Is Marriage in My Best Interest?

by Sabella Ogbobode Abidde

“Being divorced is like being hit by a Mack truck. If you live through it, you start looking very carefully to the right and to the left” ~Jean Kerr

Every so often a couple of my friends in Nigeria, in the UK and the US would call to tell me that they’ve found a marriageable material for me. Others would tell me that they have been praying for me to find a wife with whom to spend forever. And then there are those who are really flabbergasted or exasperated that I am taking this long to find a wife. What is keeping me from getting married again? I really don’t know; save to say that I really don’t know why I should get married again.

Some people marry for love. For economic reasons. For social status. For stability. For children. For cultural purposes. Or simply because it is the logical thing to do right after they’ve achieved some measure of success. And in fact there are those who get married because of societal expectation. And of course some get married for no apparent reasons; they just do it with the expectation that other aspects of life will fall into place. And for a few others, marriage was forced on them.

A colleague got married a couple of weeks ago because he was tired of “an empty house.” His cousin got wedded a few months earlier because he wanted a woman “to cook and take care of me when I come home.” A childhood friend who now lives in Utah got married because his graying parents wanted grandkids before they passed to the great beyond. Not too long ago an ex-girlfriend left me because “I am going to be 30 next year and I don’t want to be the community spinster…no kids and no future.” It was painful when she left. But I couldn’t help it.

I don’t know what it is. I really don’t know. Am I afraid of commitment? Or was the wound from my previous marriage so severe I have not healed?

Not too long ago, I placed a personal ad in one of those popular websites for singles. And I clearly stated I wasn’t looking for a wife, just friends. My requirements were very simple; and the responses were very telling: I wanted a lady, who was between 29-37 years old, above 5.7inches tall; race, color, political leaning was not important; but must have, at the very least, a Bachelors degree. Nurses, born-again Christians, along with dog and cat lovers were highly discouraged from responding.

A couple of days later Nurses wanted to know what I had against them. Cat and dog lovers wanted me to give them a chance. The born-again were pretty sure they could turn me into a God-loving-Jesus-preaching human being. And then those above thirty-seven accused me of age-based-discrimination; while the under twenty-nine counseled I was missing a lot, missing their fresh bodies and fresh minds. Or something to that effect. And then there were those who were curious, whether I was looking for booty-calls, platonic relationship or friends-with-benefit kind of arrangement.

With the spate of nasty-nasty divorces within the African community — is marriage in my best interest? I think about the Kenyan fellow in Seattle and what his wife put him through and I wonder if marriage is in my best interest. I think of my Cameroonian friend in New Orleans — before Hurricane Katrina destroyed New Orleans — and I doubt if marriage is in my best interest. And then there are hundreds and hundred and hundreds of horror stories being told by other Africans of what became of their marriages, and I am gripped by fear. After all these sad, sad stories, is marriage still in my best interest?

I have always felt that divorce and all kinds of social ills within the African community in the US will rise five-fold within the next decade, that the number of divorces will rival those of the African-American or even the White community. Globalization and modernity is having unexpected consequences within the African community in the US. That is to say that there is a clash of traditional African culture and modernization: a clash between what was, what is and what ought to be.

Women who were mostly raised to wait on men for handouts are going out there to earn a living. Women who looked up to men now debate and take men to task. Gradually, men’s position and authority is being challenged. Block by block, inch-by-inch men’s place and role within the home and within the greater society is being called to question. Today’s men are not like their father; and today’s women are not their mothers. Both sexes live in a world that is vastly different from a world that once was. Whether the current situation is good or bad is not for me to say. All I can say is that the world is changing, the rules are changing; and modernization is knocking really hard on men’s heart and their balls.

America has a way of screwing with people’s consciousness. Has anyone noticed that little by little an increasing number of Africans are losing their mind? Depression and identity crisis are two of the ills that ill Africans the most. Most are wrapped up in trying to make a living and to meet other self-imposed or society-imposed expectations so much so that they don’t have the time for self-introspection. Africans live in two worlds; and most are strangers in both worlds.

So, why is marriage in my best interest? I don’t know. I really don’t know. When my friends in Lagos, London Port Harcourt and in cities across the US calls or email me to tell me about some beautiful…wonderful…educated…well brought up gal, I shall continue to tell say: “No…Why…is marriage in my best interest?” And until I know why, I shall continue with my present way of life. Nevertheless, like H.L Mencken, “If I ever marry, it will be on a sudden impulse — as a man shoots himself.”

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Anonymous October 23, 2005 - 11:23 pm

I can feel you. But as an experienced writer you should tell us briefly what happened to the Kenyan fellow in Seattle and your Cameroonian friend in New Orleans because not everybody that reads your article had the chance to hear the stories you made reference to.

Anonymous October 13, 2005 - 10:33 am

My philosophy has ever been: don't live ones' life waiting. Get out and live it. Regardless of if you are single or not. As a singlet my philosophies were "Live hard play hardsleep deep" and "footloose fetterless and fancy-free". I didn't date anyone for 12 yrs this yr met up with an old acquaintance fell in love got married and am preg. All at 36. I have never mourned the life I had and never will. Why Because I was true to myself and LIVED. So if you meet someone and feel the draw go for it. There is nowhere that it is written in stone that anyone ever must marry. Live. Love. LAugh. Forget the rest

Reply October 12, 2005 - 6:36 pm

My brother we are a product of the 21st century. James Baldwin once commented that the African American is a unique being because there was none other like that. Well Africans in the U.k and the U. S. have emerged to become the new experimental beings. We are semi-diasporic – somewhat connected to our homeland and the culture and somewhat disconnected. we ar losing or minds we are culturally schizophrenic and there is no study or scientific research that has begun to figure out what will make us whole again. As a man I think you have it a little easy. You can sneak past the age of 35 and still get away with being single. Try being a woman it is hell to be a single Nigerian female. Don't get me wrong there are lots of nice marriageable men African Nigerian African American etc. But as you asked "is it in my best interest" I ask why I should get married Love no longer appeals to me as an option (more of a chemical imbalance in the brain) expectations from family has only sent me to a shrink loneliness has made me a Blockbuster gold card member. I only need to take a look at the high cost of raising children and that gives me hives. The fear of being old and alone That does not scare me. I am comforted by the fact that I could get hit by a bus or a something less dramatic. So is marriage in my best interest I think the 60 divorce rate in the U. S. will give me more perspective.

Anonymous October 11, 2005 - 9:35 pm

sabella..props for u..u dont need it if u dont ask for it…enjoy your life ojare! like say u never marry before..the taste of the pawpaw is definitely in the chopping


Anonymous October 11, 2005 - 8:07 pm

Good article.I think its in your best interest to figure out why You really don't want to get married …again.Could it be because of a past hurt or somethingAnywayI wish you the best and hope you give nursescat loversdog lovers and born again christians a chance.Just my take.

Anonymous October 11, 2005 - 6:38 pm

Sabella I see you are at it again! Don't be scared to get married!!!


Anonymous October 11, 2005 - 10:00 am

Mr Abidde

i absolutely agree with you on this one.It pleases me to read or come across one nigerian male who asks themselves the right questions.By all means if you feel marriage is not in your best interest then don't.Our society is filled with confused young and old men (and i use the word "men" loosely) who knowingly get into this institution and then act like they've been trapped.As adults we should assume responsibility for our decisions and submit honourably to the consequencies of these decisions.

And so mr adibbethis sister stands with you on this one.If you can't see any reason to take on this daunting task or if the occasional or for that mater frequent booty calls slake your thirst then please don't get married.

Anonymous October 11, 2005 - 8:32 am

Sabella Marriage should be chosen is in your own interest read "I will marry when I want" by Ngugi wa Thiongo and Ngugi wa Mirii… its for you to decide whether marriage is of any value to you and not what changes have taken in the community and society you live in .. even African marriages have changed with time


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