I remember one of the rarest conversations I had with Dad back then. I was still a twenty-something and we were at a wedding, standing side by side and quietly watching the beaming newlyweds and their guests.
“I don’t know, Dad,” I’d said as I shrugged carelessly. “It looks like a fairy tale to me.”
“Why do you think so?” It wasn’t just a question. It was always a challenge from him, a challenge to get me to think.
“It doesn’t feel real to me,” I carefully reasoned. “They may all be looking happy now, but what happens next?”
“Ah.” He nodded with understanding. “Probably because this is just their wedding.”
As usual, he got me thinking. It had taken me a while, though.
I’m not going to say that marriage is only for the brave, because that just sounds so one-sided – as if merely glorifying the status itself and implying that all singles (those who are still not married or choose not to be) are plain cowards. Do me a favour. Spare the harsh judgment, will you?
To me, every big choice made requires different kinds of bravery. I know that getting married is nothing like fairy tales they’d tell you as a child only so that you could sleep better at night. (Even so, some people wouldn’t mind a fairy-tale-like wedding.) It’s more than that. Different people, different experiences. Just because one thing works out for you doesn’t mean it works out for everybody else – and please, don’t even try telling them all that they haven’t tried harder or made more effort.
And just because you’ve already found someone doesn’t mean you’re much better than those who haven’t. That’s always been the problem with the society here. They often do anything they can to make you feel self-conscious, insecure, undesirable, or even ugly for still being single.
Don’t get me wrong; there’s a difference, though. If your friend suggests this: “Why don’t you and ……. just marry each other?” or “I think ……. should marry you and it’s not a bad idea at all”, that means they care. That means they want you to be happy and believe that the other person they propose to you might be good. But of course, the rest is still up to you. It’s even better – and more possible – if you do feel that way about that other person and vice versa. Then you two can just go from there, see how it goes.
But if they keep reminding you that you’re getting older (eventhough you’re not stupid and you know that) and telling you how to live your life according to their societal standard, calling you stubborn, and even scaring you that soon no one will ever want you because you’re too old already, and possibly considered an ugly freak? Worst of all, what if they happen to be single too, just like you?
Honestly, it’s very difficult not to get offended by such nasty comments. You’d want to tell them to back off, get a life, and mind their own business – whatever it is. Or keep themselves busy with something else and just leave you be.
If they happen to be single too like you, but often lecture you as if they’re not and have got a much better life than yours, sometimes you feel like telling them off – like this:
“Why don’t you fetch a husband/wife for yourself first? Then maybe, I can let you talk to me like that!”
However, you realise that it’s just not worth it. Whatever you do (or not), people will always have something to say. There’ll always be the opinions of others.
In the end, it’s all about your personal decisions and responsibilities. You don’t owe them any explanation. Everyone needs to acknowledge that moment when ‘caring’ becomes ‘overbearing’ and ‘suffocating’.
Sadly, there’ll always be people who treat ‘weddings’ and ‘getting married’ like a race or a competition. Who’s got it grandest? Who’s tied the knot the quickest?
Who can look happiest with their partner on the outside?
In this society, you’ll simply be viewed as a cynic for having these thoughts.
There’s nothing wrong with weddings and marriages, ever. Just don’t get married out of loneliness. A friend of mine told me: “Marry someone not only because they make you happy, but because you want to spend the rest of your life with them.” For me, marriage is an opportunity given by God so you take care that person you love for the rest of your life – and vice versa. You don’t always get along with each other, though. In fact, sometimes you drive one another crazy.
It’s the commitment that gets you to stay – and faith that it’ll still work out in the end. It’s not easy, but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible.
What if it doesn’t work out? Does that make one a failure? Will one be brave enough to give it another try, no matter how hard it is and how scared they are?
That’s why we’re talking about a different kind of bravery here. That’s why I admire those who are taking – and have taken – that huge step forward, changing their lives and making that special room for their ‘other half’. It’s even better for those who do but never play smug by looking down on those who haven’t.
What about those who have been married but not anymore now?
I don’t know. I can’t say much about them, bur hopefully they’re still brave enough to give it one more try. Perhaps this time, it won’t be so bad. They may say they’ve had enough, but what if hearts can’t lie? After all, we’re only human.
“I don’t know, Dad. How do I know it’s safe?”
“You don’t.” That night, he’d looked so amused. “Nobody does.” When I blinked, he just patted my head gently. “No worries. You’re the only one who knows when you’re ready.”