By Isaac Asabor
Clearly, some people are single because they choose to be. They are simply not interested in being in a serious relationship at this time in their life. Others are single due to the circumstances of their lives. They may have just gotten out of a meaningful relationship or have dated relentlessly and just haven’t found someone with whom they’re truly compatible. The angle of this article is not to stereotype all single women or men or to put anyone in a box. However, for people, particularly those over 30, who are looking for answers to the puzzling question “Who wants to remain a Gamophobic?”, and which is invariably the title of this piece, the views expressed herein offer a food for thought.
Marriage, no doubt, is the oldest human institution ordained by God. It is absolutely natural for any bachelor or spinster to get married whenever it is auspicious to do so. In the book of Genesis, God established marriage as a permanent union between a man and a woman.
However, in the recent times it appears many bachelors and spinsters are shying away from marriage or suffering from what I would in this context refer to as “Gamophobia.”
For the sake of clarity, it is expedient to explain at this juncture that “Gamophobia is the fear of commitment, though it can also be the excessive, persistent, uncontrollable and irrational fear of marriage. It is derived from the Greek word Gamos which means marriage and phobos meaning fear. However, many experts agree that there is a subtle difference between the fear of marriage and the fear of commitment. This is because a person might be afraid of getting married but he or she might still remain committed to a single partner for life. Anyone that suffers from Gamophobia is referred to as a Gamophobic.
“Gamophobia is not just having “cold feet” at the thought of marriage; it is the morbid fear of being committed to a cause for life. Such a fear is described as being ‘parallel to the fear of dying’. People who suffer from Gamophobia prefer being bachelors or spinsters for life, or staying in a committed relationship without ever tying the knot”.
There is a growing belief that some bachelors may not drink from the “fountain of matrimony” that is literarily overflowing with sweet and bitter water. The reason for this belief is not far-fetched when many obstacles that seemingly lie on their road to marriage are taken into consideration.
Observers say that many usually give surprisingly simple reasons for their somewhat endless romance with bachelorhood or spinsterhood. Reasons given, in most cases, cut across joblessness, state of the economy, not being in the right frame of mind to face matrimonial problems, not knowing whether to marry either Bimbo, Ngozi or Zainab, Joseph or Andrew and pursuing one career or the other. Some bachelors or spinsters give the flimsy excuse that they have not found the “Miss Right” or “Mr. Right”of their dreams.
The history of marriage, particularly as it concerns Africans, is as old as the history of man himself. This fact goes to reveal that in African tradition, marriage cannot be ignored with lame-duck excuses. Any typical African adult male or female who is not married, say at the age of 40, is seen as a “sick” or not being responsible. When a man or woman is not married at 40, he may be bombarded by mockers with insincere greetings, such as, “how’s madam”? “How is oga” “How are the children?” or “How’s the family?” All these manner of greetings are apparently indirect ways of telling the bachelor or the spinster that it is about time he or she got married.
Given the importance attached to marriage in Africa, one may ask: what does the economy have to offer to sustain a happy marital life? One may not be totally wrong to say “nothing”. Many prospective bachelors are roaming the streets in search of job with their academic and professional certificates tucked away for safety in their various homes.
The majority of today’s bachelors cannot buy the cheapest cosmetic for their girlfriends, not to talk of baby food and dresses when they are eventually married. It is hard to believe that the marriage which some of us contracted with relative ease has now become the nightmare of many bachelors and spinsters of today. This situation may not be easily extricated from the fact that a great percentage of our bachelors are jobless while the spinsters are not ready to tie the nuptial knot with someone that cannot readily meet their needs.
The relevance of this article may not be appreciated except one agrees with the view that the increase in the number of spinsters on the one hand, and bachelors on the other hand, is contributing to a situation where marriages appear not to be in vogue, and creating fears in the minds of the young Nigerians of marriage age.
Let it be known that the law of demand and supply equally plays a prominent role in the choice of partners. If a father wants his daughter to be married to a suitor from a particular “special class”, they should not forget that others equally have the right to wish same for their daughters. Why can’t we allow love to determine who marries who in a heterogeneous society? To me, the issue of who marries who should be left to the unfailing power of love. If marriages are built on love factor, divorce would not be a regular feature in marriages contracted between spouses from royal, presidential and clerical backgrounds.
In 2010, some soft sell magazines reported the story of an armed robber who confessed that he got into robbery to enable him meet up with the financial need of his proposed wedding. You may criticize his action, but the truth remains that the societal expectations on various issues are getting astronomically high. Ceremonies like burial, naming, birthday and you name it are by each passing day becoming ostentatious and unnecessarily demanding. Can’t we get our values right?
Some years back, a relation obliged me the perusal of a traditional wedding list. I must confess that what I saw in the list rendered me speechless. Included in the list are small sized generator set and other electronic gadgets one would not think of making a marriage list in the days of yore. Are we commercializing pre-conditions for marriage thereby putting our young ones in trouble? Little wonder many of our young ones of marriage age are seemingly afraid of tying the nuptial knots.
Many young girls are endlessly searching for “Mr. Right”, oblivious of the fact that menopause draws nearer by the day. Women are now more concerned about material wealth of a man but not the affectionate and emotional wealth at the disposal of any prospective bachelor. Ask them why, they would reply that affection will not put food on the table.
Laughable enough, many spinsters do not know that wealth hardly sustains any matrimonial contract. The most important binding and sustaining clause in matrimonial contract is MUTUAL TRUST (emphasis mine).
Also, it is commonplace to see a spinster having more than one suitor at the same time. At a popular eatery, she would tell one of them, “I love you.” At a red light district, she would predictably be saying to another, “Honey, you are the only one I know.” Then to another man, the dark and lonely night would be punctured with “I will die for you.” Having seen how promiscuous some spinsters are, it has become difficult for some discerning bachelors to just pick some of them and say “Yes, I do” before a sanctified altar and a solemn gathering in a church or mosque. To many a bachelor, that would be an arrant hypocrisy. The matrimonial atmosphere is not as conducive as it was in the days of our parents. Statistics on divorce cases glaringly validate the fact that the rate of divorce in our today’s society is almost surpassing the rate of weddings. Simply put, as people are divorcing, people are getting married.
Besides, the rate at which some married ones among us have trumpeted the problems that are inherent in matrimony to the hearing of some of these bachelors and spinsters is arguably making some of them cringe and suffer from Gamophobia. Some of us have exaggerated the problems that many unmarried ones now dread marriage as if it is a plague.
However, it is time many of the so-called “big guys” and “big babes” took the plunge into the matrimonial ocean and confronted Gamophobia. After all, Dr. Wayne Dyer says “The fears you don’t face control you. The fears you face, you move beyond.” It is about time our marriageable young ones confronted all the foregoing problems and faced their matrimonial future with bravado. Marriage is good. God always releases his blessings through it because He is the one that instituted it. It pleases Him when His children contract marriage. Considering the benefits that are inherent in marriage, it is expedient to ask, “Who wants to remain a Gamophobic?”