Life After College: Marriage?... Or Not

I’ve finished college and found a full time job with good pay and benefits. What is the next goal I should set for myself?  Am I supposed to get married now…? I mean, sure, getting married and having kids, that’s something I’m looking forward to but…when?  Some of my aunts, uncles, and cousins have dropped some not-so-subtle hints, questioning when am I going to get married, since each of my cousins are getting married off.  All of my older cousins are married except three that are just a few years apart from me.  So, I’m right behind them, and I’m the only girl.  Based on the Korean traditional view of women marrying young, does that mean I’m actually supposed to get married next because I’m a girl?  Or can we just follow the age order and wait until the other three get married first?  In the middle of these thoughts, I realized that I shouldn’t be hurrying to get married and having kids just to keep my family at bay.

Age as a Factor

Age is something else to think about. My mom had me when she was 29, and I thought that was already kind of late.  In present day, that’s the average age for women to get married and have children. But back then, it seemed pretty late and that age would also be considered kind of old to be getting married, or even too late as speculated by most middle-aged women. Research has also shown that women who have children later in life tend to have complications either with the birthing process or the child themselves as the woman’s body weakens or the health of the ovary. I’m already in my mid-20s and if you factor in the length of the dating process, marriage, and time needed to tend to my child, I can see why my family is starting to get pushy about my dating prospects and intentions.

Although, when I see people in my age group already getting married and/or having children, it makes me want to hurry and do the same. But it’d be smarter to think of what I need to do to provide everything my future child will need and want, and I should make sure they’ll be happy, right? I wouldn’t want to marry someone I don’t love or can’t depend on just to live a miserable life and not provide the kind of home and living I want for my kids. This is not just a personal thought; the fear of not being able to provide for their child(ren) is a social issue in both Korea and America with the increasing costs of living, child care, and housing. In America, people have gotten higher tax returns for having more dependents and children but that’s money you get once a year, and let’s be honest, not a lot of people can budget wisely or save as much for their future needs. Maybe Korea should have a similar system to increase their birthrates? Although, I suggest they set a limit as this has caused severe overpopulation and irresponsible parents throughout the country that have children to collect money from the government for their children. Let’s be more smart about this and make sure we’re able to provide before conceiving!

My Own Beliefs

For me, marriage and children are definitely future steps I intend to take, but I definitely have a couple steps between then and now. Some steps I’m currently thinking of and working on are financial stability and planning and career advancement.  But, honestly, it does get hard trying not to rush towards marriage with traditional family views and personal thoughts and plans colliding.  I can understand that my family wants me to “get settled” by getting married, so that they won’t have to keep worrying about me, but I like to be independent and plan my own life.  Luckily, they haven’t mentioned children to me yet, although I hear them talk about my recently married cousins and their plans for children.  Err... I guess it’s actually the family’s plans for children and not completely my cousins’ plans haha.  Hopefully, they won’t be telling me their plans for me.  For now, I’m going to work on financial stability so that I’ll be at least ready in that aspect.