I had a very enlightening and informative conversation with a young lady the other day. First let me give a bit of a background about this young lady whom I’ll call Anna.
Anna is the second daughter of a couple whom I’ve known for many years and as far as I know, she grew up in a loving and caring home with four or five other siblings. While their family was not wealthy, they were adequately provided for by their hard working and frugal parents.
I asked Anna how old she was now and if she was in a relationship. She confidently replied that she was twenty nine and, yes, she had a boyfriend who has one year older than she was. “You know”, I said, “I got married at that age”. She smiled and started to tell me that, while she and her boyfriend had not really talked about it, she knew it was something that they would eventually have to face.
I rarely get the chance to “interview” an almost thirty-something, young lady about her views on marriage and I was all the more intrigued with the fact that she comes from a modestly big (by 21st century standards) family with adequate means. I wanted to know basically what was keeping her (and her boyfriend) from actually getting engaged, and tying the knot, given her fairly family-oriented upbringing. Her reply to me was not surprising but it made me realize the cultural shift that has happened over the last twenty years.
This is what Anna said…
1. Unlike maybe twenty years ago, women are not as pressured to tie the knot because now “we” feel empowered to do things that were not open to us, career wise and recreation wise. There are many sports activities that women engage in that didn’t exist before or were mainly a “man’s” sport.
2. Our earning capacity has jumped, which means that it has given us the financial independence to be able to do more than what our mothers could before they got married.
3. There seems to be more places that are now more accessible (and safer) that an unaccompanied woman can travel to, so rather than thinking of settling down, “I” (we) aspire to do those because we might not be able to if we get married right away.
4. (My) boyfriend has not really brought up the question and I don’t want to either, for fear of making him think that I’m pressuring him
5. I hear (and see) all sorts of radical changes in the lifestyle of my female friends when they get married and it makes me somewhat anxious though I also hear (and see) many positive things about it
Most of what she mentioned are valid aspirations or concerns. Despite her dream of furthering her career and fulfilling her adventurous spirit by traveling, Anna didn’t strike me as a materialistic person. In fact, she gave me the impression that, while those things were important to her as a single person, those were not her ideals or her priorities and that she would, in fact, be willing to compromise on them if and when the time to get married and have children comes.
Just before she had to go I wanted to tell her something about what she had said but I didn’t want to douse her aspirations by being preachy and just giving her the pros of getting married and having children, so I mentioned one thing that a friend of mine also told me some twenty years ago. I said, “you know how all the accomplishments in your work (she is an interior designer), all your trophies in your chosen sport (she is with the Philippine Frisbee Team) and all the places you’ve gone to, how you’ve put those trophies, plaques and photos on shelves or on walls or how your designs are featured in magazines? Well, imagine, if you start a family and have children, raising and molding those children properly will be THE ‘magnum opus’ that will overshadow all those other things that you have accomplished so far.” Then i said, “just look at how your parents have done a fantastic job raising you.”
As we parted, I thought to myself how my wife and I didn’t even wrestle with any of those concerns when we were considering getting married. I wonder what my daughters’ concerns about marriage will be when their time comes.