A couple of years ago while I was serving the federal government as a State MAMSER Director, I went to Calabar to attend a meeting of Federal and State Directors. During a break during deliberations, all the State Directors from the South South and South East gathered to have some free time, leisure and less business moment. One of the State Directors was a highly respected lady from River State.
Somehow, we began discussing the marriage culture of all the tribes in the region, Igbo marriage culture, Yoruba culture, Efik marriage culture, Ibibio marriage culture, etc. Somehow, I wanted to know from the lady from Rivers why it is that marriage culture is loose in the Rivers. And I also wanted to know why divorce is very rampant in Rivers than in many other cultures in Nigeria.
She did not waste time in telling us that the reason why divorce is rampant in River State is because marriage process is not difficult hence on the smallest misunderstanding or provocation, either of the partners is ready to call the marriage a quit. But in Igbo culture, marriage culture is both involving and entails many entanglements including the fact that marriage in Igbo culture is not a thing between the two concerned parties alone but it involves every members of both families including cousins, uncles, nephews, in addition to maternal relations.
But unfortunately, today, boys and girls
get into marriage without necessary and adequate courtship.
Many infatuated boys and girl can even propose
to girls they meet at occasions for the first time.
The situation has become so notorious that these days’
people could see two persons in a gathering when boys
could be kneeling down for girls at occasions requesting
someone to enter into marriage arrangement with
them. Today, many boys have become very stupid or even
out rightly foolish on the issue of proposing to girls. Because
they don’t understand what marriage entails. That it is a
total surrender of one’s freedom and liberty as a single
person to another person. It is not easy.
So before either of the partners divorces, he or she would calculate the involvement and consensus of the election. But in River State, marriage is virtually the affair and business of the two persons involved. My colleague from Anambara took time to narrate marriage process in Anambara including all the rigors of traditional involvements. After his narration, our colleague from Yoruba shuddered in disbelief.
He admitted that he heard that marrying an Igbo lady is too intricate and involving. I merely agreed but indeed told the lady, in some cases when you see a lady to marry, the mother of the lady may tell you that, “you are not only marrying my daughter, and you are also marrying me as well.” In some cases, the prospective mother in-law may show you a space of land where the family is planning to erect a building for the first son of the family.
But if one succeeds in marrying an Igbo lady, the marriage is usually a family affair between every member of both families. The relationship is very tight and there is element of command in family bond.
But today, divorce has become rampant among the Igbo, Rivers, Efik, Ikwere, etc. because of several factors which have their links as what could be referred to, “Emerging Social Imperatives.” The principal items among those imperatives would be the desire by many young men and women to live good life.
Every young man wants to have good accommodation with essential house furniture and other domestic equipment such as television, fan, good telephone handset, modern furniture and many other kitchen appliances to make the incoming lady happy and comfortable.
Unfortunately, in the quest for good life, he would jettison the essential fact of marriage which is to love his wife deeply and affectionately
In addition to social imperative, one of the reasons why couple usually divorce these days is because of incompatibility and lack of patience to allow both partners understand themselves. Unfortunately, lack of patience and desire to try new life is a common cause of divorce.
According to traditional and other marriage customs, it is given at least three good years for couples to understand themselves.
Another source of disharmony in marriage is the sudden marriage contract without proper and adequate preparations. Time gone by, then and only then, before people enters matrimonial cohabitation. The two persons concerned will maintain courting period monitoring and observing each other to weigh the opportunity of the two persons making it should they finally decide to make it as husband and wife.
In the process, if something unpleasant is discovered or observed, the process may be quietly called off. Then and only then, such long process might be protracted but, in the end, it paid off and once married, the two persons will not regret getting married. In this case, minor misunderstandings could easily be addressed without rocking the boat. This helps to prevent incessant divorces.
But unfortunately, today, boys and girls get into marriage without necessary and adequate courtship. Many infatuated boys and girl can even propose to girls they meet at occasions for the first time. The situation has become so notorious that these days’ people could see two persons in a gathering when boys could be kneeling for girls at occasions requesting someone to enter into marriage arrangement with them.
Today, many boys have become very stupid or even out rightly foolish on the issue of proposing to girls. Because they do not understand what marriage entails. That it is a total surrender of one’s freedom and liberty as a single person to another person. It is not easy.
Another source of problem is the relationship is the relationship between mothers-in-laws and the newly married wives. Some sociological studies suggested that attitude of some mothers-in-laws constitute dangers because some mothers-in-laws are not prepared to let go of the attachment to their sons and would like to continue to intrude in their sons private affairs.
Although there is no empirical evidence available, some girls would prefer to hear that the mother of an intending suitor is late, particularly if their own mothers are still living. Ladies often have these in their minds during the initial inquiries with the prospective suitor.
In fact, there is abundant evidence that many mothers-in-laws constitute major problems which may result in divorce due to this type of domineering propensity on the side of the mothers-in-law. Apart from the coincidences of the mothers’ in the marriage affairs of the sons which may result to divorce, there is also another source which is either single or multiple maintenance of separate accounts.
Modern girls like to maintain private accounts of their own for so many reasons including the fact that if a joint account is maintained, the husband may take upper hand and plus the fact that it robs the wife the opportunity of having free hand to be helping her parents like before. It robs the lady of the opportunity of doing things she would like to do including purchase of credit cards and freedom to be helping the younger ones she left behind.
In fact, the issue of joint or no joint account must be totally and thoroughly discussed and addressed before entering marriage, lest it may cause a serious problem which may result in divorce. It must be understood that life in our society have changed and continued to change. We must be prepared to face the realities of life. Today’s ladies have become assertive and not willing to accept to play second fiddle. That is why the rate of infidelity among men and women is very high.
Husbands must be prepared to accommodate the circumstances of the changing times lest they lose their lives and marriages too. Finally, any man who is not ready to accommodate the short comings of his partner should not go into marital relationship at all. According to George Orwell, “Marriage is just like a garden, those inside want to come out and those outside want to go in.” One significant fact is that, since two persons are different, the only way they can peacefully live together is through tolerance. No more, no less.