Are you ready for marriage? Many persons would answer that they are. Once people attain physical maturity, they think they are automatically ready for marriage. But claiming to be ready does not mean one is ready. In the first article in #AskAbigail series, she takes a deep dive into this question.
Perhaps as a young child you played the skipping game that goes: when will you marry? This year, next year, sometime or never? And then they go ahead to list the months of the year. They keep repeating the months of the year until you miss a skip and that will be the month! They then move the n to “who will you marry?”. Some of us played this game as kids. We burnt calories while not contemplating life’s choices. We probably didn’t give those lyrics much thought beyond the playground. But as we grew older, this question took deeper meaning.
For many young women, the question of when turned a valid dream into a nightmare. There have been stories of mothers going to great lengths to get their daughters hooked once they finish school. The ‘natural’ progression is: finish secondary school, get some tertiary education, work while husband or wife hunting, marry and have kids. Girls are expected to be married in their early twenties while men are given a few more years to settle down. If men are not married in their late twenties/early thirties, the question: when will you marry becomes a constant.
Is Marriage for Everyone?
Let us go back to the lyrics of the song of that skipping game. After the question, ‘when will you marry?’ the options given are: this year, next year, sometime or never Although ‘never’ is listed in the options, it is like that extra option that is added in a multiple choice test which is clearly the wrong answer. It is there just for decorative purposes.
This game even reminds us that this is what it is when it goes ahead to list the months of the year and left out ‘never’. But marriage is not for everyone. In fact, it is far better not to marry at all, than to end up married to the wrong person. While a person who chooses not to marry may be miserable all by themselves, the one who marries wrong spreads their misery to their spouse and whatever children they may have. The noble thing to do is to remain miserable by themselves.
Why Some Should Choose Not to Marry
There are valid reasons why people may choose not to marry. Some do so for religious reasons. They want to dedicate their lives to worshiping God without distractions. And so they choose to remain focused in that pursuit.
Others choose to remain single because they do not think marriage is for them. They may have some eccentricities that make them feel they are not marriage material. They foresee a lifetime of bickering over such things as whether the toilet seat should be kept up or down and decide they’d rather just live alone with their toilet. Parents and friends may be disappointed in their choice and may constantly he trying to hook them up with someone but they know that married life is not for them.
Yet others choose not to marry because they are genuinely afraid of ending up with the wrong person. Believe it or not, there are two words for this fear: philophobia (the fear of being loved) and pisanthrophobia (the fear of trusting people due to bad experiences with past lovers). There is also their not too distant cousin the fear of being physically touched -Aphenphosmphobia. Clearly, people who have these psychological issues have no business getting married.
Physical Maturity does not make you Ready for Marriage
We often judge people’s readiness for marriage by their physical appearance. Women are presented for marriage when they are able to carry a pregnancy. Men are ready when they can cater for a pregnant woman. The years it takes to attain to physical and financial maturity should build the qualities that are desirable in marriage: learning to love, make sacrifices, and work hard at providing for dependants.
But, you may agree that we are living at a time when people are not emotionally mature simply because they are physically mature. The breakdown of family life has led to people denigrating the values upon which marriage is built while keeping the union itself. This calls for sober reflection especially because as noted earlier, it is more noble to be miserable alone than to spread misery to ones spouse (and children).
Availability =/= Eligibility
The question, ‘Should you marry?’ becomes more important because as we have learnt that some people who even want to be married are not ideal marriage material. They may have one of the phobias already mention. Or they may just not be ready to marry for other reasons. However, they may make themselves available because that is the default setting of most people who have attained a certain age.
Let me explain this using a supermarket. A lot of items are available off the shelves. These items are available on demand to anyone who wants them as long as they are able to afford it. But not everyone buys items off the shelves. Some items are customised for personalised experience. This is how marriage is. You can pick a husband or wife off the shelves, but if you want a more personalised experience then you need a custom made fit. And this is also why it gets tricky.
Are you Ready for Marriage?
To assess a customised product you need to give more details about yourself. In the same way, to get the best marriage partner, you need to find out more details about your partner. The best way to do this is to spend the dating and courtship period finding out all you can about your potential mate. I am of the opinion that no matter how much a man or woman tries to pretend, you will find out who they really are if you spend enough time with them alone and in the company of other people – especially in the company of other people. If your focus is not on sex but on getting the know the secret person of the heart. I still believe that suppressing sexual desires during courtship serves many positive purposes
Some people believe there is someone out there in the world specifically meant for them – their soulmate. This sounds really cool in fairy tales. In the real world, each person has to work hard to develop character traits that will make them desirable as a mate. A person has to ‘find’ a wife or husband. This does not suggest an abundance of good marriage materials. You do not look for something that is right in front of you (except you are blindsided). This puts responsibility on people who choose to marry to ensure they are physically, mentally, and emotionally ready for this union.
So before presenting oneself for marriage, a person should be sure they are ready to take on the responsibilities. As already outlined these responsibilities include learning to love others, being able to make needed sacrifices and having the focus required to provide for ones dependants. These qualities require some unbundling and will be subjects of future posts.