This phenomenon seems to paralyze the African males, particularly the Nigerian men, to the degree of total submission and hopelessness
The axiom, ‘when death do us part,’ is no longer obtainable in marriages of African immigrants, particularly Nigerians in America.
Meanwhile, Nigerian marriages are collapsing at an alarming rate in major cities in the United States with a large concentration of Nigerian population. Thus, Dallas seems to be the divorce capital for Nigerians in the United States. Some argue that Houston has recently overtaken Dallas in marriage breakups.
However, based on anecdotal information, one in every five marriages among Nigerians in the Dallas metropolitan area is broken. Many more are cued in various courthouses or are on the verge of exploding.
Among Nigerian community, marriage is no longer sacred; it is unfortunately denigrated and defiled and we regrettably watch helplessly as many of them go over the cliff. As a result, some people, both males and females are now in their second or third marriages — no pun intended.
In the process, the African male tempered chauvinistic attitude has been diminished by the American culture and law, a favorable phenomenon to women when it comes to conjugal dissolutions. This phenomenon seems to paralyze the African males, particularly the Nigerian men, to the degree of total submission and hopelessness when it comes to asserting themselves as the head of the household in situations where the wives have taken complete control.
Unlike in Africa where a man could resolve a marital problem by simply marrying another woman without getting a divorce from the current one, the American law prohibits such practice. In the US, bigamy is against the law—well, except in some parts of Utah where some members of religious sects roam with more than one wife.
The bigamy law seems to be a chokehold on African men whose pride and arrogance have been checkmated by the American law and culture. These men feel frustrated and hopeless contending with the aspect of the American culture that deprives them of the opportunity to have more than one wife here.
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Again, the two seminal variables, law and culture, are more profound when an African man is going through a marital problem or divorce from a wife he brought from home, Africa. In most cases, majority of the spouses are trained in the US by their husbands only to assume the head of the household with a sudden rise in income. Bringing income to the family, sometimes more income than their respective husbands, seems to empower the women beyond comprehension. Nevertheless, with the American culture and law, coupled with the rise in income, some ladies have exploited the situation to tame their spouses to utter frustration. Facing child support, alimony, and 50% division of properties and assets, including retirement money, some men have stayed in a marriage that have since been dissolved in spirit. Some men have defied all the fears and moved on with their lives.
But armed with the law, some ladies have forced their spouses out of the home. Some of these actions happened at the instigation or veiled encouragement of mothers-in-laws, who came to the United States for one reason or the other, but only to aid in the dissolution of their daughters’ marriages.
It is pertinent to note that the majority of Nigerian marriages in the United States start having serious cracks when mothers-in-laws arrive. Stories of broken marriages influenced by mothers-in-laws abound. Once they come in, the attitude of their daughter changes.
Her concentration will now be on how to build a house for mom, as well as how to help her families in Nigeria to the detriment of her immediate family in the United States. Totally focused on her family in Africa, a wife would not care if her marriage breaks as a result. She would rather choose her mother and family over her husband and the brewing tension could eventually lead to separation or divorce.
Thus, divorce has become common among Africans, especially Nigerians in America. It has become a common means to end marital problems. Still, in some cases the problems never seem to go away long after the divorce. In most cases, some of these divorces in the Diaspora, are nothing, but messy and destructive to children.
The recurring sad stories of African men going through a divorce from their native wives are replete with comments such as these: “If I were in Africa, I would have married another wife.” “America gives these ladies too much freedom, too many rights.” “She wants to get all the money she could.” “She’s only after child support.”
In all these, I’m most struck with this comment by a woman who was having conjugal problems with her husband: “I’m no longer in love with him.” No longer in love with him!
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That typifies many Nigerian marriages that in the face of buoyancy seem to harbor a violent temper simmering beneath the surface. So many people have been able to cover their marital problems from the Nigerian community. Some of these people put on a show to temporarily cover up their internal rage from outsiders. Nevertheless, fear of eruption always lurks perfectly behind such pretense.
In the concluding part of this piece, I will narrate some of the actions people have taken to overcome the burden of American culture. Just like every action, there are advantages and consequences trying to escape the firm grips of the marriage laws in the United States.