Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Letters from Egypt: An Old Maid

When I was in high school, I remember Michelle Sherrell saying, “You shouldn’t date anyone that you couldn’t see as your future husband.” I remember responding, “I completely disagree. We’re only 17, I think we should date whomever and that other stuff should come as a second thought. We’ve got time.” Then every female in the group began discussing at what age they’d like to be married and start a family. My response: “I think I’ll finally settle down around 25 and have children by 27.”

And here I was Saturday evening at the age of 27.

I had just finished cooking dinner which had turned out less than desirable (so much for trying to make eggplant without oil and using tons of lemon juice – I do NOT recommend that concoction), popping in a movie (title need not be mentioned for public record) and feeding my dog niblets.

As more of my friends continue to get engaged, married and start their families leaving me as one of the last Mohicans, I remembered those words spoken at the ripe, old age of 17. Even more pressing is how one of my friends said that her Egyptian boyfriend made the comment recently that he doesn’t want children right now, but he can’t imagine his wife having children in her 30s. He wants his wife to have children at 27 and be done by 30. My friend only has a year left before she’s passed the mark.

You wouldn’t believe how many men I have come across in the Sandpit that, after finding out my age, says, “You should settle down, 27 is when you should be having children. It’s the perfect age.” Funny, one of the guys that said those exact words to me was himself divorced before 30.

I’m a firm advocate that there’s no time limit on settling down. There’s no age that has been universally decided upon that by this particular time, you must have found your partner. And truth be told, these pressures are exactly what create high divorce rates.

What an outsider might find shocking is the high divorce rate in Egypt. In 2007, a state-run statistics bureau reported that Egyptian couples file for divorce every six minutes. The Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics (CAPMAS) said that Egyptian courts rule on around 250 divorces daily (2007, for those that read Arabic, the site is www.capmas.gov.eg). There is even a new program called Radio for Divorced Women started by Mahasin Saber on Motakalat Radio.

I think it’s important, especially as women, to be financial independent and stable. For many divorcees, reliance on their husbands forced them into a bad place once the marriage was over. I also think it is equally important to live and by that I mean get out everything in your system that you wanted to do such as traveling, focusing solely on your career, etc. because let’s be honest – when you have a family, everything else takes a backseat (as it should).

I am in no hurry to start a family (and I hear that would require meeting someone other than complete, useless morons that seems to gravitate in my direction). And I never want to “settle.” I had this theory, and it is applicable to many people that I’ve come across:

Many relationships are like going to the bar for a night out. You get to the bar around 10 pm, look around and think to yourself, “Bummer, no lookers.” You have a few drinks and sit at the bar keeping up conversation with your friend. Midnight rolls around and after feeling a little affected by the alcohol, you look around and say to yourself, “Alright, the place is picking up.” Mind you, it’s still filled with the same unappealing people as it was at 10 pm, but now alcohol has “enhanced” their attributes. Then 1:45 am rolls around and it’s last call. You look around and everyone has coupled off. You and your friend look at one another and then to the other side of the bar where two guys stand lingering hoping to get something else besides alcohol for last call. Then you look at your friend and say, “Well, I’ve had worse.” And there you have it – relationships of today – all around the premise “I’ve had worse.”

Children by 27, divorce by 30 is not something that I envision for myself. If that’s the case (and not to forget I’m nearly onto 28), then I guess I’ll forever be an old maid. Something my mother thinks anyway, at least I won’t disprove her *wink wink*

1 comment:

  1. Haha, I totally love the Egyptians saying "Oh, you're 25, aren't you in a rush to get married". The best thing ever :D