'To Have and To Hold,' Easier Said than Done

June 19 , 2021
By Eden Sahle ( Eden Sahle is founder and CEO of Yada Technology Plc. She has studied law with a focus on international economic law. She can be reached at edensah2000@gmail.com. )

All people around the earth, regardless of gender, religion, race, culture, or outlook, share at least one thing in common: the challenge of finding the right person to spend the rest of their lives with. In the current wedding season that we are in, it's great to see people make one of the biggest decisions of their lives.

Typically, Saturdays and Sundays would be abuzz with car horns and wedding songs from newlyweds and their large entourage. In large, fully-booked halls, they make their vows in matrimony, “to have and to hold,” a promise easier said than done for many.

A couple of weekends back, a bright young woman in her mid-twenties I knew for a few years in volunteer work got married in a lavish wedding ceremony in a five-star hotel. She was always open about her life and dreams. But her sudden wedding was such a surprise to all of us who knew her. Little did we know that she was also astonished by her own wedding. It did not take us long to find out the whole story.

An Ethiopian-born American senior man had come all the way from the United States to marry her after just looking at her picture. He only saw the picture of his bride a few months before their wedding and made arrangements with her parents, who became convinced that it is best for her to marry a complete stranger.

Even with only a week left for her wedding, she had not met her husband-to-be in person. She was submissive to her parents' wishes but also was visibly enraged during the entire luxurious ceremony. On several occasions, she pushed back against her husband, the one she has publicly promised to love and cherish for life. It seems guests understood something and gossip about the newlyweds started right there at the invitation table.

Unfortunately, even for women like her – whose exposure and level of education was supposed to shield her from such things – such awful things happen in bright daylight, changing their lives for the worst. Marriage is only wonderful when the two individuals willingly commit to it, knowing what they are getting themselves into. Knowledge about marriage and relationships does not come by easily but it should not be something we do for others.

Personally, I give credit to the nonfiction books that gave me an understanding of marriage and relationships early on in my teenage years. I am incredibly grateful to those books as they have significantly shaped my life. They taught me the time I am most prepared for marriage is not when I reach a certain age or income level but when I do not need anyone to instil in me a sense of my worth and when I have first learned how to be single.

The right types of books teach us how to be focused on the things we wanted to do, being comfortable with ourselves first. They imbue us with life principles and pieces of advice to stand strong, be self-assured, and persistent in the values that we live by, even if this means walking alone path. I came to understand singleness as a blessing and a perfect opportunity for character and personal development.

There is nothing wrong with waiting for a person with values, goals, dreams, and incredible views on life to develop a level of physical, spiritual and mental maturity that is not rushed. It led me to discern what is right and wrong and what I will and will not do when looking for a partner. Seeing beyond the overly generalised narrative about the opposite sex should help us to see them for who they are as persons.

Filtering out society's biased outlook should allow us to settle matters essential to us in our hearts and minds beforehand – this includes education and career goals. This should help us to put the appropriate amount of attention on our life aims without feeling the need to gain them from a husband with wealth or status.

No doubt, wealth and status are undoubtedly great things, but they should not dictate how we see and value people. At least, that should not be where our values rest in declining or accepting requests. Ambition and what drives the purpose, spirituality, desires of our partners, as well as their personality, are what matter most.

Although the physical aspect should not be discounted, neither should it be forgotten that it can be deceiving.

Throughout my single life, many people thought I was lonely. They never questioned it could be by choice. Almost everyone I knew used to push me to meet a man, get married, and start a family. Some also boldly affirmed the man I was looking for only exists in my head as they also did the same until they decided to settle down with the man or woman who just showed up at one stage.

Traditional cultures attempt to justify marriage and parenthood as an end in and of themselves. From a perspective of a culture that aims to ensure the continuation of society, whatever the consequence to individuals, this does make sense. But if we value individuals as ends to themselves, the focus should be on how well they can invest in themselves, their desires and find a way to improve their livelihoods. Finding a life partner should be a calculation in this, not society's way of propagating itself.

PUBLISHED ON Jun 19,2021 [ VOL 22 , NO 1103]

Eden Sahle is founder and CEO of Yada Technology Plc. She has studied law with a focus on international economic law. She can be reached at edensah2000@gmail.com.

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