‘So when are you going to get married?’
‘Where’s the future husband?’
‘Don’t waste your time – you should be looking to get married soon!’
Since graduating from University, illness I have often felt as if my singledom has been scrutinised by relatives and family friends alike as they ask me several variations of the questions above. It’s as if now that I have ticked the box of obtaining a degree, the next box that needs to be checked in my life is that of marriage.
Recently I endured repeated interrogation by some guests that came to stay with my family from Nigeria as to I was not looking to get married or taking marriage seriously. Now this really frustrated me – I’m 22, a recent graduate, have myself a great graduate job – but yet those achievements almost mean nothing and are disregarded because at the end of the day, all that seems to matter is marriage. Now do not get me wrong, I am in no way against marriage or marrying young – I’ve always seen myself getting married and having a family of my own, but it really annoys me that by many still today, marriage is seen as the greatest and ultimate achievement of a woman’s life. Often during these rounds of questioning, I have been told not to focus too much on my career or make that my priority, but I say why not? I mean, it’s not as if I’ve met my Prince Charming and even so, why am I being discouraged for building a life for myself, empowering myself, exploring and developing my career and ultimately just enjoying my life as it is now?
I think what many ladies can agree with me about this, is the double standard that is put on women with the subject of marriage – why are our brothers not suffering from the same sort of probing and attack as their sisters at the same age?? As Aunty Chimamanda so beautifully put it, “Because I am female, I am expected to aspire to marriage, I am expected to make life choices, always keeping in mind that that marriage is the most important…but why do we teach girls to aspire to marriage and why don’t we teach boys the same?” I understand back in the days of our grandparents, marriage was almost essential for a woman to advance in having some sort of a life for herself, away from her father’s house, but as time has moved on and progressed, why in our community do we still hold marriage to such a high regard?
With all this pressure, I find there is little emphasis on making sure that we find good and worthy men to enter into this long term commitment with, and it’s all about beating a timeline. So are we receiving all this harassment to just say we made it by such and such age, to showcase that we too can throw the Wedding of the Year, or are people missing the whole point on what marriage actually means and the effort a couple has to put into it to make it work? As a woman, I no longer need a man’s permission to do anything – I can do the same jobs, have the same civil rights – so when will our community progress with the times when it comes to marriage?
Written by Aisha Rimi