Monday, 17 June 2013

When Two become One

My teammate A is engaged!  However she kept the news quiet, and I only found out about it after SY (sitting 2 seats away from me) asked if I had noticed a very nice ring on A’s finger when A was in the office 2 Thursdays ago.  A sits in a separate office, and she is in my office space only on Thursday to attend a weekly inventory meeting.  I then pinged P – another teammate sitting in another country’s office – and asked him to confirm.
P said A changed her status on Facebook from “single” to “engaged” 2 weeks ago.  I do not have work colleagues as my FB friends, hence I am out of the loop.  Hey, I am late to the party!

In a Hollywood movie about brides-to-be, a proposal will be depicted as a gaggle of women rehashing each moment, congratulatory parties with the bride-to-be receiving presents from her friends…. In short, a celebratory moment.    This silence from A is VERY strange indeed.  Being a naturally inquisitive person (the Singaporean term is kaypoh), I finally caught up with A last Friday. 
I had a brief 15 minute hallway conversation with A and this is what I learned:
  • Her fianc√© is someone whom she has known for 10+ years now.  An old school friend.
  • For the past 5 years on Valentine’s Day, he has flowers delivered to her office.  All the way from home country to Singapore!  Must be an online order from the florist.
  • A did not consider herself to be in a relationship with him.  Her exact words – I am here, he is there, there is no relationship.  They catch up for dinners and movies when A goes back to her home country.  His proposal 2 weeks ago was a complete surprise to her!
  • A  initially thought he was joking when the ring appeared.  When she realized he is serious, she beat him up (gently!) saying “How can you do this to me?”  At the back of her mind, she knew that this day of reckoning – yes or no, defining their relationship  – will come one day.
  • A is one scared lady.  Of marriage.  Of the lifetime commitment.

It seems to me that A has been infected with our generation’s unrelenting focus on individualism, the feminism which tells women: get a job, a career, a life, but please… no long term relationships, they tie us down.  A is 30.  The mythical age in the teens and 20s, where a girl thinks she will finally be a woman.  You know, stable career, well travelled, eloquent and able to articulate her own ideas.  And finally at 30, the woman will marry.
I do not have a neat answer for why I married when A asked me.  Was it time?  How do I know this is THE one?  However I do know why I am married now.
Overturning my prejudice against marriage
The notion of marriage being constraining, being a web of financial commitments (house, car and yes eventually children) took root in my head…. I do not exactly know when.  The Disney princess idea of waiting for my prince to come was never in my head.  I would travel the world myself and have adventures myself, thank you very much.  Who needs a man?
When I was in Australia doing my MBA, I met Revital and Amiel, who originally grew up in Israel but have lived in London, US before deciding to study in Australia.  Revi is my coursemate.  She is 3 years older than me, and she had been happily married to Amiel for 4 years at the time I met her.  She is also highly educated and articulate, capable of holding her own in any intellectual conversation.  She is a different, more gentle, more joyful person when Amiel is around.  She is the first person of my generation, someone I consider a peer, who is obviously thrilled and happily married.  I am not sure what it says about Singapore / my generation / any other sociological construct etc that I find the fact of her happy marriage unusual.
Revi and I were studying together one day at her home.  I finally plucked up the courage to ask her “Isn’t marriage a constraint?  Don’t you feel tied down being married?”  She looked at me incredulously “You can still have adventures after you marry, you know.  In fact, I have more freedom now than when I was living with my parents.”
AHA! A revelation.

I told A my little story.  Probably both of us have seen too many marriages falling apart for various reasons.  To have faith, to choose wisely a man of moral strength (inner self) and motivated to act for the greater good (external action orientation).
Bless all of us with happy marriages :)

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