The millennials are a lot of things us GenXers aren’t and one of them is being clear in their heads about the life, the universe and everything, and of course, they already know it is not 42. Among the many things they are clear about, marriage is one of the most important things. They are clear in their heads that marriage, while important to them, definitely comes secondary to their careers. For being so sorted, I want to collectively hug them and thump them in a congratulatory manner on their backs, and honk my nose with a tissue from all the tears of joy that have trickled in and blocked my nostrils.
According to a recent survey released by a matrimonial website, marriage came second after career in millennial life goals. Also, on that life goal list was owning a house, studying abroad and travelling the world.
The millennials, despite all the angst the previous generations loaded onto them, seem to be a pretty sorted generation.
The survey took responses from over 7,000 men and women in the age group from 20-35. Interestingly, while 69 per cent of the respondents stated they would find their own life partner, 19 per cent of the millennials surveyed preferred to go the arranged marriage route as per the wishes of their families. Interestingly, this sample was a trifle skewed with 58 per cent of the respondents being men versus 42 per cent women. The portal also found that unlike in the past, the folks signing up for the portal were those seeking partners for themselves and not for their children or immediate relatives as was common in the past. The millennials stated that they would make the first meeting with potential partners themselves and then if the match showed promise would only then involve family members.
There was a billboard across the inner surface of one’s eyelids, with the word marriage up in neon lights and it kept flashing with infernal annoyance every time one closed one’s eyes.
Just a couple of decades ago, when I was a 20 something-year-old, the only thing once one hit one’s twenties, was marriage, especially if one was a girl. There was a billboard across the inner surface of one’s eyelids, with the word marriage up in neon lights and it kept flashing with infernal annoyance every time one closed one’s eyes. From the moment puberty hit, and one went into training bras, kindly aunts and neighbours began sending in suitable ‘rishtas’ often of sods so repulsive one clung on to the “I want to first complete my education and only then think about marriage.” dialogue with enough pathos so they leave one alone until the next social engagement one has to attend and be on display for the network of professional and hobbyist matchmakers.
By the time one turned 20, palpable panic would begin to set in. Friends were getting engaged, some were even getting married while still in college, others were being set up on ‘boy seeing’ meetings, where if all went well, an engagement would be conducted, with the wedding being deferred to post the final year examinations. Some of my friends did their post-graduation from their marital homes, if they were lucky enough to be ‘allowed’ to do so, coming into college post dealing with kitchen duties and being swallowed up by the flotsam jetsam of the daily duties that kept them from hanging out with the rest of us, whiling away time in the canteen.
Others promptly got down to the real and immediate task of baby making once married and that often was a full stop to any hopes of a career, until their second wind, when the kids were grown up and in college and they could then find something they could pick up as entrepreneurs or second careers.
For the most of us, a career, it would seem was optional, meant for the stubborn few who were an aberration to the noble path of wife and mother set out for us women.
But of course, many of us did stick our necks out and insist that marriage was important to us yes, and so was a career. Some went further, and put their career first and marriage, well, if it happened all too good, if it didn’t no skin off their noses. Some chose not to get married at all, and are happy with the ‘unmarried’ status, and all the resultant lack of stress that accompanies it. Yet many others got married, had their careers, and dropped out of the workforce when the babies arrived, others gave up work because their husbands didn’t ‘allow’ it.
For some, it was a conscious decision to step back from the workforce and become homemakers, completely their choice and something they found happiness in.
Perhaps, the operative word here would be a choice. Our generation still navigated through the boundaries laid out for us as women, as the concept that marriage was the ‘the-all end-all’ of our aspirations and found our way, like water, we flowed through and around whatever came in our paths and tried to find our careers, our purpose in life if we could.
That this generation of women clearly put career ahead of marriage is heartening for the simple reason that women are now empowered enough to state that marriage is not a priority. Their career is, and in that declaration, overt or tacit, is the acknowledgement that women do hold up half the sky in both the professional as well as the personal sphere.
Kiran Manral is Ideas Editor at SheThePeople.TV