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“Who is ready for marriage?”

By Francis Ewherido (17/08)2017)

As part of the Valentine celebration, the Young Christian Workers (YCW) of my parish invited me to talk to them last Saturday on the above topic. Now who is ready for marriage? One, legally and biologically, marriage is for somebody who is matured, that is, about 18 years and above. They say your morning begins when you wake up, so when to get married and start a family are personal choices, influenced by your finances, when you meet your fiancé(e), your priorities, among other factors. But I am an advocate of early marriage and my favoured years for marriage are: Men, between 25 and 28 years, and 20 to 25 years for women, all things being equal.

Two, marriage is for mature people and mature people are independent. As I wrote previously, marriage is an interdependent institution that only independent people should go into. In other words, there should be self-mastery and victory over self, because, as Stephen Covey rightly observed, “private victories must precede public victories.” Maturity is not necessarily about age, intelligence or education; it is more of wisdom. It involves patience, tolerance, accommodation, humility, self-worth, commitment, taking responsibility, contentment, among others.

Three, marriage is for men who have sources of livelihood. If you are unemployed, you have no business getting married. Who will pick up your bills and your spouse’s? You need a regular source of income no matter how small; you can build on it as time goes on. As for the woman, when God created her, God said He is creating a suitable helpmate. It means a woman should help out, including supporting the man financially, especially in these difficult economic times. I will never support fulltime housewife arrangement. It is a waste of human resources. The woman should also have a source of livelihood.

Four, a man should also have a roof over his head before getting married. The roof might be a single room, flat or mansion, just have something you can call your own, rented or owned. Marriage is not for squatters. You are already inconveniencing your host as a squatter, it is not proper to inconvenience your host further by adding your wife.

Five, marriage is for people who have done their due diligence: measures taken by reasonable people to avoid harm to themselves and others. In marriage, it is called courtship, that period when you get into a relationship with somebody of the opposite sex to determine his/her suitability as a spouse. This will involve knowing his/her core values, assets and liabilities, latitude of acceptance, family, likes and dislike. It is also a time to grow your friendship. During courtship there should be full disclosure of all material facts, which would influence any right thinking person to continue or end the courtship.

Six, trust is one of the pillars on which marriage is built and you should be reasonably trustworthy before you go into marriage. You should also be able to trust your partner before exchanging vows. If you do not reasonably trust him or her, there is no basis to go into marriage.

Seven, before going into marriage, you must learn to communicate. Communication is the livewire of marriage. Take it out and the marriage faces a certain death. But do not just communicate, the following will help. Genuine communication, that is, when your yes is yes and your no, no. Communication should also be empathic: do not say to your spouse what you would not want him/her to say to you. Listening during communication should be empathic: when your spouse is talking, keep quiet and listen; it is only when he/she has finished and you understand everything he/she said that you should respond based on what he/she said. Also refrain from negative non-verbal communication. Like negative verbal communication, it has set many marriages on fire and destroyed others. In addition, there should be zero assumption. Ask and clarify anything you are not clear about or uncomfortable with.

Eight, marriage is about planning, so you must learn how to plan before you get married. There is family planning, financial planning, career planning, medical plan, estate plan and leisure plan, among others. It is all planning and planning, and they are all interwoven. The number of children you want to have has tremendous bearing on your financial plan, estate plan, education plan and even your leisure plan. For instance, five children in a two-bedroom flat is overcrowding. As they grow older, the girls and the boys need to have separate rooms. How do you do that with two rooms, when you and your spouse already occupy one? Still on planning, I am always shocked when I ask people who are about getting married how many children they intend having and they respond that only God can decide. That is a lie; God has given us the power to decide. That is why you have safe and unsafe period for women. That is also why women hit menopause after a certain age. Also, that is why humans, unlike animals, have the gift of self-control. I can understand occasional accidental discharge that leads to unplanned pregnancies; I also understand pregnancies that lead to multiple births, I can also understand childlessness, but the choice of the number of children we want to have is essentially in our control.

Nine, marriage is for men who are virile. If you are incapable of having sex, you have no business going into marriage. For every marriage to be complete it must be consummated, that is, the couple must have post wedding sexual intercourse. Until intercourse takes place, the marital agreement is only written with pencil that can easily be erased. So how can an impotent man consummate a marriage? In addition, the second major purpose of marriage, after companionship, is perpetuation of humankind. Only people who are fertile can procreate. So everybody going into marriage should do a fertility test. If you have low sperm count or you are infertile, you must tell your spouse-to-be. Let him/her decide whether or not to go ahead with the marriage. If you conceal your infertility, it is misrepresentation and a sufficient ground to annul the marriage. In other words, the marriage is deemed not to have taken place because it was built on falsehood.

Ten, sex is a very essential ingredient of marriage and I feel that men with very low libido and frigid women should do deep soul searching before going into marriage. If they decide to take the marital plunge, they have a responsibility to tell their partners about their situation before tying the knot. Young people going into marriage are entitled to enjoy sex with their youthful vigour and “fury.” Any KNOWN situation that will affect their sex life must be disclosed ab initio, so the other party makes up his/her mind if he/she still wants to go ahead with the marriage. Anybody who does anything to the contrary is not acting in love and I believe the marriage should be annulled at the instance of the aggrieved spouse.

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