Another birthday and the continued nagging of relatives on why I was still single. Ok, so I recently turned thirty, had a job I enjoyed and a clear career path. I was entering the world of charities, working on education projects that allowed me to interact with different communities. It was a job I loved, meeting people, training and trying to bring about a change in the public school system.
Personally, I didn’t have time to delve into the ‘misfortune’ of not having a partner at my age. It was always just a matter of time for me. My focus was on developing myself professionally. Of course, like every young woman I had the longing to find the Mr. Right but so far, in my life, I didn’t come across anyone who would be genuine enough and committed too. I was living in Pakistan, fortunate enough to be living in Karachi, a modern cosmopolitan city and highly educated with good exposure of living overseas.
I was looked upon as a confident young educated woman, attractive and sensible with good social skills. Like in any other middle class family, we were taught that a girl’s first priority is her home so along with my sisters I had learnt to cook, be hospitable and master the homely chores too. I didn’t quite understand at the time why I didn’t get married earlier.
My parents had received a few proposals for me when I was much younger but nothing materialised. Later after my mother passed away, I wondered whether it was due to the lack of social status and networking as I was too busy working full time, or the fact that there were no suitable suitors in the immediate family or maybe my poor widower father’s lack of understanding of how to deal with traditional matrimonial practices and services. A dynamic man who had travelled the world and equipped his daughters with good education and values, he was often shocked at the shallowness of our society. A man who proudly illustrated his daughters’ educational achievements and culinary skills was disappointed to see that most of the mothers-of-grooms-to-be were only concerned with the age, financial status and glamorous looks for their sons’ future wives.
Whatever it was, I was too busy doing other things that were more important for me. However it was often difficult to escape the question in a social gathering. I was at a loss for words when people asked me why I did not marry, till one good friend advised me to counteract this question with, “Do you have anyone in mind?”! I was bemused at the startled look I received then. The reality was that no one actually helped but just added to the pressure.
This post is a tiny reflection of the social pressures I faced as a single woman living in the Pakistani society; from finding a place to rent, to feeling inappropriate and unattractive when girls much younger than myself were married off with a big fanfare, the social pressures and ultimately my own personal situation that left me as head of family after early death of my parents, slowly added to my woes.
The society we live in is harsh and unrelenting. Inwardly I crumbled at the expectations put on me but my strengths were my professional attitude, the family values and a strong sense of duty. I did not need a man to make me feel fulfilled, but I did need a companion to share my worries and support me.
A decade later, at forty years of age I found myself still single but now migrated to a new land and starting afresh in Australia. I was finally free of the prying eyes and social pressures. However, I struggled with my own insecurities, often wondering what was lacking in me. Why was I not able to attract the right man so far? Surely I was not boring or insincere but yes I was growing older and my struggles may have honed my personality but had affected my health and demeanour. With time I learnt, it was not what I lacked but what I ‘had’ that actually scared men away. This confidence comes only when we are able to live in a positive frame of mind in a society that is fair and non-judgemental.
I am not being arrogant when I say this, as I see this manifested amply amongst my single girl friends. Yes, I was too good for most men. Strong, career focussed women have a tough time in the matrimonial arena because our society actually lacks strong men who can accept these women as equals. Men in general, like to have a smart woman to talk to, share ideas and enjoy their company, but within their homes and personal life, they want a meek wife who they can control and feel more superior with to feed their male ego as identified by a chauvinistic society.
Arranged marriages are not that simple to organise either, even in traditional conventional societies. Although such marriages tend to have a higher success rate it relies a lot on the strong family bonds and values of sacrifice, compromise and generosity. With modern values and new set of liberal mindsets, a ‘thinking’ society has I believe increasingly become a threat to this sacred institution. But that is a discussion for another post..
Coming back to my personal journey….I had almost given up on the idea of marriage, but had faith in God and His blessings. I always believed when the time is right, I will find my soul mate. I was lucky when I had this calling. I was introduced to someone who was caring, funny and most importantly a confident and secure individual. It was not just our fate but our mindsets that brought us together. I was clear about what I wanted and what I was willing to compromise on and so was my new life partner.
I believe no relationship is perfect. We need to work on them to make them perfect. There is no formula or checklist for finding the right man or having a successful marriage but when expectations are clear and realistic, great things materialise. I got married at the age of forty four in a joint wedding reception with my younger brother and his wife who were in their late twenties. Age had not dampened my excitement of a new life. I was nervous and hopeful like any other new bride.
The same prying eyes and faces that would look at me with pity were now astonished at how this had happened. I like to believe they are happy for me.
So to all my dear single ladies out there, this is a shout out to enjoy your lives and feel confident about yourself. Your time will come, if you have faith and keep looking! Never ever sell yourself short, take pride in yourself and hold on to your dreams.
~Pause to Reflect~
Like all other posts on this site, this is also open for discussion and if you wish to have a deeper, more meaningful dialogue on the issue and would like my advice then please feel free to send a message. I would love to provide any guidance on this issue as I know many women in our society are constantly traumatised for being single.
Coaching is available for women dealing with any relationship issues. Each case is treated with utter confidence as we help you to break free of any limiting beliefs and reach your true potential.