Disclaimer: If I sound bitter in this article it is because I am. I am tired of people in unhappy/mediocre marriages trying to repeat the cycle with me and other Nigerian females. Most importantly, I am frustrated with people downplaying my worth and intelligence.
So I have a question: Is my worth as a Nigerian woman determined by my marital status? I hope that your knee jerk reaction to this is to say no. If so, then why am I being made to feel that every Ada, Fatima and Kemi that is married is better than me? There are a lot of articles on Jaguda about marriage pressures, but I always considered the stories a bit farfetched, kind of like a Nigerian movie. Well…not anymore.
I concurrently turned 24 and graduated from my Masters program this year. Before these milestones I had never discussed marriage with my folks as anything more than a sidebar. 2 days after graduation, my Father gives me the “Talk”. And no, I don’t mean the sex talk, I mean the marriage talk. He asks me about any potential relationships and basically tells me his conditions for marriage (which I should say are ridiculously limiting).
Needless to say, I waved all that aside as a one-off occurrence. How naïve was I? In the last couple of month’s marriage has featured prominently in my conversations with my family and old high school friends (thankfully my mother is excluded). Everyone wants to know; do you have a boyfriend? Are you thinking about the next thing, you know marriage? When are you getting married? On the surface, it’s all good. I do not have a problem with getting married. Like other females, I do dream of finding the right person and settling down. I do not have commitment issues, damaging dark secrets, or any great fear of the institution. However, I do believe that I must be with the right person who I can tell, “Take me the way I am.”
Admits all this talk the most ridiculous piece of “advice” (if I can call it that) I have gotten so far is to not pursue a doctorate degree. “Wait until you are married,” they say. “You will intimidate the men”, they caution. Now here lies my question: Why would I ever want a man who would be intimidated by a degree? And how important is marriage that I should put my life on hold while I wait for it? It’s also distressing that people still want women to stunt their personal growth for a man. Don’t misunderstand me; most of my family wants me to get the degree. Those that are against it are vocal minority of extended family members. Yet, I can only imagine how women who get such negativity on all sides must feel.
In my opinion, a man intimidated by a degree will spend our married life being intimidated because a degree is only the beginning. I believe marriage is a beautiful “partnership” in which both “partners” contribute equally. I highlight the word partner because one thing these kindly souls who are proselytizing the doctrine of marriage to me always emphasize is that when I get married my will is no longer my own. “There is no I in marriage [sic]”, they say. What they actually mean is; “For a woman, there is no I in marriage” (May I point out they is actually an “I” in there). If I am to believe what they say, does this rule apply to both the man and the woman? Why would a husband be intimidated by his wife’s success? He should be proud of her, so very proud of her, and she should be of him.
Apparently my ideals are radical and just a passing phase because as my family and many male friends say when I get “old” (a geriatric 27 yr old); I would be desperate for a man. Really? So I am almost too old to be unmarried but yet too young to know and understand my own mind and feelings. Hmmm….Sounds a bit contradictory to me.
I may be too romantic and maybe I’ve read too many Virginia Wolf books and admire Margaret Sanger a bit too much but I know two things:
One: Marriage is for life; and all the people clamoring for me (or you) to get married today will not be in my marriage with me. If I end up miserable all they will say is “Dibe” (bear it).
Two: I apologize to no one and my life will not just be endured, it will be lived to the fullest. “I can do bad all by myself”.