“It is a shame that you aren’t married yet! You are too beautiful. So, tell me why you didn’t find the “right one” yet?”
This is a question, especially we women, hear often. The social norm that we should marry by a certain age, makes society curious as to why we are different. There must be something wrong with us - some people would say. Proceeding to find a mistake in our character or personality, which can make us feel less worthy than someone who has already adhered to the social norms. The standard that we are only allowed to be happy, if we had married someone before we lose our worth (the biological clock is a popular argument for being married before 30), makes some of us feel like we're less valued by society. But is that right?
In our 20's, society already starts to dictate our relationship status. From then onwards, 10 years are added to every birthday that passes, and at 25-30 we are seen as teethless grannies or grandpas. Our biological decay has just begun.
Are you one of these 'leftover' woman or man? Congrats! This article is especially written for you. If you are happily married with kids, continue reading too – you will understand how unmarried men and women can suffer from the pressures of society.
The unsupportive surrounding
Last week, I was curious about what other women experience when they are “at the right age” (by the way who defines what is right and not!?”). I found out, that even the nearest friends and family can make you feel bad based on your relationship status. Friends stop talking to you, because they have chosen another path in life. The family gets distant and people start openly questioning what could be wrong with you- that you're still single. If you're considered intelligent, attractive and ambitious by the community, then there's only one question that plagues their minds:
“He or she seems to be perfect, but why did they not find someone to marry yet?”
Friends who judge your worth by your relationship status, never were your friends. When we are at an age above 25, or any age for that matter, there should not be time and space for superficial friendships – be happy that they made the decision for you and left your life. The same friends who force you to marry someone so you can follow the same path as them, will be the first to gossip when something goes wrong.
Marriage as a cage
There also exists the opposite: Friends being jealous of you for living your best life. This shows that there still exists the view that marriage is something like a cage – you must subordinate your own life, lose your own identity and stop working on your dreams.
"But isn't a relationship or marriage not about supporting each other to reach their dreams, give enough space to flourish and help the other person grow? If we feel like we are in a cage, is that the right person for us?"
Marriage can be something beautiful, a source of happiness and inspiration – isn’t it cruel that a negative outcome also exists?
I think negativity in a marriage occurs only if you don’t choose the right person. Why is it more important to choose someone based on an artificial timeline, instead of taking time for yourself to find a suitable match?
"Divorces happen because the struggles between you overweigh the reasons why you got married. Building up a strong bond before marriage is indispensable for a happy, long-lasting marriage after."
My conclusion: Marriage doesn‘t define the quality of the relationship.
The disaster of comparing ourselves
Scrolling through our social media and discovering that even the most unpopular person from school gets married, supports this one-sided view. When we compare ourselves with others and define ourselves by this process, we set ourselves up for disappointment.
“Why I don’t have the ability to settle down with someone? Why does it seem so easy for everyone else? Has it got something to do with me?”
These are the typical questions during this process. What we always forget is, that we all are individuals with different perspectives of life, values and standards. Maybe we would not accept someone who is perfect for someone else. That means that someone else's marriage or an engagement wouldn't make us happy either. You are different and it's important to embrace that.
"Don't expect too much"
The problem from society's view is: We do not lower our standards, because we just reached a certain age and shouldn't expect so much. I think most of us could have been in a marriage if we chose to. But knowing what you have to offer also means that you want someone who enriches your life and adds value to it. That does not mean that we are ready to throw everything away when we go through hard times. It is more about having a supportive, empowering and happy relationship.
And until we meet the one who makes our life more valuable, we choose to continue with the happy life we've built up for ourselves. And most importantly: Reaching a certain age does not mean you have to choose the next partner who crosses your path. Being desperate and settling won’t make you happy in the long-run.
"It's your fault because your standards are too high"
Don’t let anyone tell you that you are too selective, your standards are too high or you must change your life to attract more men or women – the right one will meet your standards and match to your life. Next time when someone asks you: “What are you waiting for?” Tell them: “Thank you for caring, but I am waiting for someone who is my match and meets my standards. If not, I prefer being by myself and working on my dreams.” There will always be big eyes when you say you are happy with yourself and your life, because you don’t fit into their definition of happiness, but that is not your problem.
The best comment I read during my research was:
“Even if you were dating a serial rapist or murderer and you found out and break up, society expects you to lose your self-confidence and still go ahead and marry. It is such a big shame. Marriage is a huge responsibility. It is not a game. Don’t rush for any reason. At the end you are the one who will suffer.”
This comment perfectly describes that society will not only push you into the wrong marriage, but will also keep you in that unfulfilling relationship – to avoid that you become a social “failure”.
How many men and women are out there who wish that they had the courage to follow their initial gut feeling and not marry the wrong person? But now, stuck in the wrong relationship – sometimes even having children together. Children who were not the result of love, more the result of societal pressure.
"But your biological clock ticks!"
The next reason cited for being married young is that we should get children early to care for them properly. Caring for your children has nothing to do with your age, but your maturity. Do you think just marrying someone, settling for less and building up a life differently from what you dreamed of, would make your children happy? It is more about being a good role model, showing them what a loving and supportive relationship is about and raising them to be good adults.
Having children with the wrong partner is difficult. It's better to wait to have them with the right person, not the right time. In the beginning of my 20's, I thought I would be a mother at my age (29) of at least one or two children. In contrast to this, I learned that choosing a life partner is also choosing who the father of your children is. How do you raise children with strong values and morals, if you and your spouse don’t agree on your view of life?
Crying yourself to sleep every night
Even the sentence “I will pray for you” is something we hear a lot. The next time we should reply with “I will pray for you too.”
“Praying for single people around us to ensure they don't remain unmarried and without children, as if they are suffering from an illness, is not helpful. It's also insulting.”
When you call them out on this, responses could be “Your sharp tongue is the reason why you are not married yet.” But what would you say, if I tell you, that they are already overstepping an intimate boundary by asking you such questions or making these kinds of comments? We are not hopeless – we are happy with what we have.
What made me sad in particular, were women who told me that they were crying themselves to sleep every night because they felt something was wrong with them. It seems that even the most confident persons are affected by such comments and questions. Feeling guilty for not meeting the right person yet and additionally getting the pressure from the community, makes a lot of people break down – even making them depressed.
Marriage won't complete you
If you look for a person who closes an emptiness you feel in your heart, you won’t be happy. You are the only person who can do this. Don’t look for anyone to complete you. Be completed by yourself and have someone who is an extra source of inspiration in your life. Life goes on after your 30th birthday. Losing value as you age may have been applicable at a time when marriage was mainly there for bearing children, but nowadays it is more than this. Keep in mind WHO we make our life partner matters – not WHEN.
Happiness is an inside job – do not give external validation the power to kill your happiness, your values and standards.
"See the spouse as an addition to your wonderful personality and life. Not as the solver for all your problems. And above all, not as the person who takes all of society's pressures from you."
Don’t force something to fit, that does not fit into your life. And even more importantly: Don‘t put your life on hold until your spouse crosses your life. This will only cost you time and energy that you can better invest in yourself and your dreams.
It's not their business, whom you marry and when!
People may judge, but you don’t owe explanations to anyone. The right person will cross your path when you expect it the least. Some of us may find that person in our 20's and some of us much later. In my opinion a “happy ending” never existed – life goes on after marriage.
It feels like men suffer less from the pressures of society than we women do. Do we have to accept all the comments, interventions and questions? We don’t. When you want to marry, who you want to marry and in which speed you will get children, is for you to decide along with your future spouse.
Although most people share their thoughts with good intentions, it's important to be sensitive. The people who are in the place of being unmarried and over 25, already hear enough negativity. Be in a place where you add value to your single friend's life and not someone who robs their energy and time with such nonsense.
Take responsibility for your own happiness
A few days ago, I read this wonderful quote. There could not be anything more beautiful to describe what a marriage is about:
“And when you choose a life partner, you’re choosing a lot of things, including your parenting partner and someone who will deeply influence your children, your eating companion for about 20,000 meals, your travel companion for about 100 vacations, your primary leisure time and retirement friend, your career therapist and someone whose day you’ll hear about 18,000 times. Intense shit.” – thegoodquote
Now tell us singles that our standards are too high and we must marry quickly! Losing yourself because of the glam of a fancy wedding and the acceptance of society will bring you to a place of unhappiness. Don’t be that flower which is plucked, exposed in a shady environment and is told how to bloom and when. Be the flower that decides when to be plucked, by whom, and where to flourish, in all varieties of colours life has to offer. Take responsibility for your own happiness. It's up to us to show society that happiness is more than a relationship status.
Want to know more how to cope with the pressures of society and family? Then this article - How today's singles deal with Society's pressure - with studies, scientific research and evidences is a must-read!
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