Saturday, March 22, 2008

The M word

There are only three things in this world that actually put fear in my heart; rats, menstrual cramps and relationships. Yes oh, relationships are my number one fear these days. I don't encounter rats anymore, except when i venture into someone else's space in the animal facility (thank God my lab works with some other kind of rodent), and as for menstrual cramps, i have learned to heavily drug myself up with pain killers.

I'm at the point in my life where very soon my mother is going to start fasting and praying that i find a guy. I don't think I'm that old, but you know Nigerian mothers. Towards the end of last year, she came to meet me and was like, we have to fast and pray becos i feel that there is a reason why you keep meeting useless guys. She said she feels I'm the reincarnation of my grandmother and knowing my grandmother as well as she did and what she went through, she suspects that my grandmother probably vowed not to get married in her next life (my life?) and she thinks that's what's affecting me. I was just looking at the woman, like..... are u serious? Finally, i told her that i don't think i have a problem, and if she thinks i have a problem she can fast and pray for me and I'll support her mentally but I'm not fasting over that. Then a couple of weeks after that, we were shopping and she said something about wanting to carry my child, and i was like you would have to wait a long time for that. She was like, no... as soon as you get into medical school, you are going to get married. See me see wahala, this woman is just over there planning my life for me.

I have dealt with so many useless guys that at this point i am scared of being in a relationship. Worst of all there's the dreaded "M" word, marriage. I can't imagine myself being married. It's not something i dream of, long for, imagine myself being in. In 2006 some Indian girl asked me what would be the song that i would walk down the aisle to, and i was like what???!!!!. I have never ever thot of or imagined my wedding day. She on the other hand, had picked the colors and song for her wedding. Hmmm..............In the back of my mind i know I'm going to get married (african culture anyone?), but I'm not looking forward to it becos married to me equals lots of heartache and tears and dissatisfaction. I remember a few years ago, i was saying this exact same thing to a guy friend, and he was like you can say that cos you are still young, wait until u are like 24 and see if you'll still say that. Time has passed, all my class mates (in Nigeria) are getting married, one of my best friends, and another of our very close family friend just got married in December and I'm older than both of them, and still I'm not any more eager to get married. In fact one of my class mates is getting married today. I'm so scared of relationships i can't even begin to think of getting married.

Why am i scared of relationships/marriage? Even though my parents were "married", my father was never there while i was growing up. He has been based in this country since the early '70's way b4 i was born. I would see him once a year for about 2-4weeks and that would be it until the next yr or next 2 years. I was told he lived in Nigeria for 3 years in the '80's that's when me and my younger siblings were born, but i can't remember that. I watched my mother raise us on her own, and i saw her struggle seriously sometimes. I was the one who would go with her to the hospital in the middle of the night when my brother would get his asthma attacks which was frequently. Imagine driving at 2am in Nigeria, where there is no single soul besides armed robbers on the road at that time. I heard her say many times to herself "but i have a husband, why am i going through this alone". Of course, as is expected of a lot of (Nigerian) men, my father had a second family here.

The situation with my parents did not make me scared of marriage, I just never had an opportunity to know first hand what a married couple should look like. I thot it was weird whenever my dad came home cos it was strange to have a man in the house. Until i was about 15, i always looked at him like a visitor, i couldn't relate with him as a father. The same goes for my younger siblings. The last born was just the height, whenever he would want to address my father he would say "excuse me, sir", like we said to our teachers in school. I laugh now that i think about it, but then i didn't think it was funny. It was just sad. The good thing about my father not being around was that my mother was able to raise us to be independent women. I wasn't raised with the usual gender roles in place. From when i was little i was told that i could be anything i wanted. We did all the chores that boys were supposed to do cos my brother was the last born and there was nobody else to do it. Seeing her situation, my mom basically raised us with the belief that we had to make our own money and never depend on anybody else to take care of us.

So not only do i not have a good model of what marriage should be, all the stories i hear about marriage are discouraging. All the relationships I've being in leave a lot to be desired. One of my older sister's ex-husband (thank God) used to beat her. When she would call the police and have him thrown in jail, she was referred to as a bad wife by the Nigerian community here. He would cheat on her and do all sorts of nonsense, yet she was supposed to keep a stiff upper lip and console herself with her children. I know a lot of women go through the same thing and yet they stay in the marriage because divorce is frowned on. Well, i frown up being beaten to a pulp by a man who is supposed to love and cherish me above all others. My sister stayed in that marriage for 11 years suffering all that abuse becos she was trying to make it work. She's a better woman than i am. I was chatting with one of my friends in Nigeria yesterday and she told me that more than half of the married women she knows are dissatisfied with their marriage and would leave if they could, but they can't. The guys feel like they did the women a favor by marrying them in the first place so the women should suck it up and deal with whatever way they chose to treat them. She said 80% of men in clubs in Nigeria are married, and she cannot begin to count the number of married men that ask her out. The only consolation these women have are their children.

When she said that, it really resonated with me, cos my mother used to say that a lot. It got to a point where she would say she was married to us (her kids) and Jesus. Meanwhile, her supposed husband was still alive and breathing. Is that what i want for myself? NO! People would say if you looked carefully, prayed and picked the right person it wouldn't be that way. Tell me about it! I know people who thot they were marrying an angel, until he changed up on them after marriage. We were all shocked back in sec school when my best friend's sister's husband started beating her, right after they got married. He even beat her so much one time she had a miscarriage. He had never shown any sign of being violent in all the time they were dating. They are both "good" Christians, so they prayed about the marriage. So what went wrong?

Marriage to me right now, is like a trap of sorrow, and (insert whatever negative word). I know it's a horrible way for me to look at it esp since i would like to get married one day. I don't know how I'm going to meet the "right" person. Hopefully as i get older, i will become more positive about it. I think the worst thing would be to be married to someone who doesn't care about working on the marriage, is stuck in his ways and believes that anything he says goes just becos he has a penis. Nah!


  1. First and foremost, I am impressed.
    From your header to the posts of the facts of life you have addresed, you are comprehensive in scope.

    On relationships, you have your life to live.
    God did not give anyone life to live the life of another.

    What matters most is having your peace of mind.

    I have been engaged in family planning matters since 1984 when I produced family planning methods booklets in the major Nigerian languages for the semi-literate majority of Nigerian men and women. I have seen happy marriages and crappy marriages and as you know that poverty is actually caused by bad marriage. Lack of good family planning.

    The family is the nucleus of the society.

    I have been to all the regions of Nigeria and lived with the poorest of the poor and the richest of the rich and I have seen how a bad relationship can destroy life.

    Even as we have seen in America, the alarming reports of failed relationships and marriages are enough to warn us of the mistakes people make in their choices.

    The Governor Eliot Spitzer sex scandal rocking New York and the rest of the US is a good example of how a bad relationship with one's life partner can ruin one's life.

    It was not sex that caused his downfall, but a bad relationship with his wife made him to be unfaithful to her.
    Did he marry the wrong woman to impress his peers, family and society?

    Marriage of convenience is common, but such marriages are hollow.

    The horrible and terrible curses I have heard from the mouths of couples swearing as they are fighting shocked me.

    How did these loving couples who swore for better or worst whilst exchanging matrimonial vows turn to the mutants of wrath before my very eyes?

    I have seen my cousin punching his wife like Muhammed Ali punching George Former and I broke down in tears, because I could not bear the brutality.

    I saw them when they were in a romantic relationship.
    Spoon-feeding each other in-between kisses and cuddles.
    Bathing together like twins in the same bathtub.

    How could such a beaufiful china fall out of their hands and break to pieces?

    I have seen couples do more harm than good to themselves, because they rushed into relationships and marrriages without knowing the true characteristics of their partners.

    I also advise that your life is more important than your relationship or your marriage.

    You do not owe your life to any man or woman, but to God.

    The poorest people in Nigeria are the married couples who did not plan their families.

    "Some people just dey marry for marrying sake, to impress their peers, their family and their society, but when the marriage breaks down, their peers, their family and their society cannot save them.

    No rehab for Naija.:)".

    Happy Easter.

  2. Highly impressed by your thoughts. I must say you're the first to voice what so many of us have thought.

  3. Well only you will know if you are ever ready to get married, no one can force you. Since i turned 25 my mother has been lamenting that my mates are getting married, my mates have kids. My mother actually told me she can see her grandchildren. Even husband i dont have, na grandchildren you dey see? That one still baffles me up till today. My mom has tried everything makes me go to single seminars, attend singles service at church.
    And you are right as you get older you views on marriage may change, hell when i was 23/24 i taught i was the shit, marriage no be me and you; couldnt even imagine being in a long term relationship. what a difference just a year makes if the right man comes along Im open to it.

  4. Sting,

    Looks like deja vu to me. I'm actually writing an article like this one (I have toooo many unfinished articles). I'll make sure I let you know when I'm done.

  5. Mehn, thats some deep post right there. I guess as we get older, the thought of marriage gets overwhelming and believe me, you're not the only one that doesnt think about colours or music for their wedding day. I think there are more major things at hand than planning a wedding that's yet to come.

  6. It is such a shame that so many Nigerians of my generation feel this way about marriage and have very little faith in the institution. I blame our mothers. They did not put their feet down to stop the disrespect and abuse received from their men, and instead created a generation of young women, who are either afraid to get married, or get married without love, understanding and expecting their mate to eventually be disloyal.

    When I tried to talk about this, I got attacked, because apparently I was trying to push Western ideals down Nigerians throats. When did it become 'Western' to treat people with respect? Na wa oh. Anyway, I respect you for being so honest and enlightening me with this post. And, I want to say that your hesitance is not a bad thing, but, remember, you do not have to make the same mistakes your parents did. If you ask, God will indeed grant you a partner that will respect and cherish you. It is possible. Do take care, and I'll swing by to check up on you.


  7. Well from what I've read here, I completely understand why you're not racing down the aisle, or planning your wedding in your head. I think you have been raised amazingly well by your mom and because of your experiences personally and the things you've witnessed, you will make the right choice for you when the time comes (whether that is marriage or not).

    I have had the opposite experience and exposure to marriage, from my parents to my (mostly oyinbo) friends here in North America so instead of avoiding the institution of marriage, I see what I'm missing out on. I don't have any examples of good Naija marriages (of people my age) to observe, so perhaps I should be more wary of what I could potentially be getting into.

    Thanks for sharing your insight so candidly.

    Good Naija Girl

  8. I cannot begin to imagine the things that are going through ur mind right now, concerning marriage.

    The most assuring thing I can say to you though is that the reason I believe there is "good" out there is that I have role models. Marriages of whom I look up to. I may not be within the confines of their bedroom, yet I see happiness on the expressions of their faces.

    And in saying that, yes the BAD may even be the predominant force in the society, yet I can boldly say that "good" still exists (and in the most unlikely places too)...and I can tell u right now that as long as u have faith in WILL find a good man for urself. What u've been through in the past cannot be erased of course, but ur not-so-distant future can still be painted on a white wall...

    Abt the fact that 80% of married men are seen in clubs, asking other women out...this is really sad...

  9. you know this post really made me think about my feelings regarding marriage. I have been talking to my brothers trying to understand why i have to get married and they just never make sense. Something about me being a woman and not being attractive at a certain age and biological clock,but no one ever says anything about love and committment, that is just not important. Being part of a polygamous and dysfunctional family surrounded by brothers who don't know the meaning of the word faithful or loyal has made me very cynical about marriage. All this headache is so unnecessary, why bother in the first place. But to be honest it is not that i have a problem getting married, i just have a problem getting married for the wrong reasons.

    Anyway, my dad decided to drop in the "m" word in conversation today as i told him my future plans(bear in mind i never even mentioned marriage... i am too young). Apparently, he is not saying i shuld "chase marriage" but i should think about it.

    and my response was to laugh.

  10. i dont think marriage is a trap of sorrow. am not married but i have seen a lot of good cases and a lot of bad cases but i prefer to dwell on the good cases.

    To have an optimistic approach and not a pessimistic one. You could try that....cuz everything is possible if only ucan believe

  11. Oh god, im feeling you in this post. So many women sentencing themselves to messed up marriages, its sad. At the same time, I've seen marriages based upon mutual love and respect, so i know its not a lost cause. its who we choose for a partner.
    Many people also rush into mariage as a result of fear of being alone, or old or something. I believe marriage isnt about you, me and everybody, so if it takes me another TEN years to find that man that would treat me right so be it. Dont cave into pressure m'dear, the wait's always worth it.

  12. Hmmm, so much insightful thots.

    A coin 'thas been confirmed (undisputed) has 2 sides. That tell me, every situation's got the other side.

    For an instance (even if it means conjuring it) let's take a walk to the other side.
    "I know a lot of women go through the same thing ..."
    This tells me something though, that not all women go through same. So, let's find a couple of these other women and study their husbands. What thinks thee?

    "...he would say "excuse me, sir",..." that's really funny.

    I love this post and you sumed it up excellently...
    "I think the worst thing would be to be married to someone who doesn't care about working on the marriage" essence, (while 'tis not a complusion to marry) it behooves us individually to work at our marriages (& really any endeavour).

    An excellent post.

  13. I understand where ur coming from and the source of ur fear. You have echoed the thoughts of soo many people. When the time is right, and with doses of efforts and God's grace, your story could very well be different from that of your parents.

  14. I'm with solomsydelle on this one. I like ur honesty though...........u can't make a decision 4 urslef based on the xperiences of others, wut happened to tom may not happen to dick, it may happen to harry also, but that still doesn't mean its bound to happen to dick.
    I've seen marriages of 40 yrs that r doing well till date. So sweets just pray for ur Mr Right and believe in God to make things right for you.

  15. Marriage is not beans. I have a picture of what i want mine to look like, but reality can be a sick twisted F**k who likes to scramble the dreams of those that embraces it... but hey, reality plays the genie and grant wishes too. *wink*

  16. may be u shuld look at it this way,

    you find true love and dont want to ever let it go so u agree to remain together in the way of marriage,

    belive me marriage is not this bad, get married for luv and nothing else, ur parents were a peculiar case and is not wat obatins generally,

    my uncle and his wife did their 50years anniversary and till today calls themselves...DEAR

  17. wow, thats a first for me. marrage is like the ultimate goal for me, im still in my teens, but i cant wait.

    i dont like plan the wedding in my head, but its someting i definatly look forward to,

    u gt a nice blog

  18. Long, long long post...but very honest and true.....

    Marriage scares the hell out of me as well, sometimes I think that is why I am still single...I grew up with my dad coming home at 6pm every evening and disciplining the hell out of us...And yes, the fact that so many married ppl in Nigeria are unhappy also goes a long way in discouraging one...

  19. im sooooo feelin this post
    i dont have any true life examples of solid relationships in my life either
    and honestly im terrified of marriage

  20. I do understand how you feel. I used to feel like that before I got married. I didn't want any man forcing a lifetime of macho-misery on my already fragile psyche. So I waited a long time to find Mr Right. Now... several years later, I'd like to think I've found him.

    My Advice: Keep an open mind but above all trust your instincts. Having the same values, goals and outlook on life are essential ingredients. I say that based on own negative past experiences. 'Love' is not enough.

    The most important rule for a successful union(and my mum agrees): find a man that's more into you than you're into him. He must love you that little bit more. But don't marry someone you don't love o. That na matrimonial suicide! 'Hope this helps. Good Luck.

  21. i feel u gal, that ish scares the crap out me too, and not even getting any younger.

  22. mehn i was just talking to my girls abt it..i'm so disillusioned by the institution of marriage!! that said i want the wedding and not the marriage!! i will not let some idiot specie named 'man' destroy my big day!!!!

  23. those three things scare me too
    as for marriage. i dont think of it

  24. Very honest and true. Recently, a friend of mine sent a text saying something to this effect "ada's wedding is in may, stella's was in december, bukky is getting married in June, when is your own date?" hehehehehehehhee. It was too funny. How the hell does Ada, Bukky and Stella affect my life?

    We can not keep hiding behind "traditional or cultural" reasons as our basis for getting married. It seems people would rather get married early and divorce than wait for the right man and stay together.

    However, I believe if you give a man time, he will eventually reveal himself to you. When people say the men changed after they got married, I wonder how long the courtship lasted before they decided to get married...6 months? how u wan take know person to the extent say u go swear to live forever and ever? abeg, women should get real jare. All these wuru wuru dating no dey help them at all, especially in dat country.

    Anyway, take your time dear. Let the dogs come and go. Eventually, the right man will come along if you are patient...just don't give up. There are great love stories as well, I saw that in my own home and i guess thats why I know it exists and thats what I want.

    take care, and thanks for being honest and real!

  25. wow. i really loved the depth and honesty of ur post. a good majority of us grew in "not so functional" households as well.

    here is my 2 cents -

    Dont let ur parents marriage be a palette for urs. Choose to see things differently. pray against any repetition in ur married life

    Be patient. Dont rush. I cant stress that enough. people fall in love with the idea of being married and forget the work it takes to be happily and successfully married.

    Dont ever sell urself short. if there is something about the guy u know u cant live with. DONT COMPROMISE on it.

    Chose someone who wants same the solid and happy marriage u desire. And is ready to work hard to achieve.

    Lastly and most important, pray sincerely for God to allow the right man to walk into ur life!

    this comment long o. pele!

  26. You have spoken well. I also come from a dysfunctional family and trust me; marriage scarred the hell out of me; until I met my man. I checked him against the fundamental criteria of a solid married life and he did considerably well. Parents are usually never good role models; even my beautiful mum is not my role model of the wife and mother I want to be. You have to be realistic and optimistic about your future. Be ready to compromise and accept that you are not perfect, infact you are with as much flaws as your partner/b/friend or husband.

    Never rush into marriage; don’t let anyone pressurise you into getting married. Most importantly, please pray for God's guidance.

    I have been married for one year and I can assure that it is not easy, it a bag full of compromises; but comes with a lot of joy!


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