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Five women who chose to marry early reflect upon their lives and talk about their perspectives on early marriages, especially as far as their kids are concerned.
Marrying after 25 is considered a norm these days, at least, in urban educated societies. But what about women who married early because it was their choice? Does that make them more submissive or less feminist? What are the ups and downs that these women faced in their life after marriages? Looking back, what do they think about their decisions to marry early? These are some of the issues around which I spoke to five women. Let’s take a look at what each of them have to say about an early marriage and its aftermath.
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“When you’re so young, you want to make everybody happy, you keep compromising and side lining yourself for the sake of others.”
Image source: Maitabi Banerjee
Maitabi got married when she was 24 and her husband was just a year older to her. They’ve been married for the last 15 years. She finished her MassCom and worked for a year before she got married. Their reason for the early marriage was that they wanted to live together, and in those days, living together before marriage was a frowned upon concept.
Maitabi says, “When I look back at life now, I don’t regret the decision. Everything happens for a reason. However, I wouldn’t advice any young girl to get married so early. Have a complete hold on your life: travel, earn money, live life as per your wishes and after that, if you feel the need to, only then get married.”
Though Maitabi is a strong woman with a mind of her own today, she admits that it did take her time to evolve to this stage.
“When you’re so young, you want to make everybody happy, you keep compromising and side lining yourself for the sake of others. If you wait till the 30s to get married, by then you tend to have the matiurity to realize that you can’t meet everyone’s expectations, that people who wish to criticize will pass judgements anyway, and people who love you will love you anyway. You have a better hold on life and realize that nobody is responsible for your happiness, except for you.”
Maitabi feels that she was vulnerable when she got married and everything that went wrong at that time was because she allowed it to happen.
“I will tell my children that if you don’t want to marry, then don’t marry. Take your time to decide. Not everyone can handle marriage in the right way.”
Maitabi has evolved from her younger days, and today she says that she’s done away with her submissive nature, and now tries to inculcate her feminist values into her family. Her husband is a hands-on-dad and both her son and daughter are given responsibilities for household chores. But she says that it took a lot of time for her to evolve and make those changes in her married life.
“Marriage can definitely be delayed. Delay it to the point till you are comfortable. With age you learn.”
“If you think he’s the right man, then age doesn’t really matter.”
Image source: Ankita Dhawan
Ankita got married at the age of 24 and she’s been married fror the last 4.5 years. She and her husband worked in the same office when they started dating. Ankita’s husband was 5 years older to her and hence, since his family was pressurising him to get married soon, she decided to take the plunge. She says that even her own parents asked, whether she wouldn’t want to complete the courses she was pursuing before getting married.
“I’d expected to date for a couple of years, maybe travel solo and do other such things before tying the knot. But then when this situation arose, I decided to take the plunge. I realized that I can do all that I desire with my husband as well.”
Her husband and in-laws were extrememely supportive of her career plans. Her father-in-law insisted that she must complete her CFA certification. She prepared for her CFA Level III exam after her marriage. She had also started her own enterpreneuial vetures and pursued her passion for painting. They supported all that along with her full time career in the financial sector. Recently she gave birth to a baby girl.
“If you think he’s the right man, then age doesn’t really matter,” she says. “As long as you get to do what you want to in life. Whether you get married or not is not important, you simply need to be confident about your decision and stand by it.”
Since, Ankita is young and marrying early these days isn’t really the norm, she recollects having faced jibes from some her peers.
“Oh your life is over. You can’t do anything fun anymore.”
“In a year, you’ll have a kid and you won’t have a social life anymore.”
These are some of the comments that she had to hear because of her decision to get married at 24. She’d asked her friends to mind their own businesses as it was a decision between her husband and her.
Then there were the comments from the neighbourhood aunties.
“Where does he live?”
“How old he is?”
“Aamir ladka hain!”
She rightly mentions: “People generally have judgements about everything!”
Ankita says that in the current age, more and more women are becoming independent to take care of themselves. “Whatever decision you take, doesn’t necessarily make you submissive. By twenties, you have developed your mindset and principles. Also, you constantly learn and evolve. Of course, the luck factor does play a part in every marriage. But at the end of the day, you need to be responsible for your own decisions.”
“Focus on your career first and make a space for yourself before deciding to marry.”
Image source: Nagma Goyal Gupta
Nagma got married at the age of 19 while she was still in the second year of college, pursuing a BSc degree in Home Science. She completed her degree after marriage. She has been married for the last 18 years.
Nagma belonged to a joint family and the decision of the early marriage was the combined decision of her family members as well as herself. What settled matters further were the facts that her would be groom’s family was their family friends and were very well to do financially. On hindsight, Nagma does admit that she might have been a bit too young to consider the decision more deeply at that point.
“At that time, I felt it was okay. You’re shown possibilities. Everything appeared very rosy.”
Nagma’s husband’s family were more orthodox than her own folks at home. Her in-laws and the rest of the extended family weren’t willing to let her work outside, as they felt that the male members of the family already earned more than enough, so there was no reason for her to step out to work.
However, she pursued a web designing course on the side till the time her son was born (when she was 26 years old). After that, she didn’t get much time to balance her household responsibilities and her passion and so she decided to focus on the former. Also, being the single daughter-in-law in a big family came with a lot of responsibilities. She had to manage the weddings and other family functions of the family which took a lot of her time. Nagma says that she couldn’t find the time to think about her career, and also, since there was no pressing need for her to work, she thought it was better to focus on the more immediate matters at hand.
Though she wanted to work when she was young, those ambitions got side-lined with her growing responsibilities as a married woman. Currently, since her son is quite grown up and her responsibilities are slowly reducing, she has been thinking of pursuing something either as an artist or helping her brother in their family business.
When it comes to advising young girls of today, Nagma says that she’d never advice anyone to marry that early.
“Your career, your exposure to the world are important aspects of life. Be independent and create a space for yourself in the society. Focus on these things first and then you can decide on marriage. After marriage, a woman always has the major share of the responsibilities. Even while working, she has to fulfil her duties as the perfect bahu.”
“I’d not be comfortable with my daughter marrying so early as times have changed now.”
Image source: Vanessa Ohri
Vanessa comes from a Catholic family and her husband is a Hindu Punjabi. She married right after she turned 24, after six years of dating him. Since it was the early nineties, it was the norm during that time. Her husband is 4.5 years older to her and they’ve been married for the last 27 years. She thinks marrying early comes with its set of perks.
“The younger you are, the less set you are in your ways. It becomes easier to adjust and compromise which are key elements in every marriage. Also, you grow up together as individuals in this beautiful journey of life. When we married we didn’t have a lot of money. I stayed with my in-laws. We had one Maruti 800. Gradually, we had a house of our own, we had a bigger car. It was fun that way.”
However, she also adds, “There’s really no right time for marriage. Whatever works for a couple is the right time.”
She had worked for a year in advertising before tying the knot. But she also adds that if her daughter does something like this today, then she might feel gutted.
“I’d be devastated if my daughter did this. I’d want her to establish herself first. But I realize that it’s wrong to impose my thoughts on her.”
She thinks that In today’s world, there’s no way that a young girl shouldn’t be earning. She shouldn’t compromise on her career to get married early. She also admits that things have changed a lot for women today. After marriage, her husband’s career path was smoother and she was the one who had to make the sacrficies. She did manage both her household and career with elan but she says that it’s not really the easiest task.
“I am a staunch feminist. The climate has changed over the decades. Things were different at that time. People made compromises as a result of love. But I brought up both my children equally and my daughter might not be okay with a lot of patriarchal customs that I accepted just out of love and respect.With this whole climate change, we keep interpreting and reinterpreting our understanding of equality or feminism.”
Founder, Sailing Leaf, A Creative Writing Platform for Children
“Fulfil all your hearts desires before deciding to settle down.”
Image source: Manmeet Narang
Manmeet got married at 23 and has been married for the last 17 years. Her home town is Ludhiana, and she says that looking at women around her, she felt that marrying young was the only option available to her at that time. She’d been stalling her marriage from the age of 19, hence, this did seem to her like a suitable age to marry, in perspective. Manmeet was a strong headed young girl despite her conservative upbringing. She wrote for the local newspapers, wore clothes she wished to, and rebelled in every way she could against her oppressive surroundings. She even remembers the time when her mother would accompany her for yoga at a park that was merely 10 minutes away from her home.
Manmeet remained the independent minded girl even after her marriage. She never bent down from her beliefs or principles. She says that she is glad that her husband is also a very cooperative and understanding person. However, her in-laws weren’t so understanding and just after her marriage they tried controlling her life. They wanted Manmeet to have a child immediately after the marriage.
“I discussed about contraceptioves with my husband even before we got married. I stood my grounds and had a baby a year and a half after my marriage, only when I felt comfortable with it.”
Though Manmeet is a liberated woman today, she says that she did take time to express herself. When she shifted to Delhi, she realized that people in the city did have other options besides getting married early. Looking back, she advices women to do everything that their hearts desire, before they decide to get married and settled.
Header image source: shutterstock
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