Do men have marriage-by date?

Friday, October 23rd, 2020 00:00 |
Married couple. Photo/Courtesy

While there’s pressure for women to settle down once they get to their mid 20s, men are told to wait and get married until they are ready...

Nailantei Norari  @artnorari

Movies and fairytales prime women to think about weddings from childhood.

Thus, society expects women to marry early, and are often looked down upon and criticised if they pass the 25 years of age mark without snagging a man.

They then become more undesirable and unlikely to get married with each passing year. 

But men are often told to wait to get married until they feel ready — until they are mature, financially secure, established in their careers and comfortable with themselves.

Forget about the double standards for now. They say age is just but a number, but is there an ideal age for men to settle down?

Why men increase in value 

“There is no ideal age or correct age for women or in this case men, to marry.

In traditional African societies, many communities would allow women to be married off at 16 as they were seen as maturing faster.

Her responsibilities after marriage hasten aging. By the time she gets two children even if she is just 18, her physical appearance changes and many men prefer to marry younger women than them,” Dr Francis Paul Kerre a sociologist from Kenyatta University explains.

The question of stigma and marrying late is, therefore, a question of the value that society ascribes to each gender.

Men are valued by their ability to provide while women are largely valued by their physical attributes.

Fortunately for men, their ability to provide increases with age, while unfortunately for women, their physical appearance deteriorates with age and child bearing.

It, therefore, follows that a man’s value will increase with age regardless of what happens to his appearance, even if he is unmarried while a woman’s will decrease with age.

This means that it will be easier for an older man to get married if single, than it would be for an older woman.

Dr Kerre explains how in numerous African societies, men marrying late is not a stigma though it is frowned upon.

Men who marry late often lose respect in their societies and are taken as being irresponsible and only interested in enjoying the good life.

There are certain societies where unmarried men would not take leadership roles as how they ran their family unit was seen as a clear marker of success and leadership.

Marriage was seen to enhance their decision making role hence preparing them for other greater duties.

Elmard Rigan, a psychologist agrees to this, citing that despite most societies having a married-by date, that there is no ideal age for marriage despite the psychosocial pressures brought on to those unmarried by the average age computed by society.

“Various studies across the world suggest that anything between 27 to 35 years is ideal.

In as much as a man has attained the suggested ages, it is not a guarantee that they are ready for marriage.

Age alone is not enough. Responsibility for self, family, spouse, friends and society is vital in this matrix.

It’s possible to fall under the suggested age bracket, but vary when it comes to being responsible and ready to start a family.

The married-by date and age should be largely personal,” Elmard further explains.

The pros and cons

While men who marry late are still desirable marriage partners according to societal standards, especially if they have financial might, this marriage may come with a host of problems. 

“Many men who marry late lack self-confidence and may be suffering from self-esteem issues.

The marriages they get into at that advanced age may turn abusive or be riddled with plenty of disputes as they project their issues on their partner.

This happens a lot, especially if they view it as a marriage out of pity or an exploitation of the material things they have acquired.

The disputes may also arise from the fact that the man may have already acquired loner habits over time, which will be hard to change even when married.

They are also set in their opinions and normally intractable, which can lead to marital breakdown,” Dr Kerre explains.

Elmard concurs that marrying an older man might have its challenges, but it might also have its advantages.

“Research shows that there is a clear disconnect between older parents and their young ones.

In most cases, since the man will be way older than the wife, the children and the mum might gel leaving him as an outlier.

This is because the huge age difference between the father and children makes the children see their father as tyrannical and domineering,” he says. 

Marrying late, however, means walking into the relationship with laser focus and purpose.

“Silly mistakes and mishaps are little to none due to the experience that comes with age. It’s also easy to set out tasks or projects and achieve them because of the undivided focus.

Clearly, there will be reasons for and against whichever age one decides to marry, but whatever the reasons to marry, a married-by date and the associated societal pressure should not feature anywhere,” Elmard says.

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