“When you realize you want to spend the rest of your life with somebody, you want the rest of your life to start as soon as possible,” – film When Harry Met Sally
What is this thing we call life? It is a duty that we are fulfilling by design, to live. We obviously need certain things to live it, from the air we breathe, the water we drink and bathe with and then the long, very long list of things, and yes material things. The world is at an unusual cusp of material vs. spiritual and while there are more love marriages or partnerships in the open more than before, nothing lasts. Unfortunately there is a divorce debate too. There is a claim that the people who married in the 1990s reached their 15th wedding anniversary compared to those who married in the 1970s and 1980s. In 2012 in England and Wales there were 13 divorces an hour where 65% were granted to women. According to a study published by the McGill University Canada in December 2015, Kenya including Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Tanzania, Uganda and Zimbabwe has show that the risk of divorce has remained remarkably constant over the last 20 years.
However earlier this year there has been a claim that Kenyan divorce rate has hit an 80% high because of two main causes, infidelity and financial troubles.
“Grief can take care of itself, but to get the full value of joy, you must have somebody to divide it with,” – Mark Twain.
Let us start at the beginning of the wedding. A Kenyan wedding for example, has almost three scenarios, one of which cannot be avoided, that of the dowry ritual. You can either do a registry wedding or church wedding but the groom must give dowry to the bride’s family. While a church wedding starts from half a million shillings paid mostly by the groom the scale of lavishness depends on the individuals and their respective families. The dowry also starts from an amount of about half a million but can be paid over a period of time and this is a must.
“Love marriage mein aadmi khud apni marzi se kuaye ke andhar jaata hai, arranged marriage mein aadmi ka pura khandaan usko kuaye ke andhar dhakel deta hai, lekin jaata toh kuaye mein hi hai” – quote from the film Life Partner
(In a love marriage a man goes into the well at his own wish, in an arranged marriage the man’s full family throws him into the well, but no matter what the man goes into the well)
Then comes the Indian Wedding, where a minimum of 1 million shillings is very minimal. The rising costs of hosting guests over a period of even 3 days can get your budgets bursting. The costs of gifts that include clothes, jewellery and other items like furniture also can be difficult to meet. There are a few schools of thought going around. Yes, the wealthy can hire the best wedding planners, splurge on décor, cars, clothes and gifts. In a way they have the right to, they’ve earned it, but a 10% of the splash can go to charity. Their marriages are mostly arranged or have financial gains included such as a mutual business deal. Perhaps a few are love marriages and are genuine grounded couple that faces everyday challenges like a middle class family and give back.
The middle class usually marries for financial stability, well-being and like-minded relationships. Perhaps their joy is richer and while they are not too extravagant with the wedding ceremony, they are aware of the consequences of a looming debt for the sake of showing off.
Where the balance tips off is when the middle class is trying to emulate the richer and loose the purpose of what the marriage is all about. Let the wealthy deal with their wedding woes and empty marriage lives. Closer to home is the reality that a marriage has changed, economic adequacies and lack of tolerance are killing the joy of being married. You do need a fat bank account to fund your children’s education, maintain family obligations or you need to change your attitude to do your best and not live in a Bollywood wedding bash that lands into a flop every Friday. Life is not a film that needs song and dance to take you to the next level. It needs the flowers of romance, the books of intelligence and the vows of promises you make to your partner for a happy marriage.