Striving to “achieve” marriage has long been inculcated in the girl child. Children as young as three to five years are subconsciously being trained to be good wives in the choice of play toys and games they are pushed to participate in.
A girl child who expresses interest in cars and gadgets is immediately labeled a tom-boy. We are so bothered by a little girl who expresses curiosity about cars, machines and animals, because they do not have “wife- material” connotations attached to them.
So our girl children have grown up and even when they beat the odds of the stereotypical upraising, and achieve big things and earn prestigious accolades, if there is no ring on their finger and a man’s name attached to theirs, their families will celebrate them but ultimately conclude the celebration with, “now we are waiting for her to get married”.
We are a society that is using marital status to define people. Ever been with a group of people and everyone is asked to introduce themselves and just tell us about yourself?
The criteria often goes “please share your name, where you come from, and your marital status” even if it is a gadget review forum. This would make sense if the relationship status were in anyway relevant to the topic of the forum or meeting but most times, it is absolutely unnecessary.
I believe marriage is one of the most beautiful intimate relationships; but we need to stop defining people’s worth, value and potential, by a relationship they might or might not have.
Unfortunately, this wave of inaccuracy is everywhere; in universities, workplaces, business forums, churches, everywhere.
I was 25 and unmarried when I was doing my post graduate degree. The rest of my female classmates were either married or had children. My male classmates were mostly my age and unmarried, it was a small class of about 15, but I almost became a case study because I was unapologetically single.
As a woman who is not married almost every time a pastor or someone prays for me, they pray for me to get married and honestly this bothers me; the assumption that because I am not married then marriage should be what I am praying for is absurd.
Praying for someone to get married is kind and actually a good thing, but it is not the only prayer you can make for a young person or even an older person who is unmarried. It is sad that women and men today are rarely seen beyond their marital status.
Other important things
Today, this strange stigma is affecting men as well. A male friend has worked his way to the top of his company.
He has made a name for himself, started a business, participates and gives to a charity organisation, has two masters degrees, is an amazing brother to his siblings some of whom he is educating because their parents past on. His family and friends often zoom past all of these amazing achievements to ask him, “but Robert when are you getting married?”
And then there are the famous ones at the work place, “but you do not have a husband or children, what do you use your money for?”
Not many young women and men have been given the opportunity to be who they want to be, and enjoy the fruits of their hard work, because we have been taught that, while all that is important we must “achieve” marriage before we can truly say we have made it. This creates a terrible sense of inadequacy, especially among young women.
I met a woman a few years ago who went into depression for weeks when she turned 30. She felt like a failure because she was not married and she had hit the big 30. She locked herself in her house, refused to communicate, and just wallowed in self-pity for days.
We have young people basically working towards nothing but getting a gentleman to marry them. Cue the pregnancies out of wedlock, the cat fights over men, the deception and heartbreaks, the extra marital affairs because somehow they hope he will leave his wife and marry them, the divorce rates are soaring because after we marry for all the wrong reasons, we realise that it is not what we want.
“Irreconcilable differences” is what the law kindly describes it as. It is even sadder when parents fuel this chaos, by making their children feel inadequate because they do not show up to the family events with special someone. It is now a matter of keeping up appearances. But to what end?
Marriage is a beautiful thing, so is life when lived to the fullest. And this can happen with or without marriage. Can marriage be an advantage? Yes!! It can also be hindrance if it is entered into for the wrong reasons.
Let us train up our children and young people to believe and work for a better world. To take pride in solving community and world problems, to celebrate their academic victories and workplace victories, to rejoice in the relationships they make and maintain.
Whether those relationships are friendships, business networks, courtships or marriages. Let us give them room to be more, to look forward to more than a desired relationship status.
When we pray for them, let us pray for them to achieve the purpose God has put on their heart.
If marriage is what they desire in that moment, or a school admission, or business funding; we pray, God answers.
The writer is a concerned member of society