OPINION: Don’t Let Society Bully You Into Marriage

Photo by Petar Milošević.
Written by BU News Service

By Sanaz Tahernia
BU News Service

By the time a woman turns 30, she’s lost 90 percent of her eggs.

This is something that’s brought up to me repeatedly, to which I usually respond, “why don’t you worry about your own love life and reproductive system?” I’m a 35-year-old, second-time-around graduate student that has lived the life of a professional adult — holding a steady job as a lawyer — all while maintaining serious relationships throughout. I even made the adult decision to leave the comfort of a job and further my education here at Boston University. Having accomplished as much as I have, a big part of me still feels as though I need to be in a steady relationship.

Society has only recently started to pull away from the notion of gender roles, but when I was growing up, gender roles were very much a part of my life. I wore pink and purple and played with Barbies and My Little Pony dolls, while my brother wore green and blue and played with G.I. Joe and Transformers. My brother dreamed of becoming a surgeon, whereas I remember dreaming about my wedding while choreographing ridiculous dance routines to Debbie Gibson in my bedroom. Envisioning myself as a bride only became more prevalent after I was the flower girl at a family friend’s wedding. The ridiculous ’80s-style wedding dress with puffy shoulders, the gifts — I wanted it all.

On top of societal pressure as a whole, marriage is also a huge issue for me culturally. In the Persian language, there’s a saying that a girl has an expiration date, meaning she basically expires if she is not married by a certain age. That age generally falls around 26 or 27. I’m sorry to say, but my expiration has not only passed, but the health department would probably issue a recall to have me taken off the shelves.

Having also grown up in an academic family, my father would always tell me that I would have to finish my education before I could even think about marriage. Since I graduated law school at 27, I was already at a disadvantage — I had “expired.” I’m not a carton of milk, people.

Thankfully, trends are showing that more and more people are waiting longer to get married and to have babies. According to a U.S. Census Bureau survey, the median age for women to get married increased from 24 years to 25 years. Great, but that still follows the expiration rule.

There are women who are far more accomplished and older than I am who have never married, but it seems as if they don’t even care about the institution of marriage. For example, Oprah Winfrey, Diane Keaton, or Coco Chanel — and those are just women in the public eye. They are smart, successful and beautiful women, and none of them are, or have been, married. I’m not saying that those ladies and I fall into the same category, but they didn’t succumb to the societal pressures of marriage.

But pressured, single, career-driven women across the world can rejoice because studies also show that more women are postponing marriage to become financially secure before settling down. We’re finally showing that we don’t have to rely on a man, or we won’t feel destitute if a marriage doesn’t work out. And with divorce rates as high as they are, it’s a reality we’re faced with.

So if you’re currently in your 20s and you feel pressure to get married before you hit your 30s, stop yourself. You’re building a life for you, and things will happen when they are supposed to. And if you’re like me and you’re already in your 30s, don’t worry. Just picture yourself married to the guy you dated when you were 26 or 27.

Exactly. No thank you.

1 Comment

  • Everyone’s timeline is different, everyone evolves differently and for many, steady relationships stop our personal evolution instead of amplifying it. Society needs to acknowledge this further as so many are pushing themselves into lifelong bonds prematurely.

    Many who have given society the most, have made personal sacrifices of relationships/having children so they could give 100% to their work. We should be thankful for those people instead of forcing them to conform to some unknown origin standard

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