MarriAGE – When is the right time?
When talking about marriage, the schema of the process is simple – Date, Stabilize, Engage, Marry, Children. But as usual, schemata have their inaccuracies. Especially so in modern times, where some steps are rearranged or even skipped! However, for today’s topic the main schemata is about AGE. When is a good time to get married? When is a good time to have children? In fact, is the last step of ‘Children’ even NECESSARY?
In Singaporean culture, stabilization is key when it comes to marriage. The readiness for commitment, the money to raise a family, etc. However, in other countries, love is the main, and sometimes, ONLY point. I recently went for the ‘Never Let You Go’ seminar held by my school (Ngee Ann Polytechnic), that discussed different aspects life, such as marriage, a career, raising children, etc. There were many different point of views from many different experts and it was truly an eye-and-ear opener. The number of different perspectives made me think – Is there really a “right age” for all that?
One expert expressed her point of view that it is perfectly fine to be marrying at the young age of 19-21, as long as you know you love your other half enough to commit and kids will naturally come their way. Some of my schoolmates expressed shock to such a statement due to their beliefs of stabilization, education-first and some did not even believe in having kids! Some brave souls, of course, went up to express their opinions and the expert constantly rebutted along the lines of the same concept – that people overseas in Australia, America, etc, are doing the same and yet, are able to continue having a steady higher education! However, in my opinions, she absolutely failed to understand the huge contrast between Asian (not just Singaporean!) and Western culture.
I lived in Australia for quite awhile, and long enough to understand some basic culture, and many Caucasian Australians accept the idea cohabitation, where an unmarried couple live together, sometimes even having kids. Don’t get me wrong, they DO love each other, they’re simply afraid of commitment, afraid of signing on a dotted line. I personally believe this is totally acceptable. As long as they have the time and ability to love each other and their child, there is no problem that needs to be fixed. The Australian education system is pretty relaxed (as my Australian cousin once told me) unlike the Singaporean one, thus, there is a huge difference between the amount of free time a student in these countries have. Have you watched the MTV show called ’16 and Pregnant’? If you do, the culture difference of the various races are clear as day! Therefore, I felt that this was a very misleading rebuttal from the expert. Notice how she didn’t list a single Asian country? That’s MY rebuttal ;D
“The number one cause of divorce is marriage.”
Moving on, I believe that LOVE is definitely the key part of getting married. However, is it right to be jumping into marriage so quickly? I believe that dating at a young age (12-16) is more of a psychological hunger for affection rather than actual love. At 17 or 18 onwards, I feel that this is when the real search begins, to decide what you want in a partner and look for that special someone. If you make a wrong choice, there’s always a better one. Marriage is the epitome of happiness, but divorce is the opposite. Take some time to find the right one. Philosophically speaking, there’s always a couple uniquely created for each other from the very start, early life is just the treasure hunt!
And now, here’s comes the more confusing issue. CHILDREN. “Should I have children?”, “How many should I have?”, “When should I get started?” Statistically, the Total Fertility Rate in Singapore is constantly falling, from 1.83 in 1990, to 1.15 in 2010 according to the Singapore Statistics Bureau. The reasons for this drop are usually the same, but I would to add more to these so-called excuses. The most common and most logical reason in my opinion is the inability to juggle work and family, let alone financial instability. And very often, the government uses this as a reason to bring in more and more foreign workers to increase manpower. This manpower leads to competition for jobs, which leads to further struggles to juggle and thus leads to a further decrease of the want for children. As you can see, it doesn’t take a degree to understand this simple and extremely obvious cycle. The small country of Singapore is already crowded to a bursting point, and yet foreign workers are still dropping in by the thousands. According to the Singapore Statistics Bureau, ONE-THIRD of Singapore’s population were made up of foreigners at the end of June 2010. This number is quickly growing. More reason to not produce babies. Authorities have to realise that one policy affects another. They have to get their policies straight. If they can’t rule ONE world, what makes them think they can have the best of BOTH? Is it really entirely the locals’ fault for the birth rate decrease? Judge for yourself!
All in all, it’s hard to judge such a matter in a country like Singapore, where Western and Asian culture clash heads 24/7 and education and work eat up most of the people’s time; But I guess certain sacrifices have to be made to allow a country to progress at this amazing rate that we have. It’s just a decision on whether it was the correct sacrifice, but remember –
“When opinions start colliding, there can never be a winner.”
So go ahead! Live your love life as you please! Complete the process at your own time, only you know when you are ready to take one step further.