Dear Auntie,
I hope you are fine and doing well. I am a 26-year-old man and have recently completed my MPhil degree. Ever since I have completed my degree, my parents have been asking me to get engaged, if not married. They have a girl in their mind and they are pressurising me to get engaged.

On the other hand, I don’t want to get engaged because I am not mentally prepared and am not stable financially. Further, I also have academic plans to execute, or at least try to execute. I also have to appear in a few competitive exams and, for those, I want to prepare well and I don’t want any distractions.

Living in a traditional society, my family is pressurising me and I am resisting. My fear is that they will be hurt and in future will not be as serious as they are right now about my marriage. My mother has alarmed me, though not seriously, that she will not go anywhere else with my proposal after this, and I am taking this threat seriously. Please help me find a solution.
Running from Marriage

Dear Running from Marriage,
You seem to be clear about your reasons to not get married right now. Your priority right now is your career and that is a good place to start building your case. Have a serious talk with your parents, and that is just with your parents and no other relatives around. If you are closer to one of your parents, have this conversation with just him or her.

‘I want to settle professionally before getting married’

Go into the conversation prepared. Your parents will likely protest and say things such as, “You are losing time”, “There is a right time for marriage and you shouldn’t miss it” and “You will be left alone.” Have reasonable answers prepared for all the questions that you are anticipating.

Even if things get heated, remain calm and do not lose your cool while talking to them. Stay as calm as possible when responding to their questions. Tell them what you have written to me in your email, that you are trying to settle down and have important career milestones coming up from which you cannot afford to get distracted. And that marriage at this point will just distract you from your goal.

It is possible that some parents, in a situation like this, can start blackmailing you emotionally. They may imply that you are only thinking of yourself and ‘loag kya kaheinge’ [what will people say] if you don’t get married. Tell them that you haven’t said no to marriage forever and that, even though you respect their concerns, you want to get married when you are more ready. Tell them you will be miserable if you are forced into a marriage against your wishes.

The matter may not be resolved in one conversation. You may have to repeatedly have this conversation with your parents and tell them over and over again that you are not ready for marriage right now. Reassure them that you do intend to get married in the future, but that time is yet to come.

If you can give them a timeline, do that. If you stick to your guns and repeatedly tell them the same thing over and over again, they are likely to start taking you seriously. Hopefully that should help you get your parents on your side. Once that happens, other people, especially other relatives won’t matter as much.

Just develop a thick skin around the issue of your marriage. You know why you are not getting married right now and it is a reason that is valid for you. Be prepared to respond to others who will keep asking you why you aren’t married.

It is quite common in our culture for people to cross boundaries and ask personal questions that are none of their business. Apart from your parents, anybody who asks you this question has little power over you. So a succinct, ‘I am single out of choice right now’, before changing the topic of conversation should suffice.

Auntie will not reply privately to any query. Please send concise queries to: auntieagni@gmail.com

Published in Dawn, EOS, February 28th, 2021

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