There are some things you can never force down someone’s throat. Love is one of those things.
The Marriage Bill continues to undergo amendments in pursuit of the ‘perfect’ document. In the process it continues to elicit mixed reactions from wananchi. The latest addition is a clause that states that a marriage proposal will in itself be considered as good as marriage. If this bill is passed into law, failure to deliver on a promise of marriage will expose one to the possibility of being sued by the offended party who will in turn be entitled to compensation. The phrase ‘Put your money where your mouth is’ has never had a more literal meaning.
In the Kenyan courtship scene where kukatia and kuingia box is the sequence of events when a man meets a woman who tickles his fancy, it is very easy for men to make promises that they do not intend to keep. We, women, know that.
Men have been known to woo women prompted by a desire to quench a fire burning from deep within. When a woman takes her time she, sooner rather than later, is able to determine where that fire emanates from – whether from the loins or from the heart, if it is love or lust. We’ve co-existed with men since the apple-from-the-forbidden-tree incident and so yeah, we know.
We know that there are times when the fire can be so intense that a man would do or say anything, if only for a chance put it out. “I want you” could be rephrased to sound better, with an addition of four more words “… to be my wife.” Sometimes, the latter is only thrown in to increase the probability of clinching the prize. And make no mistake, we know that as well.
But matters of the heart being as complicated as they are, a man could promise to marry you and you could immediately fall for it hook, line and sinker. You will hang on to the promise like Lifehouse Hanging by a moment. Once umeingia box as they say, he tries to wiggle out of the promise because… fait accompli! The fire is out! You, who should have taken time to know from where the fire burned, end up feeling used. Sema compensation!
You therefore threaten to sue him for a hefty compensation because you have suffered damages. And indeed you have! Maybe there was a man who intended to marry you but you chose Mr. Goodfornothing instead – could be the size of his wallet got you confused, or something. He therefore denied you a future with the good man who in the spirit of ‘accepting and moving on’, has since declared undying love to another woman.
You will, rightfully, cite psychological damages; stress, depression and even embarrassment in the eyes of your friends, relatives and your family who were getting ready for ruracio at your village home. You will inform the guy that should he not make good his promise, you will drag his behind to court and sue him to the last penny. Mr. Fireintheloins, sensing that you have a strong case, will dance to your tune and grudgingly walk you down the aisle, making you his wife.
AND. THEN. WHAT?
Having married him at gun point (tomato, tomaiyro) will you make him love you at gun point as well? Will he care for you as a man cares for a woman he loves? Will you demand for his unwavering, unconditional love or else…?
Of course you won’t…can’t. And you know that.
Granted, if the marriage bill is made law, women will have the ‘use and dump’ jokers by the balls (I couldn’t resist the pun!). From this bill, the message is clear: actions have consequences. Irresponsible behavior will cost you.
Yet we know that the best things in life are free. Will we be happier when we get a refund for the love we wanted but never got? If the same Marriage Bill could protect hearts from being broken, now that would be something!
People, men and women alike, change. Feelings change. If I don’t feel the same way I felt about you a year ago, should I be sued for what I feel (or don’t feel for that matter?)? I don’t know about you, but I was glad when forced marriages were done away with those many years ago. Why the retrogression? Do we want to go back to financial dependence? Do we want the men to start depending on us women?
Is this what we have been reduced to? Do we need the law to help us secure a ring on our fingers? Should we now resort to dragging men down the aisle and force them to marry us?
Can we just take them to court when they stop providing for their children? Shouldn’t we let it end there? Going beyond that makes a circus out of courtship and marriage. It takes away our dignity as women. If he decides not to marry you, and you don’t have children together, it should be “Adios amigos!” Accept and move on. If you have children, make sure he sends in that cheque every month, now the courts can help us with that. Both of us should raise those innocent children together as you move on with your life and he moves on with his. Let nobody get hurt in the process.
For a marriage to work, the two parties should want to be married. One person should not be coerced or blackmailed into it. A dangerous scenario is one where a man and a woman are forced to co-habit because they would hate to part and lose half their wealth or because they cannot entertain the thought of compensating the other party in order to walk free.
Why should anyone buy their freedom anyway?