In my recent trip to Yemen, I was constantly asked about my marital status. This is a synopsis of a conversation I had with a 60 year-old woman.
Woman: “are you still unmarried.”
Me: “yeah I’m still happy alhamdulilah”
Woman: “haha..how old are you now?
crap should I really respond to this…“I’m 29.”
Woman: “Oh my! Honey, you better get to it. Why aren’t you married?”
Not knowing how to respond to such a question I said with hesitation, “umm…well…I dunno.. I guess it’s just not meant to be?”
Woman: “Girls these days! They are just too picky. Maybe if you stopped working for a while you would find a husband. Don’t you want to get married?”
Where do I begin, and how do I explain to her how I feel. I gave it a try and said “yes, like many women I do want to get married, but, I am honestly happy at the moment. I don’t want to get married JUST for the sake of being married, or simply because it’s time, or because in Yemeni terms, it’s long overdue. I want to get married when I find love, compatibility, and most importantly, a lifetime companion, a best friend who I can share stories with, laugh with, and sometimes cry with. Someone who will encourage me to pursue my dreams, and not someone who will squash my dreams because of his insecurities and love for power and control.”
With a look of sadness or maybe confusion, she shook her head and told me that I am too naïve. She continued and said lovingly: “habeebati, you’re 29 (side note, in Yemeni years, 29 is equivalent to 92), and your options are very limited now. You should really think about getting married so you can have children. Once you have kids, you won’t even focus on the husband anyways!”
Me: “Well, I really don’t want to raise children in a dead household; in a home where the father and mother don’t communicate and don’t really share a life. I want a home, and not a mechanical house where the robotic father and robotic mother are doing their “duties” without a human touch. I prefer to have a human relationship, and if that’s not in the horizon for me, then its better to remain happy and single, than be entangled in a miserable mechanical marriage.”
Woman: “May Allah help you find what you are looking for.”