Stop asking women when they are getting married05/29/2019
I’m a hard working and driven 20-something who is doing all I can to secure a future for myself.
However, this is not considered good enough for the older generation and the mounting pressure for me to get married is becoming overwhelming.
I’m British-Nigerian and in West Africa marriage is seen as the epitome of success.
Some Nigerians tend to hold the conventional view that a woman is not complete without a man and that women who marry in their late 20s or 30s are ‘leftover women.’
As African hall parties and wedding season comes about there is an instantaneous influx of questions from relatives like, ‘where is your own husband?’ and ‘when will you get married.’ This is usually followed with, ‘don’t leave it too late.’
I always put on a brave face and reply with ‘God’s timing’ but I leave feeling that I’m not enough or I haven’t done anything significant in my life.
I am left questioning my worth and wondering if I will ever get married, or if I’m even worthy of being married.
At times these questions and remarks make me want to avoid attending family functions as a whole.
In all honesty, I’m bored of having my worth tied to my relationship status.
More women are choosing to prioritise building businesses and pursuing further education. This needs to be praised and placed on a pedestal just as much as marriage is.
If women were glorified more for their accomplishments they would probably feel more confident in themselves when the subject of marriage was broached, rather than feeling inadequate.
Women already face enough societal pressure; having to deal with often daily sexism and our generation’s obsession with social media perfection.
So the last thing we need is for our loved ones to urge us to force ourselves into something that is meant to transpire naturally.
Marriage is only meant to happen once, so why does it feel like there’s a rush?
I understand they want to see us happy, but I wish tradition didn’t come with a timer that causes us to compare ourselves to others, become stressed or unhappy.
I have seen older people succumb to this pressure. Rushing into marriage due to parental influence has left some with financial strain, paying off a wedding that they are no longer happy about, or merely marrying the wrong partner.
But I can understand why they do it. Truth be told, I dread being another year older without having a potential love interest to show off to my family. It almost makes me feel disgraceful.
Worst was when I overheard an aunty ask my mum why my cousin and I weren’t married yet and where did they go wrong.
So how am I able to deal with the pressure from Aunty Bimpe and Uncle Olu?
The average cost for a wedding held in the UK can reach up to £27k with at least 350 to 500 guests. You think this sum would be enough to deter parents and relatives from forcing the subject of marriage, but it’s yet to have any impact.
Fortunately, I am not alone in this and have my friends to talk to and confide in. When talking to each other we admit the only response we want to give to our inquiring relatives when they ask when we’re getting married is, ‘when the time is right’ and insist that we are under no pressure.
Yet, due to age and respect, we often end up agreeing and saying ‘soon.’
I love the idea of marriage. I love the idea of building a life and a family with your best friend. I love the idea of being with someone that accepts you and your imperfections.
I want to get married but don’t want it to be because I felt pressured into it.
For me, the priority is feeling whole and complete with myself first, rather than finding that through being in a relationship with someone else.
And this takes time. Marriage is only meant to happen once, so why does it feel like there’s a rush?
Many of the relatives that ask me these questions are divorced, and so I find it peculiar that they do not seem to recognise that the focus should be on finding your perfect match, rather than just any partner.
Although I find the confrontations hard, I’m grateful that I know myself and will never cave to the pressure put on me.
I still plan to attend these functions and maybe soon I will be able to appease them with a ring, but for now, I have no other choice but to nod along.
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