Racing To The Altar

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In my circle, I am known as the ‘’Joan Clayton’’ of the black sitcom Girlfriends. My cousin said the other day that I was the ‘’Kim K’’ of the Kardashians. Now, pump your breaks before going into judgemental mode. I am talking relationships here and the happily ever after.

I am a diehard fan of the black TV show Girlfriends and it’s terrible that we no longer have those shows we can relate to since they’ve been replaced by mediocre reality shows such as Keeping up with the Kardashians ☺ or by TV shows such as Being Mary Jane – a show that often misrepresents black women. Anyways, let’s go on with my topic. I want to address the trend – yes I said the trend- of getting married these days.

Joan Clayton is a successful lawyer who desperately wants a good man who will eventually be her husband and the father of her children. But the road to that happily ever after is long and often sprinkled with obstacles such as seeing her friends getting married before her and not help but being jealous of them; falling for men who sold her dreams but ended up running the other way; or simply dealing with her own insecurities. In due course, Joan finds her happily ever after. Same with Kim Kardashian, no matter what you will say about her, Kim K is a desperate romantic and her marriage to Kris Humphries was a cry for help. Her little sister had just gotten married to Lamar Odom after three months of courtship (well look where they are right now) and her older sister was having a baby. In her friend circle, her friends were starting families. She could not bear the single life so she settled for this basketball player who had different life and family values than her. And less than three months into their marriage, they divorced. In the end, she also finds her happily ever after and seems to be one of the happiest women on the planet. What I am trying to get at is we no longer wait to see if a man and a woman are compatible before jumping the broom. Marriage has been prone to be a diploma these days that when we find a woman or a man we believe we can tolerate for the rest of our lives, we put a ring on it.
The reality is marriage is not for everyone and it’s almost crucial to understand that instead of spending lots of money on a beautiful celebration and being miserable in a relationship, getting married should be like a cherry on top of a cake after a decent relationship or courtship.

My colleague – a married woman – told me from her own experience that people should take more time to get to know each other, to go through good and hard times before saying ‘’I do’’. She even added that being married is not necessary in our day and age. You can be with someone you love and spend the rest of your life with them without a piece of paper to confirm your union. I was flabbergasted the other day by the stories narrated by my friends. I am Cameroonian and tribalism has (and apparently continues to be) always been an issue in the country. They were telling me how young women in Montreal were getting married with men of their own tribe either because their parents told them to do so or because the tribe lineage needed to be fully Bamiléké or Bassa (for instance). Another friend of mine could not envision a marriage to her Bassa boyfriend as it was forbidden in his tribe to marry a Bamiléké woman because it would be a disgrace. Instead, he married a Bassa woman, but eighteen days in the marriage, he started cheating on his wife. Despicable, you will say, but this is what racing to the altar means.

According to the American Psychological Association, 40 to 50 percent of married couples in the United States divorce because they are unhappy in their marriage. If they choose to stay in their unhappy marriage, it’s often because a) they have too much to lose b) for their children c) they can’t afford to live on their own d) they can’t afford to go through the process of divorce (it’s costly) e) the stigma of divorce.

There is no problem with getting a divorce when we have had enough and yes, sometimes a divorce happens not because two people were unhappy. Some other circumstances can trigger a divorce. It is nonetheless preventable. Young women (and men) should understand that getting an education and career will be the foundation of your adult life. Don’t get it twisted, we are no longer in the 1900s where getting married was the ultimate goal. Today so many opportunities are open to us thanks to globalization, social media and an ouverture sur le monde. So when/while you are getting your paper, work on your relationship with your mate. Get to know each other, live together, overcome challenges together. Frankly, do not race to the altar but instead live your relationship without comparing your relationship to your friends’ relationships on social media or in your community. Be the Joan Clayton or the Carrie Bradshaw of your circle. Go through relationships, stumble, fall but don’t settle for someone who isn’t for you just because you want to please mom and dad or you’re afraid of being single. Know your worth, and embrace single life until the day you will find the one who will know the rare pearl that you are.

Kelly De Fogain

the author

Kelly De Fogain

Kelly De Fogain is an afropolitan of Cameroonian origin working in several fields such as environmental education and law. She is also the founder of Miss Afropolitan, a platform dedicated of young women in the African diaspora which aims to empower them with social engagement skills in order to address different local issues.

One comment

  1. This is a wonderful article. Thank you for sharing your experience. I am sure this will be be useful to many of us. I hope you have found your mate. I am still looking for mine.

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