South Asia's social system is rigged to favour the hitched. It doesn't matter if you're well-qualified, successful, or an all-round sweetie-pie – you're often less valued than your married counterparts. Why?
Maybe it's because if someone agrees to hang out with you all the time until you die, you can't be so bad. Or in an Asian context it means your family has enough standing, wealth, or religious correctness that people want to marry into it. Or most likely, just because you're now seen as a serious adult capable of being invested with responsibility and trust (doesn't matter if you already had those qualities without a bit of bling on your fing). Getting married is like an Asian lifehack – you're suddenly playing life on easy mode. Here's why:
1. It's probably one of the best financial decisions you'll ever make.
- People will fling wads of cash at you at your wedding. I've always wondered how people I know still studying, or without jobs, careers, or homes of their own can afford to get married. But it turns out, the wedding pays for itself. Although your parents pay for it too, so all the additional cash can be used to line the new house. What new house, you ask?
- One side of the parental unit will probably gift you a house or apartment or offer you free housing.
- Your wedding registry will basically furnish your whole house. Forget having to shell out for bathroom mats or whatever at Arpico, you'll wake up the day after your wedding with about 13 toasters in varying colours and sizes (and probably a hangover). You can gauge how much a relative likes you by toaster size, it's a pretty exact science.
- Inheritance is often bestowed upon marriage, not merit. It doesn't quite matter if you're an international award-winning biologist who discovered Sri Lanka's first anthropomorphous frog or whatever, you're still only going to receive family heirlooms ranging from jewellery to cars to houses only when you get married. Even if you just met the chap 2 weeks ago at R&B.
- Shared costs, shared labour, double the resources, double income. Not to mention tax breaks. 'Nuff said.
- Obtaining a personal loan is much easier, unless your partner is heavily in debt. In which case, why are you marrying them in the first place?
2. If you're a dude, you'll probably live longer
Married men live longer, healthier lives than their unmarried counterparts. Science, bitch.
3. Travel in Asia is way easier
- Getting a visa to go abroad is easier. For example, the UAE often won't even grant you entry if you're a woman under 30 unaccompanied by your husband, brother, or father. Even relatively non-sexist areas like the EU and the USA are more likely to give you a tourist visa if you're married (the assumption is that if you're single, you're less attached and thus could potentially illegally overstay your visa etc).
- Renting hotel rooms is much simpler. Okay, proper international hotels don't give a rat's posterior, but smaller villas or home-stays around the Indian Subcontinent don't look fondly upon unmarried couples. Living in sin, you say? Not on our polyester sheets! Luckily there are great, safe companies like Stay Uncle in India making people's lives easier. The poor chaps in Sri Lanka have to rely on unreliable sources like YAMU forums.
4. Marriage is good for your career – if you're a man
This one's actually a bit gender-divisive. If you're a man, being married makes you more likely for promotion, but if you're a recently-married woman, it doesn't. Married men are perceived as being more likely to stay in a job as they have to now provide, they've got responsibilities, they're viewed as a "family man", and most of all, they're a lot more motivated to do well monetarily to support their families. Newly-married women are often seen as potential liabilities to a business as they are more likely to get pregnant and require maternity leave, payment, and a replacement. Add to all of this in Sri Lanka is the fact that an older unmarried man in Sri Lanka is viewed with suspicion as a "perpetual bachelor".
If you're living together but unmarried, you'll have a tough time in case something happens to one of you. This ranges from a lack of legal rights in terms of health insurance, pension recipients, inheriting property, and more. You'll also not be allowed to visit your spouse in jail, ICU, or abroad. You may also not be allowed to adopt, or you won't be allowed equal rights to your children if you are unmarried. Sure, if you live in the EU or UK you can apply for a civil partnership or domicile partnership, but those don't apply here in sunny old Sri Lanka.
Speaking of houses, it's also incredibly difficult to find housing if you're living with your partner. It doesn't matter if you've been with them for a decade as opposed to two people who met and married on the same day, the marriage certificate automatically renders their relationship more valid. Go figure.
6. You'll receive adequate gynecologic and sexual healthcare
I had an inflamed kidney a couple of years ago. In order to properly diagnose it, my (very nice and competent) doctor sent me off to the hospital's lab to get a sonogram. The (very horrible and brusque) male doctor doing the scan wouldn't speak directly to me, ask me any questions about my own body (he would only address my parents or partner), and once he found out I was unmarried, refused to do a vaginal sonogram. Despite the fact that this was necessary for the diagnosis and I was in severe pain. This is at one of Sri Lanka's glitziest private hospitals, which should scare you a little bit more.
Furthermore, I've met plenty of people who have had terrible gynaec sessions or incorrect information given to them because the local doctors will either not help you with reproductive health if you are unmarried, or will ask "are you married?" rather than "are you sexually active?". Keep in mind that there is no legal framework that stops you from receiving proper health care if unmarried – it's just ignorant thinking of individual practitioners (there are great ones out there too!).
7. You can have a kid
Okay, you can have a kid without getting married, but the social repercussions of that in a repressive society are 'uge (not that it should matter to anyone whose genitalia isn't involved). Adoption is almost completely restricted to married couples in South Asia. It doesn't quite matter if you have the compassion and means to adopt a kid, you're still less eligible if unmarried (especially if you're a man).
8. You no longer have to answer the question "Why aren't you married yet?"
This is the best and worst reason to get married. The second you finish high school, your first degree, go on your second date with someone, or have a cousin or sibling get married, you'll keep hearing busybodies ask you why you aren't married. Nobody cares about your answer, this is just a way of reminding you that it is your divine duty to give this obscure relative a free buffet before you hit 30. Also because everybody knows if you're not married by 30 you're basically a puppy-stabbing sea monster.
You don't need to resign yourself to a debt-ridden wedding complete with 1,600 strangers balefully glaring at your makeup-caked face mumbling vows and wondering if it's okay to eat yet. You can either embrace it with someone that you adore and want to build a great loving partnership and family with, or move to another country where the system isn't as concerned about your marital status, or supports marriage equality. Either way, don't forget to send us cake.
PS: If this article is irrelevant to you because you're a single pringle, please use our guide to finding love in Sri Lanka first. Or stay single and happy, you do you!