The quote below applies to the current state of the institution of marriage.
An American Twitter user, Klarity, wrote; “The world is changing before our very eyes. Adaptation is key. The world will never be as it once was. Mulling that will get you left behind. Move wisely with the times. Because I promise you the times will keep moving on whether you’re ready for it or not.”
I read this just after watching the video where Jada Pinkett-Smith admitted she had an ‘entanglement’ with August Alsina. The Red Table Talk was with her husband, Will Smith.
At that point I had read so many takes on the issue of this dalliance that my head was spinning.
So reading the above tweet hit me differently.
I may be overreacting. But I suddenly felt like what is known as marriage has changed right before our eyes. Also, we did not even notice.
Speaking to the millennials and hearing a lot of them speak seriously about not wanting to get married is something I never really took seriously.
I kept thinking that when they are older, they will definitely get married. But I may be living in the past at the moment. From the point that some countries legalized same sex marriage; I probably should have adjusted my thinking about what marriage means these days.
But apparently, I am holding on to antiquated ideas.
Or let me say that the idea of what a marriage is has always been an impractical idea; one that we struggle to make work till one day we are too old to do anything but cling to our spouses simple because we recognize them.
This does sound depressing, doesn’t it?
The rumour has always existed that the Smiths have an open marriage. In fact, it is believed to be one where they can be sexually involved with people they sanction. When August Alsina spoke about getting permission from Will to have a relationship with Jada; the internet went on fire.
A lot of people towed the line of: “Find what works for you as a couple.”
Some made fun of people who still believe in monogamy. In fact, they insisted that a lot of people were in semi-open relationships; where they and their partners secretly get with other people but remain together as a couple.
People also said; “As long as the marriage is still working for them, it is nobody’s business.”
This all irked me.
I started asking myself a lot of questions.
What really does it mean for a marriage to work? What is marriage really? Should we redefine it?
Are we kidding ourselves when we still have these ideas of loving people and being faithful to them till we die?
Why the pretext of fidelity when almost everywhere you turn infidelity exists?
The expectations I had of what marriage should be was moulded over time. It was shaped by what I had always heard in church. Thereafter, what seeped into my head from reading romantic novels and watching romcoms.
Marriage for me meant the following things.
- Being with the one person of the opposite sex that you love romantically.
- Being faithful in heart and body throughout the marriage.
- Something one does for life. No divorce. No annulments. It only ends when the spouse dies.
- Having children and raising them together in one house.
- Cheering each other’s successes and comforting one another in failure. No competition. One team whereby a win for one person is a win for the other person.
- Sharing worldly goods and money earned together.
- Only seeking each other to lean on in difficult times.
- No secrets forever.
- Never letting a third party in. This includes family members and friends.
- No ‘entanglements’ on any level of complexity or even simplicity for that manner with anyone else.
So to say that I entered marriage with a lot of idealistic views is an understatement.
After getting married and entering into the club where women no longer speak about marriage as the be all and end all, I was stunned with the level of cynicism that existed.
And I can only speak for women because I am one.
I was shocked to see that a lot of women stayed with their partners; not because they were happy or still in love but for very practical reasons. Like, it is easier to handle kids as a couple than alone. Two incomes are better than one. Their lives were intertwined so much so that detangling it was too hard and so they just stayed.
It was no longer about love.
A lot of women admitted they taught their partners were unfaithful. But they just shrugged and accepted it as one of the things that happened. It wasn’t a deal breaker.
I discovered that a lot of couples had somehow lost intimacy along the line. A lot rarely had sex regularly anymore. Or they just were never able to speak from the deepest parts of their hearts anymore.
They found other people to confide in and simply gave up only what was necessary to the husband.
Some couples no longer even just touched each other. I don’t mean in a sexual manner. No little affectionate pecks, a linger of the finger under the chin, a swat on the butt etc etc. They hid money and property from each other.
The drabness and desolation that could be on the other side of marriage is something that I never expected because of all the castles I had built in the air.
But walking through marriage with other married women, it was there all over. A lot of women are just there for their kids.
So I am asking, should we truly relax and redefine what marriage is supposed to be?
Is it impossible to stay faithful and so we should find ways of legitimizing sexual relations with third parties? Is marriage even an antiquated idea? Should the next generation even bother?
Personally, over a decade into marriage, we still get along and love each other enough to want to stay with each other. Some days, I have hope that we are making it work. But when I see what is happening everywhere, it makes me feel afraid. Like maybe I am the odd one out. Maybe I am being delusional. Maybe ours is a fluke.
One thing is clear these days, marriage is not for the weak-hearted.