“Nana, why is it that people who are married want to get out of their marriage, and those who are not married want to get married?”
This is a question a friend posed to me a few days ago. Let me answer what I perceive as the simpler question first.
People want to get married (and here I speak specifically of the Ghanaian context) because we are brought up with the expectation that by a certain age we should be married. That’s just what happens (or so we are told) in our society. As a dutiful daughter, (or son) once you are ‘of age’ you get married. Our society does not expect you to sow your wild oats before you get married (this applies to women only). Our society does not expect you to date a number of men/boys/girls/women before you get married. In fact as a ‘good girl’ you will somehow avoid dating and at the appropriate age miraculously acquire a fiancé who will shortly become your husband. You will then take his name, became Mrs x, bear ‘his’ children (because the children are certainly not yours) and then…
And then… is where the fairytale begins to unravel. You’re married and now what? Maybe you find that marriage doesn’t make you as happy as you thought it would. Maybe you get married and you realize that the romantic notion you had of marriage doesn’t quite match up to the reality. Your husband doesn’t come home bearing roses and little gifts. In fact you are lucky if you see him before midnight (and he still expects his dinner on the table at midnight). You hear stories about him and some Legon girl. You blame the girl. Who are these hussies who steal other women’s men rather than find a man of their own. These no good women, these abusekeleke women!
Somehow the patriarchal bargain doesn’t work out too well for you. Growing up you were always told that the man is the head of the household. You always believed that your future husband would take care of the bills, the children’s school fees and that your portion would be only to keep the house. Why is it that you find yourself cooking the meals, cleaning the house, caring for the children and paying the bills? But ssshhh you can’t utter a word of this to anyone. It will be an act of great disrespect to your husband. Surely you can tell your Mum about your husband’s girlfriend. You can’t believe he’s flaunting her all over town. They go to all the latest restaurants together and yet when you ask him for pocket money he says he has none to give you. Yet when you tell Mum she says “Hmmm, my daughter. This is not a reason to leave your husband. Men are all the same. You just have to manage the situation.”
Maybe today’s woman does not want to manage the situation? Maybe today’s woman has decided she no longer wants to stay married because it’s not all that its cracked up to be? Maybe today’s woman is no longer financially dependent on her husband and can afford to live on her own?
What are your thoughts on marriage?