Tag Archives: Marriage

THE AGE CONUNDRUM

Back in secondary school, my friend Sally used to say how she did not plan be to be married until she was around 27 years old. I always thought she was just trying to be outlandish on purpose. Who knows, maybe she was. But, I still used to think she was a bit weird for thinking that way – 27 is so dangerously close to 30…and we all knew what 30 meant! …Or at least, we knew what we had been taught it meant.

We learned that 30 meant going from “a maiden” to “an old maid.” 30 meant going from being referred to as “young woman” to “unmarried woman”. 30 meant, away with university-age and in with married-with-a-kid age (so, if you’re not there by that age, you’re malfunctioning somehow).

This is an idea that I think should be deprogrammed from our minds. I mean, if you’re a woman or man married with kid(s) by 30, good for you! Congrats! But no one should be put down, or made to feel like a failure, sitting on a time bomb just because they’re not there by that age.

I have been the unfortunate witness of this notion being expressed by one of my old Secondary School classmates who happened to be male. We were just having one of those casual, “where are you now?” and “what are your plans?” type of conversations. I told him I was going to pursue an MA/PhD, and his first reaction was, “so when will you get married?” At first, I wanted to tell him off, but I decided to be polite, and just make a joke so we can both laugh and move on from that kind of questioning.

But he was so bent on his intent, that even after I had laughed it off, he decided to end the conversation with this gem; “Well, just make sure you get married by 25, okay?” I wasn’t sure how to react to this, because I wasn’t entirely sure what I was feeling. The way he even phrased it as a helpful hint/advice was both rage-inducing and utterly amusing. I felt a weird combination of rage, shock, amusement, and disappointment in that instant, and I had to take a moment to breathe so that I wouldn’t say anything I would come to regret.

After taking a breather, I asked him if he was planning on getting married by 25 as well, to which he, without hesitation, replied that he would not be ready by then, and he still had to revel in not being tethered to a woman until he was about 30. I hoped he would see the hypocrisy of his outlook, but I don’t remember if I pointed it out to him or not. Honestly, the rest of that conversation is now a blur to me. I lost interest in anything else he had to say or ask, and did not invest in the conversation anymore.

Funny enough this notion does not apply to men in quite the same way – why should it, right?

We are indoctrinated into this idea that if men are like fine wine that gets better with age, then women are like egg salad (you really don’t want that aged).

I’m not saying we should also impose these same expectations on men, neither am I endorsing that George Clooney lifestyle for anyone – I’m simply saying, don’t put people down for not meeting your marriage-age expectation (especially if they’re not your children). And if you’re at that close-to-30 age and the pressure is piling on, just remember that desperation makes for some horrible decisions – stay calm, and stay happy!

GIRLS SHOULD “ASPIRE” TO MARRIAGE?!

It may seem like an outdated notion that is no longer prevalent – especially with all these pesky feminists that never seem to shut up about it* – but unfortunately, that’s not so. It might seem like this happens mainly among some ethnic (Non-European-American) circles, nonetheless, it is something that bothers me tremendously as a girl. Period.

I may not know exactly how to put it into words, but I’ll try a number of illustrations and maybe you will understand what I mean. For instance, there is this unfortunate running joke about how when a Nigerian girl graduates from university her parents throw her a graduation party, which they then hope would turn into an engagement party also.

As a girl (especially one from an African household with an involved mother), you’re taught from a very young age how to keep a home and keep yourself, and prepare yourself for what will definitely come in the future – marriage to a husband whom you’ll have to keep appeased and interested. Now, it’s all fine and dandy to learn these home keeping skills, so I am not about to go on a feminist rant about it – relax.

But, what does bother me is when you sense that some people (some parents, as well as girls sometimes) see marriage as the end all be all, the ultimate life accomplishment, the reward of being a good and Godly girl, the supreme aspiration, and the happy ending every accomplished girl should have.

Now, I’ll step away from Africans for a bit and widen the scope here. Think about how many Rom-coms and animated movies you’ve seen where the main female character (or maybe even her pathetic side-kick) was rewarded with a “nice” husband in the end. This idea is pounded into our heads over and over, and subconsciously, most people begin to feel that it’s just the way it has to be.

For instance, the recent Disney movie Frozen, ended with the older sister regaining control over her magnificent powers, and her Kingdom as well. Yet, a lot of people have expressed some discontent, and hope that there will be a second movie where she gets a husband and with that, her “happily-ever-after.” Because, regaining an understanding and manageable relationship with her sister, her kingdom, her powers, and her pet snow man, apparently is not accomplishment enough, or a good enough reason to be happy.

So, let’s reconsider – yes, this notion is prevalent, what it is not is relevant. It sometimes makes girls and young women feel like rapidly wilting flowers that have only just bloomed: So, if you don’t get married within this five-to-six-year gap, you’re either a child bride, or an old maid!

I know I may sound cynical at this point, so let me just set something straight. Of course, I do hope to get married down the line, but it is NOT my ultimate ambition, nor should it be! I have hopes and big dreams that I feel should be encouraged and supported just as much as if I were not a woman – and these aspirations shouldn’t always be planned around or limited by the expectation to be married at a certain time (which is something I find happens a lot).

I know quite a few brilliant women who have given up, or put their careers on hold indefinitely just to make that marriage deadline, and it kinda hurts to watch. It is especially painful when the husbands of aforementioned women are then encouraged and supported to go on and have long-lasting careers (sometimes not even as brilliant as she would have had -_-).

What really troubles me – and perhaps encourages this idea – is when a married woman is accorded more respect and reverence than her equally accomplished (except for marriage, I suppose) unmarried peers. As an active member of an African and Christian circle of friends, I have seen this happen a lot more than I would like to admit – it should not be happening at all in my opinion!

Yes, to be married is something to be desired (if it is a happy one), but it should not be something you pine over and plan every minute of your present and future life around – unless of course you’re already married, then you should definitely give it your all!

But, for those of us young ‘uns who are not “hitched”, just remember this – Marriage is a gift, not a reward. It’s a gift from God to find and stay with someone who He’s destined for you to be with.

*I do consider myself a feminist, and this sentence was intended to have a wry sarcasm – just FYI, before anyone says anything harsh.