Why I Married At 23…Sometimes We Do Make Wrong Decisions!

Early marriage

Our decisions cling to us, we have to live with some of them all our life. We might live in the shadow of regret because we didn’t have the maturity to ponder. We didn’t have the guts to speak up, to express our resentment, to rise against what appeared to be a wrong decision.

What if a parent or sibling makes those life-changing decisions?

What if they were made under societal pressures or moral bindings?

What if they are seen to be quite right by everybody around us?

All these questions didn’t crop up when I married at 23 (actually 22+) and it happened to be a happy marriage.

Thankfully, I have lived by that decision without any regrets.

I am not alone!

I know many girls marry at this age, out of choice. But the million-dollar question is: Are they enlightened enough to gather the import of such a decision?

When there is an unwritten decree that you have to marry when you are asked to just because it is convenient for the people around you, when the society values your muteness at such decisions, when you are expected to concur with what your near and dear ones decide for you, when you don’t want to displease them…do you have any choice?

In many cases that decision may turn you into a puppet, a slave, a housemaid, a sex symbol, a money-churning machine – who cares? You are seen as respectfully, happily married woman!

Now many such questions stare at me and I realize how simple, how immature and young I was at that time.

I couldn’t even understand that I was abdicating my dream, my aspiration.

I was told that I could still pursue it. I just chose to forget it but that is another story!

I was told that everybody must settle down. I could hardly fathom the depth of those words.

Did I have a choice? I was not expected to question or even see the man I was supposed to marry though I did raise some queries and insisted on meeting him at least once.

It is another matter that I met a kind and understanding man.

All those who are married off like this are not that lucky.

Those were probably primitive times…we didn’t have any Google to ask all those questions. We just had a radio and a gramophone, which sang away to glory and who was interested in the news that women had been granted equal status, that they too could claim their rights!?

Nothing has changed in this technology driven, digital world.

The unwritten diktats of the society follow young, naïve girls to their grave.

Marrying young

Younger brides can be easily molded, that is the belief. They can’t wield much power and will-power, this weakness can be easily exploited.

I didn’t have the power or the authority; they too face the same scenario.

The patriarchal societies are driven by the same age-old traditions of marrying a young girl, demanding (or expecting) dowry and considering the wife as a personal property.

My own niece met with the same fate and I couldn’t do anything! Isn’t it strange? But she chose to divorce!

She could only do so when the choice lay in her on hands and I appreciate her bold step.

I am not shifting any blame.

I could have also made a wrong decision. Many people do so.

I am only trying to understand how much has our society evolved. How much freedom have we attained and who have actually got that freedom?

At the same time, I am awe struck at the wrong decisions made in the western world, where dating at teenage endows them with too much of freedom.

They have all the choices!

We all make wrong decisions but when we make them ourselves, we move on, thinking it was a bad dream, a little mistake, and an aberration.

How long will the societal oppressions keep demanding the sacrifices of young, innocent girls? How long would their ambitions be thwarted by the biased demands of the culture and the dogmas?

Thank you for reading this. I am sure you have some thoughts to share. Please do so.

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Thank you for your support. Please add your valuable comments, they are much appreciated.

Balroop Singh.

Image adapted from: http://kenmclane.org

 

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33 thoughts on “Why I Married At 23…Sometimes We Do Make Wrong Decisions!

  1. It’s sad that the rights of women are belittled in certain cultures. Although there has been work to change it, it’s a slow process. I’m happy for you though, Balroop as your marriage is a happy and fulfilling one! Very thought provoking post.

    1. Hi Lisa,

      All that you hear about ‘change’ is just an eye wash. Women continue to suffer the unimaginable discrimination in many countries and even after studying well are expected to remain subservient and you can’t even imagine their plight in rural and backward areas!

      Thanks for the kind words 🙂 I have been quite fortunate.

  2. You give us much to think about. I tend to forget not everyone chooses his/her mate or get married for the wrong reasons or stay in a marriage when it’s not a healthy marriage.

    1. Hi Suzi,

      I wish more people think about changing the age-old oppressive norms of those societies in which older women too play a big role in carrying out those traditions.
      Thanks for sharing your view.

  3. Hi Balroop,

    Wonderful post, yet again, and this time about a much needed topic 🙂

    All that you wrote is the sad state of affairs for many young girls in our country, not to mention child marriage, which still takes place in many areas, especially the rural areas. Who decides the fate of such girls? Where do they live their dreams? What lives do they have? I think they just step from childhood, right into womanhood and start bearing kids, when they should be in school and colleges, studying – leave alone trying to make a career for themselves.

    Unless people rise and create awareness about all of this, and the Government does something, such things carry on.

    Marriage requires deep understanding, trust, love, and most importantly, companionship more than anything else. And all of this takes time to develop, which perhaps a youngster doesn’t have, especially when one’s rushed into marriage against our will, just because of peer pressure! Wish it would all change, though we know for our kids, we wouldn’t allow all this to happen – glad it all ended with us 🙂

    Thanks for sharing. Have a nice week ahead 🙂

    1. Hi Harleena,

      Many times I try to figure out how much has changed in our society and many questions glare back at me. Just that few girls have got an access to better and higher education or few percent can pursue careers does not change the tyrannical and inhuman practices of our societies, which look down upon girl child even now! They are not expected to have any dreams, even their wishes are defined by the so called well-wishers who consider themselves to be their custodians!

      Who thinks of marriage in those terms as you have described? It is just an essential burden, which a woman has to carry…the sooner the better, that is what the so called guardians or the parents are conditioned to think.

      The only persons who can usher some change are the youngsters of today. Alas! they too are raised by such women who believe in the supremacy patriarchal society.
      Thanks for adding so much value to this discussion. Have a blessed week.

  4. Insightful, heart touching points that you have raised here….these are questions that I too have contemplated on though I married when I didn’t marry so young. I have many women folk in my family who married young and they have shared their experiences with me so I can understand what it’s been like. As you wrote here, many questions glare back at me.

    You mentioned about your niece…I have similar instances too where I felt helpless about the choices made by young girls because of “parental” pressure. The only persons who can usher some change are these young girls but the more I see what is happening and the choices they are making, the less I believe that they will challenge existing norms…they’d rather go with the flow than question and be tested for what they question.

    Thanks for adding so much value to this important discussion. Keep inspiring:)

    1. Hi Swapna,

      I am glad this post touched you to the point of sharing your view. I wish all young girls read this and get an inspiration to take such life changing decisions in their own hands. Even those who marry out of choice and love, with rosy dreams in their innocent eyes at a young age regret their decision as soon as they understand the meaning of marriage.

      Parental pressure is very difficult to shake off as they apply all those emotional tools to convince that they are right…even in this era, parents do play a pivotal role in taking the major decisions of our lives. Most of the times the young girls agree out of respect for their parents.
      Thanks for sharing your perspective…lets do our share of spreading awareness and awakening.

  5. Hi there Balroop,
    I agree with you completely, though it is biologically speaking, easier for a younger mother to handle the physical aspect of childbearing and it helps to have a young mother standing bye in the old days. ( i as a man married at 23, my wife was 20) and in our case it worked out as we were very much in love.
    But looking back, it would have been easier on us if we had waited a little longer. Not that we have any regrets as God gifted us with wonderful twins sons who have made us very proud of them.
    We did not have children for 12 years after the twins and then miraculously my wife who was not supposed to have any more children due to a miscarriage soon after the twins, scarring of the fallopian tubes etc., suddenly became pregnant and we did have a daughter, a wonderful one and another wonderful girl two years later.
    Sufficient to say, both the twins and the girls always had company, and have kept us very happy all these wonderful years 40+.

    I digress, at 64 in 10 days, you must forgive me, every sentence becomes a walk down memory lane – a favourite place for old men.

    What I wanted to say was that for the girls we were both so much more mature, independent and with wonderful friends in a city far from home. The birth, the bringing up of the our first girl in particular stands out, as by then we both knew the importance of giving the mother space, a peaceful environment and a healthy diet.

    True for my sons, the old ladies were there to pamper the bride and give her the traditional “Saffron with milk treatment,”which came along with the smothering that my wife did not want, or the introduction to family traditions. Not all good.

    What no one took into consideration, in those days, was the comfort that my wife really wanted was to be alone with me, and not my family. Something I learned and appreciated only years later.

    Both sexes get a better deal, when both partners are more mature and not drawn to each other by infatuation but my a real sense of wanting to belong and live a life of adventure together. Its a long road to venture upon and a couple better prepared will have a much more enjoyable journey and accomplish more with the proper attitude that can only come with maturity, which usually involves time.

    Thank you for the wonderful article. Enjoyed it as usual.
    I have not been able to devote much time to my favourite bloggers,
    And may still only be an regularly-irregular visitor, but my heart is with you all.
    Nicolas

    1. Hi Mr. Rao,

      Thanks for endorsing my view and supporting it with your personal experience.
      However I disagree with you that young mothers are better equipped to bear children. If you think 23 is the right age to start a family, then I would like to reiterate my question, which I have raised in my post – what about the dreams and aspirations of women, which get trampled underneath such a mindset? Nobody even cares to ask the poor woman what she wants!

      The real change lies in the hands of older generation who think more about honoring the traditions than the happiness of their own children, who think about girls being a burden, who still believe in ‘kanyadaan’ even in this era!

      Thanks for the appreciation and taking out your valuable time to share such a detailed insight. You are welcome to visit any time.

      1. Dear Balroop,
        I merely said it was easier for younger mothers to bear children and give birth. No one in my family was forced.
        I wanted to at 23, and my wife wanted to as well.
        We are very happy together after 40 years and have four wonderful children and three wonderful grandchildren as well.
        I agree that forcing young women to marry is wrong. However, biologically it is easier when a woman is young and the bones are not too ossified. A young adult in her early twenties will definitely be able to go through childbirth with less problems than an older woman, thats all.
        I may not have been clear in my comment, but I do agree with you and have said so in many parts of my comments.
        My wife aged 20 wanted to get married. I was 23 and wanted to get married.
        My daughters waited because they wanted to.
        No one was forced or coerced into any marriage.
        Hope all is clear.
        Nicolas

      2. Thanks for the clarification but I was looking at the larger question of young girls, even educated ones…( what to talk of those who don’t even get the right to education ) who are not given the choice. Your children were very fortunate to have got that freedom and I am happy for them.

  6. Balroop, I am thankful that it all worked out for you but certainly you’re right that it may not have been a happy marriage given the limiting circumstances. And such a young age too as we are still maturing so much in our 20’s. I am thankful I get to choose who I will marry in the future and even whether I will marry. Your post is very thought provoking and thank you for it!

    1. Hi Christy,

      You are better placed, you live in a society, which respects the freedom and equal rights. You can’t even imagine the plight of young girls in retrogressive societies even in the modern times. What I have written is just a grain in the sand.

      Thanks for being so understanding and prudent.

      1. Absolutely, Balroop. I know I invited you before but if you ever want to contribute a guest post to my site “When Women Inspire,” just let me know. I appreciate your posts and what you share so much xx

  7. Thank you for writing this Balroop. The only way to make changes in our society is through education and empowerment. you remind me more than ever why education is needed and much more of it for young girls today. We can educate young girls but how do we educate the society, the culture and the pressures on people to get girls married early?

    Early marriages limit women’s freedom to be themselves, live their own lives and make their greatest contribution to society.

    1. Hi Vishnu,

      You are right…education and empowerment is the only answer but our society and the older generation needs it all the more. They are the ones who feel pressurised more – the common argument they give is ‘what will people say’, they willingly sacrifice their own daughters at the altar of their own honor and respect.

      Thanks for sharing your perspective.

  8. Hello there Balroop.
    Since I wrote the previous comment some time has passed and it has been possible for me to talk to my daughter about this. She had indeed told us about this many times before, but I had forgotten.

    It seems all the education and even awareness from international travel and the experience of living in other countries has not helped her generation all that much.

    She was very happy that we have such open discussions in our own home and was sharing how it was not so in the homes of most of her friends. A few did have their own choices and were very happy to wait and choose the right person, however, in truth she told us about at least a dozen of her friends who were forced into marriage and were divorced in weeks or months. There were even cases of elopement and marriage without the consent of parents as it was forced on them.

    Yes! The actual legal procedure takes a good six months at the least with both sides cooperating but for others it is indeed a crushing experience.

    I am very sad to add that in this time of supposed progress , the nation, is strongly buffeted by retrograde, non-secular forces at high levels, who are again forcing even the educated and experienced families to go back to age old bad traditions.

    Traditions and culture have their place, but when they go out of hand interfering with lives of the children and young adults of the country, I speak of mine alone- India, what can we be expected to do. Is there more than voicing our opinions on every social media possible and among the people in our sphere of influence.

    My own family runs a very large NGO started by my grandparents way back in 1928 for the care of single women and orphans and my grandfather pioneered the widow re-marriage, in Madras. The old Madras Presidency which included all four states of the South. We as a family try to do our best and have all worked for this society and trust. But the evils still prevail.

    The sensible people of the country are now beginning to feel like another breed, unwanted and disregarded by a majority, an ignorant and impoverished vote bank that places the most unscrupulous and vile people in places of power.

    I am not talking about the present alone, but to all generations preceding this after Independence who have not bothered to be assertive about doing what is right and not what a politician things is policy.

    Where is India going. All the technological breakthroughs and productivity are doing little to improve the standard or quality of life of the Indian individual and the women suffer more than the men.

    When will things change or are we unable to rule ourselves? This was a question the great Mahatma Gandhi mulled over. I am afraid it is a question still left unanswered, or are we just ignoring the truth?

    Personally, I feel only an educated franchise can help this country, but will that ever be a possibility?

    1. Hi Dr. Rao,

      Thank you so much for understanding the issues I have raised in this post with a personal example, which has been used to highlight that anybody, even those who get the best of education can be a victim of societal pressures and traditions. As you know very well, awareness and education hardly empowers young girls who feel torn between their values and the urge to embrace freedom.

      1. Yes! Balroop, I may have taken a little while to completely understand your post, but eventually did. I see the reality and have made my personal observations in India as well as my daughters,
        You are absolutely right.
        Things need to change.
        Thank you,
        Nicolas

  9. Very thought provoking post ~ and freedom for all is so valuable and important. As for making wrong decisions, I do not think there is such a thing ~ instead I think there is a lot of second guessing, which I do a lot of and I write it all down to the “grass is greener on the other side” feeling that is human nature. But only those really educated can understand that they are where they are by their own choices…without education there just isn’t that freedom…and as you ask, is obtaining such education even possible.

    Beautiful post and wish you well!

    1. Thanks for standing by and reflecting on the choices and the freedom to enjoy them. When decisions are not influenced by others, when we take them without feeling any pressure or when they are taken at an immature age – there is a lot of difference between them.
      When we try to second guess our decision, we may regret many of them – you are so right! Real education is entirely another debate!
      Thanks for the appreciation.

  10. I’m glad this decision worked out for you, Balroop. I am all too aware of the pressure subtle and overt for women in India to marry young. I managed to wait until I was 41, meeting several frogs along the way, until I met my Prince. I know that too many women don’t have that freedom and it’s really sad!

    1. Hi Corinne,

      I am glad you waited for the right man, didn’t fall a prey to the societal norms and found your Prince! I can also understand the gossip and the questions you must have faced all the way…it requires a lot of forbearance to take them in your stride. I wish more girls learn to snatch the freedom they are deprived of.

      Thanks for standing by and sharing your view.

  11. Balroop,

    Thank you so much for sharing part of your story. It’s something I have a hard time with. It seems Society keeps repeating the same mistake or at least interfering in people’s choice in such a way that people can’t really choose. They just follow rules that others set up for them.
    When looking at the state of the world, I realize that in most cases women keep repeating the same old stuff. They suffer in unhappy marriages, with men who battered them or cheat on them, but when it’s time for their kids and mostly girls to get married, they come back to the same tradition, without even willing to trangress any rule. They call it fate or something like it. And girls, who keep saying “my daughters won’t have the same fate” will not go against the stream when the time will come for their daughters to get married. It’s a never ending circle of fate and lack of choice.
    I am happy to read that your marriage was a good one after all. Your voice is important for all the girls and women who don’t have this chance.
    Take care dear Balroop.
    Marie – https://mahshimarshmallow.wordpress.com/

    1. Hi Marie,

      I agree with you absolutely. Despite a disgusting marriage and stressful relationship, girls continue to suffer, many just for the sake of their children and when it comes to the marriage of their own daughters, they follow the same old suffocating traditions, without thinking about the consequences. Their wishful thinking doesn’t change the mindset of men, having raised in patriarchal societies and therefore the same kind of problems continue from one generation to another.

      I just happened to be lucky or probably was compensated for my childhood misfortunes but it breaks my heart to see the plight of girls in our society.
      Thanks for adding your opinion to this discussion, greatly valued.

  12. You mentioned as to how far we have evolved. Wow, do we as world society still have a long ways to go. In the U.S. women have an incredible amount rights (thank gawd). Then I read stories, including yours, in other countries and wonder if we are still in the Dark Ages (so to speak). Regardless, the Path that you have been on has led you to this amazing place in life and the incredible person you are, Balroop. We are all blessed to have you as a friend 🙂

    1. Hi Mike,

      Nice to see you! Conservative societies just refuse to move ahead and in the name of traditions, customs and culture, they hold the weaker sex to ransom. Yes, these societies are still living in the dark ages. Their advancement is just an eye wash because if you happen to peep into their houses, you would be astonished beyond measure. I had written another post earlier about traditions and rituals connected with marriage, you must read that to understand the mindset of such people.

      Thanks for the kind words. Stay blessed!

  13. I’m certainly glad my parents never pressurized me into marriage. I am completely free to make my choice.
    However, youth of today take the same liberty as birthright – but they misconstrue liberty as ‘rash footloose , sans responsibility’. It doesnt just apply to sexual matters – but to drugs as well.
    I stay in a locality that also has a college. Seeing girls smoke is too common a sight nowadays.

  14. Hi Balroop,

    This is first time I am visiting your website though I know you for the last one year( it is going to be difficult for you to recall i guess 🙂 ). A thought provoking post you’ve written.I don’t know how many marriages happen for the right reason because to me it seems a form of peer pressure now.The only questions which me and my parents hear nowadays is “When i am getting married?”.It’s good to know you considered your niece divorce (when she was not happy and satisfied with her marriage) a bold step and appreciated her as not everyone has guts to do it in this male dominating society.Thanks for sharing this 🙂

  15. Hi Balroop,

    This is first time I am visiting your website though I know you for the last one year( it is going to be difficult for you to recall i guess 🙂 ). A thought provoking post you’ve written.I don’t know how many marriages happen for the right reason because to me it seems a form of peer pressure now.The only questions which me and my parents hear nowadays is “When i am getting married?”.It’s good to know you considered your niece divorce (when she was not happy and satisfied with her marriage) a bold step and appreciated her as not everyone has guts to do it in this male dominating society.Thanks for sharing this 🙂

    1. Hi Priyanka,

      Welcome to my blog, I am glad that there was this compelling post that provoked you to say something.
      You are right, many marriages just happen because of societal pressure and may not be giving any happiness to the persons concerned who just drag on in order to put up the appearances. The emotional and mental trauma that such marriages cause is unspeakable. Some even change the basic nature of a person, mostly the women have to accept the untold emotional suffering, just to keep the relationship going.

      I can understand the parental pressure, I can also understand the rosy dreams that we all nurture to live a comfortable and loving life but very few marriages happen to be ideal. Even love marriages, live-in relationships reveal that marriage is just a gamble, which requires compromises on both sides. Yes dear, male dominated society!! I am glad the young women of the modern world have the guts to challenge it.

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