When I was a little girl it was my greatest desire to get married. I pictured the white dress, the dashing man and the hundreds of family, friends and randoms who would gather to wish me all the happiness in the world. And then… I grew up.
Growing up has not resulted in me despising the institution of marriage but it has definitely painted a different picture of what marriage is. It’s not about the wedding and it seems today people spend so much time and money on the wedding and lobola that they forget to work on the relational aspect of the life that will follow after that day. The part where you realise that your life will no longer be about you and what you want, but about your partner and your families too.
The old ball and chain has always referred to how a man is tied down by his wife when he decides to get married. I think the idea of not being able to fly as high as I can within a marriage is the ball and chain for many women. One of the greatest fears that women have when it comes to marriage is that of losing themselves in an attempt to keep a marriage afloat. We have goals, dreams and ambitions that we want to attain. Over the years, in conversations I have had with friends it has come to my attention that many women give so much of themselves in their marriages. They step back and give their men space and support to flourish selflessly while sacrificing their own desires. The scariest thing is watching women reach their definitions of success only after their divorce/separation.
I question whether this phenomenon boils down to women becoming submissive by choice within a marriage or if it’s their men who become insecure and threatened by the possibility of their wives will taking on their roles as men.
I believe that marriage is a partnership and about a mutual respect for one another. I respect that traditionally, men have the role of “provider” and this is important to them. I do not believe however, that in order for a man to be the head of the family his wife has to withdraw. I believe that marriage is about to people who want to grow together so if one person is growing at the expense of another then something has gone wrong. Many men do state that they would not mind if their wives earned more than them. Their only fear with this is that their wives will constantly remind them of this fact and belittle and emasculate them because of it. A man will have his defences up if you are always on attack. It’s human nature. We need to avoid hurting one another in relationships. People need affirmation and it is necessary to affirm your partner, especially in an area you know they are insecure in.
I believe the human heart is fragile and we can barely protect our own. How then do we take on the responsibility of taking care of another’s and promise to keep it safe until the end of our being? The fact is that as humans, we have our faults. Men and women alike, we are not perfect. How do we marry our personalities and flaws to create an environment that works for us as individuals becoming a unit? I do not know the answer to that. I don’t think there’s a formula for this just like there isn’t a formula for anything in life. I understand that a marriage will come with a host of challenges, but I never want to wake up one day and resent the person I once loved with all my heart.
I want to get married, but I do not want a ball and chain around me.