When Does Marriage Become An Obligation?

People say you should get married or else you would be lonely, but do they think about how to sustain the marriage, especially when the marriage is built for the sake of avoiding loneliness?

Cover image via Sanja Bucko via IndieWire

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I have a cousin who lives abroad. He would come back to Malaysia and visit us every year during Chinese New Year.

I like my cousin. He would share his experience of studying abroad and hang out with us.

A few years ago, he stopped coming back to Malaysia with his parents. Chinese New Year felt different without his presence, and I missed him. But I never knew the reason behind his absence. I thought he was busy.

Recently, I have realised his reason for not coming back: the annoying relatives. Yes, they like to gossip and sniff around others' personal lives. They like to ask: "how was your study/work?", and that's ok. I can assume that they really care about my life.

Then they ask you: "How is your boyfriend?", and if you replied that you don't have one, they would start judging you and bombing you with even more questions: "Why you still don't have a boyfriend?", "You don't like the boys around you?", "What is your standard for guys?"

After that, they would start lecturing you on why you should have a boyfriend by this age so that you can get married before 30

Well, no one asked me what I want. And I thought the condition of falling in love is to love someone first? They don't seem to care about that though. They just feel it's weird to not have a boyfriend at 22.

The relatives would then continue to bluff about their daughter's/son's (partners), and how good their future in-laws are, and blah blah blah. Chinese New Year is starting to lose its meaning. It's become the day where the parents are competing with each other's children.

And my other cousin said that he might not want to get married in the future. He was bombed, and I was dragged into this battle too. The relatives talked about why he should get married and have kids or else he would be lonely. I, as a woman, was lectured to get married earlier because I would be too old to give birth. And here I am, haven't even completed my studies yet, and was forced to contemplate my future marriage life.

After this, I began questioning why must we marry? Why is it a shame to not marry?

Bride and groom dressed in traditional Chinese wedding attire while holding their wedding rings.

Image via Arisa Chattasa/Unsplash

Some women are taunted because they are not married. Do we ask the men and women what they want? Do we ever discuss whether marriage can lead to lifelong happiness?

Marriage is a commitment; it is never a thing that you should do because you have reached the age to settle down. I have seen cases of unhappy marriages, and the ultimate victim is the child.

People say you should get married or else you would be lonely, but do they think about how to sustain the marriage, especially when the marriage is built for the sake of avoiding loneliness?

Marriage, according to Google, is 'the legally or formally recognised union of two people as partners in a personal relationship'. Agreeing to be each other's partner, and vowing to be together until death do us part is to be taken seriously. The promise made to each other ought to be fulfilled.

Marriage should not be seen as a tool to avoid loneliness or to make someone stay

A marriage without a strong foundation of love and trust  will not sustain long. Even if the couple insists to stay in the marriage, a marriage without love is torture to both.

In Marriage Story, the movie describes the painfulness of divorce. A couple who vowed to love forever expose each other's flaws and uncover the unpleasant past. Meanwhile, the innocent child has to go through all the suffering. And I wonder again, what is the meaning of marriage if it leads the relationship to a destructive path?

Adam Driver and Scarlett Johansson star in Netflix's 'Marriage Story'.

Image via Netflix/GIPHY

I am not against marriage. I have seen happy couples that stay with each other for decades. I believe in true love. You trust them with their promise, you are tolerant of their flaws, and you love them regardless of status and wealth. These are the couples that should be married. However, I am against the social stereotype that judges people who haven't or don't want to marry.

Malaysia's divorce rate is climbing up. Therefore, if you are currently being urged to find a boyfriend/girlfriend or marry, think twice whether this is the thing that you want or just because everyone is doing it.

I believe that people are destined to be together. If you haven't met your soulmate, you will meet him or her eventually, it's just a matter of time. Marriage is always a choice, not an obligation.

This story is a personal opinion of the writer and does not reflect the position of SAYS.

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