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Do people equate marriage and children with "success"?

(52 Posts)
PaintedNails Sat 24-Sep-16 21:34:55

NC for this as it could out me.

I'm 30 and my brother is 33. We have always been quite successful in academic studies and have good careers now in fields that interest us both and are quite specialist. I don't know if it's a coincidence or not but both of us have never really got off the ground with relationships. I've had a few dalliances and one long term one about 10 years ago but since then nothing serious (not for want of trying I might add). He is chronically shy but trying to meet people.

Anyway that's a bit of the background. We have two aunts and both have two children (so four cousins) and they're a similar age to us. Whenever we meet at a family event the only thing our family want to know is if we are dating anyone. They switch off about everything else. The cousins are all settled and either married or living with a partner, a couple of them have kids, and I swear they look at us with pity/ amusement. It's the first thing they ask us each time.

So the thing that really pushed me to to post this is I think one of my aunts is being a bit bitchy to me, she gave me a gift for my birthday, a bracelet which had an engraving: "Better to have lived and lost than never to have loved at all." Do you think that's a weird thing to give to a 30 year old niece? I think it's such a weird engraving!

AIBU to think people write you off as a failure if you're not married with kids?

PaintedNails Sat 24-Sep-16 21:37:11

Sorry the bracelet read:

Better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all

frankleigh Sat 24-Sep-16 21:39:18

... That's a weird gift for anyone to give anyone, under any circumstances!

SusanAndBinkyRideForth Sat 24-Sep-16 21:39:34

I don't think it's failure. (Personally I think "knackered and busy" when I hear married with kids grin) more that they are concerned you may be holding yourself back from living a full life? Kind concern from a loving relative?
I know a few people who are so sled contained ot scared of being hurt (again) that they live all alone never having a relationship, and while that is great if it is made as a positive choice, it's not so great if it's a decision made in fear of something, as you may look back with regrets in later life.

StrawberrytallCake Sat 24-Sep-16 21:40:00

Well I'm married with kids and have felt like people write me off for not having had a successful career. So it works both ways!

The children have been the only thing to give me the drive to have a career - which I'm working on!! Either takes a while and having both seems rare to me!

StrawberrytallCake Sat 24-Sep-16 21:41:25

Also - yes that's a weird thing to give anyone.

SusanAndBinkyRideForth Sat 24-Sep-16 21:42:14

Sorry for typos - feeding baby and typing (see knackered above grin)
So your aunt may think you were heartbroken and scared tobtry again. Just guessing of course, but not necessarily a malicious act.

SirChenjin Sat 24-Sep-16 21:42:27

As someone who is married with kids I tend to compare my lack of progress with others who haven't got kids and who are storming ahead, and who have spare time and money to pursue their interests and dreams. I certainly don't think not being married with kids = failure confused As it is, you are very young so if you do decide you want a spouse and/or kids at some point you'll have them.

That was a very weird gift from your aunt - what exactly was she thinking of??

Dozer Sat 24-Sep-16 21:42:42

Your aunt is bonkers!

spankhurst Sat 24-Sep-16 21:42:58

Gosh, you're only 30. None of my friends was married or a parent at that age. I certainly wasn't. You may find this decade is the one that you meet someone and have a family. Or you may not. What do you want? Your family might just be worried about you, although your aunt's gift is rather odd. I think as a society we do equate marriage and kids with completing some kind of final step to adulthood.

MsRinky Sat 24-Sep-16 21:43:56

Your aunt is a loon.

WorraLiberty Sat 24-Sep-16 21:44:05

The bracelet is too weird for words.

But asking if you've met anyone etc, is fairly normal I think and not necessarily judgemental.

She knows you've got a job, so she's not going to ask "Are you working?" which is a question a lot of people ask, if you weren't the last time they saw you IYSWIM?

BlancheBlue Sat 24-Sep-16 21:44:10

Maybe some people do but the only "success" that matters is what we define for ourselves - it is irrelevant what others think we should or shouldn't do. Having a job we enjoy and are interested in is also a massive thing in life in my opinion.

The bracelet sounds shit and tacky in general - charity shop? wink

ollieplimsoles Sat 24-Sep-16 21:44:13

Weird thing to give to anyone op!

I got married because I love the guy, and had dd because I wanted a baby, nothing to do with success for me.

My success is somehow managing to cling on to a sort-of career while looking after her...

albertcampionscat Sat 24-Sep-16 21:45:01

Well, the quote's Tennyson from 'in memoriam', about his non-sexual (as far as we know) love for a male friend who died young.

(I only know this because I came across it yesterday. )

PaintedNails Sat 24-Sep-16 21:46:32

I would like to meet someone get married and have a family but it just hasn't happened yet so my aunt's gift did sting a bit. It's like they've written me off or think I'll never meet anyone. She has been a bit bitchy with my mum in the past, a classic "jellyfish". I was trying really hard to think that she may have thought it was a nice gift, but that's just not possible is it?

MsVestibule Sat 24-Sep-16 21:47:43

That's a really weird gift. She's obviously desperate to get you married off, and sadly, I think a lot of people do think like her.

I didn't meet my DH until I was 34, and I know a few people thought that the fact that I bought my own house when I was 19 and had a reasonably successful career didn't really count. Even my own sister, after I moved in with DH, said 'I felt really sorry for you, living by yourself all those years'. Grr.

Mind you, I now get shit for being a SAHM, so it seems I can't win either way 😀.

lifeofsiam Sat 24-Sep-16 21:49:36

My aunts always ask my adult dd's "are you courting?" Never about their degrees or (very good) careers. I think it's a generational/old-fashioned thing.

Ignore them OP.

thecolonelbumminganugget Sat 24-Sep-16 21:56:19

I think you have two separate issues here...

1 is my aunt batshit, she have me this very weird bracelet: yes, yes she is, if she's anything like a family member of mine who gives weird gifts, she is maybe giving away something she won in a raffle and thought she'd get away with it.

2 - do some people see finding somone who tollerates you long term and enough to even procreate with you as winning at life?: yes. Who knows whether that's correct or not. Let's hope when we die there's someone waiting with the answer to what the point of the whole thing was. Personally I'm pinning all my hopes on having a really high score in pokemon go.

Mypurplecaravan Sat 24-Sep-16 21:58:33

For me, personally, as I struggled with social skills and can come across quite frosty on first (few) meetings, yes marriage and kids does = success. Above all my academic and financial successes.

But that's a personal success that I have found a dh to love. It is not a standard I judge others by.

My reading of the bracelet is a supportive 'onwards and upwards' type thing. But of course you know the background and know it is unlikely to come from a place of live

IrenetheQuaint Sat 24-Sep-16 22:00:02

As a fellow long-term single person, I can confirm that YES, for many people marriage and children is the main marker of success.

('We just want you to be happy,' my aunt said to me once a bit pathetically. I tried to explain that I am rubbish at relationships and much happier being single, but it really wasn't going in.)

Anicechocolatecake Sat 24-Sep-16 22:01:03

I do absolutely think lots of people see you being married as having succeeded in life. It certainly feels that way as an unmarried 30 something. I don't get out all that much but I have often picked up on a whiff of pity once some people realise i'm single. Also I'm not sure if other people find this but if you have a quick browse on facebook there are so many people with a profile photo of themselves on their wedding day. More that than with their children, in my experience. It's like this tiny advertisement saying 'somebody wanted me. I am a success' Maybe I'm reading too much into it and it's just that wedding photos are generally one's most flattering photos but it does seem to be about status and signalling personal success.

Marriage, in my view at least, is luck in many ways - meeting someone who loves you as much as you love them is. In many cases it's also about someone desperately wanting to be married or wanting the perfect day. People marry the wrong person all the time. Despite what i've written above I don't feel like a failure because I'm not married. I really just havem't met the right person. Having a disability and barely making it out the house hasn't exactly helped with that wink But still lots of time for both of us op. I enjoy being single in many ways. The older I get, the more liberating I find it.

SirChenjin Sat 24-Sep-16 22:05:35

I wonder if your aunt is secretly disappointed in your cousins lack of achievement and is focusing on their marriages and kids as it's the only thing that they really have? <clutching at straws>

brasty Sat 24-Sep-16 22:06:45

Research shows that the happiest people are those who are single and childless by choice. I am not, so no personal axe to grind. I know someone who is though and she seems very happy. So no I certainly do not see it as a failure.
And would your aunt think a 30 year old man who is single and childless is a failure? Or is it only women who are supposed to see this as important?

Longdistance Sat 24-Sep-16 22:07:02


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