Marriage Part 6: The Dream

You know it. You’ve lived it. You’ve been raised with it.

Try as you may to erase it from your conscious reality, it haunts every well founded argument you give to your friends proving the fiction of the Perfect Man.

Let’s face it, nobody is ever taught the realities of Life, let alone the realities of Marriage. My own deluded notions on Love and Marriage plague my sensibilities. They piggy back onto my rational mind and blur my vision every time I think about Marriage causing me to desire the dream. Until recently, it was this blurring that was causing me to ache for a happily ever after.  Every time I heard about a close companion getting hitched, it would pinch my heart because that wasn’t me. Try as I may to argue the point that getting married is NOT an achievement, the reality of seeing other people hook up and fall in love affected me. Is this simply an immaturity from my part?

Possibly, yes. But let’s first explore the Narration that has accompanied the text of my life.

If you’re a South Asian female, you’ve been raised to believe that life only really starts once you’re married. You’ve probably been pacified with the phrase “Wait till you’re married” your entire post pubescent life. It’s of little consequence whether you’ve been raised to be fiercely independent or desperately domestic. The pacifying is what unites females from both walks of life.

Untill you’re single you need to listen to your parents and once you get married you need to listen to your husband. The only real way then of doing what you want is to get married and procreate so you can enforce your will on to your kids. It’s what my parents do, and its what their parents did and their parents before them. Mind you, this is still the most passive aggressive dysfunctional way of getting your way. At the end of the day, you get to live vicariously through your offspring or some other unmarried sod. Sounds promising, I know.

So as I go through life accidentally trying to enjoy the wonder of Creation and the blessings that God’s bestowed on such an unworthy soul, I am continually confronted with the road block that is singledom.

Take the following example:

Somethingtobe: Dad I really want to go to Turkey

Dad: *chuckles* Wait till you get married.

Somethingtobe: But that may never happen.

Dadignores the above comment and carries on to say Wait till you get married. I will buy you and your husband a round the world trip.

Somethingtobe: Can you get me mine now? He can use his once we’re married.

Dad: Some more ignoring, then, walks away

This kind of thing can only happen so many times before I seriously start resenting my single status. When the furor of my frustration passes, I start to reason. I wonder to myself about this perfect person who is about to enter my life. It’s now been around 6 years since my father’s taken to alerting me of the end of my deliciously carefree lifestyle. It’s been his chant for the past 6 years, that I could, at any point in the next 12 months, be married. 

I wonder, what this perfect marriage/perfect guy is going to look like? This amazing creature from the heavens that will fulfill all my needs and let me live the life I’ve always wanted to, minus demands for fulfillment of any of his own expectations. This fantastical being that will nurture all my passions and create for me a most perfect abode. This man who will, upon entering my life, help me to start living.

In a way I already feel bad for him. Look at all the years of pacifying he has to make up for.

When you’re raised in this sort of a nighmarish bubble, you start to look at reality in a very different way. You start to feel crap about getting older and being single. It’s subconscious because consciously, you are The Independent Woman who isn’twaiting for a man to complete her life. There is a constant battle between what you feel and the way you’re supposed to feel. How you gauge your success and how its gauged by everyone else. The things you want to achieve and the disability you face of doing so. It doesn’t take much then, for a few choice words to crumble the fortress of your confidence.

But, I digress.

There’s a dream we all have when it comes to Love and Marriage. A lot of us equate Marriage to the epitome of all worldly (and hereafterly) success. A lot of Women pin their hopes on the right Man to correct the malfunction in their lives. I believe a lot of Men do the same thing.
It’s unfair I believe to have such a romanticised view of the other side of the pasture. If being single isn’t cutting it for you, chances are, being married will suck even worse. I shudder to think of the morning after when you wake up a married woman, only to realise the difference between illusion and reality. Parents get this blinding sparkle in their eye when the prospect of an in law comes to mind. My parents are the worst at this type of thing. The scent of eligibility will send them spinning and it’s not fair.

It’s not fair that for the promise of a few hours of joy and accomplishment, they forget the very hard realities of a life I’m completely unprepared for. It’s unfair that their sense of achievement comes from well settled married daughters, busily procreating and creating a lot of material wealth.

What I’m trying to say here is this:

1. There’s a bubble that needs to be popped for a lot of people dreaming the dream of a happily ever after. Marriage is HARD. The responsibilities of a household and husband are DIFFICULT to manage. The responsibility of suddenly having every relationship you have/had/will have pinned firmly to your ability to manage personalities and expectations is RIDICULOUS.

2. It’s this very bubble that makes a lot of people yearn for marriage – instead of companionship and love. It’s this bubble that makes a lot of marriages fail. We don’t get into it to share our lives and sacrifice our desires. That is not how it’s sold to us. The institute of Marriage is by far the most inaccurately marketed product of the Human civilisation. 

I suppose its obvious by now that my bubble has popped. And what a relief that has been!

I can now happily engage in Life without feeling that something is amiss. I can make plans for myself and look toward achieving those goals without feeling inadequate. I can finally tell people my age without preempting their judgement on my Single status. The reality for me is, and always has been, that Marriage is not going to open doors for me. If anything, it’ll close the door to my ambition and open the door to more responsibility. This post is not about justifying what is right or what is wrong in Married person’s life. It’s about making the distinction between Dreamy Ambition and Harsh Reality.

If you’d like to get married and take on a whole host of new responsibilities and make yourself a homemaker (irrespective of your personal ambitions), then you are welcome to do so. I urge you however to not go in expecting a fairy tale, because Marriage is no such thing. Parents, please, stop raising your children’s hopes so they consent to being set up because it’s getting harder for you to uphold the responsibility of caring for them OR simply because you’re desperate for grandkids and the status that well settled offspring bring. 

Marriage should come with a disclaimer: Buyer Beware.

Oh, and read the fine print!

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4 thoughts on “Marriage Part 6: The Dream

  1. Speaking from a male perspective, I didn’t really buy into all those marketed ideas of perfection…I didn’t really think much about the reality of what it’d be like. Like the dreamers, I did have hopes and aspirations – but they weren’t based on the idea of everything being ‘perfect’, and actual achievement of certain goals. I think for me it was about finding someone with the same ambitions, and together, complementing each other, we’d strive towards those. And whether we achieved them or not – the beauty was in the journey, the focus wasn’t the destination – which didn’t lie in this world anyway.

    With regard to vicarious living in terms of getting what you want – the beauty of a new life in marriage is that you get to redefine things. If, for example, your family relationships generally don’t include expressions of love in words (which, apparently, is quite common in people of South Asian descent) – you have the chance to change that in your new life: first with your spouse, and then making that part of the way you interact in your own household.

    You don’t have to accept things the way they always were, and let those trends continue into your new life. The key, in assessing marriage candidates, is to find one who is open to these changes – to building a life WITH you – not just slotting you into their life, or you slotting into theirs.

    The better way to look at it – rather than an idealistic dream – is to see marriage in terms of the purposes Allah has placed in it. See it firstly as a sunnah of all the prophets (peace be upon them) – proving that it is the best example to follow. See it as a means of growing in your spirituality (“….you fulfill half your deen….”). See it as a means of peace and tranquility (Allah puts that love between you and your spouse). See it as the responsibility of living in harmony with another, and together nurturing and raising the future of your community.

    Yes, there’s a LOT of responsibility and you have to sacrifice – but the maturity, i think, is in realising that this is the natural progression of life: this is what Allah intends for us; for us to move on to the stage of marriage. It’s a personal progression in terms of our own stages of life, but it’s also a collective progression – it’s how humanity advances.

    It IS hard, yes – but it is so worth it.

    We shouldn’t tend towards either extreme: that of fairytales; nor that of pessimism or cynicism.

    My view is that we should put all perspectives aside, look at our relationship with our Creator, and seek marriage as our way to enhance that relationship – because at the end of it all, that’s the only thing that matters; and if that’s healthy – everything else falls into place, and we can manage whatever life throws our way.

  2. Ahhh the “wait till you get married” response. What will then become all the more infuriating and frustrating is that when you do get married your husband will turn around (when you say ‘lets go to turkey’) and say; “why do you want to go there?” or “lets wait till after we have kids” or plain and simply – “no”. Better we realise that in essence it may be easier for us to not have hopes, dreams, and aspirations; TV shows that show us the world and thus fuel our desires to see it, notions of free thought and all that other deluded crap… *sigh*

  3. Marriage is a mixture of responsibilities, love, sacrifices, joy, compromises and stuff. Since there is no fixed formula of how much of what the end results may vary!

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