By Mehret Berhe
Along with the wedding season of Addis comes the “Bother the 20-30-year-old female Single cousin about her Marital Status” parade. This is when, literally, everyone makes sure to go by a women’s seat at a wedding and talk about the fact that she’s not married and that time is ticking. Starting from her early 20’s when someone brings up the topic as a joke insinuating that an invitation is expected from her soon right to her mid 20’s when people can’t help but gush about her younger cousin who is married and settled with two beautiful children. And then in her mid 30’s, the question is put aside having concluded that there is no point in asking so as by then she too would know there is no hope by then.
I think we should also be carful to recognize the subtle but clear message were telling women. Before we urge these young ladies into an event that takes place within its own timeline and pace, we should ask ourselves, “Could our assertiveness and grunting bring the desired effect?”” (Assuming the desired effect is for these young women to enter into respectful relationships.) Again, I understand the value of family and companionship but at the same time I’ve come to notice that this pressure only creates a sense of lacking within their current situation. The thing is, we rarely take the time to sit down and learn if these women are ready for commitment? If their partner is? Or if they’ve found a partner that values them the way they should be valued? We also forget that giving so much value to married life has the effect of devaluing a life that is lived understanding once own value. This narrative that single life is bad and something to do away with is dangerous. It can drive women to comprise on finding ideal partners.It may also encourage unhealthy habits in existing romantic relationships like wanting to speed up the natural progression of of relationships only to become the typical annoying girlfriend that’s always demanding for more commitment. But even worse, it could have them consider staying in an unhealthy and even abusive relationships because it’s thought to be better than being single. We don’t make single life seem interesting to women, we don’t tell them about the need to explore their talents and finding fulfilling careers, about the wonders of finding adventures with new and interesting friends, but instead we make single life sound so dull and an inane phase from which they should liberate themselves. We teach them to value the nuclear family more without giving them the chance to explore their talents and find other sources for personal growth and fulfillment.
I appreciate all relevant advice and most of us should. Wisdom is refreshing and has a way of putting situations into a certain perspective. But an advice can only be relevant when we know and understand the specific life choices one faces.We have to understand if these women feel prepared to take on responsibilities that are required in a marriage, if they understand their own shortcomings enough to be good partners, if they’ve mastered the art of being kind and productive even in times of heartbreak and if all that applies to their partners as well. Our advice should be relevant to the choices these women are making in their lives, we shouldn’t be giving such advice simply because of the fact that they are women in a certain age range. All of these qualifications require that we know these women well, that they have chosen to share their lives with us and that we’ve established a meaningful relationship with them. Marriage guidance should not be given out at loud parties and in front of strangers. It should be more than making the young lady nervous or uncomfortable about her unmarried state of being.
I imagine marriage to be very rewarding. We should all be so lucky as to have a partner to share our lives with. But I do believe that meaningful relationships can only happen when it’s between two individuals that value each other and work to maintain their partnership, it won’t work any other way.
Happy wedding season Addis. I hope this is the beginning of fulfilling partnerships that will create happy families and a healthier community.
Also, be nice to your Cousins.