Marriage must be a celebration of love
By Thandekile Moyo
I tried my hand at dating sometime after I left my husband. I met a man who promised me the world.
He would transport me to and from work, religiously provided me with breakfasts and lunches and showered me with attention and trinkets to make a girl smile.
Like people in Harare say these days, this guy made me believe. Sometime down the line I thought what the heck, let me give this guy a chance.
One afternoon when he brought me lunch at work as usual, I decided to surprise him with the good news that I was going to give him a chance.
To say he was excited is an understatement. On that day I fully realised how easy it is, to make a man smile.
As soon as he got back to his office he started texting me plans for our future.
The first thing he asked for was for me to visit him at his house that weekend.
Then he said something in all innocence I suppose, that shattered his chances with me forever.
“Sweetheart, you do not know how happy you have made me today. I have a bucket full of underwear that I have been waiting to ask you to wash for me the moment you agreed to be my girlfriend. I’ve been throwing them in the laundry basket for a few weeks and I’m about to run out.”
I am not sure exactly how I felt. I have had a long time to digest that statement and yet still cannot describe the feelings roused by that man’s statement.
I remember the shock at the audacity, the nerve, to keep his dirty, probably smelly underwear safely tucked away for me to wash.
I remember feeling offended by the fact that the one thing this man was looking forward to was not my companionship, not my affection but my laundry services!
That remark marked the end of our relationship, barely a few hours after it even began!
Why is it that when men meet women, they suddenly become disabled? All of a sudden they have to be cleaned after, cooked for, and like the man above, lose the ability to wash their undergarments.
Is it a given, that once you have a girlfriend or a wife, automatically you have found a maid?
Should this privilege not be earned, or at least given freely? Is it something one should expect?
I have absolutely no qualms about taking care of a man I love, but I would like to believe there is more I can offer a man than my housekeeping services.
It leaves a bitter taste in my mouth to think someone can save their laundry for weeks in anticipation of getting a girlfriend.
Who is to blame for this attitude exhibited by most African men? Is it our parents, who raise our brothers to expect to be taken care of by women all their lives, be it mothers, sisters, girlfriends and wives?
Is it our mothers? Who raise girls to be good wives but neglect to raise boys to be good husbands?
This got me thinking back to all the times I have heard mothers screaming at their daughters to do something properly for they shall be chased away from their marital homes for not knowing how to cook, clean or do laundry!
I thought back to all the times I have heard girls cry that they have reached their “best before” dates and lament about how they will never get a husband once they reach a certain age.
I cannot help but wonder: Are girls raised simply to be good wives? Do all our destinies lie in the hands of a husband? Is that our main goal in life, to have rings on our fingers? Is marriage the ultimate achievement?
If the answer to all these questions is yes, are we, as women, getting real value out of being married? Is marriage really worth having at all costs?
I look at all the people I see in non-working marriages and their unhappiness breaks my heart.
Why do we get married? Is it for the “married” tag? Is it for the “dignity” that comes with being Mrs X? Is it to prove a point? Is it out of love?
If marriage is for love, why do we force our sons to marry the girls they impregnate even when they clearly do not want to.
Why do we threaten our boyfriends with abandonment when they take too long to propose?
If marriage is for love, should we make our boys and girls feel inadequate once they reach a certain age without getting a spouse. Would it not come at some point in our lives, no matter how old we got?
Let us say yes, marriage is an achievement, what is it that we achieve out of marriage?
Do we get a provider? A protector? A partner? In this day and age when girls can provide for themselves, should marriage still be the ultimate goal.
In this era of men who sponge off women and leave their wives on their own while philandering, is marriage still the best thing for your daughter, when she is impregnated by such a man?
I have seen women (and men) hold on to abusive marriages for years simply because they cannot imagine the embarrassment of divorce.
I have seen people force marched into marriages they are unsure of simply because their parents are embarrassed by their unmarried status.
Marriage, in my opinion, is a celebration of love. An expression of having found the one you feel you cannot live without, a commitment to someone who, at that particular moment, you want to spend the rest of your life with.
Marriage, like any commitment, for example a career, can work, or can fail. It is not a life sentence that one cannot get out of once it starts to bring pain and misery.
Marriage is not compulsory; it is not the only ticket to a full life. One can find happiness with or without a spouse. One can be happier alone than married to another.
Marriage is beautiful, and beautiful things are meant to be enjoyed, not endured. Find a partner you will cherish, not one you have to tolerate!
Next time you start to think your daughter has passed marriageable age ask yourself, do you want her to get married so she feels good, or so that you look good?