Wednesday, 1 April 2009

Consent

A few days ago, Mandy told me that she met someone. For Mandy, this is epic because she had just about given up hope of ever meeting someone; not while being a devout Christian who doesn’t believe in sleeping around, moving in together before marriage or chronically dating various men.

Mandy is my 28 year old colleague and had been in an abusive marriage for 4 years before deciding to call it quits just over 2 years ago. And now she’s back home with her parents and siblings. On her best days she’s full of hope and is quite optimistic about life in general. I can usually tell by the glint in her eyes as she breezes into my office with her cheerful demeanor and says “Môre Skuttie” (Good morning Sweetheart or something like that) before rambling off the latest happenings and conveying any news she may have.

Then there are other more somber days when she sits at her table, morose and sullen; the life evaporated from her aura and then I just know its one of those days where she feels like a failure, insecure and inadequate. These days are usually prompted by disputes with her family at home, or by her financial insecurities. On these days I usually make her a cup of coffee, buy some chocolate, drag her to our little corner, and then let her purge her soul while I listen intently, offering advice or encouragement. Luckily for Mandy though, she never stays depressed or despondent for long and is usually back to her chirpy self in no time.

On this particular day, Mandy was more vivacious then usual. There was that familiar glint and a hidden smile on her face. She said that she had met him at church and that he was charming and polite, respectful and honest. They’ve been spending a lot of time together as “friends” while getting to know each other and he seems genuinely interested in her. He is also divorced and has a four year old son, who lives with his ex-wife. He invited her over to his home one evening for dinner with friends and she was taken by the confidence, security and stability he exuded. In the time she got to know him, she discovered that she really enjoyed his company and wouldn’t mind spending a lot more time with him; and the feeling is mutual. She says that he has a good job and would be able to provide for her if they were to marry.

The problem? He is 42 years old, 14 years older than her. According to Mandy, his age isn’t an issue for her, but it is for her parents. They don’t approve of her friendship with him and they will not approve of the relationship, based on his age. Mandy on the other hand will not go against her parents even though she really likes him; because she has the utmost respect and reveres them that much; and as long as she resides under their roof, she is obligated to comply with their wishes. This situation leaves her torn and lonely.

I assessed the situation and recommended that she speak to her parents about reconsidering. She says that its not that they don’t like him, they do, they just feel that it’s inappropriate considering his age and they’re worried about what people and society would say of the relationship/marriage if it were to happen. They are afraid of the shame or dishonour it would bring upon the family.

I told her the following:
 Fuck people and society, they will talk anyway.
 That it’s not like she’s 18 years old and it’s not like it’s her first marriage.
 That if she really likes him, and she knows that he feels the same way; she should do something about it because he won’t wait for her forever.
 That she should have a serious conversation with her parents and highlight her concerns.
 That if he can love and take care of her the way she needs to be cared for, then it’s worth a shot.
 That she should realise that what he can give her, her parents, siblings and all those people who “talk” can’t give her.
 That her parents won’t be around to take care of her forever, that she has one life and that her time is now.
 That she should make her decision based on self-respect and what she wants out of life and not desperation.

Maybe I’m wrong, but that’s my opinion. I don’t see why she should spend the rest of her life alone because her parents don’t approve of the one decent guy who came along because of his age. But she’s terrified and won’t go against them…which may be the right thing to do. It’s one tough position to be in.

Personally, I always thought I wouldn’t go for younger guys because of their maturity levels. My theory is that I can have kids; I don’t need to marry one. But that has since changed when I met younger guys who didn’t need to be breast-fed (in the non-sexual way to you pervs out there…and think in words not pictures). Now my criterion includes ages between 25 and 35, and other things that are better reserved for the corners of my mind. But the “Muslim” contingent is mandatory and non-negotiable.

I wouldn’t want to go against my parents either. But I can’t help feeling that sometimes they know better, and sometimes they don’t.

Now what would you do? Are there any specific requirements/criterion when it comes to your life-partner?

14 comments:

  1. Life is short and we must live it to the fullest. Unfortunately there are others who would live our lives for us. If we slip completely into that mode, we give up who we are and our individuality is subsumed in a sea of political correctness. Frustration results and discontentment.

    Live gives us only two things - just two.

    Time, and the choice of how we spend it (and with whom). Spending it well is the trick.

    I'm now following your blog.

    I dropped by somewhat by accident but enjoyed reading.

    (From Southern California, USA)

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  2. At the risk of sounding cynical and this goes completely against my idealistic nature - I think when you looking for someone to marry look for someone who loves you more than you love them because that way you can never go wrong and they will make you happy

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  3. Age is nothing but a number, love is so rare that if one happens to find it, one should stick to it, with superglue.

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  4. I know I have too many dealbreakers, some things are non negotiable...
    Age is one of them. I have a 4 and a half year cut off rule, strange I know. Think it depends on where u r in ur life, it might not be strange to marry someone older if u can relate to their lifestyle, wants, needs, etc.

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  5. age is kind of a factor to me, but not because of society, but because of how i would relate to him. I would feel more comfortable with someone that +/- within the same generation - generation can be a barrier in terms of thinking and social behaviour, depending on the couple.

    i agree with you. Mandy should try to convince her parents of him.

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  6. Once upon a time Naz* got married to a guy within our community. He beat her up. She divorced him after a long struggle where her family just told her to shut up and deal with it.

    She then went Pakistan a few years later and her family made her marry another guy from within the family. At gunpoint. She came back to the UK and refused to sign any papers to bring him over (WOO HOO!).

    Then I guess she felt she had no-one to turn to but God and she became quite religious. She started taking an arabic class and I guess she hit it off with the guy teaching it because he asked to marry her.

    Her family said no. Because he was white (but Muslim nonetheless)

    She struggled for a while and married him. They had their first kid last year, a cute as hell fat little baby girl. I'm not particularly close to her but my sister's are and on the rare occasions I see her I've noticed that Naz smiles a lot these day, she has that aura of a content happy person and her family is slowly getting used to it especially as they now have a grand daughter and niece.

    It makes me happy to see that after all the bullshit she's been through.

    *name changed

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  7. I think things change immensely when you actually meet a person so a lot of things on a 'list' go out the window. Still there are some core basics that are non-negotiable. Religious/family/etc values. Maturity and independence. I'd really prefer someone close to my age. 'Clicking' with the person. And of course a mutual attraction.

    I don't think that comes around very often. Or at least its quite rare for me. If your friend has found that and she's ok with the age difference...I think its worth giving a shot.

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  8. heyyy tell her it is so kool to be into OLDER MEN, they are everything a woman wants and honestly this is the day and age when numbers are just nonsense. they dont make sense, they never did to me. i married a guy 10 years older to me and yet he turned out a baby and a miserable companion. so numbers are digits which function only to let our minds calculate, nothin more, nothing less.

    may Lord bless us all WOMEN KIND wid eligible men, no matter what age!

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  9. requirements? you mean apart from the obvious.

    the only really non-negotiable is she must be Mozlem (with a similar mindset and attitude towards the faith), not a midget (really petite women scare me).

    the rest is just a list of the obvious 'would likes'... intelligent, open-minded, sociable.. blah blah blah

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  10. LL - I agree. I refuse to be a spectator in my own life, I'd much rather be a participant. Thats why I advocate living life so much.
    Thanks for dropping by.

    Edge - I don't believe that one party has to love the other more...I opt for mutual respect and similar priorities, because where theres respect, love comes naturally.

    Tazeen - I agree, if you meet someone who's for you, you should hold on to that. Although, I'm not the type to make the first move...I'm too old fashioned :)

    NK and WIP - I've had my reservations about age in the past but I think getting older, and seeing people for who they really are has changed my perceptions somewhat. I'm willing to go down a year or 2 but I'd still prefer an older guy. Ultimately, it comes down to how you can communicate with your partner, I think communication (aside from respect) in a relationship is very important although it wont hurt to have similar interests/goals/priorities.

    Mash - Poor Naz...I'm glad it worked out in the end.
    I guess there's always those rallies and protests to attend as a last resort? LMAO!! I always think that for some reason, its easier for the guy to meet girls then it is for the girls to meet guys.

    geekisiddiqui - I agree that most of the "list" goes flying out the window when you have a connection with someone...but I think the "list" is alot like Captain Barbossa's "Guidelines" :D

    AD - Very true that age is not an indicator of who or what the man is.

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  11. I think what you suggested is spot on based on her circumstances.

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  12. That is a tough one for Mandy...but I agree, she should have a serious chat with her parents about the guy.

    So many times, I have heard about a girl/guy that ran away from home because of parents not wanting them to be with particular guy/girl.
    Just this week, one of hubbys' friends is in the midst of something like this...
    His friend is divorced and has been seeing a chicky at work. This chicky is engaged and he didn't know about it. Her parents found out about hubbys' friend and they freaked. Not only does she already have a fiance, but they don't want her being with him coz he is divorced. So chicky ran away and no-one knows where she is now...

    My parents always said...I can marry anyone---just as long as he is a Muslim...

    Sorry Azra---I took over your comments section! :-)

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