It is every woman’s dream that when they reach a certain age they will find Mr Right to walk them down the aisle.
But things sometimes don’t go according to plan and soon pressure begins to mount from all corners.
Christine Chacha, 31, was on the verge of getting married. However, she developed cold feet after introduction formalities were done, and consequently called off the wedding altogether after getting engaged. “I was more focused on marriage than settling down with the right guy,” she says.
The now single woman says she was pressured by family and friends to get married, something which clouded her judgment and made her make decisions in haste.
Christine, however, acknowledges the desirability of having somebody to spend the rest of your life with. Instead of marriage, she would much rather have a partner in her life – someone she shares mutual affection with, without the need of marriage complications.
When women reach a certain age, there erupts this sudden pressure to settle down. Family members, relatives and friends start constantly nagging you with questions on when you’ll get married.
Women in their 30s endure a lot. Worse still, if it happens you have a child out of wedlock, you’ll be criticised for it, and questions about getting married will still linger.
For those who are well into their 30s but aren’t married and don’t have children, you get a double dosage of scrutiny not only over your biological clock, but relationship clock, too.
Marriage isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. This is a clear standpoint embraced by Ndanshau Hellen (not her real name). The single mother to a 3-year-old son has never fancied getting married.
She believes that marriage should be a choice one makes out of their own volition – there needn’t be any external pressure from either friends or family members. “I and the father to my child recently ended things, but it’s not because of the pressure to get married, far from it, he too wasn’t too eager to put a ring on it. We ended our relationship because we grew apart as a couple.
We knew that our situation wasn’t healthy for the upbringing of our child. So we decided to amicably call it quits,” she reveals.
She says that after she ended things with her man, her family members have been on her back ever since. They had hoped that she’d end up marrying the father to her child, but were shocked when the relationship ran its course.
Ndanshau’s last resort; turning a deaf ear to her family’s pleas. This is something that Monica Hungi doesn’t have a privilege of. The 32-year-old paralegal hasn’t been able to evade her family’s bickering over her ‘single’ situation.
Worse still, due to her profession, they believe she’ll die a single woman. “My mum says I am too focused on reading legal books but can’t read clear signs that show I need to get married,” she says.
Even though she’s been on a few dates, Monica doesn’t see her ‘single status’ changing anytime soon.
Imagine coming from a family of three girls, you being the oldest of them, with both of your younger sisters living a happily married life.
This is a situation that Kasubi Agnes identifies with. Being the oldest of three sisters means she is supposed to be exemplary in most things she does. Unfortunate for her, getting married hasn’t been one of those things.
Kasubi yearns to get married one day, and even though she doesn’t fit into society’s category of ‘right’ age for marriage, having lived way past 40, she still hasn’t lost hope.
She lives a lavish life, boasting a beautiful home. To some men, this might be a bit intimidating.
Dating a woman who is accomplished is hard enough, imagine marrying one. Kasubi maintains herself well, there is no viable reason she’s not married. She’s been in and out of flings, some men she meets are already married, and playing second fiddle is unthinkable to her.
The pressure from her family and society at large gets to her at times. Seeing her younger siblings living the life that her parents had hoped she’d have achieved by now, is something that she has to accept.
For now, she lives a single life, but is ready for marriage soon as the chance presents itself.
Burden of pressure
Pressure from society can be quite burdening. 26 year-old Rahma Salim (not her real name) knows too well how the people that surround you can put immense pressure on you to get married. “When you reach a certain age, people around you feel like marriage should be next on your ‘to-do’ list,” she says, adding that people feel like marriage is the final answer to all problems.
Rahma is woefully stressed by all the pressure to get married. “People surrounding me think that a girl doesn’t have a settled life until she is married. You eventually tend to think that too. So often times I am left stressed and unhappy,” she speaks.
Rushing into things without thinking them through is a resultant effect of the pressure from society. “It makes me rush into things, and then I find out it’s not the guy I will be happy with. Then I’m left with disappointment,” Rahma says.
Dar es Salaam-based psychologist, Dr Chris Mauki cautions couples against tying the knot too early. He says that those who rush to the altar do not last long in marriage. “I will train singles and couples on proper preparation for marriage,” he says. This stems from the premature dissolution of marriages recently.
Dr Chris Hart, a psychologist based in Nairobi and the author of Single & Searching says that pressure from families and society, and the fear that time is flying by too fast are some of the leading causes of why people marry wrong partners or marry when they’re not ready. This pressure is a booby trap you should never fall into.
“Getting married because you feel lonely or want someone to complete you is a mistake. You must understand that it is alright to relish your independence” he says.
Nonetheless, there are ways through which you can determine if you are ready to get married. Relationship coach Lori Fradkin says that if you are doing well in many spheres of your life, then you might as well be ready for a marital commitment. “It will be an indication that you are aware you would be alright on your own, but still know that you need a partner in your life.
You don’t feel desperate or left out just because you’re not married and your close friends are or just because everyone else is saying that you should get married.”