Marrying Later, Marrying Smarter

madamenoire.com

madamenoire.com

I always wanted to get married at 22. To this day I’m not sure exactly why, but the idea of being a beautiful young bride and getting childbearing out of the way early, greatly appealed to me. Now of course, I’m grateful I didn’t marry at 22, but I also find myself wondering what kind of wife I would have made at that age.

One of my classmates got married when we were in our final year of University. She got married at the age of 22, on Valentine’s Day for that matter. Being the kind of girl I was, in my mind this was the best thing that could happen to anyone. I certainly wished it for myself. So you can imagine my shock when she relayed a story to us a few months after the wedding. She told of how she had a bitter quarrel with her husband, and in her distress packed her bags, intent on leaving. It was only when he asked her where she was going that she realised she really had nowhere to go. Worse still (at least to me) he didn’t bother to pet her- he was rather smug. Where was she going to go?

Many years have passed since then, the teething phases are over and they are still happily married with lovely children. I, though, never forgot that story. The lesson that stuck was that no matter how many rooms there are in your father’s house, once you’ve been given away to a husband you can’t just move back there. And nobody has to tell you this; it’s just a knowing that you’re not exactly welcome. And your “father’s house” isn’t literally a place. Even if you rent a place of your own, your husband’s house would still be where everyone expects you to be.

I did get married five years later than I’d fantasized, and the once vague idea that marriage is not a bed of roses has crystallized with each passing day since. 7 weeks after my wedding, my husband and I had the most terrible quarrel ever, made even more horrible by the fact that I thought it was too early for that. The 22-year old me would definitely have moved out that night and never come back. After all if a man truly loved and adored you, he wouldn’t yell at you so, would he? The 24-year old me may not have moved out, but would have given my husband the silent treatment for days or even weeks after that, and definitely called my mother and best friend on the phone to give them all the gory details.

The funny thing is, he thought I would leave for sure and had braced himself for it. Instead, I made sure we didn’t go to bed angry that night. When he’d had sufficient time to calm down, we spent hours trying to see each other’s side.  Truth be told, I didn’t do this out of any feeling of love, and I’m almost certain the same is true for him. “Thank you for not leaving”, “I’m so glad I stayed” and “I don’t ever want to lose you” would come many, many days later. On that dark night however, it was commitment, sheer commitment to the vows we made that kept us in the same house and on the same bed.

Marriage is not a walk in the park. A woman must spend time developing herself and becoming the right person if she wants to marry the right person. I’ve come to realise that truly knowing yourself, understanding who you are and what your purpose in life is, is an absolute must for anyone who would join themselves to another for life. In addition to this, a woman must be mature enough to put years of Mills & Boon behind her manage her expectations of marriage, basing them in reality. Otherwise she, and her marriage, would be defenceless against the infamous Mr. Irreconcilable Differences who is to blame for the dissolution of so many marriages today. But that’s a whole different article.

The jury is still out on just how closely linked age and maturity are, but while age is not a primary determining factor in gauging maturity, age IS a factor where knowledge and experience are concerned- on this many generally agree.

Still, marrying early is traditionally considered proper and more advantageous for African women. In Africa, women living as single adults and choosing to marry later is a relatively new practice that is not exactly welcome by the older generation. Nevertheless, more African women are postponing marriage to acquire higher education and build their careers. Unfortunately, many of these women find that by the time they are ready to get married, there are no eligible bachelors available. Furthermore, the older a woman gets, the lower her chances of conceiving and carrying a baby to term.

We find that on the one hand, given the economic situation of our day where husbands are no longer the sole breadwinners, it seems more sensible for a woman to wait until she is older, more mature and financially stable before getting married. A career takes a lot of time, energy and commitment to build. Shouldn’t this be done before marriage? Can marriage and career building be successfully combined?

So, what’s a girl to do?

Marry early and you risk never achieving your dreams and never becoming anything more than a mother and a wife. Wait till you’re older, more mature, more in touch with your true self and have built a successful career and you may find yourself having to make do with a less-than-ideal husband, or worse still, no husband at all. If you’re lucky to get a decent man to marry at this point, what’s the guarantee that your not-so-fresh eggs will be cooperative, and that you’ll not soon be a regular at fertility clinics? I’d like to know what you think. Is marrying later really marrying smarter?

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9 thoughts on “Marrying Later, Marrying Smarter

  1. I used to nurse the thought of getting married @ the age of 27/28, not for any particular reason but for the fact that I had a lot of aspirations and MEGA dreams; I’d always thought that A HUSBAND would tie me down, what with all the responsibilities of keeping a home, children, work et all. Moreover most husbands wouldn’t understand the need for you to have a life of your own, thereby leading you to a life of misery!
    But I’ve since changed my mind on that, because I’ve come to realise that having the right man for you changes a lot of things and puts a lot into perspective! In the aspect of getting married early (even though its never been in my dictionary) as long as I have the man who believes in me and what I do, would want to see me succeed @ all costs, and understands my values then there really is no point wasting time!

  2. Loooool
    Wanted to get married at 21 ooo
    Reason? Same age my sis got married. Funny when marriage knocked even before then, smitten as I was, I no gree marry.
    About 5 years after, more mature more aware and less a spoilt brat, I got married he he he…
    Some get married younger and it works. Me? I doubt. At 20 21, life was all about me me me
    Unfortunately that is recipe for a disaster-marriage
    Nice post

    E’

  3. Hmmm
    I prefer later
    I was a total baby at 21
    I would have been truly miserable
    I would not have left but I would have stayed in my room for 7 days without speaking to anyone
    Truly miserable

    These days, I start talking to you even when my head has forgiven but my heart has not forgotten.

  4. Hmm… I got married at 23 and my hubby was 27. We had been friends/dating/courting for 5 years and agreed that it was the right time to get married. I didn’t feel too young or unprepared for marriage. I come from a family where women get married as young as 19, so 23 is not too young. I had gotten my first degree and was pursuing a masters, so education wasn’t really standing in my way. I was prepared and realistic in my expectations of marriage (thanks to my mama). To be honest, I don’t believe that there is anything that I want to be that I can’t be in marriage. I actually believe being married has matured me and helped me recognise the woman I have the potential to be. I have major dreams and in my mind, they are all compatible with being a wife and mother. Getting married young is not for everyone but for some people it really works and they should not be discouraged because of age. God definitely brought my hubby and I together for a reason and we’re excited to discover all His plans for us.

    • Oh yes QYM, some people are prepared at an early age, and they certainly should not be discouraged. I recently had a talk with hubby, and asked him if he would allow our daughter to marry at 21. He said “It depends on how mature she is” and I agree with him. Also, who one marries matters a lot. I know many women whose dreams have been truncated by marriage- TOO MANY. This should not be so, but that’s the sad reality for some. So you’re right, marrying young is truly not for everyone. Amen to your dreams dear sis!

  5. Well, I’m glad I didn’t get married in my early 20s because I was an annoying, argumentative brat who was more concerned with being right than making peace…It wasn’t until a few years ago that I actually began to really mature and understand the importance of choosing my battles wisely and LETTING THINGS GO (gosh, my wahala was too much, i still have wahala sha 😦 )…

    In addition to all these I had so many negative beliefs about marriage (still have some of them but my mother’s prayers are working LOL), so it would have been a disaster. But at the end of the day, I believe it’s down to the individual and their spouses.

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