Are societal pressures to blame for our need for self-validation through marriage?

“A woman at a certain age who is unmarried, our society teaches her to see it as a deep personal failure. And a man, after a certain age isn’t married, we just think he hasn’t come around to making his pick.” This excerpt from Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s book, We Should All Be Feminists is the perfect quote to start off this article.  What is the obsession women have with marriage? Why is it so important to find a man, settle down and have kids? After a certain age, family and friends begin to put pressure on you to find a partner. “You won’t find a man if you stay home and don’t go out”, they say, “ I know someone I’d like to set you up with.” This implies that a woman’s life goal is to “find a man and get married”. This pressure gets worse when you’re in your late 20’s to early 30’s.  I wish they were as concerned about my career and in finding me the perfect job, as they are about me finding a man.

Among my group of friends, there are some that are married and others that are single. 70% of my single friends are fervently praying for a man because they feel that they are incomplete otherwise. I even had a friend say “I have a good life, I just need a man to enjoy it with”, I was flabbergasted when she said this and had to remind her of how blessed she is and how she can enjoy her life with her wonderful family and friends.

I try very hard not to judge and to sympathise when I hear some friends express how unhappy they are without a man in their lives. What makes a successful, ambitious woman feel like her life has no meaning unless she has someone of the opposite sex to share it with? Why do women place so much emphasis on marriage than they do on their careers? I have so many questions but not enough answers. I know society is responsible for our feelings of self-worth or lack thereof but how and why?

“You should aim to be successful, but not too successful. Otherwise, you would threaten the man. Because I am female, I am expected to aspire to marriage. I am expected to make my life choices always keeping in mind that marriage is the most important. Now marriage can be a source of joy and love and mutual support but why do we teach girls to aspire to marriage and we don’t teach boys the same?” T-H-I-S is why I love Chimanda, she speaks the truth and her views on gender roles is similar to mine. Tradition and religion cripples us more than we care to admit to even ourselves.

Our views and ideals are influenced by religion and tradition, and in as much as we have evolved, certain things like what makes up our value system remain the same. Even though there are noticeably more single parent households in the developed world, this is still considered abnormal and a family that consists of a mother, father and children is accepted by society as the norm. I remember being taught in primary school (I attended private Christian schools for all of my primary and even secondary years) that a “nuclear family” comprises of a mother, father, child or children. As if that isn’t discriminatory enough, you are also taught that in a marriage;

  1. A man is the head of the house
  2. A man is stronger than the woman and must protect the woman
  3. Men should be the breadwinner/provider
  4. A woman’s role is to serve her husband and take care of the kids

You know, I can go on and on about the unfair and backwards view taught to us in the name of religion and or tradition. It is no wonder women think they are helpless and worthless without a man. It is probably why women aspire to marriage because they want to fit in and believe that in spite of their accomplishments, their lives are unfulfilled without a male figure in it.

Nowadays, people get married to just about anyone to fulfil societal and familial obligations but because they’re not marrying for the right reasons, they are quick to file for divorce and cite “unhappiness” as the reason for the dissolution of their marriage. They claim that the person they are married to no longer makes them happy. This is a flawed way to look at marriage and divorce by the way but that is a topic for another day.

Change your mindset and change your life, marriage is not an accomplishment

Marriage has become the norm, so much so that it’s lost its meaning. Marriage is not a competition, there shouldn’t be pressure to get married. You don’t have to set goals for yourself on when you expect to be married by. If that is all you focus your energy on, you’re bound to accomplish your goal but you will get married for the wrong reasons and end up married and unhappy. I’m not against marriage or trying to bash it but I do think as women, we need to focus more on our careers, passion and family and less on marriage. People think marriage will make them happy and fill a void but it won’t. If you’re unhappy and unfulfilled on your own, you’ll be unhappy and unfulfilled in a marriage. If you’re needy and desperate, you’ll be exactly the same when you get married, marriage won’t change you for the better.

True happiness cannot be found in marriage or in anyone but yourself. When you love yourself, accept yourself and are happy on your own, you won’t feel the pressure to find fulfilment in another person. I can’t express how much it saddens me to see so much emphasis placed on marriage and how destructive it is to one’s sense of self-worth. Finding yourself and what you love is what society should place emphasis on. Married or not, with child or without, you’re worthy.

I know there are many women who are struggling to find acceptance and contentment because they are unmarried or don’t have a man, but darling, you’re worth so much more. Don’t let anyone’s idea of what life should be create your reality because then you are living someone else’s life and that’s the saddest and most depressing thing you can do. When you make your own rules, are open-minded and not led by societal pressures, you will be free to live a full, rich and happy life.There’s nothing wrong with getting married at 40 years or even never getting married at all, YOU just have to BELIEVE that! Change your mindset and change your life.

Comment below if agree or disagree. Love and light.

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