MARRIAGE AND CAREER, A MATTER OF PERSPECTIVE

Reny
Posted March 6, 2019 from Cameroon

 

I really missed my elder sister. I missed our moments: the fruitless fights, the long loud laughs we shared in the kitchen while cooking. And her husband would think we are gossiping about him whenever we laughed so hard. But well, most men would think like him considering he was the lone man, with two women at home.    As those memories ran through my mind, I thought to myself, what if I paid her a quick visit. we could chit chat and laugh over some things. 

I'd to make myself comfortable while I wait for her to return from work.   "I was almost going back" I told her  "come and roll my hair first" she said carrying a bag of plastic rollers to the balcony while I followed behind like mother hen and her chick.

I'd barely started doing her hair when she brought up that topic I always avoid discussing with her seeing no conclusion will ever be reached at because she thinks her opinion on the matter is absolute. 

"Soooo you don't have any man with whom you are talking something serious...like going towards marriage ?" she asked, sounding almost like it's abnormal for a woman my age to be without a man

"I don't have" I answered quietly  "hmmmm!!"  she continued. "I'm afraid for you eh. You need to find someone. Yes you have the education and you are trying to build a career... but.. at the end of it all, what would you show for? you need a husband.  No matter how great or successful you get,  a woman is always better off married...

At this moment she had ruined the nice time I came to have with her. In fact this is one of the reasons why my friends stopped visiting me at home when I just completed my university studies.  On several occasions she would question them on why they aren't married yet,  why no man has come for their hand in marriage, why they haven't invited her yet for their wedding.

"Ma friend you dey house?"  "Yes I dey house. cam noh" "If da ya sister dey house ,I no di cam me eh. I no be ready for answer question dem massa. e di too worry"

That's how like little drops of rain drying up from a zinc, my friends stopped visiting me at home. 

"Well, I've heard you. I know that I'll get married when I meet the man" i said focusing as much as I can on her hair. 

"That's why I never really supported this your dream of journalism, most female journalists remain unmarried or have unstable homes. A woman must be married for her to have value in the world. When you attend gatherings and your friends are talking about their husbands and children, what I'll you talk about? You need to get married. Think about it seriously. How can a woman be without a husband ?" She said firmly.  

Well, this is the kind of discussion I always avoid having with her. Each time we meet, it's all about which man is stalking me, who has proposed or not proposed to me, why am I not hooking up with any guy bla bla bla.

Come to think of it, is marriage all there is to life? is it the only thing that gives value to a woman? What is a suitable marriage age? What about the personal development or financial stability of the woman as a person, does it it count? As these thoughts ran through my mind, I couldn't remember an instance when my sister tried to enquire about my financial plan, growth or career goals or my personal development. 

"What are you doing to have at least a million francs by the end of the year or so? How many books did you read last month and are you practicing what you read? Tell me about some of the challenges you face in your previous relationship so we know how to make it right next time..."  Such questions never come up. But just like my sister, most parents think a husband is like a pair of shoes a woman just buys from the hawker down the road, take it home and have it fit. 

What about the other side of things ? Marriage must be a beautiful thing (I can't tell for now) but while I'm yet to marry, what must I do?  Is marriage now the value determining factor to life, especially a woman's life ? Are marriage and children the only things to discuss at gatherings? What if young girls met and shared business ideas instead of husbands and babies (not saying it is bad)? What if at gatherings women helped each other develop business plans, read books and help each thrive in career? 

Just like many other people, my sister is more preoccupied with me bringing a husband than me being a wife. The latter demands investment in self, cultivating and equipping oneself for the former. But often times,  many people jump in to marriage then start being a wife. 

I think we should invest in people and help them fulfil purpose, lead them to happiness whether married or not. I've spoken to many people and from what I gather, at the end of it all, they just want to be happy. Happiness and fulfilment, that's the ultimate.  Some people are happier when they make more money, some are happier when they marry at 20 or 30. Others are fulfilled traveling around the world speaking to millions of people. Even happier when you you have it all. But, can you truly have it all ? Question to be answered on anotherday. 

All the same, women like men, should be given the opportunity to explore their inherent potential and impact the world. If marriage should determine a woman's value then so should it for the man. If a woman isn't married, it means there is a man who isn't married too. When talking about your legacy, I'm not sure your marital status will be mentioned aside the lives you you touched, the school's you built, the people you educated, the books you published and what have you.   The market place is for both man and woman. Technology is this advanced today thanks to women too who have made valuable contributions. If only men occupy the market place and feed the family, then development will be slow because we would be belabouring 50% of a population to fend for the 100%. But if men and women occupy their respect places at market place, doing that which they feel called to do, there will be division of labour, finacial increase to carter for the family and development will be faster. 

Abd here is why the issue of gender inequality keeps coming up is girls abd boys don't receive the same education from the base. Women are frequently taught to aspire for marriage like a crown of glory.  We can't continue to teach women how to behave and treat men and not do same with men. But if we educate our boys the same way we educate the girls, there will no cry for gender bias. We teach women to be humble, submissive and enduring. But if we don't educate the men to love, carter for, protect and lead then every effort to balance gender will fail. 

Even as we need to procreate so the human race may persists, it shouldnt be with pressure from society. Being single and building a career isn't a crime and marrying first or easier shouldn't be a better achievement. While you wait for the husband, you must cultivate yourself in to a wife, chase those dreams, keep succeeding and marriage will surely meet you in there. Even if the husband does not come, you don't have anything to lose. Society is a bigger family and it needs you. And just for the records, you are not better off married.  You are better off fulfilled. If marriage is what gives you that fulfilment go for it but if it is career, build it with all might. 

Renette Ayuk 

This story was submitted in response to Change Starts With a Story.

Comments 10

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Jill Langhus
Mar 06
Mar 06

Hi Reny,

Thanks for sharing your inspiring story. Good luck with your story submission!

Reny
Mar 06
Mar 06

Thank you JLanghus

Jill Langhus
Mar 07
Mar 07

You're welcome!

Ahdi Hassan
Mar 06
Mar 06

Thank you very much for sharing a real story. There is nothing better to help you win the deal, get the speaking engagement or impress a prospect.

Reny
Mar 07
Mar 07

Thank you Hassan

Tamarack Verrall
Mar 07
Mar 07

Dear Reny,
It is so good to read your message challenging the pressure for women to marry and the lack of doors open to school and work. These need to stay central to our global call for freedom of choice in our lives as women. That freedom must include the freedom not to marry if we so choose, and the same path opened for us as for men, for education and employment in our fields of choice. I believe that this freedom is the base we need to work from, and that discrimination is actively taught to keep women doing most of the unpaid work in life. As a young woman I chose not to marry, and I never looked back. It is a basic right that needs respect everywhere. Thanks for your strong voice.

In sisterhood,
Tam

Reny
Mar 09
Mar 09

Thank you Tam for your powrful contribution. Maybe in the western world, women can easily make a choice to marry or not. But in Africa, the society does not leave women with that choice. They make you feel like you are not successful till you marry.
However, we must decry all forms of discrimination against women. Just like the men, women have the right to choose a path for themselves

Tamarack Verrall
Mar 09
Mar 09

Hi Reny,
It is because of the courage of women like you and many of our World Pulse sisters that women can begin to trust that we ought to have and be respected for the right to live as we choose, and stand together whether marrying or not, for the freedom to choose. It is a lot easier here in my country at this point, but it has not been that long since the freedom to choose has been accepted, and even today women who do not marry are often seen as not fully acceptable, or as trouble makers, or untrustworthy in some undefined way. The more we speak out together, the more it becomes a "normal" choice as a basic human right. This is why I celebrate your strong message here.

Beth Lacey
Jun 22
Jun 22

You are so right!

Anita Shrestha
Oct 05
Oct 05

Great dear