After a certain age, discussions of marriage turn from vague dreams and wishes of finding a loving significant other into daily conversations about prospective partners and nudges towards taking the big step. Pushing women toward marriage begins at a very young age and once it begins, it is very difficult to partake in a conversation without marriage being bought up. When most of my relatives were calling me to ask about my 10th results, one relative whom I had never interacted with before asked me if I had perfected making rotis and was ready for marriage.
That memorable occasion marked the first instance of me battling invasive questions about my personal life and marriage. Thankfully, when I shared this encounter with my parents they assured me that the topic of marriage was something I would have to worry about later. Unfortunately, it seems I have reached that “later” point in my life.
My grandparents were the first to bring the topic up in this second round of marriage talks. It started off with, “Have you thought about marriage? Do you want us to search for a groom?” but after a negative response, the questions quickly veered into trying to induce guilt, “Don’t you want us to celebrate at your wedding? Don’t take too long we won’t live forever.”
Why pushing children towards marriage needs to stop
As someone who recently turned 21, I have not given marriage much thought and have no intentions of getting hitched with a stranger who I barely know. But with my older brother living abroad and thus safe from family scrutiny, there was no respite for me from the constant barrage of questions about my future. Questions about my career prospects are sparse but questions about finding love, settling down, getting married, and starting a family are constant.
I assumed that being bombarded by questions about marriage was something only I would suffer through since the duty of performing house chores also only fell on me. I was proven wrong after my brother returned to India and all of the matchmaking attention was directed toward him instead of me.
Not only did my parents spend most of their free time casually interrogating my brother, but they also chose to involve the entire family in the matchmaking scheme, including me. For my brother, each trip to the kitchen has turned into a minefield as relatives insist that he should get married soon. All his female friends were turned into prospective brides and each conversation ended with, “Wouldn’t being married be nice?”
My 25-year-old brother Rahul told me, “Every time I speak with them (my family) the conversation somehow turns to marriage. I haven’t even thought about marriage and it makes me uncomfortable when they insist on ‘finding me a bride.'”
He added, “The more I hear about marriage, the less I want to interact with my family just to avoid the topic.”
While Rahul has no aversion to marriage, he is not ready to take the step just yet. But his resistance to the idea seems to have gone unnoticed in our family. The most confusing part for Rahul is that the entire family was dragged into the scheme. He said, “I was really confused about why my aunt kept on mentioning me getting married. Then I realised that my parents told her about wanting to get me married and those comments were her subtle attempt to nudge me towards marriage.”
Why are families insistent they know best for their children? If someone is old enough to get married and start a family, aren’t they also old enough to make that decision on their own? Why try to pressure someone into making a big life decision just because of societal expectations?
Pushing children into decisions they’re not ready to make yet can make them feel alienated and disconnected from their families. Forcing them to hear about the importance of marriage every day won’t change their mindset. Instead, it will make them feel uncomfortable and may result in issues in the future.
Views expressed by the author are their own.
Suggested Reading: When Will Parents Stop Treating Their Daughters As Strangers After Marriage?