The irritating question:
when are you going
to get married?

Executives reprint from
the California Journal
March 29, 2005

by Faith Karami

The other day I went to visit a friend whose daughter had just gotten married and I walked right into a trap: It was the Ďyour-age-mate-just-got-married-so-when-will-you?í interrogation. The people who normally ask this question are mostly older, pretty blunt with their questioning and never give up until they wear you out. Since you canít ignore them (out of respect), you just have to sit there and take the punches as they dish them out.

"So how old are you now? In your late 20s? Isnít it time you started thinking about a husband and children?" the lady of the house asked as soon as we sat down to eat.

"Ahh, I donít think so, please pass the water," I replied.

"What?" she exclaimed. "When should we expect children from you?"

"Probably never," I joked. "And I have to find a husband first."

"Never? Are you out of your mind? Your plate is almost empty, have some more food," she said.

"Iím not ready to have children or a husband."

"Do you know how many kids I had when I was your age?" she continued. (Told you these people never give up). And the ruthless questioning went on and on.

It seems that even children are picking up on this adult obsession. A friendís 7-year-old niece recently demanded to know where my boyfriend was. I told the child that my boyfriend had asked me a silly question and I had locked him up in the boot of my car. I then knelt down and gently told this adorable kid that she should stop asking silly questions, too, or she might end up in the boot of someoneís car. Based on the raw fear I saw in her eyes, I donít think sheíll be asking that question again.

Now if only we can traumatise adults out of asking that question, life would be so much calmer for the millions of single people out there. All the singletons of the world would be able to attend weddings and bridal showers without being asked when they will be inviting people for theirs. We already spend a good portion of our incomes buying gifts and making rounds from baby showers to weddings. Do we have to answer tough questions too?

It seems like this is one question that is universal when you get to a certain age. It does not matter whether you are Kenyan or American, male or female. When you hit 25 and you are not married, everyone around you starts getting restless. Men get asked the question once in a blue moon, while women have to answer it on a regular basis. When I was a kid, I used to think parents were in a rush to marry off their children so that they would cash in on dowries ASAP. When I came to the US, a country where the wife pays for the entire wedding and there is no dowry, I realised itís not about dowry because American mothers, just like the rest of the world, are also in a rush to marry off their daughters, regardless of how much the wedding will cost them.

Is the world suffering from a phobia of being single? Whatever happened to "Take as much time as you want, just make sure itís the right person." It seems like the motto today is youíre a loser if youíre not married by 25, sweetheart. You better marry the next guy who comes along.

I want to have a positive attitude and assume parents are afraid that their precious children will end up as old maids. (Speaking of old maids, how come thereís no term for guys who are not married at a particular age? They are described as Ďplayasí or confirmed bachelors while women get the not-so-attractive descriptions.) How else do you explain the constant nagging to get married? The phone calls when one of your high school friends ties the knot? The admonishing and subliminal messages whenever your younger cousins announce they are getting hitched before you do? You canít even open an account in a bank when you are over a certain age without the bank teller asking you whether itíll be a joint account with your husband.

So in the spirit of making my nice (but nosy) friends and family happy, I have decided to take a co-worker up on an offer to go on a blind date (as soon as she can find someone who meets the criteria on my long checklist). The goal of the date, which will be in the next few weeks, will be to convince my friends that Iím at least trying to have a life outside my career. If it works out, then everyoneís happy. If it does not work out, they are not allowed to ask me Ďthe marriage questioní again. Iíll report back on the date in the next couple of weeks.

Meanwhile, Iím working on some comeback lines to unleash when people ask that question. So far, I only have three: Is there a stopwatch out there that times how fast people get married?

Did Congress enact a rule that says you have to be married before you hit 30?

Itís (insert favourite movie starís name here) fault. He ran off and married someone else. If you know of better lines that we can use to hush these people up, drop me a line via email.

- The writer can be reached at