Do you know that age-old children ditty; from k-i-s-s-i-n-g to love, to marriage, then to baby carriage? I spent my childhood and early adulthood believing that it might just smoothly go like that. Looking at my ring-less left finger, it has clearly not been.
Have I loved? Have I been loved? Have I loved and been loved in return? Yes, yes, yes. In more than one occasion, let me assure you.
So why am I remaining single? Heck, if I got a dollar every single time someone asked that question, I would’ve ended up on Forbes annual list. The truth, as cliché as it sounds, is because a marriage requires much more than just love. For starters, it requires mutual commitment.
So, let’s try again. Have I loved someone to the point of committing myself in a marriage? Has a man loved, felt committed and proposed to me? Yes, yes. Have those situations happened during the same relationship? Err, no.
And no, I won’t bore you with the details of why mutual commitment hasn’t occurred in any of my past relationships because let’s face it– most of us can’t even commit to finish reading War & Peace.
Almost all single girls in their 30s who I’ve met, especially the ones living in marriage-preferred Eastern hemisphere such as myself, confessed of having been labeled anything from ‘picky’ to ‘pesky’. Some of us have even endured the ‘bitch-to-witch’ axis. Yet before going on a labeling spree many heartless people forget to ask, what these women actually feel about marriage themselves?
Some of them like the idea of marriage and continue to seek for it. Some feel they’ve been burned by their romantic experiences and, wholeheartedly or not, consciously or not, are inching away from the marriage path. Some never bought the notion in the first place, though are open to possibilities. Some are simply dead-set against the marriage institution. As one should never make the mistake of assuming these women can just be conveniently lumped into a single box, never make the mistake of judging what they should think, feel or decide for themselves.
Personally I like the idea of marriage, of creating and mutually committing to a new life with someone I mutually love. And it has nothing to do with societal demands or other trivial issues. As an only child I’m capable of and have enjoyed living alone, but I’m interested at the idea of meshing lives with a man to create a unique life only he and I share. The unique life that would include my penchants for tiger cubs and the color purple and his loyalty for a certain football team and tendency to devour steaks for breakfast, or whatever his antics may be. A unique life made of our respective normalcy and quirkiness that, hopefully, and literally, give birth to new lives. A unique life that is our own quilted blanket, giving us safety and comfort made of every side of our individual lives.
As I know friends who’ve been divorced twice before the ripe age of forty, I’m not wearing any rose-tinted glasses. I trust there’s no such thing as a perfect marriage anymore than a perfect person. To me, beyond laws and traditions, marriage is basically what two people mutually agree upon and commit to each other about. I’m fully aware that, as in anything you want to last a lifetime, marriage needs constant work during its lifetime. I humbly expect some moments, short and long, that my spouse and I will not particularly be crazy about each other since we’re busy driving the other crazy. Yet, for better or worse, I want to try my fate in that seemingly adventurous journey. Take the plunge, as they call it.
To be perfectly honest, particularly in this certain part of the world, it is the elements outside a marriage that I’ve seen interfering, shaking, and even ruining it. Again and again, Indonesian society is a collective, structured, layered, and inter-linked maze. As beautiful and useful as that labyrinth in helping out someone’s friend’s neighbor’s colleague who is in trouble, it has also, more often than needed, intruded into a couple’s marital life and brought unnecessary troubles. The in-laws who keep lurking, the extended family who never stop insinuating or the society-at-large that is always ready to throw a judgmental sneer at any breach of so-called acceptable norms. As if the packed, fast-tracked age these days don’t already give so much pressure and temptations, people decide that they should bother your private matters even more. Yabba, yabba do.
Yet, though it has irked me to watch, the ugly tentacles of society hasn’t exactly scared me of marriage. Nor have the long history of failed relationships. I believe I can and will find a man as adamant as I am to fight for the divine rights to create and live our shared life, because we love each other that much that we want to be together on this journey. The journey that, with all the jovial Sagittarian in me, can jet-off from Jakarta to Jupiter, but perhaps I shouldn’t scare my potential suitors this early.
So, to be betrothed, or not? At the end of the day, it’s your life and what you choose to do with and for it. I’ve figured out my preference. Have you owned up to your innermost reasons and been true to yourself? Whatever it is that you choose, for every truthful fiber in you, from every truthful fiber in me, I wish you love, light, and life.