My name is Kamran, I’m 22 years old, and in school at a University. I understand that this website is primarily used by teens but I have a situation which I feel is a bit confusing, for myself. First and foremost, my ethnicity is Pakistani and the reason as to why I feel so entitled to tell you this is so you can better understand my situation. In our culture, around my age, is when many people start to look around for marriage and usually the way people go around doing so is arranged marriages. Thank goodness my parents are slightly more broad minded and allow me to date. Here is my issue, my parents want me to get engaged soon, as do I, but there are certain expectation placed upon me which I can not full-fill in the short given time. What my parents don’t know is that I have 3 years of schooling before I get my bachelors, their under the impression that I’m going to graduate in a year. The past few semesters I have been taking only 9 credit hours and I don’t have the courage to tell them. On top of that there is this girl which I want to get engaged to and my parents approve, its a match made in heaven for several reason which my parents feel good about as well. They too are a Pakistani family and we are going to take the arranged marriage approach and the girl approves as well. I’m a bit scared of the idea of marriage do to my academic status. Usually and the more logical thing to do is to get married when one is more financially stable but I feel that a couple can build their lives together. Quite a few people tend to do the same. I’m stuck in this ordeal and don’t know what quite to do, I suppose the question that I would like answered is, should my academic standing be an extremely significant reason for me to base my judgment on, regarding getting engaged??? I would truly love your input regarding this.
Letter submitted by:
You have presented several disparate issues in your letter. The first issue is that you come from a traditional Pakistani background in which a high percentage of marriages are arranged by the parents of the two parties. The second issue is that you have taken what is usually considered a below minimum number of credits per semester at your school, required to graduate on time. The third issue is you have not informed your parents of this situation. The fourth issue is that you have an unrealistic expectation of the way things work out – “the more logical thing to do is get married when one is more financially stable but I feel that a couple can build their lives together”. The fifth issue is that you think you are somehow stuck in some kind of ordeal because you feel that getting engaged is dependent on your academic standing.
With regard to the first issue – You state you are fully accepting of a traditional arranged marriage and moreover you have met someone for whom this is not a problem. So actually the first issue is NOT an issue. But the second issue raises some questions. Why have you only taken nine credits per semester? Are you having problems with the course work? What exactly are you studying? Are you studying to be something which your parents want you to be and for which perhaps you don’t want to do? Is that why you haven’t told them? You are living your life, and if you find that the course work you are doing is not for you for one reason or another, you need to be honest not only with them, but also more importantly with yourself, and find something which is more suitable for you and more to your liking. The worst thing you can do is spend your entire life doing something which someone else picked out for you to do. If you are only taking nine credits/semester for some other reason such as spending too much time with extracurricular activities than you need to reset your priorities. In either case, you are not a child or a teenager anymore. At twenty two you are eligible to vote, enlist in the military, drink, get married and have children. If your parents are paying for all or part of your tuition, they are certainly entitled to an honest and transparent report of your academic progress; especially since you are at an age where many of your peers are already getting set for graduation and the beginning of their careers.
As to the fourth issue; you have already given yourself the answer – the logical thing to do is get married when one is more financially stable. So you already realize that you can’t live on love alone, and if you are not financially stable, you also know that this is one of the key causes of failed marriages. Now you don’t have to start out wealthy, or have a home, or even a car, but you need SOME financial stability which usually translates as a decent and steady job. Now a college degree is no guarantee of that, but it is certainly statistically better than merely a high school diploma. So the first thing you need to do is get your act together and finish your degree. Lastly, I see no impediment to becoming engaged. Being engaged is NOT married. Being engaged is an indefinite time span to which both parties agree, expressing their fidelity and intent, nothing more.
In the end you need to be honest with yourself with why you are taking so few courses, you need to be honest with your parents as to what you want for your future, and lastly you need to be honest with the woman whom you would like to spend your life with. The only ordeal you are going through is not being honest with yourself and those around you.
Thank you for writing to us.