By Florence Amagiya
It was the talk of the town when Aisha celebrated her 30th birthday. As far as she was concerned, every one of the goals she had set for herself had been achieved: A degree, a high flying job, a professional certification and her own house. There was absolutely no talk of Mr. Right.
Asked if this did not cast a shadow on her big day, she enthusiastically responded in the negative, saying she had vowed not to settle down until she is financially independent.
Chatting with a variety of young women, WW found Aisha’s position to be hugely popular. Further research revealed a generational trend which has millennials placing a lower value on early marriage than their mothers and grandmothers.
While such data is not readily available in Nigeria, data for the United States reveals the average age of marriage for women in 2018 to be 27.8. Ten years ago in 2008, it was 25.9, just marginally higher than the figure in 1998 (25.0); and much higher than the figure for 1988. The bottomline is that the trend shows a continual rise in the age of marriage as well as for starting families.
Another respondent, Isioma Joan Benson who runs an NGO told WW that her own mum married so young; at the age of 14- 15.
“l don’t think she was very happy because l noticed with the drive she had; she would have done better if she had married later than that age. Meanwhile, personally, l would not allow my own daughter to marry at a very tender age. I would prefer that she is old enough, find herself and if possible a career before thinking of marriage. As we all know that in today’s marriage; you have to bring something to the table.
No man wants a liability; if anything they want a woman who can carry the home without them. Marriage relationships these days are like flat mates kind of relationships; bills are shared between couples and there is nothing you can do about it; it is a trend that has come to stay and it was also written in the Bible about the last days syndrome. Hence men no longer go for women who do not have anything they are doing; if anything they want a woman who would do more for them”.
A Radio Personality who simply wants to be known as Lady Chichi is of bthe opinion that marriage is a partnership that one should go into when one feels ready. She says it has very little to do with age, and has more to do with preparedness in terms of emotional maturity, financial ability with other factors.
“I do not believe anyone should be pressured into getting married. ‘You are getting old oh, you will not find a husband oh’ are just illusions and are all our society’s way of keeping people ‘in the box’ operating under its rules. True, a large percentage of women no longer get married on time and this is a global phenomenon”.
Lady Chichi puts this state of affairs down to more women craving freedom and self expression. “They want to define and live life on their own terms. They want to finish their education and embark on fulfilling careers before getting hitched. This has its own downside of course because after doing all this, getting the ideal partner to fit perfectly becomes difficult, leading to some ‘waiting’ period. But everything in life has a disadvantage too but you don’t look at that only.
“And then biology comes into play because of the woman’s fertility. There are ways to handle this if a woman is confident of the path she has chosen. For me, there’s no big deal about marrying late. We should come to terms with the modern world. Things have changed. Besides, with the issue of lack of job security, high unemployment, low income, high financial pressures, I believe more and more people are being held back from getting married and starting families. This is a position where they are unable to settle until late. It is expensive to pay bride price, it is expensive to look after a family”, she added.
Conversely, Blessing Okoekhian, a Corp Member is of the opinion that the reason why women of this generation tend to get married late is because of education in this era. According to her, some are trying to build themselves to be self independent; not to allow any man to treat them as if they were meant to be in the kitchen and also be well prepared and understand what marriage entails before going into it.
“Well, for me, l would advise my unborn children to get married early so as to avoid some complication in child bearing due to age factors. And so that they are not forced to marry men they wouldn’t have because the biological clock is against them eventually.
For Businesswoman Sandra Obeten, marriage is a good thing which every young woman dreams to enter in spite of all the negative news surrounding it. “Our mothers married on time and we are the consequences because they are still alive and strong enough to still enjoy us as adults, but not marrying on time may be a disadvantage in that area. But that is not enough reason not to add value to one’s life before marrying. I think that while waiting to be married; one should just endeavour to continue to add more value to their lives. It saves the day at last. Again, marrying your friend is the best thing that can happen to anybody. In our mothers` era, their experience with their husbands was compared to been married to their boss at work because there was no cordial relationship between the couples. And who wants to live with an enemy?”