AGE 30 & the associated distress among the unmarried females

Trishna Ghosh Bista, Clinical Psychologist at Mental Hospital Lagankhel, Lalitpur, Nepal

I was talking to a female friend of mine about how women are under more pressure to get married by age 30. But she feels there’s a lot of pressure on women to not only be married by the time they’re 30, but also to have a child. “I think for most women, there’s an unnerving time bomb that will virtually explode as soon as you hit 27! And usually the pressure is more from the extended rather than the immediate family. The funny part is that you tend to become everyone’s project, unless you have an unmarried older sibling, who you can use as your buffer,” You are left wondering what next! Questions like Is he marriage material? Are You of Marriageable Age? cause tremendous distress.

A large number of the population suffers from the pressure to get married at the so called right age that is 25-30yrsfor females, in the Asian countries. At 22, you’re less likely to have to settle: the dating pool is larger, and it’s easier to say, “Well, I’ll wait a few years until the right one comes along.” Obviously, you can choose not to settle. But I’ll be honest, that decision is a lot scarier at 30 than it would have been a decade earlier. The older you get, the harder it is to adjust to a potentially excellent mate who doesn’t quite fit into the life you’ve made. Obviously, these barriers are not insurmountable.

In Asia countries, marriage remains near-universal, with 98% of men and women tying the knot. In contrast, in some Western countries, a quarter of people in their 30s are cohabiting or have never been married, while half of new marriages end in divorce. Marriage continues to be the almost universal setting for child-bearing in Asia: Asians are more likely to agree that “women’s happiness lies in marriage”. They are more likely to say women should give up work when they get married or have children, and more likely to disapprove of pre-marital sex. In many Western societies, more cohabitation has offset a trend towards later marriage or higher rates of divorce. This is gradually picking up in Asia. If women are unmarried entering their 40s, they will almost certainly neither marry nor have a child.



The mean age of marriage is rising in both countries. Divorce is increasing, especially among younger people. In India, traditional arranged marriages are being challenged by online dating (matrimonial service) and by “self-arranged marriages”, hybrids in which the couple meet, fall in love and agree to marry—but then let the two families fix everything up, as in traditional arranged marriages.
The pressure to get married is mainly because of certain societal norms that are still prevalent within our families to settle down within a certain age, Nevertheless, there are also times when parents might misunderstand you and become unreasonable. “Very often parents fail to understand the situation because they are not on the same page as their children. Peer pressures, on the other hand, the very thought of being the single person left standing.
Resisting the pressure of marriage can be a helluva task for most single women today. Especially if your friends, cousins and colleagues have decided to take the plunge all in a row, things can start becoming tricky for you. Relatives are telling you you’re next, your girlfriends are probably busy arranging blind dates with every single guy they know, and you have turned down almost every marriage proposal that’s come knocking at the door.

Few reasons for late marriages in women are probably due to the following

Women have always been permitted—even encouraged—to “marry up”, ie, marry a man of higher income or education. Marrying up was necessary in the past when women could not get an education and female literacy was low. But now that many women are doing as well or better than men at school, those at the top—like the “golden misses”—find the marriage market unwelcoming. Either there are fewer men of higher education for them to marry, or lower-income men feel intimidated by their earning power (as well as their brain power).

Distress Woman in Black Robe (1955) by Lili Orszag
Distress Woman in Black Robe (1955) by Lili Orszag

How to cope with the pressure
Have your own plan: For starters, decide what is best for you. Be it further education, a better job or financial stability, having a concrete plan will surely help you win the battle.
Communicate: Constant communication with family is extremely important. “At the same time, don’t be defensive and rebellious with your parents. It is only going to aggravate the situation .
Be confident: Whatever you decide to do, be confident and stick to it. Buckling under pressure will take you nowhere, a strong willpower definitely will.
Don’t avoid family/ friends: Don’t sway under peer or family pressure. Attend your best friend’s wedding and dance at your cousin’s sangeet! You will know when the time is right for sure.
Pause and contemplate: Marriage is not something that should be rushed into. When the day’s done, sit down and think about what you want from life and marriage in particular. Remember that it is not a race! And nothing comes in a package.
Have an open mind get married whenever the right person presents himself or herself. A very famous quote stating that marriages are made in heaven is so true, not only me anyone experiencing this bliss will not fail to agree with me on this.
So I thought I’d ask the women here, particularly the ones who are around age 30. Do you feel there’s still pressure for you to be married by age 30 or is that a thing of the past?


The Author is Clinical Psychologist at Mental Hospital Lagankhel, Lalitpur, Nepal. She can be reached at [email protected]