Thursday April 24 2014

Fat Boy, marriage is not as crappy as you say

By Mike Ssegawa

My dear Fat Boy, my first plan on reading your take on marriage in Saturday Monitor’s Full Woman last weekend, was to ignore you. Then I remembered the thousands of youth who take you seriously. So, allow me give you the other side of the coin, for their benefit and for the future of our society.

To paraphrase your argument, you said marriage has lost its relevance as an institution. That you lost faith in marriage after a girl you loved so much humiliated you at a date after you made an order on her behalf - which I guess she interpreted for arrogance. I feel your disappointment. You added that your married friends cheat, while others spend nights in bars. In fact, it is not just your friends, there are many more out there, just as there are millions who return home by 6pm, kiss their partners, watch TV and eat supper together before retiring to the same bed. Take it from me, millions sleep holding one another. They are married, and in love.

Let me make it clearer for you. Despite some people’s frustrations, marriage as an institution is bigger than the sum total of cheaters. Its relevance is at the core of humanity, civilisation and organised societies.
And the more people like you punch holes in marriage, the more true the ideals of the institution stand out because it shows that you understand what an ideal marriage should be like and you can point at a failed one.

Take for instance, a school boy who fails exams. His friends score 50 per cent and in his view they are the smartest in the world. When he goes home, he tells his parents that Uneb is fake because his friends failed to get As. He begs forgiveness for bringing a school report with Fs. He recommends, however, that standards should be lowered to 40 per cent for As or, Uneb should be abolished all together because it has lost its relevance. That is where you stand my brother Fat Boy.

Your argument also reminds me of the dream I had a couple of weeks ago. Three presidents were having coffee at Café Pap in Kampala: Joseph Kabila of DRC, Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe and Catherine Samba-Panza of the troubled Central African Republic, where angry rebels eat their enemies’ flesh. “Ours” was at the table but he excused himself as soon as the discussion on the relevance of modern states came up.

The trio talked about democracy, human rights, transparency, accountability, employment, good healthcare and education. They all agreed that their countries have failed at delivering these services. It was the man from Harare who offered the idea the other two lauded as genius: “To avoid this headache,” Bob said in my dream, “Why don’t we abolish States. We should return to the state of nature where everyone lived on their own.” The dream never made sense to me until I read your opinion, Mr Fat.

Many marriages are not working out. But the idea of a man and a woman, who truly love one another setting out to make their family and raise their children in good companionship, has never lost its relevance.
You may ask me, what do you do with your married friends who cheat or sleep in bars? Let them aim higher. Falling once or twice does not mean something can’t work. How it is being handled might not be right.

Lest I forget, a good marriage, Mr Fat, is not the absence of challenges. Those tests can be ironed out by seeking to understand the other person, and also, to communicate to your spouses in the best way possible.

It is also true marriage is not for “boys” or “girls” but adults. And it has nothing to do with age. If one is not an adult yet, please, don’t go for marriage because you will not manage. In all truth, non-adults in marriages make it the hell you are talking about. First grow up and then marry. Not the other way round.