I’m not a huge fan of celebrity hookups and marriages. Yes of course some of them are just absolutely adorable but the heartbreak that comes when such couples announce their divorce – not cool at all. Look at the last few years, we’ve had:
- Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie
- Tom Cruise and Katy Holmes
- Chris Martin and Gwyneth Paltrow
- Ryan Reynolds and Scarlett Johansson
- Guy Ritchie and Madonna
I could go on and on and on but no matter how I feel about these marriages, celebs are also human beings and they also deserve to be happy. Thankfully we still have couples like Will and Jada, Bey and Jay, Kim and Ye still going strong (for now) so it’s not all doom and gloom. However, after Brad and Angelina announced their divorce yesterday, I thought to share a few things I’ve had on my mind concerning marriage and divorce.
To begin with, if you look at the list I have above you’ll notice that most of the couples are Americans married in the US (with the exception of Chris Martin). Now, lets look at marriage and divorce in the US. I did a quick search online and found the following stats:
- Number of marriages: 2,140, 272 (49 reporting States and D.C)
- Marriage rate: 6.9 per 1,000 total population (49 reporting States and D.C)
- Divorce rate: 3.2 per 1,000 population (45 reporting States and D.C.)
As an average Nigerian, you’ll probably say this information is quite scary. To think their divorce rate is almost half of the marriage rate is indeed worrisome right? And I used the Nigerian context because another quick search showed the following as our marriage and divorce numbers for Nigeria:
0.2% of men and 0.3% of women have legally untied the knot, according to the National Bureau of Statistics. And well under 1% of couples admit to being separated.
But of course, we know data gathering isn’t our strong point in this part of the world and as such, this data definitely excludes majority of Nigerians, who only got married traditionally. It is also important to note that despite the inaccurate nature of our data, the numbers provided by the NBS still shows that separation is about five times more than divorce in Nigeria.
How does all of this tie in and where am I going with this? To start off, the divorce and marriage rate figures for the US weren’t so surprising to me. Why? Because for the average American, divorce, no matter how hard it is to take, is just another part of life. It’s a norm for them – one could even say it’s a part of their culture. However, for us in this part of the world, it’s almost some sort of taboo.
Let me explain it this way. For the average American, marriage is a race while for us, its more like a journey on a one-way road. In a race, say even a marathon, you can get half way and feel tired, exhausted and just drop out. You entered it willingly and even though you might be tagged a failure or feel disappointed with yourself for not completing the race, it’s all well and good – life goes on. On the flip side, we tend to see marriage more like a journey on a one-way road. Yes, you also decide to take the journey willingly (even though you can be dragged into it sometimes), but with a journey on a one way road, you’re going from point A to B and even though you can stop along the way to catch your breath or do whatever, there really is no turning back. You just have to make it to point B. This probably explains why we have more separations than divorces in Nigeria. This is the norm for us and you can also say it has become part of our culture. This is why from as long as I can remember, people use such terms as “my last bus stop” when referring to their spouse in Nigeria.
I’m one person who is very vocal about the need for aspects of our culture to become more dynamic so as to help us grow as a people and many attack me for thinking I want to change all aspects of our culture. Today, I’m glad I will be siding with this aspect of our culture because I believe for anyone going into a long term relationship – especially one with legal and religious commitments, having this ‘last bus stop mindset’ is extremely important.
I don’t know about you guys but whenever I go into something knowing I can always get out of it, my level of commitment has already been compromised. In terms of relationships, a simple example here is a casual relationship. You’re 20, he’s 22 and you guys are just messing around. Yes, he has asked you to be his girlfriend officially and you guys have been dating for two years but as long as there’s no commitment beyond “let’s see how things go”, either of you can easily leave the relationship and no body will die. With more serious relationships like an engaged couple or a married couple, I have come to realise that the moment either half of the couple begins to find excuses for having options for his/her partner, that’s like building a bridge towards the end of that relationship.
I believe every man and woman should go into a marriage with the mindset of “this is last person I’m ever going to have sex with”. Heck, you could even go as far as accepting your partner will be the last person you will ever make out with. Accepting this not only emphasises the commitment you made before man and God but it helps or rather ‘forces’ you to do all you need to do to remain committed to this extremely tough decision.
Oh, you thought I’d say this is a piece of cake? HELL NO! If you haven’t gotten married, I’m sorry to break it to you but – this is possibly one of the hardest things you will do – EVER (And I’m less than two years in this so this isn’t solely based on my experience). I’ve written a lot about the male ego and the emotional side of women. These two factors alone make it super super difficult to stick to this script. Something as simple as finding another ‘gist partner’ instead of your husband because he never really listens to you is a red flag. It seems so fickle right? But the moment you start telling that your male colleague all the things you should be telling your husband you’re creating an exit door. Let’s not even talk about the more serious stuff like sex. So your wife isn’t into the things you’re into in the bedroom so you decide to visit prostitutes to ease the pain. That’s an exit.
The hard alternative is to sit with your wife, talk it out till you find a reasonable/compromise-able middle ground. And don’t get it twisted, ‘exit doors’ don’t always come in the form of other people. Take for instance the guy I mentioned above. Let’s say instead of visiting prostitutes, he decides to masturbate. Yes, some will say there’s nothing wrong with learning how to please yourself every now and then – also, technically he’s not cheating on his wife right? WRONG. If a guy goes from the occasional wank maybe whenever his wife isn’t around to a regular thing as a way of giving himself what his wife can’t give, that’s a MAJOR exit door right there because that has technically given him an alternative to his wife.
The Americans and Europeans are brought up in a way that they understand that there’s always an “out” in marriage and so they really don’t need to go out of their way to create exit doors. If you’re not a celeb with millions of dollars that you have to split with some guy or woman who broke your heart, it’s almost not a big deal. I’ve met regular American’s who have divorced twice and don’t have a problem with doing it again. As far as they’re concerned, marriage is trial and error. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. That’s the norm in their society and even though I think it’s only down to the fact that their system is so effective and as a result, getting a divorce is so easy, it is what it is.
Before some people come at me, let me state clearly that there are exceptions to every rule. Every contract has terms, clauses and what not. Even though I strongly support this ‘last bus stop theory’ if you can call it that, I do not support people staying in abusive relationships. Yes, the vows talk about ‘sickness and health’ and all that but it doesn’t say you should stick around if your husband abuses you or even worse, your kids every day. All I’m saying is, there is a stronger possibility for a serious relationship/marriage to work out if both parties go into it with the mindset of having to alternatives.
For a lot of guys marriage is check box. They look round and pick whoever they feel will make a good mother to their kids but not a ride or die partner who they can stand for the rest of their lives knowing the are stuck with them forever. For most of our women nowadays, marriage is about the change in status – being addressed as Mrs., having an elaborate wedding and having kids. When push comes to shove, their emotional side takes over and they find other people or things to run to.
Not having that ‘out’ has its disadvantages – a lot of them actually. After watching my parents remain in a loveless marriage for several years all in the name of staying in a marriage, trust me, I know. However, I think the positives outnumber the negatives but that’s up for debate and that’s where I’d like your input today. Please use the comment box to share your thoughts.