“Marriage is very difficult…Marriage is not easy”…Part 1
I’ve had the privilege of attending and hosting a couple of bridal showers, and sometime after the games, there’s usually a segment where older women, who’ve been married for a while, get to offer their advice for the soon-to-be bride. Time and time again, these older married women start their speeches with, “Marriage is not easy….”
I didn’t realize how much this statement bothered me until recently. I was at a bridal shower and one of the women had begun her marriage is not easy speech, when I blurted, “Then for God’s sake, why did you get married?!”
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think marriage is a walk in the park. I believe it comes with its challenges, its ups and its downs, and some very petty fights. But to make your marriage sound like it’s a jail term before you begin…that’s just diabolical.
I’ve come up with a couple of reasons why I don’t like the statement, “Marriage is not easy”:
- I believe that the reasons and attractions of marriage in my generation greatly differ from that of my parents and their parents.
When my parents and their parents were choosing who to marry, their focus was more on homemaking – a woman’s ability to ‘keep a home’ (raise kids, respect extended family, cook, clean etc.) and a man’s ability to bring home the bread.
I’ve heard older African men say things like:
“I knew she was the one because when I went to visit her at home, she cooked for me.”
“When she came to visit me in my dorm, she brought me food and she cleaned my room.”
“When I took her to meet my family, she was so respectful and helped my mother in the kitchen”
I don’t believe that men in my generation are necessarily seeking out these things, at least not as a main priority.
Take my brother for example, he’s cleaner than I am, cooks better than I do and even bakes! I know he is definitely not choosing a spouse based on things he can do himself! And for me, when I think of Bae, I’m not thinking about a man that can provide for me and our children when there’s such a thing as joint income! I’m looking for someone to whom I can say, “Hey let’s go to Spain together, let’s go skydiving together, let’s take long walks and just chill, let’s look into businesses we can create and things we can invest our money in.”
I tell people that my parents aren’t the norm for African parents, and that’s purely by their choice and the renewal of their minds. My earliest memory of them includes their daily walks. I have no idea what they talk about on those walks but that’s their time, away from their kids to just chill, maybe even argue – but that’s their time.
Ask yourself, how many times your parents took trips alone – not for work, just to chill, left you with the maids, left you with your grandparents and just went on vacation somewhere. What did your parents do for fun? I marvel at how some of their courtship stories are filled with roller skating and ice cream or movie dates, and then they married and POOF! nothing. Fun times out, hard work in.
- Let me tell you guys a secret! I’m looking to spend the rest of my life with someone who can clean the bathroom, change diapers, carry babies and do his dishes.
To put it simply, if he did it before we got married (and his hands aren’t broken), I don’t understand why he can’t continue to do it after we get married.
I look forward to a marriage where we take turns cooking, or learn new recipes together, where we both wake up on a Saturday and do chores together and have fun with it. We both live in the house, we both use all the rooms in the house and I’m not down scrub toilets for the rest of my life.
One of the things that I identify about myself is that I wasn’t raised with the cultural and traditional expectations that come with Saturday mornings. I know some aunties who wake up at 5 a.m., start cooking ten different stews (that’ll end up in the freezer), then vacuum and scrub the house from corner to corner, and then shower and get dressed, and spend all day attending parties.
I grew up in a house where, my mum prepped, but for the most part, food was made daily. Also, chores were meant to be done and she had no set time that I was to complete them, all she expected was that our home was neat at all times. My dad cleaned, my brother cleaned, we all cleaned. I make it a point to explain this to potential Baes from day one, so we don’t argue later. He’s a grown adult male who did chores before he met you and didn’t die – he’s not a baby!
- Communication is key.
Most of the examples these older, wiser women give, are honestly exasperating. No disrespect, but sometimes it’s as easy as communicating.
I’ve noticed that for a lot of older Africans, their marriages are a game of trial and error – when you err, you learn something new about your spouse. For example, My dad told me that in the first year of their marriage, when they would argue, his approach was to talk it out, He’d talk and talk, while my mother on the other hand, didn’t like to talk and didn’t like prolonged talks, she’d switch off. He said, he’d talk and she’d say I’ve heard, get up, go to the room, grab a book and not say anything for the rest of the day. He said it made him feel so horrid, and then he felt bad for always talking because it seemed like he was the one always pointing out faults. So one day, he called her and explained how her silence made him feel, and from that they found the equilibrium in their communication styles.
For this generation, there are so many tests for anger, forgiveness styles,love language, personality etc. – it’s crazy!
We also have resources in our families, friends and even books. So many people have been through the murky waters – some have stayed, some have quit and they have put their truths into books. It doesn’t mean it would be the same for you, but it’s a start at learning about this institution you’d like to spend the rest of your life in.