When I read the article on Pride Nigeria Online, “Say it Loud, I Want A Loving Husband,” I was not upset but concerned that the article seemed to have an implicit assumption that all women want to be married. Is this the true picture? I say it is not. I write a reply to give a different view, because matter of fact – not all women want to be married. I use myself as an example – I don’t want to be married. You may imagine the scenario of my late thirties self being incessantly asked: “When are you going to get married?” And when I answer that I don’t have such plans, the look of disbelief on the faces.
Honestly, I have nothing against marriage but I don’t think it is for me. I do want to have a committed relationship, but I don’t think marriage is necessary for that. When I say this to people they think I am going through a phase or that I am a bit crazy. But, I just don’t like the straight jacket that being in a marital relationship means and how it seems to put a lot of “perfection” pressure on everyone within the marriage institution. Judith Butler puts this aptly in her book Undoing Gender: “For a progressive sexual movement, even one that may want to produce marriage as an option for non-heterosexuals, the proposition that marriage should become the only way to sanction or legitimize sexuality is unacceptably conservative.”
I respect the decision of those who desire to get married, and I believe my decision not to get married should be respected too. The decision to be married or not is a personal one, and one which I have thought about.
- I am not waiting to meet the right man.
- I am not a lesbian. I am currently in a relationship with a man I value deeply.
- Choosing not to be married is not a lack of values; it is not a deficiency of any kind. It is a different set of values. It is not choosing not to do something; it is electing to do something else.
- That I choose not to get married is not an indication that I have made a poor choice. It is a considered choice based on who I am and what I want; and it is my prerogative to make what I consider is the perfect choice for me. How different life and love would be if people were allowed to choose without judgment any lifestyle they feel best suited for them.
- Whether to be married or not to be are options available to us. In my opinion the ideal situation would one in which we are aware of our options, and figure out what we want and how we can get there.
Here are some questions I want us to consider:
- Are women handicapped by their upbringing? Is it instilled in them that their lives and well being are dependent on having a husband?
- Many girls do dream (and fantasize) of the perfect wedding day. Is the idea of finding our “one true love” embedded in us from a very early age, and is this fair?
- Do family and friends consider a woman a failure if she does not get married?
- Women who follow biblical teachings are told “God created a man for a woman and a woman for a man.” This in biblical terms might be correct, but what if one cannot find a man “manly” enough for the individual to be that special woman to him?
- Is the fear of divorce the beginning of wisdom?
50% of marriages end in divorce, and the percentage gets even bigger by the second marriage. This means half of the people who tie the knot end up untying it, and the process of cutting lose is difficult and expensive for the most part. So, for me, the fear of divorce is really the beginning of wisdom. I think: stay single; stay emotionally balanced with no divorce traumas – emotional or financial. There are difficulties getting out of a relationship whether you are married or not, but it is certainly much worse if married! Marriage is envisioned as “’til death do us part.” What do you do when you realize the relationship you are in is doing more harm than good to your person? Being married will make it difficult and costly to get out! Most people get married because that is what society expects of them, but is society with you if the going gets rough?
Why do marriages fail? Many reasons can be adduced for marriages failing: incompatibility, difficulty with communication etc. But one major consideration we should factor into is – marriages fail because marriage is not for everyone. It is time we acknowledge that marriage is not for everyone, and accept different versions of the ‘happy ever after’.
- And what about children?
Is the marriage institution the only right way to bring children into the world and nurture them into responsible adults, useful to themselves and others?
A long time ago I believed that if a couple wanted to have children, they should be in a serious, committed relationship, and if a person was hesitant to legally marry, there was a good possibility he/she lacked that level of commitment. But now, I question the need for marriage to legitimize a relationship and children.
I don’t want to get married for the children. Children deserve to understand that love doesn’t have to be the same for everyone, and that it really is different strokes for different folks when it comes to matters of the heart.
Raising a child can work in different ways, but all that matters is that you are not alone in undertaking this important task. An African Proverb says –“it takes a village to raise a child” which means that everyone in a community should be responsible to train a child irrespective of who the parents are; offering corrections where they are needed.
So, for all the reasons I have adduced, I can honestly say loudly: I don’t want to get married!”