This weekend I attended a wedding. My 24 year old cousin, got married to her college sweetheart and it was a colorful family affair.
For several weeks, I struggled with the decision to attend. Not because I wasn’t happy with and for her, but because I find extended family events quite stressful and to be honest, financially draining. But then, I am my mother’s only child and if you’re familiar with Nigerian family dynamics, you know she’ll be miserable if her only child is the one missing from an all important family affair.
See, I haven’t been home in four years. (long story) and so this wedding was going to be the opportunity to reconnect with long excluded relatives. So I packed my bags and did the road trip down home.
I was not ready.
It was my cousin’s wedding but my marital status seemed to be everyone’s most pressing concern. From agony aunts to well meaning blustering uncles, I was riddled with questions and advice about how to ‘solve my problem’. It would be hilarious if not that listening to the aunties, a lot of whom are either divorced or stuck in unhappy marriages, revealed how society still believes a woman’s value and self worth is tied to whether or not, she’s ‘attached’ to a man.
Here are some classic pieces of advice I got from my well meaning family and friends..
– “The only deal breaker you should have is religion. If you find a man who is a Christian like you, don’t look for excuses. Everything else will work itself out. ”
– “There’s no career or achievement that is as important as getting married.”
– “See, I’m in my 50s and still having problems with my own husband. Men are the crosses we have been created to bear. Just choose the one that likes you and manage him.”
– “Do everything you can not to make men angry. If you anger men, they will not want to marry you”.
– “We know you’re doing well at work. You don’t have to show it too much. Men don’t like to feel like you’re too successful”.
– “Any man that approaches you now, don’t turn him down. Agree first, then bring his name so we can pray. Whatever problems arise, it can be fixed”.
Then the shaming…
– “Can’t you see your little cousin, don’t you want to be like her? ”
– You’re making your mother miserable. Make her happy.”
– “How old do you want to get before having children? OK. Just get pregnant. Whoever the father is, we will manage him like that”.
.. and many more hit tracks from that album.
I listened to everyone and everything and smiled till my cheeks ached. I also had a rather swell time and made myself an absolute spectacle in my well rehearsed ‘slayage’.
Will I take the advice?