The society has for a long time made us believe that marriage and children lead to happiness, but a new study suggests that the opposite may be true.
According to UK’s renowned behavioural scientist Paul Dolan, women without spouses or children lived longer than their child-raising peers and are happier, leading to fierce debate on major world newspapers and social media.
In Tanzania and beyond, though marriage and life are still sanctified, single women are openly claiming to be much happier than their married peers. They point out that married woman has lots of responsibilities at her work place coupled with ensuring the husband and children are also taken care of.
It is said that in the past women who were never married typically had lowest life expectancy because the society ostracised them, then these days they are closing in on their currently married counterparts. As this debate rages on, our reporter talks to both single and married women who share their experiences on this issue.
Pendo Sheba Sunzu, 30, who has been in marriage for nine years says she has never regretted being in the union.
The mother of three says she has reasons to smile broadly over marital bliss.
Pendo, who owns Shelove Sensitive Day Care School says she is able to juggle family and work schedules with ease.
“The support I received from my husband since we got married is great.”
Pendo says she wakes up early in the morning to ensure all is in place at home before embarking on work.
“Being a working woman and married is good but sometimes it’s hard. When I feel tired I tell my spouse to help me. He is understanding,” she says.
“There are ups and downs but we resolve our issues and live happily,” says Pendo.
Meanwhile Neema Lucas 36, says she has been in a happy marriage for twelve years. She says she learnt how to separate her journalism work and her marriage and enjoys the marital bliss.
“When I am at work, the only thing will be about my work and when I return home the only thing I think about is my marriage and family.
She says she never entertains work stress at home and her husband understands her jobs schedule.
“Working in the newsroom could, sometimes, force me to arrive home late. My husband knows this that’s why we never quarrel over getting home late,” she says.
Neema says her husband has always been her shoulder to lean on when she faces stress at work, explaining that the counseling she receives from the husband makes her happy.
Veronica Samweli, 34, has been in marriage for five years. She says she knows her responsibilities as a wife and a mother so there is no way she may face difficulties with her husband over work schedule and marriage.
My husband understands that I need to work and he supports me in many ways, something that makes me juggle family and work schedule.
Every day I wake up early around 5 to work on house chores alongside ensuring my husband feels my presence. During the weekend I spend much time with the family and have recently realized that the secret behind happy marriage is being able to know your duties and responsibilities as a wife and a mother, which should be performed without involving third parties.
However, Salama Yusuph, 30, says she no longer pushes for a soul mate as she got more pain than joy.
“ I was in a relationship for ten years but in the end I realized the guy was cheating on me. It really irked me a lot and have never believed in relationships again,” she says adding that she is happier now that she is single.
“I’m work all day long and in the evening, I’m free to do what I want to do with my few friends. We fun together and I thank God my family and my friends love me a lot,” she says.
She notes that if one spends much of her time working she may not be tempted to fall into marital strife. She says she no longer has to worry about time to get home or chores to do like cooking for a partner and she is a s free as a bird doing what she likes.
However Paulina George, 27, says she found joy being single after realizing that most affairs are heartbreaking.
“I found being single as the best way to go,” she notes.
Paulina says she no longer wastes her time and time and energy keeping tabs on men and ending up getting hurt.
Paulina says most of her friends who are married are always complaining about being mistreated by their spouses so she does not want to take that route.
However Sekela George 26, who is a businesswoman, says having her own boutique has made her very independent and never thinks of marriage as she fears stress which comes with relationships. She says it that might compromise her business so she is happier single and is not ready to take chances.
“As a businesswoman I travel a lot. I find it bothersome being with a man who can sometimes cheat on me in my absence. This may turn our marriage into chaos. The competition I see in business does not need any more stress from a man. I enjoy being single,” she says.
“I know some women who pretend to be happy in marriage before members of the society but in fact they are suffering in silence. They work hard but end up getting frustrated in marriage,” she says.
However, Dr Nkwabi Sabasaba, a psychologist based in Dar es Salam says there are more single women in this new generation, explaining that during his hey days after initiation rites, a lady was supposed to get married and parents were the ones to set the grounds for courtships without involving the couples to be.
“Women were trained to be good wives and found families. “They were groomed to be expected members of the society. There was no point in time for a woman to think of being single. That wasn’t her choice. Being single in our time was a disgrace to one’s family and the society as well,” says the psychologist.
The expert says science and technology is to blame for the current lifestyles, which see Africans embracing western values that compromise their roots.
“Most married couples are in pain over extra-marital affairs, and it is from this backdrop that the single ones opt to remain the way they are,” he says adding that youth have nowadays lost hope and do not trust each other thinking of better ways to work, earn money and be happy.
The psychologist says due to advancement in science and technology it is not unusual to find a woman being in hot affairs in social media with a man they have never met before face to face, all to learn in the end that she had been fed with false information.
Dr Nkwabi says women can be easily tempted when they meet a man for they use brain much more their men counterparts whose feelings outstand many other significant factors.
“This is why if a man approaches woman for the first day, the latter develops feelings about her future while the hunter is only after the appearance, leave alone judging her character. Afterwards the woman ends up being engaged easily with nothing to take home for the future.” says Dr Nkwabi.
Speaking about women who claim to be enjoying marriage life, he says they have reasons to speak that way because of enduring some ups and downs for years and have no more room to keep complaining.
“In marriage we need to know we don’t marry an angel so if one sees married people celebrating 50, 25, 10 years anniversary, one needs to understand that they have been in a better position to endure lots of pain coupled with some bliss,” he says.
Dr Nkwabi notes that some married couple decide to stay in marriage notwithstanding the challenges for the sake of their children.
He adds that married couples would fear to part ways, considering that the decision could be akin to plunging children into endless psychological torture.