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The nagging ‘when are you getting married’ question

If you had a Sh1,000 for every time you got asked, “Why aren’t you married yet?” what in your dreams would you buy for yourself?

Betty Muindi @BettyMuindi

Ever noticed how once you get to a certain age, the question of when you plan to tie the knot seems to be on everyone’s mind, but your own? Well, Valentine’s Day is fast approaching.

To be precise, it is just four days away and if you are over 30 and unhitched, you probably will, if you haven’t already, start hearing the ‘So, when are you getting married?’ question.

“I have not been in a stable relationship for the past five years. But every other day, the question about when I will get married haunts me. I am sure I will hear that question a lot more this lover’s holiday too,” says 34-year-old Vivian Kubende, a marketting executive in Nairobi.

Her friends and family wonder why she hasn’t gotten a man in the city with all its diversity. When she tells them that she hasn’t gotten the right person yet, they even think of hooking her up with a Mr XYZ. “I hate extended family meetings. My aunts start teasing me, by asking, “Should we start finding a man for you?” But once I politely refuse, they start insinuating that I must be keeping a man in the city!” says a dismayed Vivian.

Men are not spared either, Polycarp Odhiambo, 37, says he dreads village visits and even meeting his married boys who always make him the topic of the day. “I have no urge to get married, I haven’t gotten a woman who would make a good wife for me, I wonder why people are usually too concerned about other people’s choices,” he retorts. Vivian and Polycarp agree that the question is annoying.

And intrusive. This, maybe, could explain why recently, a 28-year-old Faiz Nurdin killed his 32-year-old pregnant neighbour in Indonesia for often asking him when he would be getting married.

As the Indonesian police spokesperson shared; “The suspect revealed that the woman said, ‘Faster get married, the others are already married, why aren’t you getting married yet?’ These words offended the suspect.” He later followed her to her room and strangled her to death.

And while these questions are always asked in some level of jest, and are never maybe meant to hurt or offend or accidentally put anyone in an awkward position, it’s still a line of questioning that we should probably remove from polite society, says sociologist Albert Marango.

But why is the question so annoying? Marango says it is the intrusiveness and what the question implies that makes people feel annoyed. It implies inadequacy on the part of the victim. “The person being asked the question may feel like they are being accused of dragging their feet.

It can be hurtful and damaging,” he says adding, “It might be adding salt in a pre-existing wound, or reminding them that their personal life choices are constant disappointment to others.” But he says it is a general problem that boils down to the society.

Individuals asking that question are not entirely to blame. “The idea of being worthy of marriage has been ingrained into our brain so much, thanks to our patriarchal society. Every time anyone asks this question, they perpetuate the notion that marriage is the ultimate endgame, that it’s what’s best for the relationship,” he offers.

And if not cautious, this pressure, Marango says, can make a woman or man feel a little insecure. “You will find yourself falling into this trap, asking yourself why, actually you are not married,” he says.

“Some people who pester you about when you’re getting married are just nosy. Others genuinely care about you, and happen to see marriage as a part of success in life. Whether or not you agree with them, you can acknowledge if they mean well, without changing who you are,” he concludes.

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