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Career or Marriage. Every bride-to-be has to take the decision about which to prioritize and when.

I HAVE JUST COMPLETED MY MBA. MY PARENTS ARE INSISTING THAT I GET MARRIED IMMEDIATELY.  I WANT TO WORK AND HAVE Career PLANS OF MY OWN.   How do I convince my parents otherwise. They say I must not loose out on good matches. Kindly advice.

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There is a fresh and eager drive when one is done with their graduation and en route to plunging into the working world to kick start and build one’s career – be it a curious exploration of a field or a full-fledged plan. And the thought of a marriage coming in-between can leave one with a lot of questions, lined with doubt and fear. Especially when we live in a society where it’s not uncommon that marriage comes as a to-do list right after one’s studies.

Know thyself first

Why do you want to work and build your career? Do you have a plan? (does not have to be perfect just feasible). How does the thought of marriage make you feel? Do you think marriage would hinder your career and building yourself? How does a supportive partner make you feel in this pursue? Do you think marriage will stop you from working?

First, ask yourself the tough questions and answer them in all honesty. Once you know your reasons, and you are convinced, you are prepared to have a conversation with your parents. If not, it’s almost like last minute studying for a very important, life-altering viva. The accommodating part is that the Indian society has been evolving regarding marital age, purpose of entering in marriage, voicing out partner requirements, etc. 

I imagine you would not be a minor and possibly in the transition of making decisions which are in tune with your personality, needs and goals. It’s where you engage in trusting and respecting your own decision. 

Speaking to your parents

Parents undertake the responsibility in fixing alliances for their children in most Indian communities. This may be done with a firm hand or quite liberally, depending on various factors. It’s helpful to take a step back and see where they are coming from. They may be in a state of panic and anxiety around them especially when the words such as “immediate” is brought up and fear of losing out. 

Communication is key and how you communicate

  • Once you are self-assured, express your preference, plans, concerns and needs (assertive)
  • Avoid emotional outbursts, threats, tantrums, aggressive means etc. as your parents may consider it immature and may not take you seriously
  • Talk about the scope of your work and career. This shows them that you have clarity and thoroughly thought about what you want to do
  • Ask them what they view as a good match and about their anxieties tied to this for more understanding
  • Reassure them that your choice is for your personal well-being and may help in likeminded future prospects. (It’s not to be submissive but to assure them you have a rational reason that may extinguish their fear)
  • You can use examples of other individuals in your community who have pursued a career over marriage or a similar path
  • Seek support from another family member or close member of the community for support such as a professor, neighbour or religious member, if necessary support is available 
  • If possible, seek family counselling

Do keep in mind that parents may not accept your decision immediately and may require time to understand. If there is a strong disagreement or differences of opinion then consult a counsellor, personally. You need to understand that the only thing you can control in this situation is your reaction and decision even after a ‘No’. 

Everyone’s situation is unique to them in spite of a general outline. 

  • Reason out with a timeline, mate selection, location, etc. which aligns as much as possible with your career plans
  • It may help to keep your parents in the loop regarding your plans. It can give them an idea as to how much this means to you. A glimpse of your world and your ambition 
  • If there is immense force and you feel you will be taking a decision based on their pressure, request for a partner who is compatible with your values and work views. Here also open communication, about your needs and expectations with whosoever will be involved, helps (not just work-related)
  • If you find yourself in a situation of entering marriage, hold on to your work plans and keep them for a later, convenient date. Today, it is not odd to start or re-start your career in spite of time or age, and you will find that there are employers open and accepting of your situation. 
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Patience and commit to your decision

  • It may take time for your parents to be on board (or partly on board) and it may even take something like your first pay check or first year at work to make them see that you are committed to this and be proud, encouraging of your actions. Patience. Good things happen to those you wait and in time. 
  • Being unsure and wavering with your decision may conclude and reinforce their worry.
  • Accept your situation, keeping a check on how you are coping, and work towards your goals 
  • Seek assistance through personal counselling and/or read material on how to cope to safeguard your emotional and physical health
  • Seek counsel from others individuals who have taken a similar path and ask for suggestions. It helps if it’s someone from your community. 
  • Do not be hard on yourself in case you are facing career challenges (which is all too normal as you’re exploring and trying at this stage). Remind yourself that you are learning and you will grow

This will be a time where you discover more about yourself and your parents, and the relationship you share with them. You will also get clarity on how you deal with parental approval/disapproval, control, personal fears, relationship dynamics etc. You’re definitely not alone in this challenge in your life.

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