There was a time when Indian parents would start saving for their daughter’s marriage the day she is born. And family and society expected them to. Parents of girls would not give importance to education for their daughters instead would teach them skills that would aid them in running their marital home. Remember Home Science was a preferred degree for girls of respectable families.
Not now, and thankfully so. Young women these days aim for the stars and work very hard to achieve them. My daughter at 10 says she wants to be a veterinary doctor for wild animals (of course her aim changes each time we ask her, but at least she says she wants to be someone).
My daughter came very late into our lives. My spouse and I plan and save for her education and are preparing her for a career rather than preparing her for marriage. We feel economic independence is key to a person’s well-being, be it a girl or boy. And our society has long drilled it into our women that getting married; looking after their marital family and bearing kids is the ultimate happiness for a girl to aim for. I don’t agree. All around me I see failed marriages, girls trapped in unhappy alliances, and girls who have given up their dreams due to pressure from family to marry. I don’t want that for my daughter. She might choose a partner for herself in the future, and I pray she’ll be happy in the relationship, but ultimately it’s her career, and her earnings that she will fall back on if things don’t work out for her instead of being trapped in an unhappy marriage.
Why are women running away from marriage?
Well, that’s a mother’s point of view. But women these days are not ready to accept marriage, being someone’s wife, bahu, sis-in-law so on and so forth. They want an identity of their own, which stems from their education and inherent skill and talent. They would rather be a police officer, a scientist, a corporate honcho, an astronaut and other such challenging careers and are ready to pay the price of marrying late, not getting married at all, or even being in a long-distance relationship.
There are many reasons for women not opting for marriage after completing their education, let’s discuss some.
Education is the foremost reason
Women these days want to pursue degrees for a career not to get ‘good’ alliances. They want equal opportunities as the boys in their families. They have dreams which they want to fulfil before settling down and getting relevant degrees is one such step for them.
Seeing unhappy marriages all around
Women are having second thoughts about this lifelong commitment called marriage as separations, divorces, extramarital affairs and abusive marriages have become commonplace. Don’t we all know that cousin who gave up her flourishing career to settle down or an aunt whose husband is in an extramarital relationship and she’s not able to do anything about it. Society these days is not providing very positive role models where marriages are concerned.
On the other hand, it’s not that earlier there were no unhappy marriages or abusive ones, we need to keep in mind that due to awareness and women being educated and confident and due to availability of support groups women today are ready to take a stand.
Women want to be happy
Ask any young woman “why don’t you want to get married?” and pat will come the reply, “I want to be happy?” If women today don’t equate marriage with happiness then don’t you think we have shaped this institution all wrong?
Women today are disillusioned with the over romanticised relationship called marriage as portrayed in our films and TV serials.
Marriage in Indian society means, asking the woman to distance herself from her parents and siblings, devoting herself to her marital family, instead of a career, plan on having babies. Don’t we as a society have a baggage which we are ready to put on the shoulders of our women? Think about it!
Seen as a patriarchal trap
In a patriarchal society like ours a woman’s worth is in terms of her relationship to men, with the role of wife and mother being seen as the ultimate crown of womanhood. This ultimately overshadows whatever other amazing feats she may have achieved beforehand or even go on to do afterwards.
Marriage, at some level, has come to symbolise entrapment, restriction and the loss of identity very early on in life. And for women success means doing something well enough to secure independence and ultimately, freedom from this entrapment.
Don’t want to lose financial independence
Working women manage their finances but once they marry, some men expect them to have joint accounts and even take on the burden of their debts. Dividing finances to run a house is okay but expecting working women to give up their financial independence is a dampener for marriage. Once someone has tasted financial independence that person cannot live without it. That is why society is so afraid of earning women.
Daughters taking on the responsibility of their parents
Although our courts have given equal shares in the ancestral property to sons and daughters they have also said that daughters have responsibilities towards their parents as well. Women do take this seriously. Some don’t want to marry while others want to wait for the person who will support this decision of theirs.
Whatever be the reason for women running away or delaying the decision to marry, one thing is for sure, they do have a mind of their own and will settle only when they think they are equal partners in a relationship like a marriage.
The views expressed are the author’s own.