The uncanny pressure on singles to marry
Whether you are a boy or a girl, once you reach the age of 18, there comes the mounting pressure on you to marry and start a family.
“I was a happy child, running around without a care in the world, then suddenly I turned sixteen and my friends started getting married,” said Halima Sa’ad, adding: “The pressure began to mount, suitors started turning up, with their families bringing proposal upon proposal.
“It became the only topic of discussion in the house. Who I would choose to settle down with? I was chocking from the pressure, everyone wanted me to choose someone they liked, so the marriage festive will begin. But the more they tried to help me make a choice, the more confused I became.
“At the end of the day, I asked them to give me a little time. But in truth, I wanted to go to the university, get a degree and become a doctor, not get married and have children. But my mother said I can get married and go to school at the same time.”
Similarly, Ifeoma Nnaji, an unmarried 35 years old lady, said she has not known any peace since she turned 30 years and her younger sister got married.
She recalls her mother asking her: “What is wrong with you, why don’t you want to settle down? You are too choosy, pick a man for God sake, if you don’t, you will grow into an old hag and live your days alone.”
Ifeoma added that on some occasions, her mother spoke to her in soft words, asking her to give her grand children. She said: “My mother used to say that she was inching closer to her grave and so am I. Therefore, I should please bring a man home for her sake.”
“But what makes anyone think I don’t want to marry? Will I go and pick just anyone to marry? It hurts me to see my friends with their children but I cannot marry myself.”
The pressure does not affect only the women, however, as men also get their fair share of it from their families and friends alike, especially when they are single among married peers.
Ahmadu Aliyu, 36, says that though he is old enough to marry, he is yet to find a suitable partner, one that will understand him, love and make him happy.
He said: “As a man, I cannot afford to make a mistake, it’s not like I don’t want to marry, but most of my friends who are married are not having the best of time, their lives were better when they were single.
“The only difference is that now they have someone to cook their meals, do their laundry and have their children, but most of them are not happy because they married for the wrong reasons.”
Micheal Eze, a civil servant, also above 30 years, said that “ever since I started working, my mum has not allowed me to rest, but no amount of pressure will make me rush into marriage,” adding: “I will not give in to pressure, I am scared of making a mistake, it’s a matter of my entire life. What if, in order to please my mother, I marry a witch and she ends up turning my life upside turn, then my family will begin to blame me unnecessarily.”
Madam Grace Williams, 60 years old and a mother of seven children-four girls and three boys, said her two girls and two boys are married.
Asked why mothers put pressure on their children to settle down, Grace said: “Every parent has the interest of his or her child at heart, no right thinking parent will not want the happiness of her child, to see the child well settled before they leave the world.
“I guess for most people it’s because they want to see their grandchildren and also to know that their children are married into the right family.
“I got married at the age of 18, but today I have a daughter that is above 40 years still unmarried, living alone and from what I can see, she is not even in a hurry to tie the knots with anyone. But what do I do than to pray for her to find someone she can spend the rest of her life with.”
Madam Williams says that she does not subscribe to parents choosing partners for their children or pressuring them to marry when they are not ready because in most cases, such marriages end in divorce.
“As a parent you can only advise and pray. Once you have trained your child well, the rest is in their hands of the Almighty God, because the person in question is an adult.
But Alfa Olushola Bakari has a different opinion. He said: “God gave you children to train them and ensure that they grow in the right way, I will personally choose spouses for my daughters, and insha Allahu I have many, and I will scrutinise the wives my boys bring home.”
“As it is now, I don’t want over-aged children roaming around my house, constituting themselves as nuisance, because they can’t start their own families and be responsible. Once I noticed that they have started maturing, I start looking for partners for them from good families.”
But Hajiya Limi argued that children should be allowed to choose their partners, adding, however, that parents can guide them to make the right decisions.
“But pressuring them is not good. I read in the papers that a young banker committed suicide after she was dumped by her fiancé for someone else, the same thing repeated itself a few months later when a boy also did the same thing.”
“I have been married for many years now and I married my friend, and no one forced us to marry, when we were ready we went to meet our parents and told them our decisions.
“Parents and peers should not push anyone into marriage because it takes maturity and love to run a home. If one makes a wrong choice then the home will become a living hell, and lives will be ruined. However, children should consider the feelings of their parents and not wait a life time to pick a partner.”