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rmukherjee's avatar

How to convince parents that I don't want to get married?

Asked by rmukherjee (36points) October 6th, 2010

Hey there guys. Long story short, my parents sent me to the US a few years back to get my diploma, and now I simply love the freedom and opportunities offered to me in this great country. My parents, however, have expectations. First off, they weren’t all too happy when they found out I wasn’t coming back. In the end they learnt to accept it I guess. I stayed out of their radar for the last year or so, but now, they want me to get married, that too to a woman of their choice ugh. Here i was, getting ready to go back for my first vacation in years, and i get a tip off that my parents are arranging my marriage. it was all i could do to cancel my ticket and plan how i can get out of this mess. I can’t simply refuse their request, as they paid for my coming here, and my tutition. But I just can’t spend my life with some random stranger, pretending that I actually care about my culture. In reality, I am not much of a family man at all. I relish my indepandance and have no intention of getting into any sort of domestic understanding, especially not one that’s arranged.
So what do you guys think? How can I get myself out of this, while not outright saying no in my parents face?

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12 Answers

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

I’m sorry that you’re having to go through this situation. It must be almost unbearable. I know a little about Indian culture and the expectations that parents place on their children. They believe that they know best while we have desires of our own. Is it possible to talk to them directly and explain that you’d like to get settled in a job before taking on the responsibilities of a wife and possible family? Perhaps you could convince them to let you have several years to gain a foothold in some industry, and then you could begin to discuss the possibilities of marriage at that time.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

My best friend had the same issue – his parents are back in Pakistan and over the years have pressured him often to get ‘arranged marriaged’ and to top things off, he identifies as gay. So, for a couple of years, he was able to hold them off by saying he’s going to get more schooling and isn’t ready for marriage and wants to be financially stable, blah blah blah. Eventually, I sat him down and said ‘look, it all doesn’t look good: if you say you’re gay and want to be married to a guy, they’ll kill you..if you say you don’t want to get married ever, they’ll kill you…so just tell the truth’ and he, eventually, did. His ‘poor parents’ had to suffer through not only one of their sons being gay but two of them being gay and the third brother divorced his wife (god forbid). So, after all is sad and done, no one can force you to get married but your relationship with your parents may suffer. I’m sorry you’re in this situation.

iamthemob's avatar

Regardless – it’s your life. You get to do anything with it that you want. I don’t really think that anyone can give you really good advice without a whole lot more information – you know your parents, your culture, the consequences, etc. better than anyone. It’s incredibly unfortunate, but you’re on your own on this one in the end.

I don’t really take a too reverent look at marriage as we understand it here in the U.S., as I don’t really consider it anything more than a contract – a deeply important one, but a contract nonetheless. That in mind, and I probably can guess the answer, there’s nothing to say you can’t marry the person and (a) it just might work out, or (b) if it doesn’t, you get divorced.

There are, of course, SO many pieces of information missing for us to consider whether that’s a remotely viable option.

marinelife's avatar

I don’t think your dream of staying unmarried while not telling your parents that you do not plan to have an arranged marriage is possible.

You also need to think about the woman they have arranged for you to marry. it is not fair to keep her hanging in limbo when you know that you have no intention of marrying her.

You will have to man up and tell your parents that you do not plan to marry, especially not an arranged marriage.

As for them making it possible for you to come to this country, I am sure that you can send them money if they need it. Pay them back for their investment in your future.

bigjay's avatar

Hi. It is ironic and somewhat unfortunate that your parents are so forward-thinking in terms of your education, but just can’t see the backwardness and injustice in asking you to get married to someone you don’t know. I assume that they at least have some idea you’re not ok with this – your best bet may just be to build on this, or maybe tell them to give you more time. Or you could take the ‘i’m too young’ path and tell them that you’re not yet ready to be responsible for a family, whether financially or emotionally. You don’t have to ‘tell them outright’, you can simply make it look like the time isn’t right. Ofcourse, in the end, you have leverage over your own life and i’m sure you ‘know’ that you could just tell them directly sans embarassment and thereby stop the potential web of lies and excuses that may develop from this.

GeorgeGee's avatar

Smile, but say firmly “sorry, it’s absolutely not going to happen.”
You can’t merely avoid this as they will keep coming back to it otherwise.
And don’t go pretending you’re gay or maybe they’ll set you up with a prospective gay spouse.
Marriage is an outdated institution designed only to protect “helpless women” from abandonment by men who are presumed to want to “knock them up and then run.”
Chances are your parents have other motivations, such as really wanting a grandchild to play with, If that’s the case, offer to buy them a puppy instead.

wundayatta's avatar

My understanding is that you situation is common, even amongst South Asians who haven’t come to the US. It seems like, at least in well-off families, accommodations are made. The wife gets a child or two, and has her own miserable life raising the kids. You disappear with a mistress and only see your wife on holidays.

Then again, there are the arranged marriages that work. That is, both parties give them a shot, and over the years they come to love each other. The divorce rate in India is much lower than that in the US. Perhaps that’s because you can make such arrangements.

I’ve heard that sometimes the groom will make a little speech as soon as the couple have their first moment of privacy. “I’ll give you kids and keep you in my home as long as you don’t bother me about living with my mistress.” If she really hates that, she’ll make a fuss and maybe the marriage can be undone. A number of Indian women dislike the idea of marrying a stranger as much as you do. Or, you could pick a nasty fight and make your wife want to get out as much as you do. Divorce is supposedly growing more common in situations like yours.

There is fiction about these things. Maybe if you read some, you’ll get some ideas. There are thousands of people in your same situation. I bet there are websites about it. Here’s one.

Of course your parents will not want to let you go. One reason is that they have probably arranged to get a huge dowry for you. You’re a valuable commodity. You can bring your wife to the US. You can make a lot of money. Your parents will be paid a lot.

It’s all rather underhanded. The best thing to do is to stand up to your parents and refuse to participate—even if it means you are cut off from your family. But I’m sure you won’t do that because you probably feel a great loyalty to your family. So maybe you can stand up to them quietly, but stubbornly. See what happens.

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

Sorry, but the only way to make sure that you’ve properly communicated that you don’t want to do it is to outright say the word “no” to your parents. So take a deep breath, and maybe a sip of liquid courage, and tell them that.
The up side is, if you’re getting married in the US (I don’t know what your native country’s customs are, so I won’t include them), you absolutely have to want to. You have to sign the marriage license, of your own free will. So your parents can’t make you get married.

Cruiser's avatar

Tell them you didn’t know how to break it to them that you met a really nice man you have fallen for. That ought to buy you some more time!

rmukherjee's avatar

Thanks for the respones all. In a sense i pretty much know that im going to have to get straight with my parents, regardless of how I or they may feel about it. To be honest though, its more a question of honour than anything. At this point. I am a grown man, self sufficient and most importantly, im happy the way things are – there is little my parents could do to actually ‘force’ me, except appeal to my sense of family. But that in itself is a pretty formidable weapon – call me a mommas boy, but since i haven’t actually grown up in US society, those asian values still run pretty deep. All in all, im preetty torn up as far as this whole thing goes, but tbh im considering the best thing right now would be to simply lay low. If i were to go back now, well either way there would be a confrontation, between myself and the folks, or me and the prospective inlaws, or even me and myself.
and lol @ the gay ideas XD

iamthemob's avatar


I think the fact that you DO have loyalty to your family and concern for their feelings is admirable. Let momma’s boy be a badge of honor. ;-)

wundayatta's avatar

Asian cultures tend to have more rigid views about the role everyone plays in the family. Growing up that way, I think you probably can see the value of that, and that’s why you feel it will be so hard to stand up to your family. From what I’ve heard, if you do go back, there is a high likelihood that you will be convinced to do this. Honor, as you said (except you spelled it the English way—you aren’t that Americanized ;-).

Maybe if you prepare yourself with a good case, and you prepare yourself to stick to it, that could help in the “discussion.” You probably know all the objections (down to the you don’t love your momma ones). List them, and prepare a response for every one. Research it. Treat it as if you making a legal case. I think that kind of preparation will make you feel more like you can go there without losing all your power and giving in to what your parents want. Although, who knows. The girl might be pretty awesome.

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