Sunday, June 26, 2005

And I take thee for better or for worse


A girl in a fuss as her hair is being done by her mother in preparation for a wedding. St. Augustine Church, Intramuros, Manila, Philippines, 2004.

A few days ago my colleague was talking about the subject of marriage. Specifically when was the best time for it. Her brother has been seeing his current girlfriend for well over a year and the relationship is progressing fine. He’s reaching 30, working as an engineer with a cushy pay and owns his own car, though he still lives with his parents. She is 28 and has known him since secondary school where they were both studying in Kl and through various activities they got to know each other better until they started dating a year ago.

Both have never actually talked about marriage, what started all the talk and speculation was a dinner meet during father’s day between both the couple’s parents and soon it turns out both parties were pushing their children to tie the knot. So far nothing has been decided but he said that he’s not getting any younger and even though he thinks a few more years would not make a difference, since their parents are consenting and both of them are amicable and compatible he might think about it.

It started to make me wonder when THE RIGHT time for one to get married is. Trends have shown a propensity for the generations to get married later in life, first starting their careers and making a decent living. Same is true for the fact that many are opting not to enter a relationship at all and forgoing the institution of marriage. Whereas back a few decades ago we often see people in their early twenties tying the knot, the current mean age looks to be closer to the 30s. My cousins were all married around that age, one even though she was seeing her boyfriend and dating for 8 years only decided the time was right when they both hit 30.

Another phenomenon to note is also early marriage, most of these of course are usually ‘oops’ situation whereby unprotected sex and unplanned pregnancies often forces the happy couple to marry else the parents will conduct a shot gun wedding in their honour. Single mothers are also becoming a common sight, someone I know was asked why she did not marry the guy that got her pregnant, all she could reply was, “I don’t actually know who it is, there were too many to keep count.” I don’t know many friends who have been in these situations as of yet, maybe my hometown of Kuantan is a bit of a conservative but from stories I’ve heard of friends in Kuala Lumpur and Penang it seems that this is not too rare an occasion.

There is one positive early marriage that I’ve personally seen work out, concerning my colleague of my previous office work stint. She and her husband got married after they both completed their form 6 studies, they had a kid and she skipped university for a year until the child was older. She’s living with her husband in her in law’s place and recently she has been blessed with a second child. Plus she’s only a few years older than I!

This brings me to my relationship. I’m hitting 24 soon, a very young age by any standards, I don’t have a job yet, I’m still largely dependent on my parents for a living and I do not own any form of transport nor a place to call my own. Thus marriage never really entered my mind, and Laura agrees that at this age it is really too early to start a life together more so a family. I made promise once that I would not marry until I can stand on my own two feet, that I will not repeat the foibles of my uncle who does not support his family, that I must be able to provide a living for my own before the M word even pops out.

Thus it may be a while before I will walk down the aisle, but as we approach nearer to the 30s the urge to settle down is quite hard to resist I must admit, knowing that you’re getting older and questioning your mortality. For me somewhere between the age of 28 and 32 seems like a comfy enough zone for a proposal and to start a family. The longer one waits too, the harder it is to start a family, imagine marrying at 40 and when your kid reaches 20, you’re well past your 60s. Seriously I wonder what Malaysians consider the appropriate time for a marriage.


Lone said...

The time is ripe for you to marry when you have this feeling that it is no longer fun just being a-Lone and that she (the chosen one) will make you complete and whole. All other things considered and taken care of.:)

mmulibra said...

Wow already started to think about marriage?? :-)

Alot of stuff for you to think about when you are graduated later..

Many of my indian friends here in Japan, everything for them is pre-arranged.. they will ask their parents to scout a wife for them, and if they (the parents) like the woman, then he will go back to India and get married just like that.. Sometimes I wonder, what is the problem with that.. no need to go through the process of courting. It definitely save time and money. As the matter of fact, India has a very low divorce rate compared to other countries. So?!

Tinkerbell said...

Kervin, I think one should not get married until one has reached a stable stage in life. 'Stable' meaning finished all schooling, entered the workforce and is in a steady job. This is because a person's outlook in life and character is constantly evolving. When you were young and in the proverbial well, your gf may seem to be the right partner, but once out of the well and in the big wide world, your perceptions may change.

You should make an INFORMED choice, but when you do not have the knowledge and experience, how can you do so?

narrowband said...

I think marriage is ultimately the decision of the husband-to-be and wife-to-be themselves, never influenced by family members or societal pressure.

Factors that should be taken into consideration include: Individual goals (whether or not the hubby-would-be have secured a stable job, etc), and health considerations. As you know, some people say that it's best for a woman to conceive earlier, rather than in late 30's.

The typical age, like you suggested, is in the range of 28-32, I guess. I don't deny that. I think age of about 28 onwards for a guy should be ok.

Jeremy said...

Whoa, marriage! Why not just co-existance? If a pair is happy the way they are, why not continue with it? Why make a relationship "final" and "binding" in FORM (not content)? What is important is how the relationship is working out daily. Marriage only serves to prolong the suffering of the actors of a relationship that stinks.

And it looks like the females who read your blog value bf with stable jobs. Well f*** them. Outside of a few unenviable posts (professors and judges), "stable" jobs are stable only in appearance. The companies that provide these jobs are themselves subjected to tremendous flux: technologies change, consumers change, competitors change etc. A few weeks ago, Siemens sold its heavily loss-making cellphone operations to BenQ, a no-name Taiwanese OEM manufacturer. So all those 6000 people who started off working for Siemens are now employees of a third-class Taiwanese company bent on laying off as many German employees as it can. Hahahaha! F***ed heh?

None of your readers singled out demeanour, perceptiveness, intellect, inventiveness, pragmatism, and attitude (that of a winner, not a loser) and the resoluteness to do what is right as important aspects to consider in a mate. Sad really.

Adrian said...

Jeremy, I guess thats because its proverbially Asian to expect the husband to be able to support the family. But they fail to see that women (they themselves too) are economically on equal ground now with the men.

Wanting their modern freedoms (a career, equality, etc.) while still keeping their 'traditional' priveledges is not only a selfish thought, its wanting one's cake and eating it too.

Myself, I value compatibility above all else. Afterall, what use is a spouse who can give you everything, but does not understand a single thing you say nor your emotions? If compatibility and understanding is there, stable job or not, I think things will work out fine.

Too much expectations just leads to more disappointments.

Kervin said...

Lone: Loneliness and the need to have someone by your side is a start but many take that as the only pretext for marriage without thinking about what marriage will involve, some fall in love only to find in future that everyday matters conspires to draw friction no matter how much they are in love and without other bonds such as understanding, give and take and common interests would soon divide.

mmulibra: Hehe no la I haven't just find it a bit of an intelectual curiosity of how people actually determine when to get married and are these influenced by other facts such as tradition, culture and ideas. Arranged marriage, many do work out and both spouses do find love along the way but many such marriage soon find themselves in trouble. Maybe the divorce rate in India is low because of culture stigma, a divorced woman is lowly regarded and remarriage is frowned upon, plus their dowry is held by the husband.

Tinkerbell: What do we define as making an informed choice? Gauging knowledge and experience is a very subjective matter, some 16 year olds are way more mature than their 20s counterpart. Love should be evolving to according to situation, remaining static only leads to strained relationships and only understanding would prevail to maintain the couple as per the moment they fell in love.

narrowband:Fact is many still defer to their parents for consent and maybe even fall pressure to grandparents who wish for grandshildren as well as descendends to carry on the family name, this is especially true to most Chinese families.

Jeremy: Cohabition in Asian countries are still a very hard situation to imagine. Though there are people who move in before wedlock, an unmarried couple living together does face certain stigmas. Let not get started on couples having sex before marriage, that topic could stretch through countless post with tons of argument. As for the work being stable, modern job seekers are suppose to be dynamic and change as the job market changes, the pace that industry reinvent itself is so fast that there is no such thing as a lifetime employment at a single workplace anymore. As for criteria for a mate, I believe everyone considers those aspects but realistically we still have to consider things like whether both are able to support a family, make a decent living and with cost going higher, raise a child to the best.

Adrian: Maybe you are with the crowd of more modern city girls but there are many out there which still view that a guy is suppose to be the breadwinner in Asia. Male centric families are still a main feature here but I agree as woman fight for woman liberation and a level playing field, they would have to consider that certain privilages should be forfeit. And yes your final words are true, expectations does lead to dissappintments and I figure this is the main reason many unions don't work out.

Lucia Lai said...

the right time to settle down is when you are ready! :)

this young bride in the picture look really young... 13?

i understand the orang asli in our country also marries young. once i was visiting an orang asli kampung, i saw this girl who is only 15 years old, carrying a 14 months baby which is hers!

Kervin said...

Lucia: Oops sorry for the confusion, the girl in the pic isn't the one getting married she's just the bridesmade attending a wedding :D Yes I agree with you, somehow you should not rush weddings and when both parties feel the time is right, then and only then should they enter in union. As for 15 year olds getting pregnant, there are city gals in such predicament and not even knowing who's the father.

Married for 10 years said...

You should get married when you are in love.

BUT, there is a problem. You can fall out of love too. Or fall in love with another. And this can happen after many years of marriage and even having children. So the crunch is, when that happens, do you stay or do you go? It depends on the type of person you are. Whether you are responsible and will see it through no matter what for the sake of the children etc OR whether you believe that you have only one life and deserve to be able to live with the person you love. Another way to look at it is whether you put your happiness over that of others. It's easy to make a decision from the sidelines but when you are in the situation itself, things are not so clear and questions like "Am I supposed to condemn myself for another 20 to 30 years with this person who I don't love but who still loves me?" "How can I hurt my spouse and children this way?" etc will come up.

As to the question of why do people fall out of love? Who really knows. For some, their needs change so what used to attract them to their spouse now irritates them. For others who are on a journey in life, they find that their spouse ceases to evolve with them, remaining static and unchanging. For others, men especially, they find that they are no longer number 1 in their wive's eyes, i.e. they come after the children, her family, her religion.

It's messy man. But then again, isn't life supposed to be messy?

All I have are questions, no answers. For those of you about to tie the knot, know this, change is the only constant in life, or to put it another way, NOTHING is forever.

Sorry to rain on your parade but just to share. One more thing. You can co-habit with someone for many years and still find yourself suprised by just how much they change once you get married. Or consider this, perhaps its you who have changed? What can I say except:

"There ain't no science to it"