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Is marriage a reward of good behaviour?

By Sandra Wekesa
Friday, July 16th, 2021 00:00 | 4 mins read
Married couple. Photo/Courtesy

While many African parents seemed to conclude that getting hitched was something earned for being a well-behaved daughter, today’s experts argue that the mentality is seriously flawed. 

Sandra Wekesa @wekesa_sandra

As a woman you might have heard, or even been told something like, “Such behaviour will not be acceptable in your husbands house.”

Or, “Is this how you will behave when you get married?” From the time children, especially girls start to know what is right and wrong, every admonition given revolves around doing good, and living right because one day they will get married

In as much as this was what the society, especially parents or agents of good morals instilled in young women, it brings out the debate whether marriage was a reward of good behaviour for women. 

Jola Sotubo, an author, based in Nigeria, demystifies this saying marriage is never a reward of anything.

In her book, Love Letters to my Ex, she writes, “I hear people ask, why bad girls are getting married easier and quicker than decent girls and whether there is any point of remaining a virgin or being good.”

She shares that in as much as virginity and good morals were merely a bargaining chip so you can show a man you are worthy, it is never the case.

According to her, in today’s era men no longer look for that village girl waiting to be married.

“Whatever you are doing, do because you believe it’s the best thing not because someone told you it will qualify you for marriage,” she advises. 

Nobody is perfect

But is that what women in today’s society think? Could it be the reason dating couples put their best foot forward? 

Michele Cheruto says she never thought she was good enough to get married although deep down she really wanted a family.

“My mother would always scold me for getting home late saying how my husband would remarry since I was ever out with friends.

I had to do house chores to learn how to take care of my husband and submit to him,” she recalls. 

She shared her reservations with a family member who advised her that men don’t only look for a wife, but also a companion and a mother to their children. This made her change.

“I’ve always been good with children. I knew I wanted them, but I wasn’t sure if I wanted a husband.

When I entered the dating scene, I really thought about it and realised there was nothing hard about getting married the way our parents made us believe,” she recalls. 

Getting married didn’t change the fact that she was an outgoing person and once in a while, she goes out to have some fun.

Sometimes her husband would join her while other times, she would go out with her friends. For her, marriage is definitely not a reward for good behaviour. 

Brian Waka, thinks otherwise. As a man, he believes in looking for a ‘wife material.’

“I don’t care if she would change her behaviour after marriage. I just want what is best for me as well as my children,” he says.

Marriage and relationship coach, Grace Achoki says, while ‘good behaviour’ might be used as a corrective measure, especially among the girl child, it certainly isn’t something that will automatically fetch anyone a husband.

“Marriage is never a reward for being a good boy or girl. People marry regardless of flaws and misconceptions because they get along and not because anybody is perfect. After all, nobody is perfect,” she says. 

She shares how some people put marriage on the level of something earned, deserved, especially if you have a great child, who is well behaved. 

Grace further observes that the society shouldn’t judge single people, especially those  who are over 30 years and brand them as failures for not getting married, simply because they are not ‘good enough’ to get hitched or that they have bad characters.

“They could be single because they want to be so. All they are going through a lot of issues in life.

Everybody needs someone and being there for that one person even with their ‘bad behaviour’ means a lot,” she says.

Additionally, good is relative. What one may consider good, may not be so for another person.

“You may think that being conservative is a good thing,  but to another person, they want someone who is a risk taker,” says Joan Wangechi, a public relations professional. 

On her part, Nicoleta Mungai, marriage therapist at Kenya Marriage Counselling agrees that being good doesn’t guarantee one a partner.

After all, even in the job market, it is said good girls don’t get the corner office.

“So many people fall in love, not because they have good behaviour, rather because they are compatible and believe that they are meant to be together,” she says. 

Live for you

She observes how good behavior is something expected of every decent human whether male or female and while attraction may come as a result of it, it is certainly not something that automatically fetches anyone a husband.

She shares how being good for the sake of someone else doesn’t help in the end. “So you weren’t being good for yourself, you were being good for the hopes of finding a man.

So? It’s a doctrine that need to be unlearned. Parents should not repeat the same mistakes with their daughters.

They should teach them how to live for themselves and not for other. Whatever they choose to be, or do, it should be for them, because they matter and their lives are theirs to live for,” she says.

Sandra Wekesa

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