Friday, August 24, 2012

What?! You're Not Getting Married?!!

As a young African woman, I'm always met with gasps of horror and mortified faces whenever I give my answer to the inevitable question posed to young graduates, "when are you getting married?" My answer has always been "never", with the occasional tongue-in-cheek "maybe when I turn 60" to prevent the interrogator from suffering an aneurysm. The next question that inevitably follows is, "... but don't you want to have kids?" to which I reply -"no".

For reasons that have eluded me, Africans think every grown adult, especially women, wants to be a parent. But the truth is, we all don't want kids nor want to be married. At least I like to think so because I don't want to believe I'm the only one with such crazy, 'un-African' notions. To be honest, although I've met some people who just want kids without the marriage baggage, I am yet to meet a young African adult who doesn't want kids and wishes to remain single simultaneously.

Maybe I am the only eccentric, 'westernized' African, or maybe people have just accept the marriage and child bearing chapters of their life, no questions asked,  because it is expected of them by society at large. It's almost like a default setting in our brains that instructs us to eat when we're hungry. You don't think about it, you just do it.

Personally, I believe most people get married for the obvious reasons: to bear legitimate kids and provide them with a stable environment, for companionship, and possibly, last but not least, for self-aggrandizement; be it in the form of the trophy wife/ husband, or the central bank wife/husband. I'm aware I didn't include the almighty 'love' because I don't think one needs to get married because one is in love.

Secondly, marriage doesn't necessarily equal love and vice versa. Loveless marriage, anyone? Therefore, I believe that if you don't want kids, not seeking companionship, or craving an ego boost then marriage shouldn't really be on your menu, unless you just want to jump on the marriage bandwagon with most of your friends, or are caving in to your parents constant nagging about wanting a grandchild.

Call me a cynic, but sometimes I think some girls get married to fulfill their childhood Cinderella fantasy, which invariably includes Prince Charmant and happily ever afters. The problem with the picture is that Prince Charmant exists only in fairy tales, and there's no such thing as happily ever afters. If you're not ready to accept the rough with the smooth, then marriage is certainly not for you.

Incidentally, before one jumps to any conclusions regarding the reasons behind my lack of desire to be bride or mother, I have to say I do have the most wonderful parents in the entire world who are very much still a couple, and if I were to grade their marriage on a scale of one to ten, I'd give them an 8. So no, my decision not to get married has nothing to do with my parents marriage or my upbringing. It just so happens that as a child I never had any dreams of what my wedding cake would look like, or who my wedding dress would be by. I don't even like weddings!! For me, the highlight of the wedding is seeing the bride's dress after that everything else is humdrum.

Another reason marriage doesn't appeal to me is because I feel it's a trap filled with marital obligations. Yes, there's divorce, but I'm not a proponent of it except in extreme cases. I can't for the life of me picture myself living with someone for the rest of my life, or cooking for "hubby and kids" which I find torturous. Plus, I find kids to be an encumbrance if you have an adventurous mental picture of what you want your life to look like.

Am I selfish? Maybe I am, but then again I have the right to be since I have one life and one shot at it to live it to the fullest. I believe if one wants to have a huge career, like I do, then one's husband and kids may have to take a back seat. It's sad, but true. Moreover, I certainly don't want anyone accusing me of abandonment. So, unless you can give me better reasons to get married, I'll thank you to quit giving me the she-is-crazy look when I say I don't want to be a Mrs. or a mommy.