“Why did people laugh at me when I said that marriage is not only about happiness but also problems, sadness, tears, and confusion?” A good friend innocently asked me. There were only both of us in the teachers’ room during lunch break yesterday.
She got married around three years ago in an age considered a bit late for most Indonesian people. (She was in her mid thirties at that time.)
To answer that question, I asked her to remember her own opinion before getting married. Did she only think about happiness? She said yes. And she admitted that she was haunted by people’s questioning her, “When will you get married?” However, as her excuse, she mentioned about the indoctrination she got from her parents, relatives, and also society that a woman must get married to be happy. She thought that teenagers or girls in twenties nowadays were supposed to have a more mature idea about marriage because recently there have been more and more cases about violence in marriage unveiled in newspapers or news on television.
I said to her that it is all back to the way their parents bring those girls up. I am of opinion that those parents still believe that marriage is a certainty, just like birth and death in someone’s life, that marriage is the ultimate goal in someone’s life—especially girls—or the only gate to get happiness in this world. I assume that those parents also find sadness, troubles, and difficulties in their marriage, but they think these bitterness is just a piece of cake, not comparable to happiness that they seem to have in other people’s eyes. Therefore they don’t want to tell the truth to their children because they are worried if it will scare the children to get married. And if a girl stays being single after thirties, the parents will feel ashamed.
As an example I mentioned the different way I bring Angie up and her best friend’s parents’ way. Her best friend—who happened to have the same nick with me, Nana—is as old as Angie. I suppose my age is not much different from Nana’s mother. However, different experience in life of course makes me different from Nana’s mother. When a cousin of Nana’s (she is as old as Nana and Angie, sixteen years old) was proposed by someone, Nana’s mother said to her, “Look! Your cousin has been needed by someone. Nobody wants you yet. It is because she pays more attention to her physical beauty than you do.” It discouraged Nana in one side. In another side, Nana started to pay more attention to her physical thing.
For your information, Nana’s mother is a dentist, a well-educated person, and her profession is quite prestigious, isn’t it? But it doesn’t mean that she is free from patriarchal society’s indoctrination about marriage.
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