By Bunmi Sofola
“Most people want to meet Mr. Or Miss Right”, said Jare a 30-year old single mother of one. “Most people in their youth dream of one day making a commitment to one person.
“When they do, they don’t then leave the marriage because they do not respect it, can’t stand living with an unfaithful partner or because their partner is drinking or spending the house-keeping money or urrent fashion.
“And people who don’t get married do not reject marriage because of their lack of respect for it either, they just can’t find anyone half-way decent who is free. Unfortunately, a lot of young people are not prepared for the ups and downs of marriage.”
Jare continued, “it is not marriage per se that young people should hear about in the school curriculum – that is the institution of marriage – but the ingredients of what makes a good marriage. Respect, trust, understanding, unconditional love and fun!
People do not have a problem with the concept of marriage, they simply have a problem with finding someone they want to marry and stay with.
“What is needed in schools these days is not lesson on the sanctity of marriage which moves you no nearer to an altar, but lessons on how to pull a partner you might actually marry.
“These lessons would incorporate information and individual qualities that would be suited to your own personality and needs. The source of my own relationship problem could have been ironed out at an early age if such advice had been available…”
Jare told me that she should have been prepared for now to smell a rat a mile off and make a run for it. By the time she realised the love of her life was married, she was literally holding the baby!
“I met him with a couple of guys he shared three-bedroom flat with. What he didn’t tell me was the fact that he paid his share of the rent but only kept his room as a guest room – he was already married and living at the other end of the city with his wife and two kids.
“Unfortunately, there were no tell-tale signs of this in his rented, well-furnished room.
“I grew up in a society that celebrated marriage. I had a mother and father who stayed together and it never occurred to me until now, that there was any alternative to the family state we were in.
“In spite of our Catholic-style upbringing, neither my sister nor I are married. We’ve never even come close. Neither of us had ever really lived with a man either.
“She is 36, I am over 30 and responsible for a child whose father was trickster.” Did I detect a tinge of ‘bitterness’? “Not necessarily,” she assured me.
“But lessons on successful relationship could have taught me, for instance that the frog who has one date with you and vamooses is a bad emotional investment.
“I could have learnt that a man who criticizes everything about you, from your hair to the job you do, to the position of the watch on your wrist, leaves you alone on Christmas eve and Easter celebrations, is a man with problems of his own.
“They could have told me to heed the alarm bells when a man who wants to leave his girlfriend for you, says that he wants to stay with her long enough for her to lose enough weights so that, she could attract someone else and not have a broken heart when she is eventually ditched. How self-centred can you get?
I mean how many frogs is a girl expected to kiss before she finds her prince? A few years back, Jare said people in her age group got together for a self-help project. The idea then was that since they were mostly marriageable materials, they should be able to match make.
“Afterall, we all came from identical family backgrounds,” she explained. I was already involved with the father of my child, whom I thought I would marry, and was out of the ‘arrangee’ marriages. But a lot of our mates fell for it and quite a number of the marriages we match-made were celebrated ones.
“I ran into an old friend recently who was ‘lucky’ to get introduced to her husband and she said it was the costliest mistake she ever made. But her husband is a good provider and they actually live in their own house.
“She has a thriving fabrics shop but she’s not happy. She said she’s never been in love with the man – just in love with the idea of getting married. It got to a point where she couldn’t bear to be touched by the man she slept on the same bed with.
“Now she’s met a man she’s hopeless in love with but is unfortunately trapped in a loveless marriage with two kids. She says she’s seriously thinking of her own happiness – not her duty to her family.”
Uche, a thirty-two-year old banker said she stayed single by pushing the self-destruct button at just the right time. She used to be so scared of commitment because of what she’d seen of her mates’ marriages. But now, with most of her friends settled and having babies, she would love to settle down, especially when she hopes to have children.
Not with just any man, she assured me. “It won’t just be physical attraction, but there will be a click, something that just happens chemically. His qualities will include allowing me to be in the context of the relationship and enabling me to have my own space.
“I have stayed this long to think of getting hitched, so I must settle for a reasonable man. And he must be comfortably well off as I have certain standards I want to maintain. I can’t stand the idea of worrying about bills!
“Friendship is of course, the most important feature of the relationship. If you meet someone with whom you get on so well that you become best friends, you have a real chance for a long-term relationship to survive. It also means there is no play-acting or living up to someone’s idea of what you should be like.
“In my mid-twenties, I wanted all the glamour and excitement and jet setting that life as a banker could offer me. I wanted a handsome man who would dress in a sophisticated way. Now I see how superficial that was.
“These days, I prefer to go out with men who are an intellectual challenge so I could take the time to know them first before declaring any underlying love…”