Marriage Is a Gamble Not Marrying Is

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Well, it’s almost valentines day, and I got myself a bouquet of flowers from the yellow movement AAU. Two birds with one stone, I get my flowers while doing my part to support an amazing cause.

With Valentine’s day quickly approaching some of us are extremely single and ignore this special day as it passes. Like it or not people are born to single, and though education sometimes skims over this rather obvious aspect, it is a fact of life. People are born to single, yet most people are eventually not single.

Everyone being born to single, will at some point in his or her life wonder if it is worth it to remain single. They wonder whether if they will be alone forever and if they will ever find the one. Valentine’s day comes around and seeing all these couples in love makes it worse.

There are of course plenty of arguments condoning singleness praising the independence that comes with it. Besides, the divorce rate has skyrocketed over the years causing many to doubt whether everlasting marriage and committed love exist.

Being currently single myself, I find it very easy to wander into mental questions of singleness. Is it a good thing? Am I wasting my time? Am I ok to be single? Perhaps these self-questions are a bit odd. Since it might seem odd in a world where singleness can often be seen as less appealing than marriage.

Our society is a collectivist one without a doubt, with parents to extended family members pushing you to get married. Because especially in Ethiopia the social constructionism is that if you graduate from a university and get a job the next step right after that is getting married. And being a woman does not help at all.

The society we live in is such that they believe a person can be truly happy only after he/she has entered the holy communion of matrimony. That anything against this norm is questionable.  Especially for a woman. It’s is not that great crisis for a man who remains unmarried till his thirties but for a woman, for a woman, it’s all different. And almost all women in the following situation went through a conversation like this at least once in their lifetime…

“How old are you?”

“Twenty-something.”

“You got a degree?”

“Yeah.”

“You got a job?”

“Yeah.”

“Well, you better hurry up and get yourself a husband then.”

Perhaps this notion semi from the fact that as a woman climbs the ladder of age, her chances of conceiving become less and in most cases complicated too. And that’s understandable.

I am not averse to marriage. It’s just that I don’t want to marry just anyone for the sake of it. I am sure, if and when the time is right. It will happen eventually, and even if it doesn’t happen, I am quite happy in my space. But no, it’s not easy to think this way. From family giving me a time limit as to when I should get married to friends assuring me of the match made in heaven concept. People are out telling you when to get married; mostly they want you to do it now.  Because now is better than later, when you might not be able to do it anymore. The argument goes, “is think if you would just do it now, you would see what anymore the rest of us who already did it have, and you could get on this too.”

Why? Are we all just a grandmotherly stereotype of worried fretting over whether all the young ladies are settled yet? Why do we want to tell (mostly women) to get married soon? Does it just make us feel better? Is this a cultural backlash? Are we afraid that women are reaching peak fulfillment in their lives and careers and it’s making us nervous?

Newsflash; we know when or if or how we want to get married. We do. And even if we haven’t decided, we still know that advice is great and all, but that we will ultimately make this decision for ourselves, about our situations and lives and desires. Stories about what other women do or did are perfectly interesting but ultimately not applicable to us and our lives.

Marriage is a gamble. Not marrying is a gamble.  Life is a gamble.  It’s all so particular so multilayered so irrational and given the chances for any relationships success, to enter into one at all levels is taking a leap off, of the logic cliff. That’s why an understanding of the risk and reward of what it means to pair off will help you make the decision whether to do it or not.

Taking time to be ready to step inside the tangled Web of marriage and make the best of it, fight the good fight, foster decency and harmony and null that jazz is what makes a marriage a good worth it thing.

So the first step before getting married should be asking you why do I want to get married? Because my friends are getting married? Because society has bamboozled me to think I should be married by now? These reasons have nothing to do with the man you’re marrying, and they bode for unhappy future, future where you will be half alive.

The twenties are the years we must separate ourselves mentally, emotionally and spiritually from the influence around us, to be independent, to explore life’s possibilities.  This is the only time in our adult life that we will ever get to be a little selfish. We should take advantage of this freedom. Explore the wide open possibilities of our life and experience everything we want to experience. Give ourselves to spend a few years wandering about and figuring out what it is that we want to be.

Well, that’s all I got for today, and I wish you all have a beautiful celebration of the day of love. Have a superb valentine’s day.

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Pomy Hailu is a psychology graduate working as a script translator and avid advocate for women's right.