‘And now listen to me in turn, you have touched me more profoundly than I thought even you could have touched me – my heart was full when you came here today. Henceforward, I am yours for everything’. These are some of the phrases that couples commit to one another as they pledge their eternal fondness towards each other. Marriage has always been and will always be sacred. Genesis 2:24 ‘therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife and they shall become one flesh’. Ephesians 5:25 ‘for husbands, this means love your wives just as Christ loved the church. He gave up his life for her’. These are just some of the many biblical evidence underpinning sacrosanct the institution of marriage.
Is marriage still held as a valuable institution? Personally, I still hold marriage as an important undertaking. In fact, I believe that it remains one institution that is preserving the rightful civility. To me, marriage is that centre that the world cannot afford to break, lest we find ourselves leaving a directionless life. But of course this does not suggest that singleness is a lesser standard. Several valid reasons exist why singleness might perceive a viable option. They include death of a partner, financial hardships, challenges in finding a compatible suitor, health issues and many others. My motivation for writing this piece is to strongly advocate for marriages in the 21st century against the voice that seek to make light of the value for a marriage.
According to the Botswana Society 2014, the population census data between 1971 to 2011 shows that fewer and fewer men and women who are eligible for marriage are getting married and the proportion of people who are cohabiting is on the increase. The percentage of the population married declined from 42.9 among women and 47.1 among men in 1971 to 17.9 and 18.8 respectively in 2011. The proportion of the population who were unmarried increased from 37.0 among women and 44.0 among men to 53.4 and 58.1 percent respectively in the same period. These changes are attributed to the changing socio-economic conditions such as increasing levels of education and female participation in the labour force. The vital statistics report of 2017 shows that only 6203 marriages were solemnized in 2017 out of a population of about 2.2 million. It is also reported that the age of marriage has increased from 37 years to 41 years for males and from 32 years to 36 years for females over a period of 10 years.
In Australia and other western developed nations, the breaking down of traditional gender roles and women’s increasing independence as indicated by greater participation in the public sphere and higher levels of female educational and labour market participation and the general availability of contraceptives, are viewed as providing women with options other than marrying or remaining in unsatisfactory relationships (Gilding 1997 & Parker 2002). Just like in these countries, nuptiality in Botswana is undergoing serious changes. Personally I think more often than not, we chase after not so important things in a marriage. We may prefer compatibility or security even something as wonderful as laughter. There is nothing wrong with these things, but there is something seriously wrong with a lack of gentleness and humility in a marriage. It is the latter which forms a permanent foundation for a permanent marriage.
True marriage is more than joining the bonds of marriage of two persons, it is the union of two hearts. It lives on the love you give each other and never grows old, but thrives on the joy of each new day. Married people are both responsible for and responsible to another human being, and both halves of that dynamic, lead the married to live more responsible, fruitful and satisfying lives. It is my view that true marriage should have nothing to do with societal transformations that empower women or men. Many compatible issues only derail us from getting married at the right time. It is about adaptation and putting first your partner before yourself. Humility and gentleness provide the necessary nutrients to grow a marriage. My humble conclusion is that marriage is still a very valuable institution today. I encourage those that are eligible to forge ahead and marry. Do not get distracted by the naysayers. After all, every marriage has its own goodies and times that are gloomy but temporal.