Christianity and the western cultures it influences have foisted monogamy on us as the only acceptable way to entertain intimacy. We are taught very early that love must be a closed loop shared between two people with no extra input and no internal outpourings. Perhaps for commercial reasons, the phenomenon we’ve come to acceptably as romantic love was thrown into the pot to sweeten the deal. The idea that you will meet someone, one person with whom you will feel emotions so strongly that you will never be attracted to or feel strongly for another person. It is quite the fantasy, but reality is so much worse.
Monogamy and ‘true love’ seems more like a financial fail safe than anything else for people in my generation. There isn’t enough money, if we’re perfectly honest to take care of yourself, let alone, other people, so knowing that you are only obligated to one person and the children you make seems a decent compromise for not being able to marry as many people as you want.
If we were in an utopian world, most millennial would never get married. There are too many examples that the institution of marriage as we know it is at best flawed and at worst a terrible sham. The women in my family have been somewhat lucky with their men, but they are by no means ‘happy’. All our physical examples of what a marriage should look like barely resemble the idealized unions we see on our social media feeds, that we watch on the cinema wide screens, that we read about in our novels. It is terribly disheartening to think that we are going to have to dip into the raffle and hope we luck out.
And we have to dip in the raffle. Especially as we’re Nigerians. The pressure to get married seems to supersedes everything else. Respect is denied you once you’re past a certain age and unmarried. Women are denied jobs and opportunities. Men are riposted and ridiculed. As we age, the pressure goes from subtle and humorous to desperate and vicious. The subtle digs become outright hateful statements. Even strangers get in on the fun, taking their shots. Almost everyone succumbs in the end. Somehow.
It isn’t that we hate marriage, it’s just that the things people used to get married for, we already have without the coverall of a civil union. Social media and technology has made sex as easy as shopping for groceries. Tinder if you want something right now, Matched if you want conversation after, Instagram so you can skip the getting to know you phase, Twitter if you want to know his politics, Facebook to get to meet the family. We literally have as much sex as we need, mindboggling considering just a generation before people got married solely for that reason. The internet has also helped us crack the code of intimacy, and made even our wildest dream specifications easily accessible. Geographical constraints no longer truly exist, so there is no such thing as dwindling pool of hopeful potential partners, another thing which used to force people into marriage. We literally have all the time, access and resources we need to hold out till we find perfection.
So we marry, not for ourselves, but for everyone around us. We give our parents the wedding they wished they were rich enough to have themselves, we marry the partners they approve of and we long on social media of the possibilities that monogamy demands we turn away from. We dip in the raffle and hope for the best.