There are many perspectives to explore on the topic of living a fulfilling life outside marriage, but today I’ll focus on a few common questions and comments people make in conversation with unmarried women.
- “So, when are you getting married?”
This is the inanest question which is often asked by seemingly well-meaning people in our lives, and is by far the most common, coming in various metaphors like:
- When are we eating your rice?
- When will we meet him?
- When are you inviting us?
This question is usually put forth in light-hearted conversations, often in jest, but honestly, there isn’t too much that’s funny about it. Personally, this question is confusing, especially because I have never claimed to see the future, neither have other unmarried women I know. Maybe it is expected that, the embarrassment of not having a suitable answer will force one up to an altar.
Besides the casual “how is your family?”, I don’t ask personal questions. It’s rude. But now, I find myself wanting to ask, did you know when you would be getting married before it actually happened? When will you get along with your in-laws? When will you finally have children?
Are these questions funny? Are you laughing right now? Me neither.
- “Just manage anyone. No one is perfect.”
This is a funny one where people who know little about your expectations, assume that all single women are interested in physical and material perfection, waiting for the perfect man. This line is particularly favored by married folks.
I have been tempted to retort with “Are you managing your husband” or is it that I am too late to be allowed the “luxury” of choice? I don’t see anything wrong with wanting the perfect man for you. Everyone’s idea of “perfection” is different, some more realistic than others but all still valid. I like to think that most women got married because their husbands were perfect for them, at least at that time. I maybe wrong.
- “Don’t you get lonely?”
I’ve always maintained that there’s a difference between solitude and loneliness, and I strongly believe that if you are lonely by yourself, you’ll most likely be lonely even in your marriage. Your partner isn’t your entertainment.
I don’t think that being afraid of loneliness is enough reason to get married but, what do I know? I’d rather not be married simply because I can’t enjoy my own company.
Most educated single women have very productive lives. We have time and freedom to explore various opportunities for self-actualization and refreshment. We go out to see movies more often, we plan parties, weekend getaways and vacation with friends. There’s hardly a dull moment, even if it’s just reading a book.
- “Let me hook you up.”
This gesture assumes that all single women are just dying to be hooked up with absolutely anyone. No pun intended, but most of you guys really suck at matchmaking.
Often enough, well-meaning friends, aunties, aunties friend’s cousin, or someone on the forgotten end of the family tree offers to hook a single woman up with people with whom she has little in common, except that they are both single and he is ready to marry, or looking for a wife.
- “You are sure everything is alright?”
It has always fascinated me why people conclude that if one isn’t married at a certain age, something has to be “wrong” with them. They’re either too fat, have spirit-husbands already or have a really bad character flaw that makes them undesirable. We have to be perfect to be wanted. This also assumes that all married women are certified as having the perfect size, being at peak spiritual health and the epitome of good morals. This just isn’t true.
To my knowledge, most single women are fine mentally and spiritually. It may seem like “it is time”, but some women just aren’t ready to make the commitment, settle down, and start a family. Not all trees fruit at the same time; this is perfectly normal.
- “You are not searching hard”
I don’t even know how to respond to this one. Hopefully someone will leave the right response in the comment section
- “You are too picky”
The older I get, the more seriously I take the sacrament of marriage. I don’t think it’s just about running up the altar, eating rice and then, making babies. Marriage to me, is a promise one makes before God, to God and with God.
If I’m doing this and going to spend the rest of my life in it, I’m sure I have the right to be as picky as I very well please, don’t you think?
- “I know you are joking when you say you’re happy”
I’m not joking. I am happy. I’ve been blessed with a good life. It’s absurd to put anyone in a position where they have to defend their state of mind, especially when they are not mad.
Worse, when I say I’m happy and they respond with “you are just telling yourself that”. This implies that I am incapable of discerning how I really feel because I am not married, because having husband validates how a woman feels. Again I am tempted to ask, “Is every married person truly happy? Do I suggest that you are a liar when you claim to be happy in your marriage?
- “You don’t know what you are doing with your life.”
This has to be my all-time favorite. You see, I am a hard-worker with a mildly successful career and a few small assets to show for it. But, this comment reduces my life’s work to kindling because – no husband. Thankfully, there’s Oprah Winfrey and Condoleezza Rice to prove that having a purpose in life is not irrelevant for a woman, simply because she isn’t hitched.
- “You are wasting time”
Look, this life is not a race. Everyone has their own journey. I’m honestly not hurrying anywhere. I have such peace of mind and I am achieving my life’s goal one at a time. I’m not anxious for anything. I’m simply trying to be a better person than I was yesterday.
- “Just get belle for am”
It’s 2016 and a lot of our cultural and moral guidelines are being openly disobeyed in line with being progressive. That’s fine but that’s not me. I won’t get pregnant to keep anyone. It’s never that serious for me. I understand that it is commonplace, and I respect that, but using guilt and social responsibility to persuade a person to remain in ones life is too risky. I’m not naive, I’m just not desperate.
- “You don’t want to die alone”
No one does, but let’s face it, many have and many will. Getting married doesn’t ensure that we won’t walk this world alone at some point. If it isn’t a divorce or separation, it’s death. We both aren’t likely to die on the same day either. Next, having children has never been a guarantee that we will be surrounded by them in our last days. It’s what we all hope for but it doesn’t always turn out that way.
Besides, dying in company hasn’t been proven to ease the journey into the Afterlife.
This list is by no means exhaustive, it’s mostly based on my experience and those of other single women I have interacted with.
If you are guilty of these, I hope you see these seemingly innocent comments and well-meant questions from a new perspective. If you have been a victim of these harsh criticisms, do let me know how you handled it.