In a morbidly materialistic society like Naija, relationships are steadily becoming predicated on greedy and selfish variables. One range of security – social, financial, high society, e.t.c
As such, the institution of marriage takes the same shape. In fact, it starts from the religious gatherings where kids are given a basic brainwash about ‘how to choose a partner’. The man must be working, have a house, have an income, and be ready to “provide” always.
Before the religious ones set on me, I must confirm this is the same cultural setting in other religious and all spheres of the Nigerian society. We seem to make the race to beat extreme poverty individual, atomised issues when they are in fact, social and collective constructs in themselves.
The checklist culture, isn’t necessarily bad. But when we do nothing at the collective level, individual checklists become mere matters of conjecture, akin to playing the lottery.
This is why it’s riling that nobody seems to pay attention to the socio-economic dynamics which have conspired to make the checklists a lot unworkable.
You live in a country where the unemployment rate is officially 60%. And when statistics suggest that half of the 180 million people are under 40, compounded by the fact that girls are likely to get a job faster than the boys will, you already know that the obsession the traditional expectations of men and women relationships have to come under pressure.
Increasingly, globally, women are becoming the traditional breadwinners of homes. I have seen instances where the wives in this sort of configuration assume dominant roles to the emasculation of the man and illicit affairs have become the tool or restoring psychological /societal expectations.
I have also seen instances where the females have been respectful of the ‘male dominant’ order and the men in question have used such culture as a tool for repression and oppression, deeply rooted in their own ‘insecure’ psyche.
I have also seen situations in which partners have been level headed to understand that stuff is just stuff and the attention should be on the two humans who fell in love and chose to face the big wide world together, enjoying its roller-coaster ride and whatever it brought.
Relationships are daunting on their own. Marriage is even scarier. It’s an incredibly bold move where you have to lump the good, the bad and the ugly of yourselves (everybody comes with loads of baggage).
Burdening or belabouring it with overt and obsessed fixation on other burdens will test the mettle of saints and things will happen.
I do wish the society in Nigeria can understand that love at its basic state is what Bob Marley described in his song ‘Is This Love That I Am Feeling?’. He spoke about roof over their head and Jah providing the meal.
Whilst I may encourage you to not wait for Jah or Rastafari to provide anything, what he metaphorically alluded to, is the understanding that two people become one to face whatever is ahead.
I know a family member who planned with the spouse to have Thursday wedding so they can put their savings toward building their own house. Today they have many houses.
My point is, we have shackled the spiritual and natural essence of love in the quest to be secure – psychologically, socially, financially – concentrating on one half of the deal. The material side of a relationship is supposed to be an icing on the cake of the spiritual/natural side – which essentially means sharing one anothers’ lives, experiences, highs, lows and whatever comes.
The lady who knifed her husband might have developed that intensity of hatred because she may have measured their relationship as ‘an investment’ of material thing.
And this is why when we ask for good governance, we know it’s part of living a wholesome life.
Having affordable rents and cheap food and jobs are part of upping the ‘happiness index’ of a society. I know it’s Utopian, but people ought to be able to fall in love without first putting it through the mathematics of class, income, image, even at the LOWEST rungs of the ladder.
We must not pressure young men coming to terms with their more confining roles in society into believing that until they force their way into certain class positions, they are not worthy of keeping a home.
Neither should we shackle girls into expired traditional moulds.
Really, it’s a huge pressure on young men and women aspiring to get married.
I read from a highly respected lady insinuating she will sieve through the ‘class’ of men that will aspire to marry her daughter in the future, going further to affirm that she has invested so much on her daughter and wouldn’t fold her arms and allow one ‘poor guy’ to just show up….
I laughed at that post.
While I understand poverty is not healthy for a marriage, my concern about such stance is; how can u judge with 100% accuracy what a hardworking guy with a temporarily limited opportunity at a moment will turn out to be in future?
Then, what if the high flyer u ‘arranged’ for your daughter have a ‘momentary’ financial setback in the future, since you have created an erroneous and dangerous impression that money is all that is needed for a marriage to succeed on the mind your daughter, how do u expect her to cope?..
‘Sound’ future success is not determined by one’s privileged background or immediate outlook alone.
Life is more about time and chance.
When I was reading her post, I said within me that I wouldn’t have stood any chance of marrying the daughter of the writer when I was looking for who to marry.
Parents like this pile loads of pressure on their wards and that can lead to unrealistic expectations in marriage for young people.
I know this is a bit of a ramble, but if you take anything from this, I am trying to say, the traditional definition of families are changing, in a fast changing world, and remaining static in our thinking will produce monstrosities and conflicts.
Not every marriage will be the same. Not every couple will have the same gender bread winner. Neither will life apportion equal trials and triumphs.
You have to take what you are given and make the most of it. And it starts from all of us going into it to understand that it’s not a competition. It’s a cooperation and society should not pressure you into it.
Penned by Jesse Adeniji