Is marriage losing its relevance?

Sunday December 15 2019



Fred Agena

Fred Agena  

By Fred Agena

The phrases “love nigga” is continuously being associate with young men who are “delaying” marriage. The young male celebrities have received the most battering. Lists have been generated including a mock “cabinet” of the so-called love niggas and continues to flood the social media. Fundamental questions linger here; what has gone wrong with marriage from a once vibrant and cherished institution? And are these individual or institutional failures?

Yes, there could be individual reasons for these young men and many others choosing to delay marriage.
However, what is true is that marriage, just like any other institution is undergoing tremendous structural changes. People have greeted such changes differently. To some, the evolution of marriage has helped redefine it into a more resilient and compliant institution. This was catalysed by the increased emancipation of women and the growing number of symmetrical families, where the breadwinner role is not a monopoly of the husband alone. Yet to others, such changes have made marriage dysfunctional, outdated and actually at the point of labelling it a “dying” institution.

It is also evident that many marriages are struggling. This explains the pessimism of many young adults, especially men. Some of the reasons are social, while others are sociological. Socially, modern families cannot compare to families five decades ago.
Globalisation has had a significant impact on contemporary families. In social terms, globalisation will be defined as universalisation of cultures. Significantly, this has paved way for Westernisation of cultures and ultimately our local family system has lost value.

Many young people now look at some cultural practices as ancient, unpalatable and degrading.
No wonder, families have suffered immense negativities in the media, especially ones that broadcast flamboyant weddings, persistent GBVs in marriages and the changing roles of women from the traditional housewife to breadwinners in families.

Another factor of immense importance is secularisation; the influence of religion on individuals has reduced drastically. With capitalism, religion has fallen short in the cost-benefit analysis. Many young people seem to value what is profitable, not religious. Without religiosity, many feel no compulsion to marry.
With reduced stigma on the unmarried people are focusing more on careers at the expense of marriage, it has created a generation of singles. Back in the day, one’s days for marriage were numbered and all would be done by society to ensure that one is married at the right time. Individuals who did not conform were heavily stigmatised.

Ultimately, women are increasingly sensitive to the biological clock that always ticks against them. To this effect, they will always want to settle in marriage as soon as possible. On the contrary, it is the financial clock that men are bothered about. This explains why men will prioritise financial stability at the expense of marriage. This means, marriage will score highly on a woman’s wishlist when the young man is worried about “simple” things such as financial security, property and marriage will come simply as an icing on the cake.

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To solve their dilemma, they will end up in an empty shell marriage (a marriage in name only, one where the spouses continue to live under the same roof but live as separate individuals). Therefore, it is clear that we are dealing with a bigger issue of institutional, malaise, not individual failures. The church, cultural institutions, and other pertinent social structures need to revive strategise in order to revive the marriage institution.

I strongly believe that marriage is not dying, neither is its importance. Rather, it is the needed recipe for a long, happy and successful marriage that are dying.
At individual levels, couples need to nurture their marriages with commitment, sacrifice, compromise, love, trust, loyalty, and fidelity among others.

The writer is a teacher of Sociology at Vienna College Namugongo.

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