More often than not, new parents will advise their just married counterparts to “enjoy married life” before taking on the responsibility of parenthood. Rightly so, as parenthood is the most important job in the world, whose responsibilities include: being on call 24/7 and making life impacting decisions. Yes, parenthood is sacrifice, that we are told. Unfortunately, what we aren’t told, as women, is to enjoy single life before we take the plunge into marriage.
This isn’t a checklist of things you should do to plan your wedding; this is a list of action items that will help you get the most out of singledom.
Abstain from sex
According to a New York Times article, “Married people under 30 have sex about 111 times a year. And it’s estimated that about 15 percent of married couples have not had sex with their spouse in the last six months to one year, according to Denise A. Donnelly, associate professor of sociology at Georgia State University, who has studied sexless marriage.”
Let’s be honest with ourselves, most of us are sexed out by the time we reach 30. So instead of having sex with this guy and that guy, why not save it for serious commitment (minimum 6 months of dating)? The argument can be made that sexual freedom and exploration helps you figure out what you want in bed and in life. To that I say, buy a copy of the Kama Sutra and save yourself from a lifetime of HPV.
Be Passionate About Something and Do Something About It
You’d be surprised how many women (especially South Asian women) can’t identify their passion, outside of finding the “right guy” (and possibly shopping, so they look good enough to find the “right guy”). Before marriage is when you should discover who you are and who you want to be. The road to answer those questions is long, winding, and often misleading, but if you don’t start the journey, before marriage, it only becomes more difficult to complete.
One of the best parts of abstaining, and not nesting with the first guy you meet, is that you free up a lot of time. Use that time to explore your interests. What activity makes you lose track of time? When do you feel the most rewarded? How do you incorporate more of that into your life?
And on a related note, make sure you have girl friends you love! There is lots of traveling to be had once you’re married, but it doesn’t compare to a full out trip with the girls. Experiencing adventure together will bring you closer, and no matter where your individual travels take you, that bond will be hard to break. Also, taking yourself out of your comfort zone (without a knight in shining armor) is an empowering experience.
Find Your Inner Peace
This can be medical, spiritual, private or shared, but work through your life baggage. You know, those fears, prejudices, and insecurities that women bring into every relationship? When you get married, you give up a lot of space (emotional and physical). Achieving a healthy emotional state is critical for maintaining a balance between space and support.
Looking externally is another essential part of finding your peace. Do you surround yourself with positive people? Do you get opportunities to relax? If you don’t like the answers to these questions, then you better make a few life changes.
Date Someone That Doesn’t Meet Your Ideal Partner Checklist
Whether it’s someone from another race, religion, or socioeconomic class. There is a lot to learn from experiencing an intimate connection with another culture. You might be dead set on marrying the next Salman Khan, but you might gain new perspective on what you want in life, if you date someone totally different.
Get Your Finances in Order
Bringing thousands of dollars of credit card debt into a relationship is not fair. School is expensive and there are some credit obligations we can’t avoid, but racking up bills with a shopping habit is avoidable. Being financially stable is something every woman should be, before they enter a partnership.
Learn to Cook Desi Food
Most South Asian husbands leap with joy at the idea of a wife that can make daal and bhaji like his Mama ji. Yes, masala is the way to a desi boy’s heart. But if “mommy issues” is not enough motivation to get you into the kitchen, then consider the health and financial benefits of cooking at home. South Asian food can actually increase cognitive ability; Dr. Oz recommends two servings of curry foods a week. Also, cooking at home allows you to monitor the quality of ingredients put in your food. Even if your significant other is a savant in the kitchen, that won’t get you out of cooking duties for the rest of your life.
Practice Saying No
No is a powerful word. Somewhere between college graduation and now, I learned how to use it, and I haven’t turned back. It finally clicked when I realized, people respect you for saying a honest no. There is a big difference between a honest no and a lazy no. A lazy no comes from a place of disorganization and lack of focus, whereas a honest no comes from a place of prioritization. A honest no is not a no, it’s an adjustment, or delegation, or a “sometime in the future”. If you think you are over committed now, imagine your life10 years from now. Learn how to prioritize your time and your values.
Some of the above advice can be proven by studies and backed up by psychologists, but for the most part it is just advice shared from life experience. Take it or leave it, I hope the greater message is clear: marriage (like death) is inevitable, worry less about who you’ll marry, and worry more about who you are.
— NATASHA KHAN
Natasha is happily married, and has completed her checklist.
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