In a country like India where we starve for any good news about women in the media amidst the broiling news headlines about rapes, abusive marriage, dowry deaths and child pregnancies, we finally see a ray of much needed hope. According to the Census of 2011, Indian women now prefer to get married at an older age than the last decade. Late marriage is a reality for the woman of today. Late marriages have often been shunned in our culture and a section of society votes for it while another opposes it.
Despite living in a society where marriage is considered to be the priority for a young girl as soon as she reaches her 20s, so much so that from relatives to nosy aunties in the neighbourhood – all start asking about her wedding plans, because apparently her happiness only depends on getting a good groom – this shift was much needed.
Late Marriage – causes and effects
The latest marrying later in life statistics confirm that the long-held definition of ‘marriageable age’ is deconstructing. According to the released data, the mean age for women getting married has increased from 18.3 years to 19.3 years.
- The change was slowly brewing in the society since the beginning of this century when women started to focus more on getting a good education and becoming financially independent, than planning their whole life around getting married
- A major share of credit for this change also goes to the parents of the daughters who are positively shifting their focus of upbringing from marrying them off at an early age to giving them good education
- Effects of women empowerment, urbanisation and access to facilities are also responsible for this positive change in perspective
What is meant by ‘late marriage’?
Also known as Delayed Marriage, late marriage gives us a peek into the exciting progress of women empowerment worldwide. Until the last century, women were expected to get married right out of high school and start a family soon after. But the trend is changing now.
Women of this age are more excited to explore other options for themselves, such as getting a well-paid job, travelling abroad, fulfilling their personal materialistic desires with their own income, ensuring a comfortable life for the parents after retirement, than focusing on marriage.
Late marriage indicates the rising trend of pushing the age of marriage into the late 20s and higher among women, by personal choice and preference. However, based on the marrying later in life statistics as published by the International Centre for Research on Women, UNICEF, early marriage and child marriage is still a problem, albeit reduced in number than the previous century, in rural communities of Bihar, Rajasthan and Haryana. But urban women equipped with good education and well-paid jobs are now more likely to postpone marriage.
Reasons women are opting for Late Marriage
Marriage is a highly personal decision and thanks to the change in society, women these days have found the footing to take their own sweet time before tying the knot. There are five major late marriage causes among women.
- Because establishing a career comes first
- Arranged marriage no longer considered inviolable. There are Tinder, speed dating and other options of matchmaking available
- With rising financial independence among women, a sense of personal independence has also grown. Women now want to take charge of their personal decisions
- Being in a live-in relationship no longer raises eyebrows like before. Since the option is more convenient in this time and age, there is no rush to get married
- Science can now take care of the biological clock with solutions like IVF and surrogacy.
For instance director Farah Khan got married post 40 and had triplets through IVF.
Advantages of late marriage for women
If we want to know the pros and cons of late marriage for women, the advantages in terms of personal growth outweigh the late marriage problems women often face.
1. You have enough time for self-discovery
It’s important to know the ‘self’ before deciding to share your life with someone else. By taking more time to get married, women can now identify their own ideas of happiness, dreams, and goals. It’s an important step to take to have a clear idea about how they want to spend the rest of the life.
2. You get time to grow and change
With age, our perspectives change on our surroundings and we learn to think differently. What we like during the early 20s doesn’t remain the same when we reach the 30s. Giving yourself the time to change at your own pace is important for self-discovery instead of bowing under marital pressure at an early age.
3. You can enjoy personal freedom for a longer time
With marriage comes a truck-load of responsibilities, but if you take your time to go down that road, you get enough time to live life on your own terms and do the things without looking for validation from your spouse and in-laws and be able to explore life just the way you like it.
4. You get wiser and find maturity
As we age, we get to have more experience in life, and with that come wisdom and maturity. One of the most beneficial effects of late marriage is that when you do decide to tie the knot you become more capable of handling the marital duties, since you have matured enough.
5. You become surer of what kind of a life partner is right for you
With that wisdom and maturity, you build a clearer idea about what kind of life partner is most suitable for you now that you have been enough active in the dating zone. It greatly reduces your chance of marrying the wrong person for the wrong reason.
6. You find financial security
Now that you are financially independent and live life on your own terms, you can pay off that educational loan, invest in a car or house and make investments for your future without thinking of how your new family might look at it. By marrying late, you find enough financial security for your own future.
7. You can pay undivided attention to your parents
Even though you have your heart in the right place, after marriage your attention gets divided between your own parents and your in-laws. But as one of the most significant effects of late marriage, you can have more time to look after your parents’ happiness and their future security.
8. You will be more appreciative of marriage
If you have enjoyed enough as a single girl and had the most fun time, you will no longer feel like you have missed out on anything, as and when you do decide to get married. You could give yourself enough time to take the plunge.
Disadvantages of late marriage for women
But, on the other hand, there are a few disadvantages of getting married later in life. After all, there is a time and age to do everything and late marriage has more problems for women than for men.
1. You find it difficult to make adjustments
Now that you have been single and self-dependent for a long time, you find it difficult to adjust your life in accordance with another person’s needs and likings. It becomes impossible to adjust with someone else because you have been living on your own for too long now.
Since you have been set in your ways for a long time now, you give your personal freedom too much importance to build a family. This leads to marriage problems.
2. You are no longer as zealous as you were in your youth
In general, with age our zeal and enthusiasm fades. If we look at the pros and cons, it’s important to spend your youth with utmost freedom, but marriage also needs a lot of crazy enthusiasm to build its foundation happy and strong. Infact, most people in late marriages have had all the fun earlier and are now too busy to care for their spouses and make their marriage strong from the beginning.
3. You start giving too much priority to finances
Finances are always important, but if you decide to marry too late, it means you have been taking care of your own finances for a long time now; in such a case most often money matters take precedence over a lot of things and your married life takes a back seat.
4. You don’t have enough time to spend together
Now that you are overly focused on your career, it becomes hard to shift career lines and find enough time to spend with your spouse. You have deadlines to meet, meetings to attend and are pretty much busy leaving you with very little or no quality time with kids.
5. You have to rush for kids
One of the major late marriage problems women face is about rushing into the ‘kids discussion’ soon after the marriage.
Babies are one of the most discussed concerns of delayed marriages and it’s impossible to ignore the topic.
Many people will suggest you not to wait and have the baby as soon as possible, leaving you with little time to enjoy the ‘just married’ phase.
6. You might face complicated conception
Even though science now allows for various methods of conception, if you want to go for it in the all-natural method, some complications could arise. Plus it’s more likely to cause genetic problems in the kids once you are over your prime biological time for conception.
7. Your sexual activity is compromised
As a result of the diminishing zeal and enthusiasm and pressure of balancing your life, your sexual activity also often gets compromised.
8. You start feeling weird about yourself
When you look at your friends from school and college with kids of school going age you start feeling weird about yourself.
So it’s important to weigh all the effects of late marriage subjectively before making up your mind on which way to go.