Some weeks back, I and some friends of mine were having drinks after work at Newscafe, VI, when one of them, Sam, barely married 4 months, received a call. His face sunk when he saw the caller’s ID. We all started giving him stick when he announced that he had to split – wifey needed him home asap. He wasn’t smiling, when he drew me to the side as he was about to leave and said the words no single chap would like to hear a married man say: My marriage is hell, why the hell did I get married?
And I am thinking, Mate, if you are asking yourself that question, then you and the missus best be sitting down to have some serious discussions. Only 16 weeks of marriage?!!
I would be the first to throw my hands up and admit that there are many articles floating around the web, which purport to be authorities on marriage and permanent relationships. In Nigeria, it is much worse as every fool and his (or her) dog inundates you with tips, pointers and observations about the cardinal union of marital relations. I will tell you what; maybe we should ask the penguins how they do it, because unlike men and women nowadays, the flippy Arctic birds mate for life.
It is bad enough if you are a single man, worse if you are a spinster. Your ears are harassed at every turn by the proponents of marriage – why you haven’t gotten hitched to the person you have been sexing anyway, don’t you know women have a time limit, you need a woman to fix your dinner and reorganize your trashy studio apartment, etc etc.
The proponents of marriage are many – from the newly-weds and freshly abused, to relatives and aspiring in-laws who have a vested interest (wedding food and drinks, future unannounced stays at you and your spouse’s house, requests for money). The proponents of marriage also include parents, nans, grandpas and even the great unmarried (women who use Ms. in front of their names permanently, or men who no women can stand even for a ring and a new surname).
Let me not bore you with a Singles and Married Specials.
To the hitched and unfree, why did you get married? Bachelors and spinsters, why would you?
I think you will find that the chief reasons, men and women get married differ.
For men, they need the following – child incubator, sex on tap, a mother figure (Freud’s postulations), good home cooked broth without paying restaurant fees (noodles and agege bread don’t cut it every night…..ask single chaps), and a shoulder to lean on.
For the fellas, it’s a bit straight forward, though you will find that in today’s society, it is possible to have a woman do all of the above, without you having to take her to the altar. Except for service on Sunday obviously. So are the above reason enough to get married?
With women, it’s a bit more complicated. Other than love, I find that some seem to want:
1. A permanent boyfriend – Some see marriage as a way to get a boyfriend for life, as opposed to a husband. It is all well and good to aspire to be a permanent girlfriend, but marriage carries responsibilities. In a simple boyfriend/girlfriend relationship, the parties exist in a vacuum with no legal or communal commitments. A marriage is a much more complicated arrangement as it involves families, communities, children and financial responsibilities. I would not bore you with them. But remember that a permanent girlfriend must either become or behave like a wife after sometime, or make way for another new permanent girlfriend.
2. To shut up naysayers and doubters (those who falsely claim that a single girl’s chances of marrying dip once she reaches 27) – desperation is the most unclean force in the world. Suddenly “Bruno” doesn’t look so bad; he used to beat me into a pulp and bundle me into the car boot when we were dating but so what? He swears he has changed and now wants to marry me. He is a banker, so he has to be a sure-banker; besides he has a really smart apartment which I cannot wait to re-do up. He also drives a really flash Honda. Yeah right, E-Honda of the 100 hand slaps fame.
3. To have children quick before the countdown to menopause (notice why it’s called men –o – pause). So they marry, and get their wish, but after Junior is born, Senior turns to an elder tyrant.
4. To marry as that’s what society and the community expects. How come the community is hardly there to pick the broken pieces of a marriage (they are always there to gorge of large pieces of meat and chicken at the wedding proper though?). Call me naïve, but it is dangerous to do something just because community expects – community expects you to pay your levy even when your take home pay leaves you three bus stops short of home every day.
5. A father figure; most men run away from women that want this. Back in the days, the rich uneducated or unexposed types loved woman of this ilk – as far as they were provided for ( a roof, money for market, a car and driver, and the latest Singer sewing machine), they were content. Now economic realities have made some men prefer ladies with a job or a career (in these days and times, a wife spending all day watching African Magic is hardly an option).
Granted, some girls could want a father in their husband emotionally. But that is what sugar-daddies are for; why marry for that?
6. A friend – one of the best reasons to get married, it seems. This is unless the woman wants a platonic friend in her husband with no sexual chemistry at all. I didn’t make this up, some couples co-habit together like brothers and sisters. The test-tube baby business is going to experience a boom in the near future in Naija.
7. Unrestricted copulation; Ok I know this sounds like a word that should appear on a Census Board Notice or Demographic Report instead, but seriously, the black man in me struggles to see this as a sole reason for any Nigerian woman to get married. Somehow unrestricted copulation seems like a Caucasian reason, even though they don’t need the above reason to get busy anyway. Maybe this would be a reason best suited to girls that had very strict parents – children of whip and bell wielding prophets, SUs, prudes and the village headmasters.
Marriage is complicated. Sermons, churches, cults, careers and corporations have been built around the industry of marriage – it is that complicated. Ok, apart from that lame Jennifer Lopez movie, the Wedding Planner.
Here were some of Nas’s reasons for getting married to Kelis:
I want a son to greet every morning/
Daughters and more sons tickle my feet/
Wife smiling, telling me it’s time to eat/
I’m getting married…/
…I will make an honest woman outta you yet/
Everybody staring at you, I’m at the altar, standing/
Heart pounding out my chest like a cannon/
I’m happy, one of my Groom’s men/
Under the music says, “Don’t do it”…/
Nas (Getting Married, 2004)