I recently read this article from the BBC about the institution of marriage in Indonesia, or rather, the expectation of marriage.

Are you married yet? is usually one of the first questions I’m asked when I meet someone new. Notice the inevitability implied by the word yet. Acceptable answers are yes or not yet. A straightforward no would be inconceivable, because… because… everyone simply must get married!

My standard response of not yet often prompts follow-up questions: for instance, Do you want to marry an Indonesian? I’ve taken to replying that I want to marry someone from Earth. When do you want to get married? My nonexistent fiancée and I haven’t talked about it yet. Do you have a girlfriend? Do you want a girlfriend? and so on and so forth. Another of my standard answers is that I want to marry someone that wants to marry me, and so far, that seems to be everyone’s favorite.

The question isn’t limited to casual conversations either. My principal recently asked me if I was married during a meeting of the entire faculty. I’m actually quite grateful. Hopefully, my colleagues will remember my response and refrain from asking again!


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