Too young to marry.

Too young to marry.

Over the ages, “Too young’ has carried many meanings for different civilizations of the world. In the day of Jesus, it was perfectly all right for the holy spirit to go knocking on the womb of a 13 year old Mary but if any of that were to happen now there would be a massive scandal (unless they lived in Spain  in which case everything would be bueno).

Many of our mothers had us while still in the lap of childhood. The only reason I can think of for this is that they were still reeling from a time not far before theirs when people had to become men and women at the first sign of puberty because the life expectancy was short. Life had to be lived in fast forward.

Now however that the average Ugandan has at least 54 years in which to live and priorities have generally shifted from home and hearth to knowledge, careers money and networking, it always comes as a shock to me when facebook notifies me that a person I went to school with has gotten married.
My reaction usually goes from confusion to dread to pity because it seems so terribly rushed.

There are many roads to fulfillment, I know and for some people, marriage is the golden pot but why so early? When we graduate from university, we’re still hungover from years of education. Our true selves have only just emerged (if we’re lucky. self actualization can take a long time). Why would you willingly rush from childhood to an adulthood complete with the prospect of babies? Personally, I intend to enjoy the sweet freedom of fully owning myself before making the decision to start a life with somebody as dewy and sparkly eyed as I am.

The girls and boys stepping straight out of the lecture room onto the aisle have their reasons, I’m sure, but I’m familiar with only two.

One is the desperation to get out of their parents’ homes. People are unwilling to return home every night to the mutual discomfort and eventual resentment that arises when a young adult and an old adult both try to stand their ground.

Also, in what foreign media I’ve read, living with your parents after university is taboo; a sign of laziness on the child’s part and long suffering on the parents’. Things are different in Ugandan culture however. While it’s normal, admirable even for boys to skip the fold at the first sign of a beard, women have it rough. Voice your desire to get your own place and sengas will solemnly inform you that you’ll never get married. You’ll have become ‘spoilt’. In-laws won’t want to associate with a girl that lives out of her father’s home, apparently.

Our society is so hangover on the patriarchal way of doing things that a woman means nothing if she hasn’t found a man to validate her existence. If she’s not living with her father, it has to be with a husband.

It must be exciting to find a person that makes you feel wanted, alive, complete but rushing to seal the deal might mean disaster for the both of you. Maybe he still has a roving eye to outgrow, or perhaps she’d like to accumulate more graduation caps.

The last reason I can identify is pressure from relatives and the mentality they have that if a girl is unmarried by 25, she deserves to be treated like milk that hit it’s sell-by date yesterday.

If you know something I don’t please enlighten me in the comment section.

8 thoughts on “Too young to marry.

  1. What seems to miss here is the fiscal aspect, to put it lightly. It seems likely to me that my classmate who got married in 2nd year and subsequently pregnant the next year(eh!) was on a paper trail.

  2. If I’ve learned anything in the past few months of being post-undergrad, it’s that my old thoughts on love, marriage, commitment, and work have changed (and will probably continue to change). There comes a point in a girl’s life (now, for us) when we have to decide what road we’re going to go down: career or family. It is true that one can have both career and family, but what sort of career? Certainly, not a high-stakes corporate lifestyle type job, unless you want your children to be raised by strangers. A simple 9-5 job that pays reasonably should suit, if you want to work and raise your kids yourself. So then the question becomes: how ambitious are you? Are kids or a career more important to you? The way I see it, those of our friends who are getting married have decided that being mothers/ wives is what they want to do. And there’s nothing wrong with that. Same way there’s nothing wrong with me chasing a PhD after I finish my Master’s. Priorities – and how we balance them – are different. So these days, I don’t judge as much as I used to. I express genuine happiness when my friends tell me that they are getting married, especially when it is easy to see that they are so in love.

    • *What they want to do* Hopefully, not what they feel they should do because OMG girls age like bananas and we’ve been conditioned to feel we’ll be useless and sad if we’re not married by the time we hit 30.

      It looks to me like people are living by a schedule that has been passed down from our great great grandmothers. Be a kid, start to menstruate, stall a bit, marry, make babies.

  3. The number of educated women I know who are scared of becoming social pariahs by hitting yr 30 and still unmarried is ridiculous. I work with a girl who got pregnant and immediately moved into her bf’s place right out of school.She is the most relieved person I know. If you’re doing the whole marriage thing for love,more power to you;but in my experience,so many of these girls do not want to become old maids.As for me,every year i say I’ll get married in ten years.

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