Is there a graceful, mature, yet honest way to answer elders' never ending question - 'Why aren't you married?' Or, from my grandmother on this New Year's Day,"There's nothing wrong with meeting someone and getting married. That's the last thing I am waiting to see before I die." The answer, if communicated truthfully, is very complicated. I'm not even quite sure what their point is in asking, since they don't seem to want an explanation. I am going to Korea for a month in the spring and anticipate most of my energy spent justifying my marital status.
I'd like to ask you about why Koreans put so much emphasis on marriage AFTER graduation from college or grad school? It's so funny to see Korean parents force their kids to study all their lives and then wonder why their son or daughter has no marriage prospects at all. My family members (they're Korean) are pushing me to find a wife but I guess I'm driving them crazy since I've decided like many other men, to live a bachelor by choice lifestyle - I don't date and I don't care. Am I causing them to go insane since there would be zero gossip about me?
Dear Sunny and Slasher,
You remind the Korean of a Korean joke: "How is a woman like a Christmas cake? They sell like crazy on 22, 23, 24; they slow down on 25, and after 26 they are half-priced." But it's not just women - it's the same for men, although men can afford to be late by about 2~3 years.
The marriage question is seriously the most pesky thing for young Korean people - even young Korean people in Korea have no idea what to do about that. Elders ask that because it's just a requisite step in life. First you go through school, then you get a job, then you get married. There's got to be something wrong with you if you miss one of the steps.
Sadly, the Korean really has no idea, although he empathizes 100 percent. Plenty of Korean elders ask the Korean the same question, the Korean simply replies "it will happen sooner or later," and they generally let it go. Like you suggested, it's not like the elders really want to know what's going on - they just ask because it's what they are supposed to ask.