When you enter your twenties, you start anticipating a conversation with your parents about getting married.

A storm of feelings starts brewing in you as you await this conversation. And if you have brown parents, you’ll agree with me when I say that these feelings mostly edge on awkwardness, nervousness, tension, and discomfiture.

I recently entered my twenties — an age that is considered ripe for marriage — at least on this side of the world.

When you’re twenty, you become eligible for marriage. Proposals start pouring in. Your parents tell you that it’s time for you to settle down in life. And they also tell you that they will find the perfect partner for you to fulfill this deed.

We’re discussing marriage, so how can I forget those pesky Rishta aunties who can’t resist shooting proposals and miserable remarks your way — “the guy is rich, think about it”, “you don’t want to be too old when you get married”, “marry to take this burden off from your parents” — as if their life depends on your marriage. Aunties, it turns out, are obsessed with marriage.

After I crossed twenty, I knew my parents would confront me with this conversation. And I dreaded it.

I did not want to talk to my parents about marriage, proposals, and settling down. It was awkward.

The more I thought about it, the more I wanted to delay talking to them. But then we talked, and it was every bit as awkward as I thought it’d be.

My mom sat down with me. She made a nervous pose, gulped air and then said that somebody had approached her with a proposal for me. I was obviously startled. I didn’t know how to respond to this piece of information that was presented to me so unexpectedly.

My mom went on and on about how marriage was essential at this age. Words dried up in my throat as her speech ensued. She said that they were good people and she could invite them over if I’d like to meet them. I didn’t want to meet anyone, but I didn’t know how to say this to her.

I was so close to telling my mom to stop talking because I suddenly felt so anxious. My mind drew blanks instead of answers.

I was so close to telling my mom to stop talking because I suddenly felt so anxious. My mind drew blanks instead of answers.

“I’m not thinking marriage right now,” I said in a nervous ramble, and then went away — the cliched answer. But the one that saved me so much misery in the coming days. 

The subject was never brought up again. And that was a relief.

In Pakistan, discussing marriage prospects with our parents can feel extremely uncomfortable. We never tell them things. We grow up thinking that we can’t confide in them. They don’t share their lives with us, and in turn, we don’t share ours with them. There’s so much distance between us. And then suddenly, out of nowhere, we’re expected to have these intense, meaningful conversations with them discussing a huge decision about our lives.

If we reckon the true reality of our relationship with our parents, these conversations are only meant to be difficult, dispassionate,  awkward, and sometimes, even embarrassing.

A friend recently turned down three marriage proposals because she was already in a relationship. But she didn’t tell her parents that —  she feared their reaction.

 Sometimes it’s easy confessing your true feelings and intentions to them. But at other times, you regret telling them anything the same minute.

Communicating with them can even be confusing. We feel scared of what they might say or do if we tell them that we like someone. We don’t know what to expect.

What if they’re angry, upset, or disappointed?

What if they don’t trust us enough?

What if they feel betrayed for not being allowed to make this important decision for us?

I don’t blame my friend for not telling her parents about her relationship before — I probably would’ve acted the same way if I were her. In Pakistan, love marriages are frequently disapproved. Our instincts and fears are valid. 

Marriage is an important decision, but a discussion about it with our parents can be one of the most awkward situations that we have to sit through. It would’ve been so much easier if they were communicative from the beginning. If they talked to us more. If they made us a part of important conversations when we were younger.

But for now, the “marriage” talk is awkward as hell.  And sadly, most of us become a part of it, sooner or later.

  • Izza Malik is a university student based in Lahore, Pakistan. She is focusing on Political Science at university but her main interests lie in fiction writing, journalism, and drawing. Izza also has a blog called Escaping Space which is dedicated to feminist writing, raising issues concerning the various marginalized communities in Pakistan and sometimes narrative and poetry writing. In her free time, you’ll find her reading murder mystery books, watching shows on Netflix and cooking desserts.