There’s a famous quote from Ali bin Abi Thalib that goes, “Do not raise your children the way your parents raised you, they were born for a different time.”
My Dad is definitely a perfect example of a father who tries to follow this advice. Being the social media-savvy (or social-media crazy; it’s a thin line) family that we are, some time ago he took to Facebook to bestow upon me his infinite wisdom. Much to my horror, in this context it was a marriage-related advice, humourously written on his status update for the whole world to see:
“Why do our young ones have such complicated criteria in choosing their life partner? Why do they make it difficult for themselves? Why do they not ask Allah to make it easy for them, and let Allah grow the love between them?”
Reading it rendered me speechless, because if you’re wondering, then yes, he’s obviously talking about/to me. And yes, I do have what may be considered as “complicated considerations”.
Naturally, I — like everyone else — dream of finding “the one” and growing old with the love of my life. But I have always been more concerned on finding that person, rather than getting married just for the sake of getting married.
Apparently, this isn’t exactly seen as usual in the context of Indonesia, where marriage is often seen as a promise of stability, security, and settling down. It is perceived as a natural stage of womanhood, as if all our previous years have prepared us for that one moment when we become a wife and a mother. For some, marriage is believed as a religious duty. Not only does it completes half our deen (religion); building a family is what God specifically requires of us.
As such, considerations in finding a partner to marry would be pretty simple, like whether they belong to the same group (of religion and/or ethnicity), are financially independent and stable, and have a good personality.
Which is not a bad thing. It’s just never been that simple for me.
While I do want to get married and have children, I also want to have a fulfilled life, and a partner who does not only tolerates it or accepts it, but also aspires to lead that kind of life — with me.
That’s why in addition to faith and personality, I also take very careful considerations of one’s visions (his ambitions, politics, potential, and dreams in life); his views on women and gender roles in marriage; his academic background (for some reason most science or engineering guys have always had issues accepting my ‘wild’ ideas about feminism and such); his passions (does he read? does he travel? does he lead?). Contrary to what my dad wrote, to me it’s not just about one’s imaan or faith. It’s not just about love. It’s so much more.
Schatzi once told me, “Maybe God wants to give you some time to enjoy life as a single [person]. So you can do more for yourself and society.”
His words touched me deeply. Because yes, at the moment I am enjoying life doing what I love and being of benefit for others. Because I want to explore more of the world, and pursue a higher degree, and do more humanitarian work, and help more people — so how wonderful it would be to do it side-by-side with my significant other.
Because ultimately marriage is supposed to empower and enhance each other — not limit.
But nothing less than that. Hopefully never less than that.