By Lorraine Lusinje:
We love weddings in this country. Weddings are usually lively and happy affairs. Weddings have become big business and a lot of innovations around weddings keep surfacing. Decorations, photography and videography, make-up, fashion, cake-making, food and all offer opportunities for people to become creative while making money from other people’s dreams of holy matrimony.
We are in the wedding season, when we have weddings every other weekend. While, for some, a wedding is an opportunity to get into the spotlight and show off to society; for others, it is exactly what it is supposed to be— a symbol of a life-time commitment made to someone we hold close to our heart. Our reasons for entering into marriage are not always as orthodox as expected; human beings can be quite creative.
Regardless of reasons, one thing that characterises the process to a wedding is ceremonies that take place before the big day. Some spice it up with events such as bridal showers and send offs, hen parties and bachelor’s parties and, nowadays, the innovative cocktail of symbolic photo-shoots. The initial steps usually involve parties from both sides getting to know each other, followed by the groom’s side visiting the bride’s side to ask for her hand in marriage, followed by an engagement or lobola ceremony.
One thing for certain is that from around the time these activities start happening to the day of the wedding, elders and the church come in to play a crucial role in preparing the couple for marriage. Most couples will be committed to couples’ counselling as part of protocol to follow through till the big day. Most families organise counselling sessions; so does the church.
However, it is evident that the grooming and counselling focus more on the woman.
Robust etiquette and counselling sessions are usually organised for the women involved. You can find a woman going through several counselling sessions organised by stakeholders while a man only goes through one .Actually, from a young age in this country, women are subjected to many expectations that allude to marriage; they are expected to conduct themselves in a certain way so they can ensure that they are marriage material and they are expected to get married as soon as the opportunity arises. Period.
Apparently, one of the reasons this is so is that mkazi ndi amene amamanga banja [the woman is the glue that holds the family], a very common Malawi saying that is thrown around marriage counselling and marital problems that arise even after marriage. As much as this statement is good willed, it ends up seeming misguided because most take it as meaning that only women have to put in work for a marriage to work and that success of the marriage completely hinges on women. Some men are misled into believing that, as long as they married the woman and do the bare minimum, their work is done. They even expect praise for this bare minimum.
The pastor at church on Mothers’ Day preached about a virtuous woman but half the sermon was balanced by the support a man should give to uphold a virtuous woman and that it should not be expected that any relations between a man and a woman can work with only one party putting in work. So, how come we only put so much effort is making sure a woman should be a good wife?
The flip side of the wedding season I opened with is that, as much as many people enter into matrimony during these wedding seasons, there is an equal exodus out of it, especially for young couples. It is about time the bar was raised higher for both men and woman. Young or old, step up the game. A life-time commitment cannot hinge on one party. Men should be groomed from a young age too to be husband-material, to honour their commitments, to equally value their marriage, to be disciplined and well cultured, to guard their reputation and, of course, they should be drilled while young not to let chivalry die.
I rest my case.
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