How Losing My Father Affected My View of Marriage

Ebony's Sharda Sekaran found herself celebrating marriage equality, only to be told by a friend that she was defending an antiquated social construct.


When a man walks out on his toddler never to return, leaving her in the care of her mother, his actions leave a mark. Still, Ebony contributor Sharda Sekaran says that as an adult, she doesn't make her hate the idea of marriage, in spite of her past. However, after celebrating marriage equality for others, a friend made her realize that her feelings about matrimony were indeed linked to her absent father's legacy.

While I was celebrating the recently announced legislation allowing marriage for gay and lesbian people in New York State, a good friend of mine who'd brought me to the conference unleashed a torrential downpour on my enthusiasm. In what started as a friendly discussion with a gathering of women, some of whom were gay or bisexual, she accused me of defending a dead institution.

My friend, who has written on the topic, described marriage as an outdated and broken idea, and many nodded in agreement. I offered that I'd previously put very little stock in the notion of marriage, as someone from a family where women often never married or divorced. It was my interaction with gay couples fighting so hard for the right to marry that made me reconsider the value of formal legal unions between two people in romantic partnership. Some of the women looked at me sympathetically and others with open disinterest. Although I'd worried about feeling like the conservative sellout at some point at the conference, I never really predicted that it would be like this.

There's a bit of irony in this scenario. The diverging outlook that my friend and I have about marriage is rooted in the same source. We both were raised not knowing our fathers. Mine divorced my mother and abandoned us when I was a toddler. Her parents were never married and her mother chose to raise her without ties to her father, facilitated by child-rearing support from her sisters in what I picture as a “Little Women” scenario.

Read Sharda Sekaran's entire piece at Ebony.

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