Uche Peter Umez: (Wo)men, what has marriage to do with love? (30 Days, 30 Voices)

I gaze into my glass, thinking of all those girls who view marriage as the consummation of love, who believe that having a husband who already has a lavish house of his own is utter bliss…

Buchi says his intern has started putting on low-necked blouses on weekdays. He tells me this while we are drinking at a bar. He’s going to explode if he doesn’t get her into bed soon. Meanwhile, he fears, he may go blind from seeing too much flesh.

I know his intern; she’s a chirpy girl with breasts that are way too big for her small size.


“That girl is high tension,” Olisa says, shaking dramatically, as if he’s being electrocuted.


“I don’t know how to put this,” I say to Buchi, half smiling.

“Your wife…”

I let him know that she would be happier if he came back earlier than 9 p.m. everyday. His kids are often in bed by the time he returns. His office closes by 6p.m., but she can’t understand why he stays out late. They are a young couple, five years old in matrimony.

“She’s not asking for much,” I conclude.

“I don’t understand,” Buchi says, looking like a man who has realised that all his exploits have just been deemed useless. “Millions of girls will kill to have me as their husband. I have provided her with three children; she has two boys, not one. Built a house of my own, bought her a Camry. What else does she want? God, she should be grateful!” He ends his outburst with a loud sigh, then empties his drink.

I glance at a tubby man stroking the chin of a girl whose long eyelashes and pink nail polish make me think of a mannequin. Around us, other girls cuddle up to men at various tables, whispering and giggling. Sipping my stout, I start wondering what would make me cheat on my fiancée when we ultimately get married . It worries me that the notion it is okay to frolic around – as long as you keep it far from your wife’s hearing – seems to have become all the rage in recent times.

I remember another friend who had never cheated on his wife until he became a marketing executive and started travelling all over the place. Once I ran into him in a bar in Calabar and noticed two girls at his side. Later, he complained that his job was “too stressful”, and the only way to ease the stress was to let loose his testosterone. I know yet another married friend who keeps a string of undergraduate girlfriends, and believes that sleeping around is a much healthier pastime than drinking beer.

Olisa puts a hand on my shoulder.

“Pal, soon, you’ll find out that keeping a girlfriend is much easier than a wife,” he says.

“Do you know the worst thing that can happen to any marriage?”

“Infidelity,” I reply. Obviously, that’s the root of all heartbreak.

“Wrong,” Olisa scoffs.

“Pal, the worst thing is not infidelity; after all, from time immemorial men have always had more than one woman in their lives. No, it’s not even childlessness; you can get by anyhow. The worst thing is being unable to take care of your family. The Bible confirms it. So every wife wants a husband who can provide. Once that’s settled, a wife should be kind enough to let her husband be.”


I think of his wife; Chisom, of the sparkly brown eyes, but they seem to dim easily of late. She is only twenty-six and with one child, but she looks weighed down already. If you are observant enough you can tell she’s anything but happy, even from the way she laughs. Her eyes don’t sparkle when she laughs; instead they belie her amusement. She laughs in a small faltering way, like someone trying to force open a door without attracting notice.

I gaze into my glass, thinking of all those girls who view marriage as the consummation of love, who believe that having a husband who already has a lavish house of his own is utter bliss, who fall in love with men who never let an ‘opportunity’ pass, simply because it must be taken full advantage of, and then realise that marriage has nothing to do with love.


About the author: Uche Peter Umez writes poems, fiction and non-fiction, when he is not basking in the presence of his charming wife and three lovely children.

Editor’s note: Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija.

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Comments (9)

  1. Pingback: The Un-Divorced by Pamela Paul | Network9ja

  2. Happy marriages with faithful partners still exist. Be careful not to throw away the cloth because of the tear. And singles be careful who you model your life after. You will get in marriage what you believe and work towards

  3. I like the author's style of writing, you can tell he's a really good writer and that makes the subject he's writing on so interesting. Unlike a lot of women, I don't have a roses-and-picket-fence image of marriage; it is constant hardwork I believe and I'm determined to put in the time/effort to make it work.

    On philandering men who steal the sparkle from their wives' eyes…that one is story for another day. 🙂

  4. Very well said! Its so annoying the amount of married (often very recently) men that approach me and find it hard to understand that their marriage is the reason I'm not interested!

    Its only in Nigeria that I've seen marriage regarded as the ultimate to aim for yet the institution is currently disregarded on both parts. Most of these married women KNOW about their husband's infidelity but choose to stay because of societal expectations or for keeping up appearances sake!

    The sooner Nigerian women are empowered to understand that been HAPPY alone is better than a lifetime of misery in an unfulfiling marriage!

  5. I totally agree…..
    This is the smartest thing anyne has said on this issue in a long time

  6. In this part of the world men beleieve its normal for a man to cheat in a marriage as long as he can provide all d basic things his wife and family needs. No respect for the "vows".furthermore is the case of the ladies who frolick around the married men, blame that on the economic situation or bad up-bringing.

  7. As many men as women belive marital bliss is possible if the necessary economic variables are met. It is in our nature to seek everlasting happiness whether man or woman. Sadly the loopsided dynamics of marriage, society and culture allow for the exploitation, abuse and debasment of womenkind especialy in marriage. Women must be allowed and given more/equal rights under the marriage institution. Our culture and society must learn to respect women.

  8. This is the smartest thing anyne has said on this issue in a long time! i have always said that marriage is the most 'over-rated' institution in the world (quote me anyday)…this very obvious examples are proof.

  9. So with talk like this, why do people find it hard to imagine that i never want to get married. Not really, i don't!! I always look at my friends n pray that their fantasy lasts forever. I am a realist. In every way.

cool good eh love2 cute confused notgood numb disgusting fail