“Four years ago, I got married to a man who I knew deep down didn’t love me because he was emotionally unavailable in our relationship. I was 34 and time was ticking. My mother was on my neck to get married and give her grandchildren. My uncles kept reminding me of my mates that had teenage children and asked if I was being choosy. These people didn’t ask if I had other plans for my life. All they were concerned about was me getting married and taking away shame from my family.
The pressure was too much and I gave into it. That was a huge mistake on my part. This man didn’t show interest in me, the things that concerned me or my plans for the future. He was interested in sex and money. I can’t remember the amount of money he borrowed from me for the five years that we were together.
I sponsored 90 percent of my traditional marriage and wedding. It was as if he came for another person’s wedding. I spent all my savings and even borrowed money from my company’s cooperative just to fund our marriage. Looking back now, I would have done things differently and ignored my family members.
After we got married, he became hostile to me, accused many times of cheating on him, insulted my mother and family members and locked me out of the apartment I paid for sometimes. When he lost his job a year after we got married, he blamed me for his misfortune. He refused to look for another job but sits at home doing nothing. I got pregnant and had a stillbirth. He abandoned me in the hospital and called my uncles to come and pay the bills because he doesn’t have money. My family rallied round and raised the money to get me out of the hospital.
A year later, I got pregnant again and he kept stressing me until I developed high blood pressure. It was so bad that I was hospitalized for the last month of my pregnancy so that the doctors could monitor me and my baby closely.
Throughout my stay in the hospital, I was being cared for by my mother, siblings and friends. My so called husband came twice a week and empty handed too. His phone was unreachable the day I gave birth to our child. I gave birth to a baby girl through caesarean section. It was a decision I took because I didn’t want to take any chances.
I was discharged two weeks later but when I got home, some of my valuables were missing. When I confronted my husband, he beat me and chased me and my mum out of the house with a cutlass. He burnt our wedding pictures and told me that he married me for my money and now that I have spent all of it in the hospital, I was useless to him.
That wasn’t a shock to me but it hurt me that he would lay his hands on me two weeks after giving birth to our child. I was heartbroken. I left with my mum to my younger sister’s house. I stayed there for months until I was able to go back to work, raise money and rented a room apartment for me and my child.
We became officially separated and I filed for divorce a year after. I am now a free woman but I am still not whole. That marriage damaged me emotionally. I regret sustaining the relationship when it was clear that the man was not into me. I feel like a fool for wasting years of my life with a man who didn’t love me because I was being pressured to get married. I hope some of your female readers will learn from my story and shut out meddling parents and family members who pressure them to get married at all costs.”
It is sad that at this age and time, women in this part of the world feel pressured to get married by a certain age still. I know some people might say it is not a serious issue but I have heard many stories of women who were pressured into the wrong marriages just to escape their family’s unending questions about getting married and having children.
In Nigeria, women still feel pressured to stick to some timelines when it comes to getting married and having babies whether we want to accept it or not. I know some men will claim it is for their own good so that they can have their children before menopause strikes while some women will excuse going into the wrong marriage with the lame talk of no man is perfect.
There might be a subconscious pressure to get on with it that nobody wants to admit, but women shouldn’t rush into relationships to fulfill some unwritten rule that you need to settle down by a certain age. Getting married is just the first step in the long journey; the real deal is staying married. And for me, the length of a marriage means nothing if there are more sad moments than happy times.
So why do women rush into relationships and marriages even when it is clear that the men they are dating are not on the same page with them? Why do parents and family members keep pressuring young ladies to get married without thinking about the kind of men they are getting married to?
Many women usually rush into relationships because they are eager to feel a sense of connection and attachment to someone. They really struggle with being single or being alone, so when the opportunity arises for them to be coupled, they jump into relationships prematurely as a cure to their loneliness. Others get so caught up in the initial chemistry or spark. They ignore all the red flags that show up while dating and insist on getting married to men who don’t know what it means to love and respect women.
One risk of rushing is that women let the intoxicating bonding experience of infatuation take place before understanding compatibility. Then they can be connected to someone who they possibly shouldn’t be connected to. Friendship is the foundation to any long-lasting relationship but is often skipped when women rush into romance first. People focus too much too soon on being lovers while neglecting to connect as friends first which will help the relationship in the long run.
For some people, lust is much easier than love. When people rush into a relationship, they can experience strong infatuation, attraction, and sexual chemistry, but later find that they don’t even like each other. Rushing a relationship is like building a house on sand because at some point, it will fall apart because you didn’t focus on the foundation.
Another thing that women might skip when they rush relationships is the chance to really date around. Experiencing and getting to know multiple men and comparing several individuals provide valuable relationship experience. Dating is another phase that not only gets skipped but often confuses singles in that they don’t know what dating really means or how to date. Going out and spending time with one another, gathering pertinent information about the other person, assessing true compatibility, all while being able to see other people can be so beneficial.
Rushing can lead to settling for less in relationships. If you don’t know what else is out there because you rush, then that can mean you don’t know that what’s out there could be better. Dating helps you determine who is the best fit for you. When you skip this phase and commit to the first person that gives you attention, you miss out on the possibilities. This also leads to settling to be treated shabbily and abused in most cases by the opposite sex.
Rushing into a relationship typically looks like granting full access to someone too early when you barely know them and agreeing to a commitment too quickly into the getting to know you stage. Women often chase the milestones instead of being in the moment. They date while looking forward to commitment and enter relationships looking for a ring. When you are always looking ahead it’s hard to see relationship red flags right in front of you.
Not taking time to heal and learn after breakups can mean repeating patterns. Spending some time alone to heal and reconnect with yourself is the best way to ensure that your next relationship will be a healthy one. When you rush into another relationship you are more likely to make the same mistakes or choose someone that presents with similar abusive traits. This is how people find themselves in a pattern of dysfunctional relationships.
Dear Nigerian women, if you want to enjoy good relationships and happy marriages, don’t allow anyone pressure you. Move at your own pace. Ignore the emotional blackmail of parents and family members because you are the one who will suffer if you take the wrong decision and make a wrong choice.