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“Married” gives social status

I don’t know much how it looks in other countries of Europe, but in Poland marriage and all celebrations connected with the wedding party are considered as the biggest event in the life. Today, however, I wish to discuss not the wedding traditions that are extremely rich in our culture, but the social attitude about the marriage.

In Poland, ring on the finger is describing the status. High social status means own place of living, car, good job and a family with at least one child. I imagine that this is similar in all cultures of the world. The question is, however, how strong is a social pressure to reach it. This time I wish to skip the materialistic side of our mentality and focus on the family part.

Few weeks ago I got an invitation for a wedding party of my last unmarried and the youngest cousin in the family. I had to laugh, because he was born on the same day as me, but eight years later. My twelve cousins all together have 22 children. They all have married in a young age (between 20-25) and what surprises me the most, they all seem to be happy and without a nostalgia after “lost” youth. Arrives the question, how it is possible that all of them decided to follow one and the same pattern?

Why we decide to marry?

I am already 32 and for at least ten years I have been wondering, why all people surrounding me decide to marry so early, so fast, so spontaneous, while in other countries the trend is opposite. In this case I represent old-fashioned way of thinking – if marriage, means forever and must be a result of a mature decision. I think there are several reasons placed in our culture.

Many Polish people are simply more serious and mature for their age than they should be, which is caused often by financial situation, but also conservative education. Grounding a family is a natural sequence when they start their independent life and the only right choice.

In the Polish society has been widely developed a fear of becoming a spinster or confirmed bachelor. Singles in their late 20-s (and more) are often considered as more risky candidates for a serious relationship. What is more, unmarried people in Poland are under the strong pressure of their mothers, aunts, grandmothers, cousins, friends or neighbours asking at any occasion when will be their turn. Therefore, if you are a foreigner in a relationship with a Polish woman, you should know that sooner or later majority of us expects declarations about the future.

Another reason is that we are very loyal about our first serious partners and often we decide to get married even if we have doubts about that. Our loyal side makes that we don’t resign from relationships so easy (crisis may happen even between best couples) and we decide for divorce more rare that in other countries. Besides people in Poland don’t like the risk and changes. Since everyone is getting married so early, resigning from our current partner we risk to be single later. In effect, it is quite common in Poland to “stuck” in unhappy marriages.

Many of my Polish friends reading my blog will argue that some of my opinions are a generalization and most of them applies to small cities and villages. You must know, however, that rural areas in Poland have been occupied by 15 million population, while 40 largest cities – only 10 million (basing on data from the Demographic Yearbook of Poland 2015). Often our mentality is a bit narrow-minded even if we wished it was different.