The marriage story has been over-flogged but the truth is it never gets spent. Growing up as a young girl, watching all those fairy tales and romantic comedies, and reading all those Mills and Boons that always ended happily ever after, I certainly dreamed of getting married to my own knight in shining armour and living happily ever after in a nice house with children running around and everything just being generally fine.
The scales sort of dropped from my eyes when I hit my late twenties. And they seemed to drop in slow motion. I went from thinking that I would definitely marry an Igbo man, to thinking that I’d marry from whatever tribe, to even wanting to marry a Muslim, before realising that I might not get married at all. In my later life, I have concluded that marriage isn’t really for everybody (and possibly me as well, even though sometimes I bear the tiny hope that maybe, just maybe one day I’ll meet someone that will be happy to marry me).
So to justify my view point (and probably just help me sleep better at night instead of moaning about the fact that all my friends are married with children), I sat down at my bedroom window and thought up a few reasons why this marriage thing will pass some of us by…
- Scarce Resources. I’ll start with the obvious. Statistically, there are more women in the world than men. So, in truth, there just aren’t enough men to go round. Now, unless the rest of the world goes in the direction of Eritrea (I think it was that country), and mandates the men to marry more than one wife, we ladies are forever doomed to fighting for the scarce resources. And naturally, it will be survival of the fittest. Even if all eligible men were mandated to take more than one wife, I doubt that there are a lot of women willing to share. The sheer hatred by wives of the ‘other woman’ is a clear indication of their ‘selfish’ nature. And you can’t blame them – you don’t know what odds they’ve had to overcome to get a hold of their prized possession. Whoever came up with the saying “there’s joy in sharing” obviously didn’t think about the marriage angle.
As a side note, what’s with those women who get married, get divorced and then get married again? How do they manage to secure a second husband while some of us haven’t even had a shot at the first one? Shouldn’t they just hang their boots or something once they’ve had their chance? It should be like an exam that you can only pass or fail once. Jus sayin’…
- Risk of Theft. That’s how you will now get married and then someone will come and take your husband from under your nose, while you’re there forming wife. Some people are gifted at protecting their turf and their investments. Others, not so much. Therefore, in a world where men are scarce and their company (and money) is needed, it’s no surprise that girls go after other women’s husbands. So, why would anyone want to get married, and take the risk of sharing (or even losing) the husband to a “stronger” player? No sir! Not me. It’s like having the only piece of meat in a den full of hungry lions. (they’ll probably eat me and the meat) God forbid! I’d rather play vulture and feed on unsuspecting carcass. That way, I have nothing to lose. (This is much easier said than done though, so just allow me to run my sharp mouth for a bit here).
- Possible Network Failure. You know how network signal on your phone is much stronger the closer you are to the mast? Though it’s only in this country that you will be standing under the mast and the phone will be telling your callers that you are unavailable. Anyway, for the purpose of this point, we will assume that the closer you are to the mast, the stronger your signal. In marriage, the closer the couple is, the more likely it is that they are happy. They communicate honestly and openly, share everything with and support each other, spend lots of time together and do all those sappy things that couples in love usually do. Until life happens and they start to drift apart. Some things start to come between them – money, lifestyle, toothpaste, the bottle of coke that was in the fridge, Egusi soup that was lovingly prepared and not eaten, Egusi soup that tasted like sand, the husband’s secretary, e.t.c. and before you know it, sudden network failure! They’ll be living in the same house, but not quite together (“the person you are trying to reach is not available at the moment. Please try again later.”) All the things they had in common at the beginning will just disappear, washed away by years of fights and arguments. And then someone mentions divorce. Why would people want to go through this type of struggle? The number of failed marriages out there is alarming. Young couples, not even two years old in the marriage, already separated. Why rush into it in the first place? I don’t get it. I just don’t.
- Great Expectations. Picture this. You get on the marriage band wagon and everything is peachy. You’re having a grand time with your newly wedded hubby and y’all are just chillin’. Year 1 goes by and all is well, you’re happy. Year 2 has begun and his mother is now looking at you with funny eyes – she keeps glancing at your belly, wondering why it’s still so flat. Sometimes, you can hear her whispering to your husband, asking when you both will give her a grandchild (yes, it’s always about them being grandparents, never about you being parents). Sometimes, your husband wins the argument, sometimes he does a shitty job of defending you. But the expectations remain. In this part of the world, once you marry, everybody be looking at you like ‘where the kids at!’ What if you don’t want kids? I personally do not want children until Year 3 of marriage (that’s me assuming that I’ll get married). Oh yes, I will draw out that honeymoon period for as long as is possible and then hazard a child or two. But there are people who do not want kids. At all. So, what should now happen to them? *raises hand frantically like a primary school pupil* “Aunty me, Aunty me!” – “Yes, MissO, tell us what should happen to them.” – They shouldn’t get married!!! Leave marriage for those who are ready to have kids, especially if you can’t deal with the great expectations. And frankly, it’s just plain selfish to put a perfectly eligible husband on lock down simply for companionship and having someone to love. Get a pet. And a vibrator where required.
- Free Boyfriend Upgrades. We all love freebies. No matter how much you turn up your nose at people getting free stuff, you love free stuff and you know it. But once you marry, you haff marry o. You can’t wake up one morning and decide you want another husband. To do that, you will have to ‘pay’. You have to deal with the judgement that will come from others, you have to figure out how your sudden need for change will impact your children if you have children. You have to be ready for the stigma that comes with the tag ‘divorcee’. But if you aren’t married, you can actually get a free upgrade to boyfriend 2.0. Or 3.0. Or 10.0 if you so desire. The minute the relationship stops working for you, you can move on and get a ‘new one’. We all like change, which is why Buhari is in power now, and fuel price has changed, dollar price has changed, so boyfriend too can change. Now, why would any person give up an opportunity like that by getting married? Why stay stuck with Microsoft Office 2003 in the age of Windows 10? It just seems backward…
- Fringe Benefits. You want to be a wife when you can be a side chick? When you can get the fringe benefits of being wife without the accompanying work that comes with it? As a side chick, you’ll get his time – the right amount of his time – not too little that you feel unimportant, and not too much that you feel smothered. You can go about your life doing your own thing without having to ‘report’ to him. You don’t have to cook and clean for him unless you want to. You don’t have to have his babies. You don’t have to be nice to him all the time – cos he’s not there all the time. Chances are when he’s in a shitty mood, he won’t take it out on you. No one likes to be at the receiving end of anybody’s annoyance. But as a wife, you may not have a choice. And because of point 1 above, there are plenty men out there who are looking for side chicks, because they understand the simple laws of demand and supply. And they know that they are scarce resources. If you put a sharp eye out, you can find you one that will treat you well enough that you feel like a wife. What more do you want?
- Overtime without pay sucks! Some people are just lazy! Lazy to do marriage work. It’s no news that having a good marriage takes time and effort. But not everyone can put in the effort required to make it work. Those people who can’t should just not venture into that business. Marriage often requires sacrifices and compromises. It requires putting the feelings of someone(s) else before yours, most if not all of the time. It requires you to do a lot of work – house work, relationship work, work work to earn money, extended family work, e.t.c. Me? I’m not about that life. It’s hard enough getting myself out of bed, talk less of getting 2.5 kids up and ready for school. I can barely cook to eat on days that I come back from work exhausted – The Place is my friend. But add a husband to that equation, and I suddenly have to become The Place. Abeg, who has power to be clocking all this overtime without more than a ‘thank you’ for one’s efforts?
- Mothers-In-Law. They had to show up on this list, or it wouldn’t be complete. There’s just something sinister and troubling about the mothers of these husbands. One could liken them to that professor who is unfortunately your lecturer in school, who spent 10 long, hard years trying to get his PhD and wants to make sure you understand just how ‘difficult’ it is to get a degree just cos it was difficult for him. Some mothers just take pride in making things difficult for their sons’ wives all in the name of wanting what’s best for their sons. They can never be pleased, even when they see you trying. And even when what you have done is worthy of praise, they dismiss it with a cursory wave of their hand and turn their lips downwards making it seem inconsequential. They know that sons aren’t enough in the world and so they feel proper special because they’ve given birth to one (or more). And if you’ve found one of theirs to marry, then they (the mothers) have done you a favour by birthing them and letting you marry them. The sad part is that we will also become mothers-in-law, doing to other women what other women have done to us.
- Auto-Disqualification. This one is unfortunately a situation one cannot control. It is a situation whereby the men, as you meet them, automatically decide that you are not the type they want to marry. They will spend time with you, tell you how much they love being with you and how any guy would be stupid to let you go. But one day, you’ll just hear that they are getting married and it’s not to you. You have been automatically disqualified. What was the problem? Maybe you are too independent so you’ll probably be disrespectful. Or too clingy so you’ll probably get suspicious and smothering. Or too friendly so probably too easy. Or maybe even too sexual, so possibly promiscuous. And just like that, you’re disqualified. Whatever the reason, it’s often in their heads and it stays there. Because they’re usually never man enough to tell you why. Rubbish!
- ‘Singledom’ is Freedom. And freedom is a beautiful thing. Not many people know how to be single (refer to the movie How to be single for a few tips) so not many people appreciate the beauty of singlehood. Did I mention freedom? You can just be. You can choose to just exist. If you feel the need for company, you can go out and get it and then come back to just being by yourself the way you like it. You can escape from the world, lock yourself indoors and binge-watch your favourite series, read, listen to music, masturbate all day if you want, drink yourself under the table or under the bed, have casual sex in same bed, go all day without a shower if that’s what you want to do, drive around town aimlessly, wink at the hot guy in the coffee shop, give him your number if you want, spend all your money on yourself, travel a hundred times a year if you so desire, be happily irresponsible with no one to look at you disapprovingly (at least no one who matters), be happily responsible without having been pushed by a husband or the need to provide for children e.t.c. Why would you want to give all this away???
And so it ends – my argument for why marriage is not for everybody. I know some of it sounds like complete BS, but it makes me feel better. And I can bet that I’m not the only one.
For those who are happily married, and who probably think I’m just talking a load of crap, I mean no disrespect to what you have. If I’m honest, I kind of envy it. But, I’m sure you will admit that there are some things about being single that you miss. Don’t lie.
For my comrades in arms, those ladies who have always wondered if they’ll ever tie the knot, especially those who’ve been through all kinds of rotten relationships, marriage (or the lack of it) is not the end. It’s just one more chapter in the book of life. And the best part is that it’s optional!