For us Nigerian women there is a huge pressure to tie the knot. Post twenty-five annum, an unmarried status often calls for expressions of concern from family, friends and sometimes even ‘kind’ strangers. This concern can be terribly annoying and in the case that one is single and desperately searching for a partner, distressing. With this kind of pressure placed on you, the word marriage can eventually become synonymous with obligation, instead of happiness.
You might have sensed that I don’t include myself in the category of ‘Nigerian women desperate to get married’. If so, you are correct. Admittedly, I do occasionally have flamboyant fantasies about marriage, or rather weddings. A beautiful white dress, a romantically decorated garden, a knight in shining armour to settle into marital bliss and live happily ever after with, what girl would not desire that?
However, in real life, the picture-perfect marriage does not exist for me. Although I respect matrimony as a spiritual acknowledgment of companionship, I just can’t fool myself into believing in the Cinderella myth.
In a recent interview, author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie pointed out that ‘marriage as an institution isn’t set up to benefit women’. I sympathize with her, it is for this same reason that I see life as an empowered woman and life as a married woman as conflicting.
Hence, I like to think that should I get married some day, my marriage vows and my general attitude towards the legal union will be tailor-made to suit a lifestyle where my partner and I start off on equal terms.
Due to my opinion on marriage, pressure from people no longer annoys me as much. I understand that it is the well wish of at least family, that I find someone to settle down with, and that for them marriage symbolizes happiness, which they wish for me.
Yet, it worries me that so many Nigerian women blindly believe in the fairy tale, even though it means that some of the independence we have gained goes lost. It troubles me also, that generally we Nigerian women are so pressured to get hitched that we forget that love is more important than marriage. Love comes first, then marriage. For this reason, it would make me smile if instead of asking when I plan to marry, a relative for once urged me not to marry anyone I don’t love.