Marriage is supposed to be a bond between a man and a woman, held by love. When you are getting married, you are supposed to be getting married to your best friend, your soul mate, your other half. For men, you are supposed to be getting married to the woman who has your rib in her, the woman who has your missing rib. And for women, you are supposed to be getting married to the man whose rib you have in you. When ‘marriage’ comes to mind, people often think of love, romance, happiness, eternal bliss, love, love, love.
For too many, however, marriage does not quite live up to its expectation(s). Obviously, before you get married, you ought to keep in mind that problems will come up. There will be trials and tribulations. You ought to keep in mind that there will be difficult times. Philosophers will always advise you to expect the unexpected. Married people expect problems, but ironically, they never expect the problems they actually get.
A man gets married to what he considers a beautiful woman. He expects that she will undergo physical changes, especially after having his children. Her stomach might get a little rounder; her thighs might get a little chunkier; her feet might get bigger. Hmm, it will only be a matter of time before gravity descends on her breasts. So he expects all of this, but he does not foresee one of her butt cheeks to equal the size of their jumbo pillow. He does not foresee her stomach to be bigger than his beer gut. And while, he expected her feet to grow a little bigger, he did not ever think they would grow big enough to fit his shoes. And her breasts? Let’s just say it can go for miles. The thing seems to be longer every time he sees it.
They used to have a great sex life, but now she is too busy catering for the children to satisfy his needs. By the time she comes to bed, she smells of maggi cubes and curry. Her hair consistently remains undone. He is not quite sure if she is taking out the weave on her head or fixing a new one. The whole thing is a mess. Her nails are as sharp as a razor blade. He has the evidence to prove this on their bed sheets which are constantly sliced by her toe nails. And when was the last time she shaved? She has taken the word, ‘natural’ to a whole new level. Whoever told her he wants to be in bed with a grizzly bear?
Once upon a time, she used to wear neck-breaking lingerie to bed, but now, he is constantly being assaulted with the hospital gowns she calls night gowns. If only she will take a minute and reinvest in deodorants. She does not stink, but he will prefer a less natural smell. This woman who once used to be very discrete no longer feels the need to close the bathroom door while she is doing number two. She no longer deems it necessary to excuse herself before farting. Why excuse herself when her husband will love to inhale the fresh, unadulterated stench that escapes from her butt hole?
But these are all minor problems compared to the real, serious problems. Ever since she got a better job, she has become rude and disobedient. She cooks food that only she will enjoy. She has become a little too willing to order food. Wait a minute; is that Papa John’s Pizza on speed dial? She has become very quick to talk back and even tell him that he is not her God. Apparently, she can make it on her own. It amazes him that in spite of the increase in her salary, she does not make as much as he does, yet her insults continue to increase. He shudders to think of what will happen if she ever makes as much as he does. God forbid that she ever makes more. If she does, he will turn his manhood in without disputing it because he knows it will be the end of his manliness anyway.
One of the things he cannot get past is the fact that she will not stop sending so much money to her mother. He understands that her father left them with almost nothing, and he understands that her mother suffered so much for her, but she is a married woman now. She does not understand that she is now a part of him, and what she does affects him. For God’s sake, his mother is still well and alive, and he would love to send her money more often, but he knows he has a wife and children to cater for. These are just some of his complaints. The Mrs. probably has a different side to the story.
She thought she was getting married to her best friend and confidant, but there is nothing confidential about their affairs. She does not really speak to Nneka, Peter’s wife, but somehow, Nneka knows about her inability to cook egwusi soup well. Nneka knows that every time she cooks egwusi soup, the water and the oil become very bitter enemies in the pot: they simply refuse to be joined together. The other day, Nneka offered to teach her how to cook egwusi soup. What insolence! Who told Nneka about this? Oh yeah, her husband is a good friend to Nneka’s husband.
Before they got married, he promised to stop drinking and smoking. He is yet to quit either. He smokes like a chimney and drinks like a fish. One day, he will drink himself to stupor and smoke himself to ashes. He comes to bed smelling like an ash tray dumped in a cheap bar and expects her to wear lingerie to bed? He has to be high on something.
She sees the way he looks at her. She knows he does not like the way she looks. He looks at her like she disgusts him. He looks at her like he would much rather be looking at something else, or someone else. Perhaps, someone slimmer, someone prettier, someone lighter. She knows he does not like what he sees in her. Why on earth will she wear skimpy lingerie to bed when her husband cannot even stand the sight of her? Why will she expose her ‘lumps’? No oh.
These days, she has no interest in sex anymore. Well, she still has interest, but she refuses to subject herself to such degradation. She would rather utilize Mr. Denzel, her three-hundred dollar vibrator. He is worth every penny she spent on him. Too bad he is not tax deductable. He probably thinks of someone else while he is inside her anyway. He probably closes his eyes while he is on top of her. He probably cannot wait to burst a nut, so he can get out of her. He probably only does it because he needs to – not because he wants to. Why will she want to have sex with such a man?
She believes he is very selfish. Why else will he expect her to work several hours a day, come home and take care of the kids, help them to do their assignment, prepare dinner, and then be in the mood to satisfy his needs in bed? When she is in the mood, she is too tired; when she is not tired, she is not in the mood. And when she is in the mood and not tired, she would rather be with Mr. Denzel. At least, she is guaranteed to have his time for more than five minutes – unlike some other people she knows.
She does not know why he keeps complaining about the money she sends home to her mother. Has she ever stopped him from sending money to his own mother? Does he know what her mother went through when her father left them for another woman? There is nothing he will say that will make her stop sending money to her mother. She works hard for her money, and she has every right to spend it how she wants to. Besides, she has always dreamt of the day she will finally be able to show her mother some appreciation for all she went through when her father left them high and dry. And now this man thinks she will stop spoiling her mother because some husband said she should? Please!
She does not know why he is always complaining about the money she makes. It is not like she makes more than him anyway. He just cannot handle the fact that she now makes so much money. He cannot seem to comprehend that she is no longer the young, naïve little girl whose bride price he paid several years ago. He cannot accept that she no longer needs to run to him for every little thing. Gone are the days when she used to beg for money for bras, panties, and sanitary pad. He needs to get over himself already. She is no longer a girl; she is now a woman.
I am quite certain that at the point a couple says, ‘I do,’ they are probably in love. They might spend thousands of dollars on the wedding and everything concerning it, but a few months down the line, trouble sprouts up like weed: the more you kill them, the more they grow. Somehow, no chemical can completely get rid of them, and the chemical that does get rid of the weed also hurts the plants. Is there really a win-win situation?
Once upon a time, I used to go ‘ooh’ and ‘aah’ whenever I heard about a wedding, but these days, I am almost filled with sadness for the couple. I almost want to give them a condolence card. This is not to say that I do not want to get married. I do want to get married, and I intend to get married, but marriage does not have the same effect anymore. I do not even have any couple to look up to and say, ‘aww.’ Apart from tax breaks, a possibly fatter income, and beautiful children, I am seriously beginning to wonder what else one stands to gain from marriage.
I think I would be speaking for most when I say that for unmarried people in my generation, marriage is something we want but fear. No man is an island, and no sane man would want to be an island. Somewhere inside of us, we all crave a kind of connection that only a spouse can give us, but are we willing to do the work? Are we really willing to have petty arguments over and over? Are we willing to be used and abused by our in-laws? Are we willing to not be always liked by our spouse? I mean, marriage is a life time commitment, or at least, it is supposed to be a life time commitment. Who wants to make a mistake and live with it forever? I know I do not.
There is just something about Nigerian/African marriages that make me stop and ponder. Does jumping the broom mean you are no longer allowed to be yourself? I realize that after jumping the broom, there are certain things you should probably stop doing (like going out and coming in at three in the morning…unless of course, it is just a once in a blue moon guys/girls night out with your friends). But does getting married mean that your going out should be limited to work and home alone? Does getting married mean that your wardrobe should now be limited to only Iro and Buba? I do not condone wearing clothes that are too revealing (regardless of your marital status), but should getting married mean that you should start wearing only turtleneck lookalikes no matter the season?
I may not be married, but having observed a lot of marriages and found in them nothing that thrills or excites me, I have realized that one problem with marriages is habit. Marriage becomes a game of habit. Who says you cannot attend a friend’s night party because you are now married? Who says you cannot spend an entire day at Six Flags and scream your hearts out on every ride? What stops you from going to a poetry parlor? Oh, that’s right. You are married now. You can only go to work, come home, eat egwusi soup, watch TV, do whatever you do in bed, and sleep. Then you wake up in the morning and repeat the cycle.
There has got to be a better way to be married because this current marriage thing sef…e get as e be oh!!