OpinionMarriage: A choice, not a standard
Marriage: A choice, not a standard
March 9, 2019
March 9, 2019

“Hindi pa nag-aasawa ‘yan.”

(That girl hasn’t gotten married.)

This is a remark I hear people, usually from older generations, make whenever I’m about to be introduced to a woman nearing her 30s who ‘has yet to be married.’ Don’t forget the sad, curious tone. It comes with it by rule.

I spend most of my time talking to my aunts, grandmothers, and their friends. I have a great love for the vast amount of wisdom taken from their experiences and fully-formed beliefs in life. Luckily, my relatives are open-minded and they absorb new concepts easily, especially about women and family. My mom, for example, has always pushed me to never settle for less and follow my dreams, and that I only deserve people who can put up with that.

But I recognize that not everyone is as lucky as I am in that regard. I believe there are some who hold ideas over their children’s heads, the same ideas they have fallen victims to during their time. One of which is the idea that marriage is a rite of passage for any woman who wants to be a happy and successful person. The sooner, the better; stay single by 30 and you become a spinster or a “matandang dalaga”.

While a simple question or comment about an unmarried woman’s status may be harmless, it contributes to the perpetuation of the idea that the choice to put off marriage is obscure or abnormal. I have heard some tell women to not be so intimidating because no one will be brave enough to like them, how their aura can leave them single for life; or that women in relationships must strive to alleviate the insecurities of their partners by not overpowering their achievements. Some women are forced to settle with whoever there is, hurrying to get married for the sake of it. To a more serious degree, others are forcefully entered into marriages by their elders for fear that they won’t be able to find a partner otherwise.  

Back when women didn’t have the right to vote or pursue an education, they were encouraged to marry to boost their status and improve their lives. Their sole purpose was to single-handedly raise a family, while all the technical work was left to their husbands. While this was decades ago in the West and women have slowly been garnering the roles they deserve in society, the Philippines did not follow suit only until recently. This is why even if less and less women are putting marriage on top of their priorities, the stigma remains.

I look up to women from older generations who were able to sustain their passions or fuel their careers while being happily married, becausedon’t get me wrongbeing a wife or a mother is a daunting and praise-worthy task. As long as they draw fulfilment and happiness from it, then there isn’t a problem. But I know that there are the unfortunate few who are unhappily contained, forever chained to the consequences of a marriage that was only entered into for the sake of it.

I am not against marriage nor am I against the people who wish for it for their peers, family, or themselves. In fact, I see myself getting married in the future. But, I would like to think that I will get married for reasons other than fulfilling my “purpose as a woman” or simply meeting unnecessary standards. Women have tirelessly pushed for reform, endured stigma, and faced harsh criticism to have the same rights and opportunities as their counterparts. They have done more than what it takes to make their own choicesand marriage should be one of those. Women have reached far and beyond the limits they have been subjected to and have consistently proven worthy to think for themselves. A woman must be recognized for the world she has built with her hands, not the presence of a ring on her finger.