NDUBI: Think again, do you really have to get married?

NDUBI: Think again, do you really have to get married?

The unusually chilly 2012 August afternoon in Eldoret finds 29-year-old Leteipa fumbling with her bag as the newly-opened car mart owner patiently waits, expectant.

She half-heartedly passes the obvious spot she keeps the keys, then finally grabs them, but still holds onto them, now in folded arms.

It has been a difficult decision this far, but with the paperwork in hand, she cannot possibly back out.

‘It’s all for the greater good,’ she convinces herself as unenthusiastically she hands over the pair of keys to her 2-year-old Toyota Fielder and walks away – something she has barely done in for the last two years.

See, Leteipa is an established businesswoman with successful medium-sized ventures in Eldoret. She’s had the Midas Touch and her businesses have overly exceeded projected yields over the five or so years since she left college.

Nearly everything she touches turns to gold, but there is something that has been heading south ever since her ‘success’ tangent inclined upwards: her love life.

Having channeled most energy to her ventures, she has hardly had time to ‘get social’, and as fate would have it she has repeatedly attracted what she has consistently defined as losers.

Pressure to settle down

Despite being the face of success in her family, she has been under constant pressure to settle down.

Leteipa has had many difficult conversations with her mother about her ‘husbandlessness’ with Mama often warning her against becoming one of those “unhappy modern spinsters”.

Why would a daughter want to bring such disgrace to a reputable family? Didn’t she know that her biological clock was ticking?

Consequently, when she met Korir a year ago, she knew she had to make the relationship work – despite the fact that he lacked most of the qualities that she had wanted her life partner to have.

He is the reason she has to walk again, literally. From comfortable rides in her air-conditioned vehicle, she now has to jostle for space in the dysfunctional public transport system.

Her mother calls it compromise, the main ingredient of successful marriage.

Fast forward to March 2016. A pregnant Leteipa sits on a leather seat in the living room of their newly finished home.

In front of her is a pile of documents delivered by the manager she had to hire to run her businesses, including the house she once called home.

She’s expecting her second child and the immobility occasioned by her newfound ‘housewife’ status is weighing heavily on her.

She’s wondering how life would have been if she hadn’t bowed down to pressure. At 33, she has the weariness of a 60-year-old.

But, did she have a choice?

A crumbling institution

Marriage, as a compusory ‘rite of passage’, has been shoved down our throats from a very young age. This view has been so ingrained in us that the legitimacy of the institution is rarely put to question.

As such, we are led to believe that by a certain age (for a woman 30 seems to be the cut-off); we should have ‘tied the knot’.

This classic appeal to tradition, a line of thought that asserts a premise must be true because people have always believed it and done it. Further, proponents argue that since it has always worked in the past, it will always work in the future.

Regrettably, this is the line of thought held by many – especially the older generation that has progressively forced us into submission.

That religion places the ‘union of two into one’ as an integral part of our existence is not in question. However, the faulty interpretation that marriage is mandatory is an unnecessary burden that no soul should be compelled to bear.

Despite the fact that I am no authority in matters religion, it is important to point out that the scriptures do not compel man to get married. In fact, they provide guidelines to those who choose not to follow the obvious way, of course with consequences.

In light of the growing generation of more successful, ambitious and informed women, it is important to rethink the placement of marriage as a vital stage in our ‘life cycle’.

As it were, marriage in practice has been used to limit the achievement of the female gender, reducing them to ‘mere’ child-bearers while giving men the role of ‘providers’.

Luckily, this generation of women is continually succeeding in disqualifying this perception, elevating the status of women in society as equal players in various aspects of society.

As such, the age of a submissive, dependent woman is dying out gradually and with it a strong, independent and decisive woman now opting out of marriage to pursue (at least a first) higher goals.

In addition, overemphasis on the utterly rudimentary need to procreate has seen the country grapple with runaway population explosion even as corruption bleeds our economy.

The need to rethink what drives us (or already has driven) into marriage cannot be overemphasized if we are to get a shot at achieving self-actualization.

Yes, Leteipa had a choice.  She had a life going on and everything in place, but she chose wrong – to let go of the promise of achievement; to get tied down in a dysfunctional relationship in pursuit of living a ‘normal’ life.

Infidelity, broken marriages, marital rape, and domestic violence…the list is endless. These cases are on the rise, a glaring indication of a crumbling institution that’s now on its knees.

Desire for intimacy, companionship and a sense of belonging is undeniably intrinsic to man.

The debate, however, is whether in achieving this should we set ourselves on the path of self-destruction? Or should we be open to other options?

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