Weddings

My little sister got married before me. Now, people in my Malay community won’t stop judging us.

"How does it feel that your younger sister got married before you?"

I’d never thought a simple gold ring could bring a big difference in my life. Not once had I expected to face a lot of changes the moment that ring slipped on my finger. Little did I know, people’s perceptions about me would not be the same anymore after that.

My older sister and I received the rings on our sister’s wedding day. It was a gift from the groom, and also a compulsory custom in our culture. Normally there wouldn’t be the need for that, but there was a reason as to why it was necessary.

He was marrying our youngest sister.

The rings given to us were symbolic of a marriage out of proper sequence among daughters. Anyone who’d see the ring on our middle finger could tell that our younger sister was married before us. In our Malay tradition, a marriage of a younger daughter before her elder sisters is still considered improper. For our community, it is more appropriate if she waits for her turn until her older sisters are married. Strangely, this cultural rule doesn’t apply to men.

In our Malay tradition, a marriage of a younger daughter before her elder sisters is still considered improper. Click To Tweet

Unfortunately, the ring came with unpleasant outcomes.

Not long after the wedding, I was shocked by the rumors and gossip about my sister. It started with ridiculous assumptions about her marriage. A lot of people thought that she had to rush the marriage because her husband knocked her up before the wedding. Some of them believed that she was way too desperate to get married and didn’t care about propriety anymore. To them, she should have waited until my older sister and I settled down with our own partners.

But even we couldn’t escape from their gossiping.

There were times when some of our relatives and neighbors approached us and asked, “’How does it feel that your younger sister got married before you?’

It was so irritating. Nobody actually believed that we had no problem at all with her being someone’s wife. For them, it was normal for us to feel a little bit of jealousy or resentful of her. She, after all, defied the norm of our culture and it was utterly unacceptable. By choosing to marry before her “turn” came, she was dishonoring us as her older sisters. Her marriage was almost sacrilegious in our culture.

The worst belief they had was that it was a bad omen for us. Once she became someone’s wife while we were still unmarried, the possibility of us finding our own spouses was almost nil.

She, after all, defied the norm of our culture and it was utterly unacceptable. Click To Tweet

As time passed they slowly stopped talking about my sister. From a desperate, improper girl, she turned into a diligent housewife with two children. The perfect definition of a woman in this patriarchal society.

But the shaming of her sisters didn’t end.

Lucky for my older sister, she finally found her soulmate and get married a few years after our younger sister’s wedding. But that leaves me, a single woman with no plan on settling down at the moment. She escaped people’s stigmatization while I’m still the topic of conversation.

I received a lot of “advice” about finding a partner from them. ‘Don’t be too picky’ or ‘don’t get too busy or else you won’t find a husband’ are a few of their favorite reminders for me. Some of them believe that I will end up being a spinster for the rest of my life.

Yes, my sister has beaten us to the altar, but why is that so wrong? Can’t she just be happy with her decision without being shamed and judged? Making assumptions and false rumors about her weren’t enough, so they got my older sister and I involved in their spiteful gossips.

Some of them believe that I will end up being a spinster for the rest of my life. Click To Tweet

My sister was lucky enough to get married. Some women would rather delay their wedding and wait for their older sisters, just to avoid people’s negative perceptions and condemning words. In some cases, younger daughters are not allowed to get married at all, just so their eldest can be the first bride in the family. They believe it is better for them to get their daughters married in the right order.

What could possibly happen when sisters marry without following the age order? Nothing at all! It would not make any difference to people. Everyone has their own timing for certain events or change, especially when it comes to marriage. Some younger women get married while the rest of women older than them are still single, and that’s totally acceptable. This is how it should be for the sisters as well.