Although both church and traditional marriages are marriages, most educated people prefer to be married under the Act or to be married in an accredited church because they feel church marriage or marriage under the Act is more superior to traditional marriages. This is not far from the truth as most women have better rights in the event of dissolution of marriage under the Marriage Act or in the event of death of their husband. On the other hand, men have better rights under native law and custom, as most native laws and customs in Nigeria are known to favour men to a very large extent. For instance, a man married under the native law and custom of his people has the right to marry a second wife and even a third wife or fourth wife if he so chooses. The custom of his people are in full support of such behavior, while a man married under the Act is es-topped by the Act from marrying a second wife when he is still validly married to the first wife. Further, a man married under the native law and the custom of his people need not share his property into two equal parts when he chooses to be separated from his wife. He can tell her to leave his house with no means of livelihood or no sort of maintenance especially when the woman in question bore him no children. However, this sort of treatment is not allowed under the marriage Act, hence it is advisable for women to marry under the marriage Act which is the cheapest form of marriage but the most expensive and most stressful to dissolve. Marriage under the Act does not necessarily require a woman to put a wedding dress as she could simply wear a gown, native attire or a suit depending on her taste. So, if a man is dreading the expenses of having a lavish church wedding after expending resources on his traditional marriage, he can simply take that lovely lady to the marriage registry and forgo the ceremonies of an elaborate church wedding. Finally, ladies the importance of marriage under the Act cannot be over emphasized and rather than postponing the marriage under the Act for the simple reason that you want your church wedding to be the best societal wedding, my simple advise is that you protect your rights as a wife and opt for a marriage under the registry depending on the means of your husband or your family.
Can we imagine for a moment what marriage would look like if a prenuptial agreement was one of the pre-conditions to getting married? Well, I imagine marriage would turn into a full time business venture. I had this chat with a colleague who seems to be of the strong opinion that couples should sign a prenuptial before getting married. I strongly opposed this view because on the main fact that it would destroy the essence of marriage. I am a strong in the fact that marriage is a shot in the dark and once we introduce the idea of prenuptial agreements the essence of marriage will be defeated as people would be going into it with the option of backing out at any point in time. In fact, marriage would be like dating where you can walk in or out at any given point in time. My colleague was of the opinion that a prenuptial agreement is like insurance and that as human beings we all take up insurance policies not because we pray for bad things to happen but to kind of help us when they do happen. However, I think prenuptial agreements are mostly signed by people with low self-esteem, who feel they are incapable of being loved for who they are but are rather loved for their achievements or their status in the society. Yeah! It is also meant for rich people who basically see marriage as another business deal or rich people who are insane enough to marry a gold digger. Prenuptial agreement destroy the romance, it makes marriage look like it’s all about the money and not the feeling of wanting to be with each other. It gives marriage an ugly look and worst of all it destroys trust. To my mind’s eye, signing a prenuptial agreement means the marriage will not last for a life time because one person will walk out of it. More so, a prenuptial agreement can be nullified where all assets were not disclosed, where there’s fraud, duress, lack of representation of one of the parties at the time of signing the agreement.
It is against this backdrop that I pondered and wondered why people even go through the bother of signing a prenuptial agreement, and then I realized that most couples that sign a prenuptial agreement may be trying to protect their business assets accumulated before marriage. Further, a prenuptial agreement ensures that financial issues are laid bare on the table as well as it preserves family inheritance; protects children of other marriages; apportions assets to children and other family members in the event of death; and in the event of divorce it extinguishes the fight for finances and assets. Surprisingly, prenuptial agreements also protect properties in the marriage in the event of bankruptcy.
It must be pointed out that initially a prenuptial agreement was entered to protect the woman especially in the United States before the Married Women’s Property Act 1884 became law due to the fact that everything a woman owned or inherited was transferred to her husband upon marriage and in the event of death or divorce she could lose everything. Additionally, in some countries even historically prenuptial agreements have never been legally binding. African countries can be counted amongst the countries that do not accord legal recognition to prenuptial agreements. However, the waters can be tested if couples enter into such an agreement before marriage and in the event of divorce tender it to make it easier for the Judge to decide on the distribution of the properties, maintenance of the woman and the custody of the children. Perhaps, this could lead to faster dispensation of justice as well as reduce the length of divorce trials.
My final word remains this: the prenuptial agreement is dispensable in marriages because it destroys the essence of marriage, because marriage is a contract for which the consideration is ‘love’. It strips the couples of trust and brings distrust in its stead, but looking at real world and the number of divorce that rocks marriages it is best for everybody to know the pros and cons of prenuptial agreements while working hard to preserve the sanctity of marriage which is love, perseverance and mutual respect.
Another secret to preserving a relationship between spouses is perseverance, most couples are not determined to keep the vow of ‘till death do us part’ Most couples would rather say till lack of funds part us or till the issue of barrenness’ do us part. Perseverance is a key to having a long-lasting relationship with your spouse, once a spouse can develop the spirit of determination, in addition to love the marriage would last for a life time. Trust is another component that helps in preserving relationships, when there is a distrust lurking around in a marriage it comes with suspicion, back biting, jealous rage and a lot of other factors which would eventually lead to the end of such union. Further, another factor that can help build a long-lasting relationship which previously existed is the ability to be open to corrections in a relationship, as well as the ability of the spouse correcting to do so with love and understanding and not with malice and insults. Spouses that are open to corrections always have the best relationships because they are always seeking ways to improve their skills in all spheres of the relationship, be it in matters of sex or matters of food or matters of finances. As we all know it relationships with our spouse is hard work and the only way we can keep our relationship is by maintaining it and sustaining it by what we do or say. Spouses must cultivate the habit of listening to each other, taking corrections, understanding when the going gets tough rather than bailing out. Spouses must enter into a marriage union with the mentality that it is for better or worse and not with a prenuptial agreement in the event of separation. The anticipation of separation is proof that you are marrying the wrong person. The mindset that there is a door out of the marriage if things don’t work out shows that you never intended to have a long and lasting relationship in the first place. It is profound that relationships are not all rosy and there are times when it would be surrounded by thorns but it is our ability to look past the thorns that preserves our relationship. In sum every long-lasting relationship between spouses is characterized by love and perseverance amongst other. So, next time you say to your spouse ‘I love you’ make sure you mean it.
Long ago we heard about couples celebrating thirty years union, golden jubilee, silver jubilee and the likes. It seems to be very many years ago as the rate of marriage is high and the rate of divorce is even higher. I have even heard the story of a couple that got married and separated on that same day of the marriage. The issue of separation or divorce has become the general rule rather than the exception; it is messy and bloody as couples wash their dirty linens in the eyes of the public. Ha! Celebrities always have the worse type of divorce especially when the press has a keen interest on the celebrity.
Now, I have constantly asked myself what is the cause of divorce in this present generation and a lot of answers flooded in from my observations of how people develop and run their relationships. The catchiest answer I could find to the problem of high divorce rates lies in what couples are not doing to preserve their marriage. The biblical command on marriages is ‘’wives be submissive to your husband and husband love your wives as Christ loved the church.’’ Hence, I would start from love, love is that feeling that makes you think of a particular person all the time, it brings out the passion in you, it makes you make sacrifice for your spouse, it is patient and kind and understanding and forgiving. It brings you closer to your spouse and brings depth to your relationship with your spouse. In sum, love as stated by Robert Sternberg is blended into three components which are passion or physical attraction, intimacy or feelings of closeness and commitment which means the decision to initiate and sustain a relationship. Why would couples go through the bother of exchanging marriage vows if they have no intention to keep it, ‘I love you’ means I love you enough to forgive you even when you upset me; I love you enough to be committed to you even when things are not going on well between us, because I know our love for each other would give us the strength to overcome it; I love you enough to be kind to you rather than turning you into my punching bag; I love you enough to understand that I cannot always have my way in the relationship; I love you enough to look out for own interest by including you in all my plans.
In my opinion, if ‘love’ exists in a relationship between spouses, the tendency to divorce the one you love would be nonexistent. However, most couples do not know the meaning of love even though they say it often to each other, hence the rate of high divorce.
I once had this chat with a male friend on marriage proposals and his statement to me was shocking because I never thought of it in that light, at least not for Nigerians born in Nigeria and living in Nigeria who have not travelled outside the shores of the country and have attached too much importance on traditional values. His statement was simple as he said ‘any man who does not propose to a lady with a ring in this day and age is not serious about marrying that lady’. Now, I took it within the Nigerian context, because as we all know, the idea of engagement ring sounds western.
However, the origin and history of engagement ring poked my curiosity and for days I couldn’t stop thinking about the nagging question that tucked my every being. ‘’Is an engagement ring a necessary tool for marriage proposals for Nigerians living in Nigeria in the 21st century’’ I know most people might have differing answers with basic reasons. But first, it is wise to take a peek at the origin and history of engagement rings. Although an engagement ring has been generally described as a ring connoting that the wearer is engaged to be married particularly in western cultures, it must be emphasized here that the history of engagement ring began in Ancient Egypt and was used to symbolize a never-ending circle. It gradually moved to the West as the Romans saw it as a symbol for ownership instead of love. Subsequently in Europe engagement rings were given as a pledge of love and fidelity and especially for the Romans it was used as a gift for betrothal and did not necessarily imply marriage.
Presently, in the 21st century in Nigeria a lot of factors come to play when a man intends to propose marriage to a woman and I believe that these factors to a large extent affects the nature of proposal a woman would get. Factors ranging from the ethnic group of the woman in question; the character of the woman; the family background of the woman; the finances of the man; his status in the society; his religion, his responsibility within his immediate and his extended family to mention a few. For instance, when a man is not financially stable and just wants to marry because he thinks all his mates are married or because he has a set target on when to marry he may not necessarily be patient enough to propose with a ring. Guys, am I right?
I know most ladies grew up with the notion of romance which was reinforced by Mills and Booms novels and American romantic movies as well. Realizing that the prince charming of the movies/novels do not necessarily exist in real life they try to create one out of the man they are with at that point in time. Sometimes, they perceive the proposal of marriage with an engagement ring as ‘classy’ and they go about making a fuss about it and recounting his proposal. However, not all ladies have the opportunity to feel or recount such fairy tale like stories and this could be as a result of numerous reasons such as religion, lack of initiative on behalf of the man because he was never exposed to romantic movies or he simply does not believe in it. In such circumstances, the women in question should not feel bad because the essence of engagement ring is not more important than the relationship you share with that man you call your own. Engagement rings can be like a breath of fresh air in terms of marriage proposals which comes in different forms in Nigeria and which most unscrupulous men use in deceiving poor unsuspecting ladies out there, but it is not a must have because the man can always give it to the lady after the marriage proposal and in certain circumstances both can shop for it. I believe the most important thing in a marriage proposal is the intention and the ability to keep that fire of love burning for a life time. However, guys always try to buy an engagement ring while proposing; it does put a smile on her face, gives her that feeling of being special and makes her radiate with joy. Do you think an engagement ring is a necessity for a marriage proposal?