Whenever the subject of my wedding is raised, my younger siblings get too excited. “Please get married. I want to wear a lehenga and dance,” she tells me. While my brother starts daydreaming about distributing cards, making the arrangements and getting validated as a responsible sibling by managing everything. Not that these playful imaginations of my siblings don't make me laugh, but I would have been happier if they supported my aversion to marriage. Younger siblings’ pressure on elder ones to get married is very common and gender-neutral. Both men and women deal with this because the elder child in Indian families is seen as the flambeau of the dark. However, this pressure doesn't help when you are not looking forward to getting married.
Pressure to get married hurts more when it comes from siblings
Parents’ pressure on their offspring to get married at times cannot be ignored as we know they have been conditioned into believing that marriage is an important part of life. Since it is their responsibility to settle their children, they don't their demands to get married at the "right" age unreasonable. It is very difficult to make them understand that marriage is a choice and not a necessity.
However, when the pressure to get married is fanned by siblings, it becomes annoying and disappointing. The bond that we share with our siblings is quite different from the one we share with our parents. There is a kind of kinship we feel with them and vice versa. There might be huge age gaps but still, they are companions in the good and worst times of the family. So when a person you depend on and trust doesn’t respect your choice, it automatically affects you a lot. When siblings also start believing that it is time for their elder sibling to get married, it becomes almost impossible to say no to it. It is like standing awkwardly in the centre of the room surrounded by people or relatives who want the same thing from you, even if you do not want to oblige. No matter how much you resist, the collective pressure overpowers your will and leaves you alone.
Why do younger siblings pressurise elder ones to get married?
Mostly, siblings expect the elder ones to get ">married because of their admiration of the idea of celebration and adding a new member to the family. It is very common for younger siblings to make plans about the wedding of the elder ones and how they will mess and have fun with their partners. Dear siblings, it is okay to have expectations and plans about your elder siblings wedding, but is it fair to burden your elder brothers or sisters with them? Is it fair to force your elder sibling into marriage just to fulfil your fantasies? Are your fantasies more important than your elder siblings’ consent for marriage? Your desire to dress up, get gifts and enjoy are not worth all the pressure it might be putting on your brother or sister.
Moreover, some siblings force their elder brothers and sisters to get married to clear their own paths. In Indian families, it is a rule that the younger siblings cannot get married until the elder ones do. This is not only unfair for the younger sibling who has to wait until the elder one says yes but also for the elder one who has to deal with the double pressures of marriage and preserving their sibling’s happiness.
What is wrong if the younger sibling gets married first when they are ready for it? Forcing an older sibling to get married when they just don’t want to, simply to preserve social norms, how is this not problematic? Is it right to expect the elder sibling to give up their choice and ambitions for the happiness of the younger ones? Why must the trajectory of marriages depend on the age of the siblings and not their consent?
Dear siblings, maybe traditions and parents’ mindsets won’t change any time soon. But being a millennial, you do understand how important consent is for marriage. Before weaving fantasies and being desperate for an elder sibling’s wedding, empathise with them. Try to understand their point of view and support and respect it. Remember, one voice in support can make any war cry louder.
Views expressed are the author's own