I was 22; he was 31 – an age when you begin to feel the social pressure to get married. I totally comprehended his situation, his expectations, his plans, but I still could not seem to find a diplomatic way to merge them with mine.
I always strive to build my own empire, an empire I will shelter my sisters in, where they will safely and soundly grow up. The downfall of my parents’ marriage has taught me the idea that making a complex creature called human stay with another human until death do them part is masochistic. And it gets even worse when you have kids with the wrong person.
All upheavals occurring throughout the journey of marriage – the journey of forcing the consolidation and reconciliation of one’s differences with another’s – may cause psychological damages that may result in the degrading quality of intrapersonal skills. You fail to sympathize with people around and you stop caring about them, even sometimes about yourself. That is when you suffer from social dysfunction – pretty much what my seven-year-long-boyfriend-girlfriend parents have gone through.
Aiming to fully support my sisters, I fed my brain with the notion of self-reliance every day. It has since led me away from the grand idea of lifetime companionship. My magic spell is: I am alone at the end of the day. I have to be, and that is okay.
I have fully embraced the idea that marriage is not for me. I may gamble to give it a try, but I cannot dilute the harshest and coldest truths about marriage that I have witnessed my entire life: the cheating; the helplessness; the false hopes that “it will only get better”; the fear of getting bad label (people who are in long-lasting marriage are somehow deemed “good fighters,” while those who get divorced are troublesome, especially if you are a woman); and, of course, the miscalculation of staying in toxic marriage for the benefits of the kids.
Also, I genuinely think I could do everything alone.
Having shown my stance on marriage, people, including my now-ex-boyfriend kept asking me: why would you have started this relationship if you were not going to marry?
Relationship and marriage are two separate but related concepts. Just because I am in a relationship with someone, does not mean I am going to or I have to marry him. There are hundreds of jumping logics in the final proposition that marriage is a consequence of a relationship.
It is not a conditia sine qua non, one is an ultimate prerequisite for another to happen. Someone could still marry someone else without having a relationship prior to the wedding (remember ta’aruf in Islam?), and vice versa. Both may intersect and form a subsequence, but both are systematically different. Both are drawn from distinguished degrees of needs, and done through contrasting efforts. Primarily, both entail a different set of rights and obligations as stipulated by the law and society. I bet no one will bat an eye if you tell them you’ve broken up three times, but tell them that you’re thrice divorced, and you’ll sure to cause some frowns.
Many people are consumed by the idea that marriage is a social obligation with tight deadline. Hence the unbearable remarks like: “When are you going to marry him? The clock is ticking!”. Or, “You should get married soon. You know he is almost 32 and you’ll be 23 next year!” Or, “This kind of relationship is a waste of his time, and you’re so heartless for doing this”.
Remarks and questions like these suffocated me, making me feel as if I was wrecking someone’s chance on marriage, as if I bore the responsibility of saving him from the horror of late marriage and its consequences. As if getting married over the age of 25 was a shameful sin.
I fervently believe I am not compatible with the idea of being tied together while the whole society and government watching us. To people whose questions sound like a judgment than curiosity, I explained why relationship and marriage are not a “Buy 1 Get 2” package. I also made a vow that if I ever decide to marry someday, it will not be merely because I have been in a relationship for so long, like my parents did.
I explained to my boyfriend each premise gently on why I will not be able to marry him, because I still want to chase my dreams, because I am not willing to share my personal space with him, because I think of the emotional toll that is inevitable in marriage, and because I am not equipped to endure societal judgment clinging on every inch of our romance.
Justitia Avila Veda is an awful ukulele player who deals with victim of trafficking and refugees on daily basis. She is in love-hate relationships with her law degree and Dostoyevsky.