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Foreign exchange

Published May 13, 2013 by Amazing Grace

Love marriage and a baby carriage….

Yep it’s that time in a woman’s life when societal and behavioural factors/pressures meet – and the clock is ticking loudly.

All around me people are saying:

I need to settle down

I need to get married

I need to have babies

Not that I don’t want these things – just have not found the right person yet or perhaps the right person has not found me

But somehow it is more that than – I have not allowed my parents to pick the right person for me

I live in the UK and my parents travelled to this country almost 40 years ago to study. Somehow although their original intentions were to obtain their relevant qualifications and then return home – they stayed and raised a family, bought a home and pretty much settled here. However it seems their hearts are still at home. When it comes to choice of marital partners for their children the options are clear – it will be a person from their town and their background. On one level this makes perfect sense, family traditions and ties will be maintained and peace and harmony will reign supreme. On the other hand it does not take into account our personal choices and the fact that we are UK born and bred and have not been subject to the influences – language and culture of our parents country. This has to be an important factor when choosing a life partner. In a way what I am describing is my parents wish for a quasi-arranged marriage – in that the pool of partners is from a very small carefully chosen population. In a way I guess that is not a bad thing – sometimes too much choice is confusing but a choice it is.

I constantly wonder why I offer such resistance? I wonder if it is because I am now in my mid 30’s and although not the most mature and experienced person in the world when it comes to relationships, I still feel like I should make my own decisions when it comes to this. However I am constantly being told that I do not know what is best for me and any partner that I may chose will not be sanctioned by my parents. This puts me in a very difficult position. I sometimes feel like that I am resigned to being single /stateless for the rest of my life.

I sit in wonder at a male friend of mine – who although is from a different race and country is also UK born but has succumbed to his parents wish to meet a woman from a family and background of their choosing. He too is the same age as me but somehow has acquiesced and has started long-distance correspondence with a suitable person. Who knows where it might end but they have met and seem to like each other and I wish him all the best. I wonder why I cannot do the same – travel to my parents hometown and just pick a suitable person. It might be OK, I might learn the language, I would get used to the customs , surely it cannot be that bad ? I cannot after all escape my heritage.

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Am I too stubborn? Am I too narrow minded? Am I looking a gift horse in the mouth?

Time and biology are not on my side.

But I also do not want to be hasty about things.

I want to make my parents happy but I also want to be happy myself.

I have dated people from my own background but it has just not worked out – fizzled into nothing. I am never really sure if it is me or them. One person told third party that I was too independent. I am not sure what make of that. Another person was repeatedly referring back to his previous girlfriend, why I do not know but it made conversation uninteresting after a while. And the last person that I dated who ticked all the right boxes – job, religion, background – just did not seem right. To this day I could not tell you want it was – but just a low level of discomfort and unease that I felt whenever we went out. I think it might have been the one sided conversations that we would have about faith and religion. I think I understood his take on life and faith but I always got the feeling that he never really got my side of things. He was always dismissive of my thoughts and opinions. I am not sure whether that is because they were irrelevant thoughts and opinions – he had a way of making me feel that way or whether he was just arrogant. All I know is that after a while I started to doubt myself every time I was out with him or on the phone to him. It did not make me feel too good. At the same time he seemed to be offering marriage and a comfortable life but somehow, somehow I could not take him up on his offer. For me it would require me not being myself but not in a way that would lead to self-improvement. Maybe I was wrong? He did suggest we write a book together which would have been interesting as we have very similar jobs and career aspirations. Maybe I missed a good opportunity? I often wonder. Now I hear he is married, travelled to his home country (he was not born in the UK) and found a suitable partner. I suspect his was the wise one. When we were going out he told me that he was aiming to get married before his was 40 (he was 39 at the time). He had a goal and he has now achieved it. He is now settled and probably his house is filled with the patter of tiny feet. Is it easier for men to do these things – just find somebody and settle down. Am I just too fussy? Am I forgetting biology and time? Am I passing up good things?

Days pass an I see my friends and colleagues posting pictures of their domestic bliss up on Facebook – another child, another anniversary, another birthday. I feel like I have not moved on – I am in the slow lane and they are in the fast lane moving on with their lives.

My mother keeps asking me to go to Church. But for now my Church going days are over. Realised after five years that I was not going to met my future husband there. Although every body around me was getting married and starting families – I seemed to be pretty much invisible to the God-fearing men of my Church. Now my faith is eeked out in a very different way – mostly involving lots of prayer and trying to understand and forgive people, trying to be nice to people, trying to be as gracious as God is to me.

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I keep thinking that God has not answered my prayers for a husband and a family life and for a long time I was very angry, very angry. Not quite shaking my fist at the sky but something close to it. But after a while I decided that I would have to concede that this must either be God’s plan, or I should be patient or I should take matters into my own hands. These options so far have melded into one. I made a decision but very soon came to learn that things were not always in my control and that I would still have to be patient. So even in my current circumstances I am still waiting on God to direct me- although sometimes I suspect I do not listen. God is meant to be like a gentle whisper (1 Kings 19:12) but sometimes I fear I am not still enough to listen. I get distracted by all the other voices around me. I get distracted by own thoughts and my views.

Perhaps it is time to listen and focus. Perhaps I should stop worrying about time and biology, after all my worry has not achieved anything – I am still unmarried, I still do not have a husband.

Maybe that will be my challenge for this week – I am not sure how I am going to achieve it but I will listen out for God.

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