Everyone wants to settle down sooner or later and it is only natural to feel so. The urge becomes stronger when you see people younger than you get married. However, the need to conform to the age factor, as far as marriage is concerned, is not practical.
The society we live in is such that they believe a person can be only truly happy after he/she has entered the holy communion of matrimony. That anything against this norm is questionable. It is not that great a crisis for a man who remains unmarried (by choice or luck) for a long time, but a spinster woman who invites criticism or at best unsolicited advices. Perhaps this notion stems from the fact that as a woman climbs the ladder of age, her chances of conceiving become less, and in most cases complicated too.
Jeanette Raymond, Ph.D., a psychologist who works with couples, says far more important than chronological age is how old a person acts. Is he grown-up enough to handle the realities of marriage or will he crumble when he’s in the thick of it?
“Go for maturity, developmental age and emotional needs,” suggests Raymond, author of Now You Want Me, Now You Don’t!. “Select a partner who matches and compensates for your shortcomings.”
Factoring a person’s actual age into the equation is dicey, since it often belies what’s simmering inside.
We look very closely at Nigeria where marriage has been put on a pedestal which is seen as a woman’s only attainable goal. We ask 10 men and women from different tribes and age gaps – what age is too old to get married? and here are their responses:
“I got married for the first time when I was 19. We loved each other to bits but things didn’t last. We had had 3 beautiful boys and separated when I was 28. I don’t regret it because it was the right thing to do for us both – we were too young. I married my second husband when I was 36. We’ve been married 15 years in December. I don’t know if there is a ‘right’ age. I believe everyone has their journey. It’s all relative. I know people older than me who still aren’t ready for marriage and there’s nothing wrong with that!”
– Kemi Smith, Yoruba, 51 years old
“Ah! As a woman you can’t be 28 and unmarried. That is still even far. You should have a husband by 25. Don’t you want the give birth?”
– Chuka Okwusogu, Igbo, 36 years old
“Party and live your life in your 20s. Risk it all. I’m not saying jump off a cliff but find yourself and do you. Date people you find attractive. Have fun. Love with an open heart. Get your heartbroken and then date some more. Climb the corporate ladder. Think about settling down. Marriage at 35 is perfect.”
– John Chukwu, Igbo, 37 years old
”I grew up in a culture that you are married off very young or even at birth. My husband married me when I was 16 years old. I am 44 years old now and still married. Not all women get that lucky. By my beliefs, you can’t be a single woman after your 30s but I don’t judge”
– Rakiya Adamu, Hausa, 44 years old
“No such thing. Haven’t you seen stories of couples finding each other at 60. Everyone has their time and no one can dictate. I found my second half at a young age and my elder sister found hers after she hit menopause. That doesn’t make her less of a woman”
– Tolani Ogun, Yoruba, 39 years old
“I don’t think it is an age. It is more to do with what condition do you find yourself. Once you have learned to love and be comfortable with yourself, no longer see a relationship as a means only to getting your needs met and have worked out any issues or baggage you have been carrying, then you are ready to enter the partnership that is marriage. You need to love and respect both yourself and your potential spouse. Until you see it as a joint effort of making each other happy, learning and growing together, having fun experiencing life’s vagaries and setting aside power struggles and ‘winning,’ you are not ready.”
– Roselyn Etomi, Edo, 46 years old
“You have to get married really young. Let your family select your spouse – especially women, they know best. Girls should be married off from 15 so that
their husbands can discipline them and they don’t rot.”
– Musa Idris, Hausa, 63 years old
”I don’t think men that get married before their late 40s are sure of what they are doing. Women on the other hand grow so much faster. I could be wrong but from what I’ve seen, men are never ready till they are in their 40s”
– Beverly Odunkwe, Igbo, 32 years old
“Rilke said certain artistic souls should not marry until 35 because you don’t know who you are before then. I married at 35 and found that to be true. But my mom married my dad at 18 and they’ve had an amazing marriage for more than 55 years. There’s a line I like with love and art: You can do anything as long as it works so why look for an answer to a question without one?”
– Jeremiah Udioje, Edo, 38 years old
“I don’t think there’s a true best age to marry. Marriage is a huge commitment, and it shouldn’t be about the age you are, but whether you’re ready to take those vows. People are ready at different times in their lives. I got married at 29. I only regret the idea that there’s a lot of pressure around getting married once you get into your late 20s and early 30s, and I hate to think that influenced us — though it probably did a bit. My biggest advice is don’t get married for the wedding party”
– Joy Asonibe, Delta, 30 years old
But one thing is certain; the spinsters in the country have been and are still fighting an uphill battle with the hopes of seen as being more than just their marital status.