When I worked downtown, I used to take the train, ‘cause, well, it was much more convenient for me. And as much as I prefer to drive everywhere I go, I hate – absolutely loathe actually— driving downtown. It’s always like a zoo down there. And because I drive such a beautiful (and expensive, I must add) SUV, there’s no way I’d take her downtown every single day!
Anyway, this guy handed me a newspaper – you know one of those papers that you can read on the train. Normally, I refuse them ‘cause I often carry a book with me, but this time I’d taken my other purse with me, and hence forgot to bring my book. So, anyway, as I took my seat on the train (by the window of course) and made myself comfortable, I then eyed the newspaper in my hand and decided to flip through it. And suddenly my eyes stopped on a small caption that I couldn’t resist reading. It read:
Being single could kill you, researchers claim
According to a paper in the American Journal of Epidemiology, single men and women who have never married are more likely to die sooner than their married friends. Their research found that single men could die about eight to 17 years earlier than their married male friends, and single women could die seven to 15 years earlier than their married counterparts.
I am not sure how accurate this information is, and how exactly the research was conducted for these scientists to make such a huge claim, but one thing I have to agree with, being a married woman myself: ever since I got married, I’ve been so much happier. And this is not to imply that I did not like living with my family or anything like that. It was good while it lasted, but now that I am married and living in my own house with my beloved husband, I find life to be so much better. And I really wouldn’t change it for the world.
I realize, though, that there are many women out there who say that when you’re educated and independent, then you don’t really need a man, or marriage, to be more specific. You can very well take care of yourself, and live your life happily and all that wonderful jazz. And I would have agreed with this notion a little over three years ago. I, too, was one of those staunch “feminists” who believed that having a man/marriage wasn’t important because I was independent and that I could very well take care of myself without the help of a man. There had even come a point in my life where marriage wasn’t even in my agenda at all, because my focus was mainly on attaining my Masters and then my PhD and contributing something significant to the Pashtun Diaspora. But now I wonder whether I would have been truly content with that decision. And the more I think about it, the more I realize that despite pursuing my passions (and succeeding at them), I would not be complete without the help of a man who loves and supports me.
Again, this has absolutely nothing to do with lack of independence or my desire to rely on a man. I am not one of those women who think that men are not as important as we women are, or that we don’t need men at all. Yes, I admit I used to think this way not too long ago, but I was unaware, because I did not realize how important a man – a good man – can be in a woman’s life and in her ability to become successful. Not only does he become her cheerleader, but he becomes her greatest motivation in almost everything. If it weren’t for my husband, I never would have pursued my art, nor my doctorate, nor so many of my other passions as effectively as I would have. It’s wrong to assume that men are always competing with women; to be better than them; or subjugating them in every possible way. Some can indeed become a woman’s greatest strength. And mine is exactly just that. Though, I am sure I would have achieved my passions regardless if I’d met my husband or not, but he just gave me that extra boost that I needed to speed up the process. And one shouldn’t be afraid to admit that. I certainly am not. Rather, I am very proud to say that behind my success, my husband has been my pillar – the reason for most of my achievements thus far.
Furthermore, we humans are very social animals. We need constant social interaction. We need to be reminded of our worth and admired for our achievements. In many cultures, mine included, marriage – a good, successful marriage — is an achievement on its own. As a matter of fact, marriage is considered far more important than education or attaining the ability to work. It gives these women a sense of empowerment, knowing that they are capable of being good wives in order to make their husbands happy and their marriages work. And considering that divorce is considered such a taboo; it’s usually the very last thing on their minds.
Albeit, to me, having to please my husband or being an obedient wife does not encompass my definition of a good marriage; nor do I consider marriage to be some sort of an “achievement.” Many people have different meanings of the word, because it is a relationship – and a very intimate one at that – between two people. And it indeed varies from one couple to another. However, if I were to define marriage, I’d say it’s based on mutual love and understanding. And as clichéd as that may sound, that’s pretty much what a good, stable marriage is all about, in my opinion (and experience). Mastering the ability to see eye-to-eye on things, and letting things go, without the need to make a mountain out of a tiny mole.
In addition to love and understanding – and I will have to be blunt here – we need sexual intimacy. For not only is sex a great release from all the tension and stresses of life, but it’s also a way in which we show our partner/lover/spouse how much we love them and desire them. And coming from the culture that I come from, sexual relations only come after marriage. Hence, that is one of the important factors for why so many of us want to get married; we long for that one person who will not only find us sexually desirable, but who will also be our best friend and our partner for life. And, let’s face it, sex is a very healthy part of any marriage, no matter how much we shy away from admitting it.
And while it’s also true that many can attain sexual relations without the need to be married, one thing they don’t realize (until much later), however, is that sex without love is hollow; empty. People may jump from one relationship to another, have quickie one-night stands, but does that necessarily equal happiness? Do people actually enjoy living this completely uninhibited, boundless life where they jump from one loveless relationship to another, only to fulfill their selfish desires, and come out feeling completely empty at the end? To be honest, I wouldn’t know, for even though I hate to judge/be judgmental, this is a life that literally makes me shudder. It reminds me of this movie I watched recently called, “Up In The Air.” The main character in the film is depicted as a very successful, handsome businessman who doesn’t believe in marriage and then one day he meets this beautiful woman, has a seemingly casual affair with her, only to realize that he is falling in love with her. (And even considers marriage for the first time.) Later he realizes that she is already married with kids. And suddenly he begins to understand what it’s like to truly love a woman and feels utterly heartbroken and deceived, despite the fact that they already had an understanding that their relationship would be nothing more than just casual. It’s a really good movie and well worth the watch.
Anyway, I am not writing this article to promote marriage in any way or to tell my readers to get married right this very second. No, this is not my intention. Rather, I strongly believe in the motto: live and let live. Most people choose to live their lives a certain way, and they are perfectly happy and content with it. Marriage is simply a contract that shows society, and assures them, of the validity of relationships. Albeit, I realize that marriage may not be for everyone. Some may choose to live in common-law relationship, while others may choose to get married. At the end of the day, it probably won’t matter because in both these instances, there are two monogamous people involved who truly love and care for each other.
So, while being single has its advantages, I personally would never want to be single again. Marriage, to me, has become my salvation; my ultimate path towards the good life. Of course, these are my personal feelings (again based on experience only), so my readers do not necessarily have to agree with me. But, just thought I’d share some of my own thoughts on that blurb, and express my views on this topic.
Oh, and since we’re on the topic of marriage, my next post or so will focus on Child Marriages and the Pakhtun tribal custom of Swara, so definitely be on the lookout for those.