Marriage is a very important institution in our society. Apart from those who have sworn the oath of celibacy, society expects everyone to get married at a certain age. For women, the pressure is much heavier than for men.
Generally, the chief requirement for marriage is love. In other words, it is believed that two people get married because they are in love.
However in our part of the world, there seems to be more considerations than love.
These include social status, finance, religion, educational background, geographical location and in some instances ethnicity. Parental preferences sometimes hold sway over the aforementioned factors though they may be linked.
Even though these may not be overtly announced, these reasons subtly influence the reasons why more women than men would either answer yes or no to a marriage proposal.
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Since societies moved from subsistence life to a cash-based society, where everything is bought and paid for with cash, all the other indicators seem to have succumbed to money. Being well behaved, being comely, coming from the right ethnic background have all become secondary.The main determinant is to be rich.
In the Western world, it is not unheard of to see for example a carpenter marry a pilot or an engineer, a waiter. Recently for instance, Prince Harry married Meghan, but this kind of marriage may be very rare in our setting.
In our part of the world, what one brings to the table is very crucial. The social standing is very important, especially so because we have assumed some professions to be socially below par.
Hardly would you find a lawyer marrying a waiter or a bus driver marrying a doctor.
The reasons for this state of affairs are not far-fetched.
Parents invest so much in the education and upbringing of their children and it is expected that much of this investment must be recouped after school when the children start to work.
How such a huge investment in training your daughter into a doctor can be recouped when she ties the knot with a vulganiser or mason remains unclear.
How for instance, will the two operate a joint account when one’s take-home is GH¢10,000 and the other GH¢1,000? And so the family is in a joyous mood when their daughter who is a typist is proposed to by a young lawyer, but the opposite is never the same when their daughter who is a doctor introduces a young handsome typist as the fiancé.
This is considered an affront and the result of a spell cast on her by the evil man, irrespective of how long the two might have dated.
Usually the more the girl rises on the social ladder, the less likely the relationship will be sustained. I have heard many stories of men abandoned by ladies they sponsored through tertiary education because they did not have that kind of education.
Some men are known to have abandoned their first wives for other women they considered to be of a higher standing just because they climbed the social ladder after they became wealthy.
In rare cases, some of our men have broken the protocol and married from lower strata of the social ladder to the chagrin of their parents. Sometimes this is due to pastoral/religious influences or unplanned pregnancies. There are even stories of some men marrying their maidservants, though our society doesn’t seem to approve of such marriages.
The critical question is, have high society marriages always been successful? Does the fact that a lawyer marries a colleague or a doctor guarantee marital success? The answer is no and the situation could be same when somebody of a high social standing marries one of a so–called lower social standing. The suspicion is that the lower person is an opportunist and a gold digger in to reap where they have not sown.
In a society where poverty still reigns, any measures to recoup investment which ultimately will be recycled in the education of younger siblings cannot be faulted.
Children are perceived as lacking experience and sense and for that matter, important decisions such as marriage choices cannot be left entirely in their immature hands.
The mention of my in-law’s name must ring bells among the social elite and that is why I will follow the trend and guide my daughter to look beyond just love. How about you?