“And when you choose a life partner, you’re choosing a lot of things, including your parenting partner and someone who will deeply influence your children, your eating companion for about 20,000 meals, your travel companion for about 100 vacations, your primary leisure time and retirement friend, your career therapist, and someone whose day you’ll hear about 18,000 times.
Yes, choosing a life partner is that INTENSE.
Before I continue, I would like to establish that yes, I want to be in a lifelong relationship. I want to get married. I want kids. I want a family. Just because I focus so much on my career and educational accomplishments as well as my hobbies and self-improvement activities, it doesn’t mean that I do not want other things, a partner included. It doesn’t mean that a woman like me can’t have time for both self-actualization and a family.
Which is why I find this article on How to Pick Your Life Partner very enlightening, if not reassuring.
It speaks not only of why I am correct in my decision to wait, but also of the rationale (more like irrationale) behind the pressures that push us singles to “jump in” regardless of the possibility for a mistake, regardless of the mismatch, regardless of the unhappiness that being in the wrong relationship brings.
In the Philippines, people tend to marry young, especially in the provinces. At 25, you are expected to have settled with a boyfriend. Singleness is frowned upon, and a woman who focuses on improving herself and getting a higher education is hardly an accomplishment, especially in the provinces where marrying young is a boon. At thirty, even the fairly progressive minds tend to think that an unmarried woman is already —god forbid– an old maid. The idea of spinsterhood is never broached— it is 2014 after all— but I can feel it in the questions, see it in the pitying looks, in the pats and smiles and expectations. As a single woman, I tend to feel that Filipinos, especially the older generation, still measure a woman’s worth, her attractiveness, her value based on her marital status and her ability to bear children. Even my late grandmother, bless her soul, used to keep asking me when I would finally introduce a mate to her, this, in spite of her excitement at my educational attainment, my various many accomplishments.
Because of my age, many well-meaning relatives (you know who you are!) and even acqaintances tend to ask, “When will you settle down?” This is a question that most singles my age hate/dread/avoid/roll our eyes at in every family reunion, party, or get together. I often wonder why people ask: is it because they are truly concerned, or because they want to torture us the way they themselves were tortured when they were young(er) and still single? My answer to this very
infuriating frustrating question is always a firm and resounding “Next year.” And every year that people ask me, I will use that same response: “Next year.” After all, no one really knows the answer to such a question, do they? And if they did know the answer, then you undoubtedly wouldn’t have to prod ask.
Again, I want to emphasize that I do want what my parents have: a lifelong relationship and the love and happiness that growing in one brings. I’ve seen it work; I know it can happen, despite the odds. And no, I’m not looking for the perfect relationship, either. I know that being in one will have its share of ups and downs. And yet I have wanted that lifelong relationship ever since I began playing “house” with Ken, Skipper, and my Barbie dolls. I want it more now that I feel that my self-actualization needs (most of them, at least) have been met.
But if I have to have this “couplehood” status at the expense of finding my match, at the expense of true happiness within a relationship, then biological clock be damned, I will wait and hope that my body produces eggs until I find the man I truly, really, undoubtedly want to spend 15,000 sunrises and sunsets with.
Until then, I will continue to do the things I do as a happy and fulfilled single: love my family, enjoy my work, relish my leisure time and hobbies, and focus on other great pursuits. At least for now, like the article states, I’m only one step away from coupled-up happiness. I’d rather be there than be three steps away from becoming a newly-happy single.
My life partner will come. Next year.
Mr. Balloon, fly me to the Moon.