Most little girls begin thinking about their marriage at a fairly early age. In these first thoughts, being a bride has a fairy-tale quality. They dream of the handsome groom, and the giant cake, and how happy their lives will be. They may also dream of becoming a doctor or a lawyer. But as little girls become women, they begin to find that they can’t have their wedding cake and eat it too.
A woman’s 20s become about education, enjoying life, and forming social bonds with new friends. But for some, there becomes a nagging feeling in the back of their heads. Should they be thinking about Marriage?
Certainly, the parents have already been thinking about it. A lot of worry goes along with having an unwed daughter. There are questions about who will take care of her and whether she will have children. And as a woman’s age creeps closer to 30, the higher the anxiety goes.
Marriage for Asian women, in particular, is a given. It’s not a matter of if, but a matter of when. But a growing number of women are balking the social norms and choosing to wait until after 30 to marry – if they marry at all.
Should you marry before you turn 30?
The push to be married before the age of 30 can be felt by parents, extended family, and society as a whole. Would-be brides should consider how they will be viewed and whether they are able to withstand the external and internal pressures.
There are different slurs to refer to an unwed woman approaching her 30s. The Japanese use the term “Christmas cake,” comparing women to cake that is past its best before date. In Mandarin, the derogatory term is “Sheng nu” and labels women over the age of 27 as leftover.
These terms give women a stigma, telling them that they are lesser and may even have something wrong with them. It implies that the women have been passed over, rather than having made a choice for themselves to remain unwed.
Families, in particular, believe that a successful marriage is not possible after age 30. In China, worried parents may print photos of their unwed children to pass around at social gatherings, attempting to pawn them off on a blind date.
But there is a double standard for men in the same position. Many families will not pressure a male into Marriage while they are pursuing higher education. They are also not responsible for taking on the domestic roles that women traditionally have filled and can actively chase their own careers and interests.
Reasons why you should wait until after 30 to marry
Waiting to marry until after age 30 has a number of benefits for those women who can navigate the repercussions. Women are more likely to pursue higher education and begin a successful career, which allows a woman some freedoms that are not usually enjoyed by married women.
One of the leading reasons why young women discontinue their higher education is to get married. Women are pressured by their betrothed’s family, in particular, to drop out, and take care of their husbands.
Married women, even those employed full-time, are still expected to assume the traditional domestic duties of the household. This has a serious adverse effect on their career opportunities. Women who choose to remain single longer are able to attain higher-level positions when they do not have the added responsibility of a family at home. This gives women more independence from their own families as well as their future husbands.
Marriage can also break down social ties between women and their own friends and family, as their focus turns to their husband. In some Asian countries, the idea of Confucianism is still very prevalent and may encourage a bride to absorb into her husband’s family. Remaining single a little longer allows a woman to keep her own connections and determine the relationships she keeps.
Given the exceptionally low divorce rates in Asian countries, women should be mindful of marrying too young. Marriage, compared to Western societies, remains very permanent and should be entered into thoughtfully.
Getting married in your 30s is the new normal
Statistics show that in almost every Asian country, both women and men are marrying later than they did in the late 20th century. This trend can be seen most clearly in Japan and South Korea, where the median age for a woman getting married is 30.
This movement helps to take some of the burdens of women who choose to marry later in life. Governments, attempting to increase marriage and birth rates, are encouraging companies to offer benefits to women who choose to remain in the workforce. This may include childcare programs and tax incentives. Some governments provide help as far as caring for the older generation, so middle-aged adults aren’t responsible for both their parents and their children at once.
Societal force may be lessened as the accepted marriage age rises.
What if you don’t want to get married at all?
There are also a growing number of women who have decided not to marry at all. In the mid-1990s, 5% of Asian women under 50 had never been married. Fast forward to 2015, and that number is now 14%.
Remaining single long-term opens many possibilities for women to focus on their careers and retain their freedom. However, there are sacrifices that go along with that choice.
While activities like premarital sex are tolerated, if not openly accepted, having a child or living with a man out of wedlock still remains very taboo. If these ideas are still important to a woman, Marriage might be the best option.
The most important thing you need to understand as a woman is that Marriage alone will not solve all the problems in your life. It does not determine that you are a successful woman or that you are happy in your life. However, your success and happiness are entirely dependent on the choices you make. So take your time and make the right decisions.