"Wife Is A Better Title Than CEO", Adamu Garba: Is Marriage For Everyone?
Is marriage for everyone?
Did you have fantasies of meeting the one, getting your dream wedding and raising kids with the Love of your life? As an institution, marriage is considered one of the bedrocks of society. But when Adamu Garba, former Presidential candidate, tweeted that it is better to be a wife than a "female CEO" we started to wonder, why is marriage so important to society?
Why is marriage important for society?
In social studies class, we were all taught that marriage is a legal union between a man and a woman. As a result of this union, a family springs up which then expands into what we know as a society today. Therefore, it was ingrained in our minds that we are all progressing towards marriage.
However, like Garba’s tweet, the pressure appears to be more intense on women. We are groomed and socialised from a young age to be good wives. Our accomplishments often pale in comparison to our marital status. In fact, as a married woman, you are considered more worthy of respect than a single woman.
I don't know why my stand on polygamy became a source of concern particularly to unmarried ones.
You are missing a golden opportunity from my admonition....ladies.
Let me tell you, having a title of a WIFE is more important to you that even becoming a female CBN governor.
— Adamu Garba II (@adamugarba) February 3, 2020
In contrast, such pressure is not generally placed on men. At 30, a man is still considered to be in his prime. There’s even a saying that a man is never too old for marriage, so no one bats an eyelid if you choose to get married at 40.
In past times, once you get to childbearing age, a marriage would be arranged for you. While child marriage is still common in some parts of Africa, we’ve made some progress. However, it is not uncommon for a woman in her mid-20’s to begin to feel pressure from family, friends and even herself.
Is marriage important for everyone?
Despite the assumption that women who are unmarried are unhappy, a survey revealed that this is untrue. In a Guardian article, Paul Dolan, a professor of behavioural science reports that marriage and children are not true markers of happiness.
We went on to ask some women to tell us why they got married, and if their opinions about marriage had changed. The responses we got were quite interesting.
- I got married because it was expected after school
“As a young lady, what is expected from you after school, NYSC?” asks Muheebat. Toun also adds "I got married because I was programmed to do so. Thankfully I married my friend and we do our marriage on our terms".
- Inspired by a broken home background
We tend to see divorce as a taboo and assume that children in single-parent homes will be lacking in morals. This is what Boyede and her husband set out to disprove with their marriage.
I love the idea of marriage and I will marry again in another life. My husband and I are from broken homes with strong, happy and successful mums. We also have a great relationship with our dads. This means we went into marriage knowing it would not be a bed of roses. It also helped us through rough patches because we were not disillusioned. I think there’s an age for marriage and it is when you find the one and feel certain about it.
- It is about how much crap you can take from a person
Remember the stories we read in Harlequin, Mills and Boons? Boy meets girl, then they go on to live happily ever after. Susan realized that the world of fantasy does not always apply to real-life situations.
After some unsuccessful relationships, I told myself I wasn’t going to get married. I had romanticised marriage due to romance novels, they made marriage seem like a fairytale. When I met my husband, we just connected and then we got married because I felt "I can live with his shit until we are old and grey." I think that is what marriage is, learning to accept what you know will never change and love the beautiful things. I think I will get married in another life.
Ayeesha agrees with her.
I think top on my list of reasons was I wanted so badly to have kids, raise a family and I didn't want to be a single mum. I had seen enough about that life and it is harder than people know. The only sensible thing I did was wait till I met someone whose shit I could conveniently swallow because my tolerance level used to be low. Been winging it since. And if I rethink the matter I would honestly choose to be a wife and mom. In marriage, your threshold for shit will let you know if you are ready or not.
I wanted someone to raise the next generation with
For Bukky, she wanted a partner to raise the next generation with:
I got married because it was on my list of accomplishments. As a Christian, I wanted someone to share my life with and build a home and raise the next generation. My opinion of marriage has not changed fundamentally, I still believe it’s honourable, but...
- I didn’t want to disappoint my mother
Biodun agrees that getting married felt like the logical next thing for her but she also did not want to disappoint her mother.
I got married because that was the logical thing to do after school and you start working, according to society. I also did not want to disappoint my mum. However, my opinion as changed now and I would not put anyone under pressure to marry.
Based on the responses we got, some women chose marriage because society programmed it as the logical next step. But for others, they knew it was what they wanted and went for it. And there's the other sect who have experienced it and agree it’s great but they understand that it is not exactly what defines us. As Adebola said, “I try to educate my unmarried friends. Don’t kill yourself because you are not married. If it happens, great. If it doesn’t please live your life”
While some people view marriage as a contract between two people, some regard it as a sacred institution ordained by God. In the end, society is built on the relationships that are formed as result of marriage. Families, communities, and tribes are all connected because of marriage.
*Interviews have been edited for clarity.