Aging Singles: How Parents Cause Delay in Marriage

Young, attractive, well-educated, pleasant and talented…

Sporting a well-rounded personality, hailing from a respected and decent family, and showing bright future prospects…

A yuppie in their late twenties or early thirties, or, in a growing number of cases, having recently hit the big four-O (forty), he or she might even qualify as an alpha male or female in the eyes of the beholder.

Only, whenever someone meets this dynamic young personality, they are in for a surprise: this eligible person is still single.

But why hasn’t he/she got married yet?Who wouldn’t want to marry him/her? So good-looking, decent and eligible; such a gem!” comes the incredulous question from onlookers.

Usually directed towards the already worried parents of this “gem”, it causes their guard to go up. Awkwardly squirming in their seats, they avert their gaze, mumble something about the qadrof Allah, and change the subject.

According to them, they have done “all that they could” to find suitable matches for their darling daughter or son.

Trivial Hang-ups Becoming Obstacles

I really want to get married, but I have an older sister who is single, and my mother is not willing to even think about my marriage before she gets hitched. I do care about how my sister will feel if I get married first, but I study in a coeducational university, and I fear that I will fall into temptation if my marriage is delayed any longer.”  A 19-year-old Muslim girl said.

In many cultures, Parents always have a major role to play when it comes to delaying the marriage of their sons or daughters.

Mostly, in the case of a son, it is the establishment of his career and his acquisition of a certain level of income before he is allowed to marry. In the case of a daughter, pickiness based on over-concern for her future financial welfare, completion of her studies/college degree, or the pre-requisite marriage of an older sibling, are quoted as so-called “valid reasons” to delay her marriage.

I am not saying that a young person should be married off to the first person who seems suitable, especially against their will.

What I am saying is, that some of the parents’ self-obligated hang-ups and preconditions, such as the one quoted above, are the primary causes of unnecessary delays in the marriage of eligible young people nowadays.

Ethnic Racism

Granted, cross-cultural marriages require more compromise, sacrifice and hard work to achieve stability and success than intra-racial ones, but they are still a valid option for consideration.

This is especially true in cases where there is otherwise a genuine match between two urbanized singles on the basis of social standing, moral upbringing, education, location of residence, and religious commitment.

For example, if two youngsters have been brought up in the same city, state, or country, and their families live a similar lifestyle, their belonging to different ethnic groups, castes or races should not become the primary issue behind their parents’ outright refusal to even consider their betrothal.

Even in the country where I dwell, many families simply refuse to marry into a clan hailing from another state/province of the subcontinent. The reason firmly cited for this with finality?

We do not marry our children into outsiders.” Subhan Allah!

Parents’ Past Life Experiences

Even the most educated, enlightened, well-established and broadminded parents can have unflinching views about life, careers, social stigmas cultural ethos and ideals that can cause obstacles in the timely marriage, or marital success, of their children.

Aging Singles: How Parents Cause Delay in Marriage - About Islam

For example, take Aminah*. Hailing from a low-income family background, she was brought up with seven other siblings in extremely straitened economic conditions. Provided with a minimal basic education, she was married off in her early twenties to a foreign-educated engineer.

Living prosperously since then, she has spent all her married life at home, docilely serving her husband and children, keeping herself busy only in domestication. Not once has she stepped outside her home to work at a job. She is completely financially dependent on her husband, and cannot put together even a sentence in a language other than her mother-tongue.

Today, Aminah’s only daughter, however, is a successful senior-management-level professional in an international company.

Now past her twenties (in which Aminah rejected all marriage proposals for her with a flat, “Right now she has to focus on her career”), she possesses a foreign education as well as foreign citizenship.  Socially active in the local liberal entertainment circuit since her teens, she travels alone abroad often, for leisure or business, having achieved complete financial independence.

She has no intention of getting married. Even the topic of her marriage has become an “elephant in the room”.

When one sees cases like these, one wonders if the parents’ upbringing of their children and the dynamics of their own marriage had anything to do with their child’s aversion to getting married?

Does a daughter like Aminah’s dread marriage because she has grown up noticing her father treats her mother more like a valet than a romantic mate? Does she dislike the idea of marriage because she doesn’t want to depend on a man to provide for her, and hence, to “control” her?

Does it fill her with dread that a husband will possibly dictate her lifestyle choices, such as where she goes out and with whom, what she wears, and how she spends her leisure time?

In all such cases, when a perfectly normal and healthy young singleton refuses to even discuss the prospect of getting married well past their twenties or thirties, the cause is usually a deep-rooted, psychological one based on their observation of their own parents’ marriage, and the priorities about life (and money) that the latter has ingrained into their psyche since early childhood.

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