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Mina Martins: The Dilemma That Is Love & Marriage

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Two weeks ago, I was at a friend’s introduction ceremony. You know, that whole get-together engaged couples do where they invite their families with the aim of getting to know each other.
I had never met Vivian’s husband-to-be. She and I were pretty close but we have not, in the past few months, had the time to hang out as often as we’d like. So, when she told me, barely three months after meeting Goke, that she was engaged, I was surprised. I chose to attend the Introduction in order to, at least, get to meet the groom – before the big day.

It was a typical Yoruba family affair. I got to the venue at about the same time stated on the invitation, but I fully expected to wait a couple more hours before the shindig started – you know, African time and all. I was happy to get a few moments to reconnect with the bride before the ceremony. As I walked past the living room, I caught a glimpse of a frazzled looking young man, who I suspected to be Goke, flanked by well-meaning family members.
The first thing I noticed, on entering Vivian’s room was the chaos. Clothes, makeup and accessories were strewn everywhere. I noticed Vivian sitting on a couch by herself. She seemed lost in thought. She donned a simple cotton underwear, leading me to believe she was just about to get dressed.
“Hi Viv,” I exclaimed excitedly as I reached in to give her a big hug.
“Hey babe, it’s been so long,” she replied, with what seemed like a forced smile.
I set down my purse and we both sat on the couch. Her countenance worried me.
“I saw Goke in the living room, ” I said tentatively, in an attempt to gauge her mood. “He is a handsome man, you are very lucky.”
“You think so?  I had not noticed.”
“You had not noticed that your husband-to-be is a hunk?” I asked.
“Honestly, I don’t really care.”
“Oh,  I get it now, you’re so deep in love with his stellar personality that his looks don’t matter, huh? I quipped, hoping to get a smile.
“Well, something like that,” she said. She gave a big sigh. She looked really sad.
“What’s wrong, Viv? Talk to me,” I urged.
“Can  I be honest with you?” She asked me. I noticed she was wringing her hands together nervously on her laps.
“Seriously, talk to me,” I repeated.
“I am not in love with  Goke. I am not even sure I like him much.” Before I could speak, she quickly added, “he is a good guy and I just know he will be good and true to me. He has a stable job and can provide for us. He cares about me and does all he can to make me happy.  He is truly a sweetheart. I just feel … nothing,” she concluded with another heavy sigh.
We were both quiet for a while after this declaration, possibly minutes.
“Then why are you marrying him?” I finally asked.
“Did you not hear all I just said? He is a great guy. Besides, I am turning 32 in a couple of months. There is no other guy in my life. Now, here is a man who is really good to me. My biological clock is ticking and everyone seems to me waiting on me to settle down. My parents, since meeting Goke, have been shouting his praises up and down. I can see their relief and joy that finally, I am getting married. What choice do I have?”
“But if he is really so great, why do you think you don’t have feelings for him?”
“He is just not my dream,”she said. “He does not make my heart stop. We do not have sexual chemistry. I don’t feel that happiness or contentment that I have found my better half. Sometimes, I even find his attempt at showing love really annoying. I know how ungrateful I sound right now. Women will kill for a guy like Goke, but I honestly, from the bottom of my heart, do not believe he is mine.”
At this point, I had no words.
What exactly do I say? Do I encourage her to rethink her decision? If he was so good to her, will it be the best advice if I told her to reconsider marriage to him? Will urging her to put a halt to her marriage plans cause her more harm than good?
At this point, her aunts entered the bedroom to help her get dressed. I slowly walked across the room so I am not in the way. I saw Vivian send me a look. I was not sure what I saw in her eyes. Regret? Fear? Hope? Acceptance? I gave her a slight smile, she plastered a bigger smile on her face, and began preparing for the ceremony.
With my whole heart, I wished her all the very best.
What is the difference between settling for what you know you do not want and facing reality? Vivian believed she was accepting her reality by marrying Goke. She knew she was marrying a man who loved her. She believed it did not matter how she felt. Perhaps, being in love with him is an ingredient they both can do without.
But wasn’t it also possible that she could spend her married life dreaming of that true love. She might even still nurture hope that she could one day meet him. What does it say about a wife who constantly pines for her true heart desire?
Then there is the chance that she might learn to love him. There was a time when couples met each other on their wedding day after their families spent months finding the ideal match. Not all those couples were doomed. Some learned to love each other and others simply accepted their fate.
For those who married their ‘true love,’ did this mean the union is trouble-proof? Was love truly the answer? Thousands fall in love everyday, and we witness some of these relationships die. Did that mean it was not really love?
Experts have estimated that an individual will ‘fall in love’ an average of seven times in his/her lifetime. Since we cannot all have seven spouses, what happens to all the extra doze of love we shared? How much weight should we then put on our feelings?
Vivian found a good man, in a world were good men are rare, but her feelings, or lack thereof, are causing her to be wracked with doubts. Her future is uncertain and her heart torn.
I believe there are no answers. The world is filled with people simply trying their bests. No one has a manual.
We are all simply hoping, that at the end of the day, through all the haze and confusion, we find a little bit of happiness and fulfillment.
This is the best we can hope for.
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