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If you must fear, fear marriage

Published July 30, 2009

Gamophobia is a condition where one is insanely afraid of marriage, where as anuptaphobia is a condition of insane fear of staying single. One man’s meat is another’s poison, they say.

I have never been a fan of such big words; I wonder what we call the fear of big words. I guess another big word has been coined to describe that fear of big words.

I have been trying to decide which of the two evils is better. If I had to be one of the two, which one would I prefer?

By being gamophobic, what am I giving up? No, ‘giving up’ is not it, since that is not an option. Let’s just say, you “miss out” on first and foremost, a companion or husband. Children, may be, (since a woman can very well have children without having to be married), and the feeling of belonging that comes with the family. Married people understand this comfort of unity, oneness and sense of belonging, which is one of the beauties of family. It is the soothe that whenever something happens you will always have someone to share it with good, bad, or even ugly. Gamophobia blows all that away.

But compared to morbid fear of being single is gamophobia that bad after all?

Women who fear being single are easy prey for abusive men. There is no better catalyst for abuse than a man knowing that he will pretty much get away with anything. With this fear of being single comes the desperation to have someone in your life no matter what, good or bad.

We live in times when the economy has become so bad that if a lady does not have a job to support her, she better has a man to pay the bills. This in turn fuels silence in abusive relationships. After all, you do not bite the hand that feeds you, right? And yes, unhappiness cuts across nuptial lines. Women are unhappy whether married or single – single ones, because they haven’t “nailed” someone yet, and the married ones, because this isn’t just as rosy as it should be. At this rate, marriage is becoming more like a job. The applicant with the better curriculum vitae (read cash value) or fat wallet for crying out loud, gets the job. Unemployment has indeed affected all the institutions, but marriage institution has got more than its fair share of impact.

Both ways, we have very unhappy women, making do with their fortunes, or is it misfortunes? Working with what they have-what they can get. Gamophobic or otherwise, women are afraid.
In my opinion, a gamophobic does not have self–esteem issues. On the contrary, she believes so much in herself that, ironically, her immense strength forms the basis of her fear. An anuptaphobic, on the other hand, has such low self-esteem that she cannot imagine life without a ‘married’ tag to her status.

Men, open arms alone won’t cut it for every woman. Do the Swahili call it mkono mtupu haulambwi? Your pockets had better be loaded. With most relationships today, it’s all about the “Benjamins”. Forget the days when a woman would get married and be content with whatever the man had to his name, meagre or not. Today, men have become like a source of income. Many women are asking themselves whether by being with a man, she will have “plenty of nothing” or plenty of everything. You know what our preference is, of course.

With fear comes a challenge to conquer that very fear. Some face the challenge, others do not have the stomach for such “torture”. Those who face it get a chance at happiness, and those who do not, remain trapped. With all the man-driven problems of poverty, insecurity, unemployment, political uncertainty and numerous disappointments here and there, would anyone want to add more to the list?

This is what begs the question as why most women would rather suffer silently in marriage than pursue the joy of being single. Is it so bad to be single and free? Accept the fact that some marriages just can’t be saved – that is the cruel truth. Divorce in the African setting is scorned and almost taboo. Yet, it is one of the antidotes to a hostile marriage. Staying and hoping that things will eventually work out somehow is only postponing the problem. It is a mirage and the utmost folly of “love is blind.” That love better gets eyes.

We are going crazy as a society. Show me a happy woman, and I will show you a sane society.

I would rather women have no fear whatsoever. But, if you have to fear something, please fear marriage – only if you have to. But never, ever fear being single. When you are afraid of getting married, you feel whole. Your fear is…..can I call it…..external? The fear of being single however is internal. It has to do with you. You do not believe in yourself. You feel incomplete, and hence your need for complementary other. Extreme fear of marriage means, you bestow power on yourself (though in an excessive way).

Granted, both are serious conditions that need fixing. But, boy, don’t I wish more sisters suffered from gamophobia. If that were the case, we would have very few abusive relationships. We would have very powerful women who believe in their own capabilities, and therefore our men will reform. That will be our day of liberation!

A man, is a man, is a man, and is a man. He can smell your fear from miles away and be the beast he yearns to be with the slightest of chance; dictate, possess, and even own you. If you fear losing your man toe the line. Grant him all his wishes and even become his door mat. When you come crying, you will not lean on me.

Happy relationships have flourished mainly because of women. Put your foot down and demand to be respected baby. Demand even if deep inside you feel it is outrageous. Even the men acknowledge that if you want something, you have to ask for it. And if you want something, want it really bad, even if it is neither important nor urgent, just want it.

If your relationship is not working, neither party is happy. Try counselling, spiritual guidance, anything. If all those, and anything else, don’t work, change the locks if it is your house. If it is his, rent a lorry and move your stuff. That works!

In the long- run, it is not just about that single or married woman. It is not just about that woman afraid to be single or afraid to be married. It all comes down to the kind of society we want to see. By the choices we make, we mould future generations. The wayward child will come from a family with an abusive father; the well-behaved child will come from respectful successful family.

It is about time that the African woman woke up and smelled the very strong aroma of the brewing coffee.

Do not be afraid of being single. It is OK. Do not be afraid of getting married either. It is also OK. Marriage is a calling- just like priesthood is- and if it does not work for you, fine. Learn from priests who think that they have a calling to “chill”, only to realise that celibacy is not their thing. I digress. That is a story for another day.

All I am saying is this: Some things cannot be faked. With relationships, let fear not be a factor. Conquer your fears and get a chance at happiness.

Reach Renee Murrey at editor@eafricainfocus.com

Author Profile: Story  on August 1, 2009, 14 Comments

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14 Responses to “If you must fear, fear marriage”

  1. Trouble Maker says on: 31 July 2009 at 12:05 pm

    What if I am single, not bound by biological clock nonsense pushing me into marriage. Why cant I be single, be committed in a relationship and not want marriage? Why cant I retain my independence as a single woman, have a committed relatioship for companionship have my values? it is not any fear, its called having room to breath, we love each other, we need a break we take a break. You keep your place and I keep mine. isnt there a guy out there who wants that? or are such arrangements only made by men who are married having affairs? or cheating on their girlfriends? You can be single, be committed, value boundaries of a comitted relationship and yet choose not to be married.

  2. single by choice says on: 31 July 2009 at 8:15 pm

    I am a successful Kenyan woman who also happens to be single, and I can’t agree more with you. Enlighten them girl. Tell them. When will our Kenyan sisters wake up?

  3. Renee says on: 1 August 2009 at 3:57 am

    Your arrangement is pretty interesting. I will choose to call it “Denial”. Sounds like GAMOPHOBIA to me. So, you keep the “single” tag while at the same time you are in a “committed” relationship. You are neither in nor out. You need a break from what, each other?? There is your problem right there.If you need a break, something is wrong with that relationship. You don’t want to go forward and be fully committed (read married), and at the same time you don’t want to call it quits. So,what exactly do you want???

  4. edward says on: 1 August 2009 at 12:00 pm

    fear or no fear,marriage is part of life.the fear of long words is referred to as HIPOPPOTOMOTRANSQUESEQUEPEDAPHOBIA

  5. Pesa says on: 2 August 2009 at 10:24 am

    How I wish I could be single, while at the same time, married. Women are the spoilers of great relationships. And they are the loudest!

  6. Okumu says on: 3 August 2009 at 10:20 am

    big time. Probably it tells Renee big words are here to stay. Whether the word will ever be accepted into usage… I leave to the wind. Edward, is it a good or bad part? Renee, what do we do now? We want the sisters and we want a little of our way too.

  7. Renee says on: 4 August 2009 at 1:40 am

    Yeah, that word sure is BIG (cant even try to pronounce it though). Thanks Edward, am really enlightened!!
    @Okumu, you know, men have been lucky so far because most of them have been living with the ladies and having their way too. The ladies have accepted to suffer in the name of love. They think that its the way life is, the way marriage is. They have been told that marriage is not a bed or roses and when they are abused, they explain it away as part of the “thorns” that come with marriage. Well, if they could just open their eyes, if only…… I wish. I know am really stretching my luck here but I hope more and more women will come to demand what they deserve. True, marriage is not a bed of roses, but damn! this days its more like a garden of thorns!!! Infidelity, abuse(physical and emotional) name it……To cut a long story short Okumu, Men have so far been getting away with so much, too much. But your days are counted……(I hope).

  8. Renee says on: 4 August 2009 at 1:46 am

    @Pesa, you disappoint me! Women the spoilers of great relationships, you say???? If anything women are the ones that hold the families together or relationships for that matter. We are loud, but should I start naming the numerous irritating habits that men have? Unfortunately it will take too much time and so many pages. We all come with some quirks.

  9. Victorine says on: 7 August 2009 at 11:31 am

    A certain wise man observed that a good number of those who are mariied want to get out of it while those who have never been married long to get into it. So its true there are two extremes that of the “desperados,” who think that marriage is bread and butter and the other category of those who have tasted and seen that marriage can also be sour. I think one should really think before getting married, better a broken engagement than a broken marriage

  10. Nganga says on: 9 September 2009 at 6:18 am

    On, Trouble maker’s comments:
    Who makes the rules? Who says she has to be in either a firm relationship(read marriage)or single?
    If she can have the best of both worlds, and she knows the consequences, I say, go on ahead, have the relationship, let him live at his house, you live at yours, enjoy each others company when you do, and when yo don’t, you still have your place.
    Call it fear or selfish but I’m a believer that even husband and wife should live apart, if they want to. They have arranged visits, they live happily ever after, because men tend to start “Killing marriages’ when they feel like they’re getting suffocated. Ag guy wants to come home(sometimes to a quiet nagless house, take off his sock at the door(and no one to tell him where to put them)pick a pack of juice, drink directly from the pack/bottle and just flop onto his lazy seat, to silence. Yes, we don’t always have our Hi-fi’s/TV’s on at full volume!
    Meanwhile, if she’s home alone, she will not have to keep yelling at him for leaving the toilet seat up, not making the bed, waking up on time, she can watch anything other than football and can call up her girlfriends to”talk” at anytime of the day without fearing to annoy him etc.
    If the conventional institutions/relationships are not working, take out the kinks and remodel them to ways that are comfortable to the parties involved.
    2)To the women/men looking at the bank account before committing to their partners, an illustration:
    A rich man sat a ta a dinner lounge of one of the upper class poshy restaurants, noticed a strikingly beautiful woman seated across the table, and decided to make conversation.
    Soon they were on the same table, and after enjoying their dinner, he decided to take her head on.
    “Im a very rich man, I own holiday homes all over the world. My company stocks are at a record high and Forbes is about to publish my name as one of the youngest CEOs at the foreront of the ICT world. Would you sleep wiht me for a million dollars?”
    She is shocked by his forwardness, but she sees the opportunity and quickly accepts.
    Before the leave, he asks another question, Would you sleep with me for one dollar”
    “Certainly not!What do you think I am?” she angrily retorts.
    “I already know what you are, I’m only trying to establish your price” he quickly answers before heading off on his own.

  11. Renee says on: 10 September 2009 at 1:24 am

    Funny story Nganga. But you and I both know that the arrangement you suggested cannot work. Don’t all relationships begin like that? You are living apart and things are going on so well, but human nature is such that the more you give of yourself, the more you expect in return. From a lady’s perspective; If I am seeing a guy and I am totally committed to him, I sure as hell expect the same from him. Now to the guy, this could be a fling but we all know that a lady can never detach herself from her emotions. With us, it is just never about sex or the good times. Our emotions get involved. We get hooked and ‘fall in love’ sooner or later. When this happens, we want you all to ourselves. We don’t want to share you with some other woman. So, how can a lady agree to live apart from his boyfriend/husband and risk having another woman take her place? That can never happen! It’s just not how it works with us. You are either in or out; married/engaged/in a relationship or single. Nothing in between!

  12. janet says on: 14 September 2009 at 4:22 am

    the part that impressed me most is ‘show me a happy woman and I show you a sane generation.’ I had this in mind but did not have words to explain it. Otherwise I have learnt that I should not fear being single which I hv always done because of some of the reasons that I’ve found helpful. Thank you

  13. Queen says on: 14 October 2009 at 12:23 am

    I am married, and my sole reason for being married is one, ‘Financial Security’. My husband is a multi – millionaire, and i have everything that cash can possibly buy. I drive posh cars without apologies, buy designer wear clothes, take vacations abroad etc etc..i am not in for it for companionship!I am in it for the ‘benjamins baby’. My greatest fear is poverty, been there, done dat, and it wasn’t funny! So is there any word to desacribe the fear of poverty?

  14. Renee says on: 14 October 2009 at 8:12 am

    @Queen, the fear of poverty is called Peniaphobia but I do not agree that you suffer from it. What you have is a fear to be single since it will result in you being poor. So, you have Anuptaphobia honey! I like your attitude, you are such a realist.


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