I promised myself as a child that I would never marry. I was never one of those girls who fantasized about and planned a lavish wedding. I never imagined a faceless man sweeping me off my feet one day. I've never wanted to share my worst thoughts and feelings with anyone else. I was opposed to the entire institution from the start. I would say that marriage was not in my plans. What's more, why would it be? People say you learn relationships from your parents, and if that's true, my model would leave most people speechless and uncomfortable.

My parents' marriage was arranged. I've understood the definition and connotations of such a term as an adult, but as a child, I battled to reconcile the reality that my parents seemed to despise each other. Their marriage was not (and still isn't) the happiest. When I try to recall my earliest memories, all I remember are flashes and jumbles that, when put together, produce a fuzzy memory.

As he towered over her, my father was enraged, his visage thrown in a black shadow. With her back to the stove and a wooden cooking spoon in her hand, my mother stood defiantly. Screams drowned out noises from a Barney episode that were supposed to distract me. My father's scalp was smeared with rust-colored blood, and I could hear my mother's terrible, muted screams through the opening below the bedroom door.

I was four years old at the time.

Despite my parents' terrible (and continuing to deteriorate) relationship, marriage was always a hot topic in the family, particularly in relation to me. It became the center point of my existence almost unassumingly, whether as dinner discussion or fuel for laughs. Everything I did, said, or planned became a test of my suitability as a potential wife. Or who might be eligible for me and who might not. The type of guy who was judged "worthy" for the family was drilled into my skull.

I couldn't figure out what was causing the fascination. I started to resent it, as well as them. I'd just recently began to realize that males were more than simply dirty critters on the playground, and yet here we were, almost ready to buy for my wedding. I felt as if I was being trained from an early age to strive to be nothing more than a glorified housewife.

I couldn't grasp it, and I couldn't understand my mother's logic, given her marriage's astronomical success; why was marriage such a significant institution if I was doomed to spend the rest of my life giving birth to children for a man I couldn't stand? My entire life began to feel claustrophobic and constricted, as if I were caught between two worlds.

Nonetheless, somewhere between high school graduation and college graduation, I lost my antipathy to marriage. And that aversion became internalized, expressing as self-doubt and guilt. I hated myself for being too romantic, for allowing literature to form and affect my intense need for a partner.

In my mother's opinion, my romanticism was used against me. I was unskilled, unrealistic, and naive. Love was not a requirement for a successful marriage. Marriage, on the other hand, was merely another item on a to-do list. Graduation, marriage, and children — in that sequence, and in a hurry because we want grandchildren.