It is no longer news that most marriages are in diverse crises today. It is also no news that most of our teeming youths, males and females, that is, are beginning to spurn the marriage institution for reason of the experiences of those already in it and realities of current economic situation we find ourselves as a nation and people.
I must begin by stating that marriage is good; it is sweet and profitable for heart, spirit and soul of both parties to it. The institution is divinely ordained and sanctioned both by God and man; which is why in many climes, a man or woman’s rating in terms of being responsible is easily approved when he or she is married. I must add that societal approval of marriages thumbs up the couple involved and positions either of them for greater appointments in public and private duties.
On the other side of the coin is the reality of the day, which has to do with the myriad of issues that have continued to threaten the peace, joy, favours and open doors that are supposed to be the positive and accompaniments of the union.
Arguments of old centre basically around huge bride prices and other demands that follow a man’s intention to marry a woman of his choice – the bone of his bone and flesh of his flesh.
There was also the division that was thrown up in the days of yore over what part of the country an intending husband or his intended wife hails from. The same went for the religion, political party and educational background. Pity!
However, with man’s development, most of the above gave way for more positive considerations that the marriage institution should thrive. Thus, we began to witness cross-cultural, inter-religious marriages which many a patriot agreed was needed to cement our delicate nationhood and unity in diversity. Societal problems they are, and largely so.
But like a recurring sore thumb, issues began to arise that pose threats to marriages. Yes, they are societal issues which to some extent have questioned the very essence of the unique union of man and woman. The complications thus thrown up now bedevil both the intentions of many to marry and the continued fruitful existence of marriages.
Recently, my wife and I discussed this development for days, formally and informally, hence my resolve to share my thoughts with readers.
Simply put, societal demands that runs through the families, friends and religious leaders account for the huge threat confronting the marriage institution today.
Beginning with the plan for marriage, one revelation these days has to do with demands like families, friends and religious organisations insisting on incorporating ideas like a three-in-one marriage before any formal approval for the consummation can be given.
For instance, we notice these days that a marriage is not considered to be complete until what we call the traditional marriage followed by a court marriage before the church wedding are done. Interestingly, save for a minority few cases, the society that puts this pressure on the intending couple really do not care how these activities are funded. Just do it, appears to be the deal. And then, there is also the issue of grand reception after the wedding quickly followed by a befitting honeymoon in some far-flung land.
And don’t forget that so many other processes must be completed before the traditional marriage; like what in some parts is called, “knocking of door of the prospective inlaws”; family of the intended wife, payment of bride price and delivering on somewhat long list of items to be provided by the husband-to-be.
With the current economic reality hitting everybody in the face globally; and Nigeria in particular, little wonder that today, many a family who wish for their single but marriageable children to marry can hardly see their wish come true. Call it pipe dream, if you wish.
Maybe we can begin to do some introspective review of where we have missed it, do some u-turn and make amends before we begin to increase the harvest of single parents, motherly and fatherly spinsters and bachelors, rapes, homosexuality, lesbianism, broken marriages and related ills bedevilling our once revered marriage institution.
Back to basics
I venture to state that if we must reduce the foregoing ills, the starting point has to be returning to approving traditional marriage as the true representation of what a real marriage should be. On this note, we must jettison other societal considerations that are alien to our culture, and for the Christians, the Holy Bible.
Why must the bride price for a wife-to-be be as high or in some cases, far higher than what it would cost to buy a Keke Maruwa? Why must the church and some families demand a court registry marriage certificate before the union is considered approved? Why must the tribe and educational background cum the prospective husband’s job be a consideration too?
At times too, the parties involved in the potential union do not help matters. For instance, some men’s sole credentials to marry a wife is their wealth which they flaunt before their prospective in-laws without question causing them to jettison time-honoured traditions to up the conditionalities for their daughters to be married out. Some girls too would not disclose all that would be involved to their suitors preferring that he gets to her family to find out himself. The resultant shock may well kill the honest intention of the man.
I am not unaware that there is allowance for some form of courtship ahead of a marriage. But how many really make good use of it to mould needed understanding instead of the pretences that prevail these days at such times?
As for me, I tag along with those who appreciate that need for courtship; for that is the period the ability of a wife-to-be to run the home and keep her husband is assessed. But above all, let no party to a marriage in the making force down any rule of engagement as per what type of marriage and how many stages it must be on the other party.
Anyways, given the stakes in the economy today, need I argue further that recourse to old Hebrew marriage should be it to heal the home and then the land. Simply put, we must not allow ourselves to be carried away by the bastardisation of true marriage. What we call the traditional marriage is it. Court, White, Church wedding and all the trappings that go with them are balderdash! If I may ask do we realise that the white wedding gown our ladies wear ought to be won by would-be brides who are virgins in other climes. How many of our girls can really boast of being virgins on the wedding day?
More questions: What is white about white wedding? What trust and security do we really want from church and court wedding that our traditional marriage system cannot provide? What has happened to our true values in this respect that we become indebted just because we must fulfil societal righteousness concerning the different stages of marriage our children must pass through to show their union approve by men? Go traditional way; let the bride price seal the union amidst other conditions our time-tested values approve.