I don’t hate marriage. I just hate what happens when the wrong people join the wrong family. I’m not married, and it wasn’t until I passed the approved age bracket that I realized how I actually never cared that much about being the blushing bride with legions of close girlfriends dutifully populating my wedding party.
As a young girl growing up in Nigeria, weddings were a huge deal. I used to love opening the White envelopes that contained the delicately fancy invitations with the fancier print. They arrived mostly during Christmastime and Easter because the festive seasons seemed to be the period when the adults were flexible enough to accommodate a full calendar of celebratory fare.
As you probably guessed, I not only attended a ton of weddings, I was also asked to play the role of flower girl and junior bridesmaid; and what I mostly remember about my career as servant to the brides, was how I couldn’t wait to take off the puffy gowns with the scratchy fabric.
Incidentally, I had to wait until later in adulthood to finally garner the honor of being a bridesmaid, in a gorgeous gown, cast in the most spectacular wedding I had ever seen. It was a childhood friend with wealthy parents, who were eager to fund an opulent production against the backdrop of L.A.’s most revered zip code.
That was the first and only time that I ever pondered the possibility of being feted in such a grand fashion. I had the time of my life, and the best sex ever — thanks to the doting groomsman.
But back to marriage, and why that resulting union is actually meant to tear families asunder.
I do believe that the crazy luck of falling love with a suitable mate can’t be underestimated. Ironically enough, it happened with my own parents, and while I never considered it as a child and teenager — it does feels good to be around them as a grown adult because I get to marvel at their good fortune.
Finding “the one,” is not only a challenging endeavor, it’s also emotionally and physically exhausting. During my fertile years in New York, there were moments of panic, as it became quite clear that even a vibrant and culturally rich city could lack the most basic requirements.
And of course being a Nigerian girl, and the only daughter made the stakes higher, and the pressure from family members, particularly my anxious mother only enhanced the desire to be infuriatingly rebellious.
I had to secure a husband before my egg supply would begin the depletion process, and if I couldn’t find the chap on my own, they would have to assist by distributing my number to suitors, thousands of miles away, with decent backgrounds — who are adventurous enough to relocate to the country of their dreams.
Now that I’m officially over-the-hill and fast approaching the AARP status, I’m enjoying the hands-off treatment, that usually settles when those around you have finally given up hope.
It’s not like I would have vehemently rejected the offer to spend the rest of my life with a handsome, tall, physically fit, sexy, respectful, loving, attentive, reasonably sane, intelligent, charismatic, well-traveled, ambitious, and gainfully employed dude — who isn’t turned off when I prepare my favorite pot of egusi soup.
I just never found him. Or maybe he never found me. Or maybe I was too picky and unwilling to enter into an agreement that was likely to break. Or maybe the fact that I swore off Nigerian men crippled my chances. Or maybe I shouldn’t have wasted my thirties acting like a twenty-something; instead of plotting how and where to catch a husband.
Actually, I’m almost certain that I just never wanted to get married badly enough to end up with a woefully mismatched partner.
And that brings me to the present state-of-affairs, and how even when you make the choice to spare yourself and immediate family the woes of the violent disruption that can be caused by an accidental villain; due to circumstances beyond your control — you can still wind up suffering the very consequences you tried to avoid.
I’m talking about the in-laws and the merging of families and how we seldom discuss the complications that arise when siblings bring home their beloveds, and task us with the cumbersome burden of playing nice — even when we’re screaming inside.
You really don’t know this person who has inexplicably snagged the heart and common sense of someone you thought you knew quite well, until he introduced you to a future that suddenly becomes dim. You barely have time to recover from the shock; before you are tossed into the mixed bowl of contents that feature ingredients that aren’t appetizing.
How do you quickly and unceremoniously become the unrecognizable member of a group you’ve been close to all you life?
Well, throw in a stranger who proved she was going to remain exactly that after the very first awkward introduction, and then expand that to contain her extensions who resemble those unremarkable characteristics — and there you have it!
Now don’t get me wrong, I’m absolutely not the first-class bitch with the “stuck-up” disposition that recalls the Nigerian elites who even I can’t come close to impressing with my modest achievements and polished demeanor. I often times surprise myself with how gracious I can be even when my warmness isn’t enthusiastically reciprocated.
But ultimately, you have to entertain the selfish pursuits of couples, who are too enamored with each other to examine the effects their coupling is exacting on those of us who are unwillingly weathering the stipulations of a permanent contract; with the martyrdom that only a disciplined and loyal sibling can amass.
There is a fantastical element attached to the notion of marriage that’s driven by the romantics of being initially swept off your feet. And then comes the blissful momentum of exploration, that should also include the casual early introductions, and healthy bonding with both sides of the family — which amounts to the expected and eagerly-anticipated announcement.
However, it appears that times have changed, as texting, posting, and tweeting has inevitably distorted the value of intimacy and sincere engagement, in ways that will surely be dissected by the scholars of the future.
Relations between relations has been broken down into bits of communication that can be mostly strewn into cohesiveness with log ins and the ever trusted “copy and paste” method.
How can we stand the truth that reveals why most of our memorable conversations are only recoverable on faulty servers?
I’m pretty sure that the reason why I’m proudly single, has everything to do with my abrupt end to the texting fiesta, that usually takes the place of one-on-one sessions that can’t be replaced with the cold-hard surface of gadgets — that cost more than a studio apartment.
Online dating has also irrevocably damaged the delightfulness of appreciating the way human features react when obsessive gazing at portable screens isn’t an option.
We’ve been repurposed to only respond to the instant gratification from swiping and scrolling, and it has seeped into the way we relate with each other, and how everyone we know is categorized the same way, due to the similar methods of engagement.
Thanks for nothing Facebook!
And so, it makes sense that the casualness of relationships would give permission for the unprepared entry of new family members who you have to pretend to get along — until whenever.
The first hit is hard, but the next one is hardest, especially when you were banking on a drastically different outcome.
After enduring the sporadic awkward gatherings with smiles and hugs for almost a decade — it looks like my Oscar-worthy performance is here to stay — since another caravan of newbies are about to invade my sanity.
An impending marriage is on the horizon, and once again, I’m helplessly thrown into an unideal scenario that I didn’t choose, but have to readily embrace for life.
I guess I hate marriage because regardless of my ringless finger, I still have to go through the harrowing and thankless ordeal of inheriting family members that don’t appeal to me. I don’t have the ability to voice my opinion, and even if I did, it wouldn’t alter a thing.
I have to wonder if I’m the only one suffering the stunning ramifications that result from the questionable picks that siblings make without your consent, and with the assumption that they can guarantee on your approval or quiet resignation.
Perhaps if I had a family of my own to fuss about, I would be a lot less peeved and blessedly oblivious to the glaring inconsistencies — but I don’t — and that means I have the time and energy to gauge the erratic temps that hold me hostage until it’s time to disperse.
Marriage is a lot more complex than the glitzy reception and exotic honeymoon resorts. And after all the fanfare dies down, the reality of every day living can be daunting for those of us who don’t factor into the equation — that depends heavily on our ability to grin and bear it — while rolling with the agonizing punches.
This latest development is the double-whammy I was hoping wouldn’t manifest, and as I continue the process of getting to know the relation I will never really know outside of a hand full of yearly mandated gatherings — and the splattered selfies that say more than I want to know — I emphatically curse the tradition of marriage that callously torments the unmarried.
And traps you in loveless unions — until death do us part.