• Shirley Kwun

Girls, still thinking you must get married before 30?

Updated: Mar 13, 2019

"All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.

― Leo Tolstoy , Anna Karenina

On one breezy summer's day in Hong Kong, I gathered with my close family members to sign away my dignified official status of being a spinster. Yes, in true Bridget Jones style and true post-colonial old English, I was a Spinster. Yes, a woman who has never been married is called a Spinster. Yet, the male counterpart is called a Bachelor. Sounds a lot more sophisticated than a Spinster.

Slightly amused, I signed on the line. There it was, I was victorious alas.

I was married and I was 2 months shy of my 30th birthday.

According to the 2018 census, the median age at first marriage was 29.6 for women, and 31.4 for men. In the age group of 30–34, there were around 1 million unmarried women and 1.2 million unmarried men. Those numbers even out in the 35–39 age group between the sexes. The number of Hong Kong men marrying females from the Mainland has decreased to 14,384 in 2017 from 28,145 in 2006. There is also an insignificant rising trend of Hong Kong females marrying males from the Mainland.

Shortage of men?

The media constantly surrounds us with terrifying article titles such as "This is Hong Kong: no time for love, no interest in marriage and not enough men", or "Asian Women Torn Between Money and Marriage: CUHK study reveals changing social values in three cities" and the list goes on as you might expect.

But if you look at the statistics above, the picture is not all doom and gloom. Yes, we have a shortage of men but the difference is only about 10–20%, but look at the number of unmarried men and women in the 30–39, the difference is not huge. The number of Hong Kong men marrying Mainland females has also stabilised in recent years. And who says you have to be married by 30?

Do I have to be married by 30?

The answer is no one should. Like a lot of women, I thought 30 was an age where one should settle down, especially if you are female and that your biological clock is ticking. I was lucky that I met my husband in my late twenties but I also know a lot of women now lament how silly it was to think 30 was an age where they should find a husband. Some were lured by the husband's family background, career achievements and looks of course, only to find that marriages are hard work, it is indeed a union of two families. I have met older women who were glad that motherhood arrived after they have carved their own path career wise. I have also met men who are scared of dating girls in their late twenties only to find that they all are desperate to get married.

The truth is when it comes to finding love, do not believe what the media, society and your family and friends tell you. Use your best judgement along with your wisdom, trust your instincts. But then there is absolutely nothing wrong in wanting to start a family sooner. Whichever way it is, no one but yourself can control your own future, as every small decision impacts your life later on, but whom you marry will affect you more as a woman, so choose wisely.

I devised a strategy to find my own husband and luckily it worked out. But if I had met more female mentors or friends that told me things could be different, I would probably have been happier and more confident (hard to believe I know). Girls, being single does not have to be a stigma in 2018, you do not have down a bottle of wine alone in your pajamas listening to Celine Dion, being a spinster can be a choice not necessarily a means to an end.

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