(Names changed to protect identities)
Akelepan se khauf aata hai mujhko
Kahan ho aye mere khwabon khayalon….
One may find oneself at a clear disadvantage when it comes to the odds of getting married after 40. It’s just the way society is. This does not mean that something is wrong with you specifically. The chances of getting married after 40 are just significantly lower because by then, most people are already settled and trying to make it work with their current partners.
When you’re a 35-year-old single woman, you might start hearing alarms from people around you. ‘Why haven’t you found someone yet?’ ‘Get a man!’ ‘You’re gonna turn 40 soon.’ ‘The chances of getting married after 40 are next to zero.’
Odds Of Getting Married After 40
The chances of getting married after 40 are sadly very low. Even regular dating or online dating is difficult at that age. The following accounts shed light on why it is difficult for older women in India to find partners:
The silky voice of Jagjit Singh wafts across the room as Naina Kapoor sits in a dimly lit corner of her house, her eyes fixed on the raindrops that splash on the glass against which she rests her head. Forlorn and distant, she is often engulfed by such lonesome thoughts that drive her into a state of compulsive restlessness.
Despite being a successful media professional in Mumbai, at age 44, Naina is single and has till date not found a partner for herself. Neither have her parents.
“It gets really difficult at this age,” she says, “A lot of things change. You as a person change. You’ve lived alone too long and you fear adjustment with a man who too has been single until now. Parents have given up on you, blaming it all on your destiny. You are too busy with your career to look around. Moreover, everyone around you is married! The pressure is real.”
Related Reading: Single and willing to wait at 35
Why is it so difficult after 40?
Single, after 40, what makes it difficult for an Indian woman to find a partner? Says Ritu Arya, 42, professor of music in Rajasthan, “It’s tough to find a guy of your choice at this age, and if by any chance, you happen to like someone and the other person rejects the proposal, then you end up pining for him because, at such a late age, you did end up liking someone!
“Men, of course, do find matches at a late age also. Interestingly, by that time a woman is already extremely settled and independent. Dating an independent woman is something men fear even today. Also, trust is a major factor. The chances of getting married after 40 are also lower because of trust issues. At our age, it becomes really difficult to trust someone easily; you don’t want to compromise in a relationship at this stage.”
Reema Agarwal, 48, a lawyer in New Delhi, reiterates, “How to find love after 40? Consider not trying. After 40, there is a social stigma attached to a girl’s marriage. The Indian society strongly upholds that a woman above 40 is way past her child-bearing age, and therefore, not very desirable. So, arranged matches hardly come by. A man of 50 also desires a woman in her 30s and he often manages to find one.”
It might be the qualification
Whatever the case, as age progresses, choosing a life partner of one’s choice does seem a distant dream. Naina says, “Generally, women who remain single till this age are all very highly educated, and finding an equally well-educated groom becomes almost impossible. You are naturally looking for someone who is on par with you.”
Reema agrees, “Especially, in the baniya community, where boys and girls are married at a very young age. After 40, there are rarely any desirable matches left.”
Another strong point that makes Reema almost cringe is this – “Men tend to have a fixed notion in their head that women over 40 have lost their sex appeal; their bodies are no longer thin and petite and they no longer look like trophy wives.”
On a more somber note, she cites instances where the girl financially supports her family and with progressing age, the parents may give up looking for a partner for their daughter for obvious reasons. “In such cases, usually the girl at the right age was not given the freedom to choose her life partner, and later, she loses the ability and confidence to do so.
“Our society is still caste-based and parents often want their daughters to marry within their community. This results in delayed marriage and many times marriage doesn’t happen at all,” she adds.
When there’s no one to share with
So, there are a lot of well-educated, financially independent, smart, good looking and extremely health-conscious women in their 40s in our country today still waiting and hoping to find their life partners. Meanwhile, loneliness has crept into their lives and they deal with this deadly problem in their own way. The low chances of getting married after 40 make life a little bit challenging for them.
With highly demanding jobs, a family of parents and siblings, friends, social gatherings and social media, where and why does loneliness creep in? “There is no one to share your heart’s feelings with,” smiles Ritu.
“Apne mann ki baat kisse kahen.’ Then, people react by saying things like, ‘arre isko iss umr mei bhi shaadi karni hai. Ab kya karogi shaadi karke’. Such statements make you retreat into a cocoon and force you to not open up about your feelings. And you just learn how to cope with feeling lonely,” she rues.
For Reema, it is the fact that one does not have a husband and children to shower love on that irks the most. “One doesn’t know who to share all the love with. All your friends are married and busy with their lives. They may become insecure having an unmarried friend around.”
For Naina it is the lack of communication within the family that results in loneliness. “Your siblings are busy with their own lives. You can’t talk to your parents about everything. So, you kind of distance yourself,” she says.
Find other things to do?
But surely there are ways to combat this. It really is not the same thing as having a partner to share your life with but then each of us has to go on. “One can join similar singles groups, do some social service or even join politics,” laughs Reema, “That can never leave any scope for loneliness.”
Daily riyaaz keeps Ritu busy and also works wonders for her mind, as dance does for Naina. “I also learn classical vocal music, do some piano, yoga, meditation and lots of reading,” says Naina. And yet, it’s not the same thing. Naina gets up to change the record. And Elvis Presley croons –
Are you lonesome tonight,
Do you miss me tonight?…
According to this source, 81% of 40 year old women are married and about 76% of 40 year old men are married.
After 35 is usually considered a little late for marriage. While the stigma is reversing in some parts of the world as women are choosing to get married later, we still have a long way to go in normalizing it.
Any age is a good age to get married if you are ready to commit and settle down with someone. However, 40 brings some special challenges because most people are already married and settled by then.