘HER’.
Recently, I met a woman named Janki, who at the time of her marriage faced similar issues. Speaking about the unfortunate turn her life has taken, she says,“I was forced by my parents to get married right when I was out of college because according to them that was the right time and anytime later would bring in disgrace to the family.” Although she is happily married with a three year old daughter, she admits regretting the decision she made years ago. “If only I had more time...”
Time is slowly changing and people are now living a healthier, free and happier life. There is less or no pressure from parents or members of the family to marry or procreate when young. There is no barrier preventing women from prospering or achieving their goals. In fact, today’s generation has more successful women than men. More and more women are achieving higher degrees and taking up high positions in corporate and other fields. A half century ago if you were to go to college without being engaged, you would be looked down as an embarrassment to the family. Today, if children get married whilst in college, it is parents who are nervous.
According to studies conducted over time, it is seen that women who get married later in life tend to be more successful and earn more money. Adding to that, the rate of divorce is less and husbands are likely give more respect compared to their non working counterparts.
The idea of being a fully formed adult before marriage makes perfect sense to women, even those who have already found their right partner. Meera, a recently graduated English lecturer says she and her boyfriend are ‘serious’ about their relationship and plan to get married, but just not this soon. “I want to take control of my life, achieve my dreams or at least try set my career before moving forward with the marriage.” Her boyfriend is happy and supportive of her decision as he is currently working to pay off the loan he took to complete his higher education.
Once upon a time, marriage was the first step towards adulthood, today it is the last. Like Meera, many successful women believe that if you enter marriage as a strong, powerful yet loving wife, you will be able exert preferences more often rather than always depending on your husband.
To conclude, basically all of this adds up to one thing: Women have more options than ever and more than one path to a happy, fulfilling adult life. Exploding the early marriage imperative is not about saying that early marriage is bad, rather it is about saying, wait, there are millions of women with millions of desires. All they need is a chance.
The key to finding true happiness lies in freedom, which will only be accomplished if the ties of marriage wait just long enough for women to succeed, and early enough to be prepared and start a new life.