I thoroughly enjoyed a conversation I had with some young women the other day on the topic of marriage.
Triggering many thoughts however, I felt slightly worried that the sacred institution of marriage was losing its shine among a group of young women.
As a young woman coming out of the university, I remember marriage was not that much of an issue. For some of us, our expectations were on getting into some fine civil service job as young graduates with the hopes of an assigned accommodation at the Switchback Road or such government apartments. Some of us also had eyes on working for banks. It was like a status symbol. Looking for Mr Right was to follow later.
Marriage and Mr Right
In my discussion with the young ladies, some of whom have achieved academic heights, my take was that getting married and starting their own families was on their minds. The big question, nonetheless, was finding Mr Right.
Considering the seriousness with which the young women spoke about their peers already in marriages, I figured that there was a genuine problem with young women finding the right men to settle down with. Not that the men were not coming forward. It was more the fear of ending up with the wrong man for the rest of their lives. I believed for a moment that they were speaking for many other young single professional women out there.
So what is scaring these young women away from marriage? As our chat progressed, they told me about the experiences of some friends who had quit short-lived marriages. They had the thought that men of today were only in for fun in relationships and not to be tied down to family responsibilities.
According to them, the men most women courted at the beginning of a relationship were not the same men they exchanged rings with a couple of years down the line. One of them said in her circle of friends, about five of them who got married in the last four years were already separated or divorced. Another lady in the group discussion said out of six weddings she attended in the last three years, two of the couples were already divorced.
Sanity in marriage
Ideally, as young Christian professional women, they were looking to settle down in marriage but the examples of their friends’ short-lived marriages did not inspire them. One of them said there was only a thin line between sanity and insanity, hence she would rather keep her sanity as a single woman than plunge into insanity with a man whose real character would emerge only afterwards.
While one of the young ladies said she would rather look out for a Reverend Minister as her future husband, another said she would co-habit and not get entangled in a formal marriage that could drive her into insanity.
Whatever the case, what I discovered from speaking to the young ladies was that there was a real problem out there with young marriages which needed society’s serious engagement.
The young ladies cited how very early in their relationships, married young men were flirting with other people’s wives with no sense of guilt. They also talked about young married women bearing children for men other than their husbands, only for DNA tests to expose them. No amount of preaching morality or the probability of contracting HIV/AIDS or other sexually transmitted diseases bothered them.
Are families, and for that matter, parents, not preparing their children, particularly their daughters, well enough for the tedious, long-winded and self-sacrificing business of marriage which also requires a lot of patience? Are churches failing the youth in their congregation by not preparing them adequately before blessing them and sending them off as married? Are marriage counsellors not counselling young couples well enough for the better or worse vows they will be committing themselves to?
There is definitely an apparent scare in some young career women who would want to settle down to raise their own families. However, they are not seeing their way clearly with the men they would have to tie their lives to. Some of these women are forever comparing their parents’ marriages and identifying wide gaps in the relationships of today.
My take is that marriage today is at the crossroads, more than ever before, and that, to me, should not be allowed. We all have responsibilities to help preserve value systems in the institution of marriage in order to preserve the family as sacrosanct. That is the challenge that parents, families, the Church and society would have to work at. Marriage should never be allowed to pose as a monster to young people.