Thursday, 21 November 2013

The Pressures Of Marriage In Asian/Desi Families

Todays post is a bit different to my normal beauty related posts, but it is something that i have been going through for many years and have a feeling there are girls in similar situations!

I think when we all get to a certain age, marriage and babies seem to be a thing of the norm and it’s kinda like a domino effect, when one gets married, everyone else does too! I'm going to be 29 in a few months and in the eyes of Asians, I'm a very old person to get married!

Now times have changed from when our mothers and grandmothers got married because in the 70’s and 80’s Asian women weren’t really encouraged to study and pursue a career, more so you were taught skills that will take you from your fathers house to your husbands house.

Nowadays a lot of women especially within the Asian community are going to university, having careers and sometimes it isn’t a priority to get married when you are very young.

For me being born and bred in this country, i have had endless amounts of opportunities which i want to grab with both hands because these are things that weren’t offered to our mothers or didn’t seem important to them at the time.

People seem to forget that my priorities aren’t the same as the previous generation and that being educated, getting a good job, travelling and life experience will serve me well into my adult life. Yes, i know how to cook and do all the domestic things but why is it seen as so important for women to get married by a certain age?

I know that within the western culture, some women may not feel the need to get married until they are into their 30’s. I have noticed with Asians, as soon as you have finished a degree, you are expected to possibly work for a little while and then get married. Do people not understand that we can’t just make a husband appear out of no where?!

Of course i am feeling the pressure! When i was in my early 20’s, i thought i would be married by maybe 25, and then have kids a couple of years on but clearly that plan has gone out the window!

Women nowadays have to deal with so much pressure, whether it's doing well at university, getting that dream job, then also finding the ideal partner, so you can have your kids done and dusted by the time your in your 30's. It’s a lot of pressure to put on women!

I personally have faced so much pressure because one by one you see your cousins, friends, etc, all getting married and starting families. Sometimes you feel as if you are frozen in time because things haven’t progressed. I have learnt after so many years that progression comes in different forms. As some of you may know i took a year out and went travelling around Asia and central America and then also spent a year living in Argentina and Spain. These were experiences i will never forget and sometimes i look back and think, if i had been married, i never would have had the chance to do that.

These past experiences have made me the woman i am today because i learnt so much about myself. I had to adapt to my surroundings and learn how to live within a new culture and society.

I am not disrespecting any woman who is married or got married at an early stage because that is your individual choice. I feel that for the women out there who aren’t married and regardless of what age they are, the pressures we face are undeniable.

The funny thing is the most amount of pressure we get is from close family members and i find myself putting that pressure on me. Everywhere i go people would always comment why i’m not married and again you’re made to feel bad for something that you’re not at fault for?

To the elders out there, stop putting pressure on your children regardless of what age they are! They have enough to deal with, as things have changed since your time.

There is no right or wrong age to get married and me being an Asian and being Muslim, sometimes i feel as though elders use that as a sort of excuse. Is there a rule that says you have to be wed by your 25th birthday?!

I think what elders forget is that life itself has women want to have careers and no offence, it wasn’t number 1 on my list to get married........marriage comes with a huge amount of responsibilities! How can you deal with these big responsibilities when you haven’t had the chance to deal with smaller ones first?

I rate women who juggle education, careers, home life, husband and kids, my respect goes out to them and i always believe if you put your mind to it you can do whatever you want with your life.

Some people will always have excuses about wanting to get married and one of them is i want to please my parents.......erm are you living your life for you or for your parents? In Asian society you have to respect you parents, which is fine, but i think it works both ways. I don’t think parents should put so much pressure on their kids to get married when they’re not mentally ready and for the sake of themselves.

There’s a word in Bengali ‘egoth’ and this word gets thrown around a lot. It means self respect, Asian parents would always say you have to always consider our self respect and what will people say if we have an unmarried woman at xxx age.

I have grown up not giving a s**t about what people think of me....they are not making me into who i am, so I'm going to get on with my life. I think Bengalis have so much time on their hands to talk about others, when really you should be looking after your own families.

Sometimes i have been classed as a modern woman but i guess i am, and I'm proud of that. Women of my mothers generation weren’t encouraged to study and i strived to go to university, live out, manage my own money and understand what being an adult actually means. I think without learning how to deal with responsibilities, you can’t really throw yourself into marriage. You have to really know yourself before committing your whole life to another person. Some elders are still living in the times where marriage is a priority for women and yes it is important but when you’re ready and also when it’s time.

Muslim parents forget that everything is already written for you, so i can’t do much to change it. My mother has been asking me incessantly do i never want to get married or when am i going to get married. I replied, please write Allah a letter, as he decides everything and then maybe he can tell you as i certainly can't. I feel as though she always forgets and puts this insane amount of pressure on me when its sort of out of my hands. Shall i just put an advert up on my car saying husband wanted, call to enquire!

For me, i think i am a bit hesitant of getting married, because i want to make sure I’m with the right person, and i don’t want to settle for anyone. I want to have a spouse that brings out the best in me and makes me a better person. I want us to bring out the strengths in each other. Marriage is a partnership and is a commitment not to be taken lightly. It is a huge step from going to your parents house, to your husbands house and both parties should know their expectations of one another.

For all those girls feeling the pressure of wanting to get married (myself included), put the pressure aside and focus on yourself. This is the only time where you can actually think of yourself and focus on what you want to do, whether its going to uni, getting a job or whatever. Make yourself into the best person you can possibly be, because you would want your other half to see the best of you.

The only advice i can really give is that things will happen when its meant to be, so enjoy the time that you have because once your married, things will change, as will your priorities. Whatever people say, take it with a pinch of one knows what is planned for you and i always believe the people who have waited the most or been patient for a very long time get rewarded the best gifts from Allah/God. 
Have sabr (patience) and understand that there is a plan for all of us and sometimes we may not see it at the time, but later on you will understand why things happened or didn’t happen and you’ll see the bigger picture.

And a note to elders – chill out with your kids because once they are married, things will change and they won't be your little kids anymore. Make the most of the time you have with them and enjoy it because those are the things you will be looking back on. When you’re children are ready to get married, as a parent you will sense when its time. Don’t push them into something that they aren’t ready for.

I apologise for such a long post but i wanted to get this off my chest and i hope that in some way i have helped!

Until next time! xXx

*all images courtesy of Google.

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  1. Hi there - love your post. I got married at 25 and I totally know about the pressure. I didn't meet anyone at uni so it was all down to introductions etc. The pressure was so much, I got engaged to someone I didn't want to and luckily it broke off before I got married to the guy after my parents saw what was happening was wrong. They put them under pressure to get me married which created pressure on me - this was all because of people's comments. I am happily married now, to someone I was introduced to, with children but I tell everyone not to rush to get married, Getting marrried doesn't end the comments that these people with their noses in everyone's business will make. Getting married doesn't automatically make your life better - it just makes your life bigger!! Everything comes with responsibility and you know what, once you marry, it is why haven't had a kid yet. Soon after you have had kid no.1, when is baby no.2 coming. It is endless! These people don't care about what struggles you may have, My motto is, after you get married, who will be there for you when you need them, after the balloons of a party have burst - these people that make comments? The people that push you to have another kid, will they be there to help you to look after another?? The people that are rushing you to get married, are they helping you find someone compatible? My parents have taken a totally different view soon after I got married - as they saw me living away from home for the first time, living with the inlaws (!), being busy all the frigging time, compromising with my new life. Best to wait to marry the right person. People will ALWAYS have something to say, that is why I don't care anymore! I just listen and shake out! And what bothers me most - is that these people, some who are so religious, why do they forget at times like this that Allah has a plan for everyone? Everything happens at the right time for a reason, so carry on doing what you are lovely! When the right person comes along, it will be at the right time.

  2. I got married early (at 18) because that was what I was taught - marry, have children, raise a family. I was miserable. Ended up divorced before I was 20. Life took hold and I traveled the world, found a good paying job, and thought I'd never marry again and believe me, family rubbed my face in it! Well 7 years ago I meant the man of my dreams. Three years ago we married. Granted I have no children (I'm too old now), but that's ok, we have each other. Don't let others define you, life is too short! Oh to be 29 again, I would not change a thing in my life! I believe there is a reason for everything.

  3. it isnt just muslims its the hindus that do this need for it! i agree witj ur comment even though i married at they expect happenin when im ready! not any1 else...great blig and i agree 100% with ur comments xx

  4. I want to print out this post and stick it up on all my relatives walls! Your point about working a little after your degree and them bam! Married! is spot on. It seems as if it's all just tallying up "marriagable qualities" for others to judge you by. It's mad and backwards and infuriating that times have not changed.

    I loved this, and hope you will continue to write similar posts in the near future. Hearing your perspective is comforting and insightful. :)

    Nell at And Nell Writes

  5. Its far too much pressure to deal with especially when family expects you to only meet via introductions
    Many families I have come across have a checklist of expectations
    It can never be about just simply clicking with someone

  6. I lived in a Muslim country for 10 years. My immediate in-laws are Muslim, my husband is ex Muslim. My sister in law is university educated, but only because my husband's family is a rare one there that values education when it comes to women. The rest are getting married as young as 12, sadly. My sister in law did wait til she finished university to get married, and she did choose her own husband, but the gossiping never ends. Now it's everybody pushing them to have children, which happened to my husband & I as well when we got married. We hadn't even yet gone through the ceremony before everybody was pulling us aside, separately, saying 'Hurry up & have kids! Lots of them!' I just laughed because I already knew that we had discussed this topic & decided we DON'T WANT kids unless we adopt. There are so many kids in my husband's country that desperately need homes. We have since moved to my country, so the pressure is less. As are the invasive questions. But it is because of all the pressures from Asian Muslim families that my husband doesn't want to live very close - geographically - to his family. We have a great marriage, are heading towards our 10th year together since we met/6th wedding anniversary. When it is us alone dealing with our day to day issues, we are fine. No arguments, just discussion & joint decisions. However, when his family gets involved - which we do everything possible to avoid - it can cause arguments & major disagreements between us as husband & wife. The family has no right to cause such problems. This is OUR marriage.

    Good luck & don't give in. Get married when you're good & ready. We faced the same pressure as we hae been together about 4 years before we decided we wanted to get married, and it was after a lot of discussion between the 2 of us. Things were extra difficult as we are from 2 completely different cultures. I made it very clear to my husband what is & isn't acceptable to me as a woman, and that if he really did love me as much as he claimed, he would respect my boundaries for the rest of our lives together. 10 years into our relationship, we are doing incredibly well. Especially without the interference from family members.

  7. I love the advice you give and I too believe that when something is meant to be, it will happen naturally. Love and marriage shouldn't be a forced thing, it should happen in it's own time and when two people are ready. I'm a Christian, so I don't have to deal with the same sort of pressure, but friends and family still have this force upon me asking why I'm still single and why I haven't settled down yet. Yes, I would love someone to share my life with, but when the time is right, I'm sure my soul mate will find me.
    Laura xx

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  9. this is a brilliant post and applies to all muslim women from every culture! on a side note, your blog is fabulous too! :)

    some of my unfortunate experiences - and it doesn't help that married friends are also useless and/or stuck in unhappy marriages to help us single muslms. i've encountered many who suggest losers they are secretly in love with but cannot have. or have haram pre-marital relationships to get married and suggest i do the same.'s pathetic. :( as for everything being written, i had one marriend friend flat out tell me that god has written for me not to be married [note, her husband looks for any excuse not to be home with her]. hmmm, wonder how she knows exacly what god has written for me, or anyone?

    trust in allah (swt) and insha allah i make dua that all us single muslims get married to fabulous spouses soon, it is super nice to know there are kind individuls like yourself who are left in this world! :)

  10. Hey Selina!
    I can absolutely relate to you on this subject. I am from Morocco and my familie is also very conserativ about marriage. My mom and all my aunts and Grandmothers married at an very young age of 12-15. As you just said, women weren't allowed to study. My mom is the eldest one of her sisters, and so she had to take care of them with my grandma, therefore she wasn't allowed to go to school. Then, my father wooed for her when she was only 15 and she got married. So, she was brought from her father's house to her husband's house and his family. There, My Mother had endured a lot of mistreatments and pain, since my father's family was totally distrustful. She spent there 20 years with them, more than she had spend in her Father's home actually. She was only able to see her own parents once in a half year, allthough they lived in the same village. Even when my mom was brought to Germany to live with my father, she had endured alot again, since my dad has been also very distrustful towards her. This poor woman did never go out and didn't know anything about where she lived, and much less about the world she lived in. To be more precized, she was Not allowed to learn something. keeping her dumb was the aim of my dad. Just since I've been born and got the oppurtunity to go to school, i started to learn about the western culture. Only since I've grown up now, My Mother is getting to know more about the western culture. I am always speacking into my parent's mind, that nowadays also women have to be educated and that there's so much potential for every single one. Marriage ist still a big thing in our culture, and my couzins are getting married quite early. But i also do have a few aunts which are aware of the importance of education and career nowadays and are trying not to put so much pressure on them. My Mom and my Dad fortunately know today, that I have no influence in this marriage thing. I am not going to woo for a husband, so i have to wait patientely, until i meet the right person for me, that respects my priorities and plans for my future. There is no need to rush, it comes naturally, if Allah (swt) has planned that for you. Dont let nobody put pressure on you, do what you can do the best and make something amazing out of it. It's already time for us women to stop depending on our hubbys.
    Thank you Selina, for such a Post, it is very important to me aswell and I am thankful to you, because I was able to speak my mind out through you !
    Nadya sayad xx

  11. Hey Selina,
    Being a Bangladeshi girl I always manage to relate to you. I'm so glad that someone finally has had the courage to voice their views on such important topics especially this. (Furthermore that L'oreal skin perfection range really did work! Being motherless - I'm getting gently "pushed" towards the married route. But why? Sometimes in life you really don't need to anyone to look after and you can fend for yourself. The norm seems to be that Bengali people think we NEED a man, When indeed we don't. It would be nice, but it's never crucial, not when we have such independence and earning potential.

    Allah (swt) has already written who your soul mate is - So never worry about that. Remain happy at all times and enjoy whatever is given to you because everything is a blessing whether it's disguised or not :) x

  12. What an excellent post, really well written, concise and to the point. It is good to seee that somebody has addressed these issues that happen in all Asian cultures and hopefully give some of the girls in the same situation a bit of courage.

    Don't worry, Allah SWT has joined a perfect match for everyone and inshallah you meet him soon. xxx x

  13. I love ur post Selina. I think as women we hv so much pressure just being women. When it is the right time God (Allah) will send us the right man for us. We just have to let our parents and family know this all the time. Just like you said to ur mom about writing a letter to Allah to send you someone.
    Thank you for the post and i wish luck

  14. Love this post.

    It's awful how once you've graduated, everyone keeps nagging you about when you're going to get married. As only Allah knows, I think it's a stupid and hurtful question to keep asking someone.

    Also they assume that there's something wrong with you if you're 21 and unmarried.

  15. Thank you so much for addressing this. I'm not Bengali or Asian but I can totally relate. Thanks for the advice and addressing some points to the elders (I do hope they read this post! LOL) xxx

  16. So beautifully written. I'm 31 and boy oh boy is there pressure from the family to get hitched. Thank you for shedding light on such an important issue. Best Wishes from a new subscriber (found your youtube channel which brought me here). xxx Wishing you a fantastic 2014 full of happiness, good health and success.

  17. Hey Selina!
    I know it's been a long time ago but as I mentioned in a earlier post I finally got a chance to go through alll your blogs!
    Loved this one! Yes I totally understand where you are coming from. Especially from an Asian perspective! These Asian parents think marriage is like the "solution" to everything especially if it's a daughter! Like wtf?! Sorry excuse me but it drives me crazy!!!
    I am currently 26 I actually have been married since I was 18 to the guy I was fortunate to be with almost 10 years (high school lover). I am blessed it worked out but I tell everyone, take your time. I got married very very young, I was madly in love but it could have waited, but under family pressure and afraid of losing the love of my life I jumped into the "SOLUTION"!
    We don't have kids yet because we are still growing and struggling Uni and finally getting a job etc etc etc. it's hard but it been lasting because both of us are understanding. If I could go back in time I would have waited maybe till this age to now get married..but then again Allah had written it this way I guess.
    Girl don't worry you are not "old" as these desi would smirk it!
    LOVE U <3 muahhz

  18. Btw can't stop reading your blog post and it's 3am in NYC!!!!