So, how was the Chinese New Year celebrations for you? Ambivalent would likely be appropriate for mine. Good thing I still enjoyed my eligibility to receive red packets though.
Of course, it is also a time where I have come to terms with (year after year) the much dreaded fast and furious ‘interrogations’ from every single family member and relative in my clan. Sometimes, I just can’t help but to think they all came prepared with the same questions for me:
“Girl ah, when are you both getting married?” “Have your boyfriend talked to you about the wedding plans or not?” “Apply your BTO flat from HDB already?”
That’s almost enough to make me nauseous and rethink about social interactions during family gatherings entirely. Alright, I’m just saying.
I’m not trying to make a mountain out of a molehill (insert sexist stereotype about females here). For me, the pressure for marriage is there, insidiously creeping into every offhand comment and light-hearted jibe.
Que Sera Sera
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Que sera sera, whatever will be will be ~ The future’s not ours to see, que sera sera.
Yeah, I bet Doris Day was onto something there.
I could be climbing the corporate ladder, furthering my studies, doing humanitarian work overseas, I could go on unending! But marriage, marriage, marriage – Is that the end for all women to aspire towards? That’s not for anyone else but myself to dictate.
Frankly, I’ll put on my wedding dress and marry myself off when it is the right time to do so.
Getting Hitched With My Ah Lao
Of course I want to get married, and just like every other girl, I’m planning for my perfect wedding in Singapore. I’m happy to have found my ‘Ah Lao’ (husband-to-be) to spend the rest of my life with, but I just wish there was more leeway for the trajectory of a woman’s life.
The heat for marriage doesn’t just come in the form of individuals pressuring me to get married, but also in the preceding set of conventions that a typical marriage is supposed to follow here.
Take this recent comment from my grandma for instance. She’s always been a right little firecracker, drilling me in my homework since I was a kid and telling me to study hard, get into university and get a good job.
She told my brother over our reunion dinner, “Didi ah, you must study hard! Boy cannot be stupid one, or else next time how to look after your wife?”
My ears immediately pricked up.
“Wah Ah Ma, then I study so hard for what? So all my time and hard work spent in university for nothing lor? HAIYO, and I’m a girl!”
I take on an expression of despair and horror at the unnecessary years of education. Laughter erupts all around the table.
“Cekik dara!* Aiyo, next time your husband will look after you!”
*roughly translated to “you little bloodsucker”.
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I don’t think she meant to say that I’m incapable of taking care of myself, but that I simply have a safety net in the form of a husband. But I don’t quite agree with that. I can look after myself, and my husband too!
Who says I won’t be the one taking care of him? There’s always something to be said for the ideal power dynamics of a marriage, the role of the husband and wife, the list goes. Is it you that’s getting married or me? I understand that it’s rooted in good intentions and you simply want to espouse a rhetoric that worked for you but…
Am I Serious About Marriage?
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Hell yeah! What I want is to have my own alternative little marital arrangement.
I know this may not go down well for most Asian girls, but I straightforwardly told my boyfriend that he can choose to be a house husband, and he would receive a generous monthly stipend to “stay at home all day, cook, clean, and most importantly, make me happy when I come home”.
That’s if I earn $20k a month (in my dreams).
I gleefully recounted this to my BFF, and her immediate response was “Babe, are you getting married to him or you just providing for a gigolo?!”
So it’s okay to be a housewife but a house husband is seen as a kept man? Face palm.
Please, allow me the grace to determine when my marriage will happen and how it’s going to be. What a conundrum, to be feeling the heat for marriage in so many different ways. Ultimately, I still feel that marriage is an important institution.
It’s also fundamentally of value to society because it lays the foundation towards what two individuals could call home. And that dream home I’m eventually planning to build with my ‘Ah Lao’ uses the materials I deem fit.