Beauty in diversity truly describes the bond that binds the various ethnic groups and tribes of the giant of Africa, Nigeria. With over 2000 languages, the intricate line that separates each part grows thin as each decade pass. The marital world of a Nigerian couple which forms the basic unit of the society cannot be dissected thoroughly in a few words but a few prominent aspects will be mentioned here.
- The Glam: This is the first stage of any marriage not just one secluded to the Nigerian society, the period when everything seems like magic, a newfound status in society creating a sense of maturity and achievement. The shimmering remnants of the excitements from the ever-glamorous weddings are still palpable.
- Reality: The cloak surrounding the first stages after the wedding gradually reclines in a matter of a few months. Then, the true definition of a long-life commitment kicks in, a constant need to balance out how to maintain it, not just for the couple but for the new extended families from opposite ends. Most Traditions require respect, this case is illustrated by the three major cultural groups in Nigeria; Igbo, Yoruba, and Hausa. This factor determines how long the peace will last. Cultural values have to be reverenced. The Yorubas’ have a way of greeting through prostration, (laying with their torsos on the earth for the elders) or getting on their knees.
- Expectations: To whom much is given much is expected, as soon as an individual settles into marriage, you have a firsthand experience of compromise. It is now about the function of the family as a unit. In certain parts of Eastern and Northern Nigeria, it is said that there are lingering expectations for preferably a male heir. This is a constant aspect of culture that is being challenged. Financial instability is a major cause of failed marriages. Traditional roles of males and females to be the provider and stay-at-home wife/mother respectively, are to be followed religiously especially in the remote regions, but modern-day society alters this, sighting instances of women who juggle the life of being a housewife as well as their careers.
- Coating: Society has a major influence on how one is perceived, it could be religious or family influences but there are certain expectations that each family, monogamous or polygamous are expected to live by. Cultural aspects differ based on the region. Christian or Muslim families have to maintain a standard peaceful and respectable structure, one that gives a perfect look, but how perfect is it? Looking back at the changes in recent years, there has been a drastic increase in divorce rates when compared to the older generations of the 80s/90s. This may be due to the rapid decline in ignorance and religious constraints. The constant struggle to keep a facade is gradually being abandoned by the new generation, the need to be seen as a perfectly functioning team becoming less important than true happiness in life.
- Decision: What is the ripple effect of all these? It comes down to the final decision on both sides of a troubled home to either get a divorce, setting aside public criticism, find ways to pull through the weather and conquer challenges that come with marriage, or bear the pain that cannot be resolved in silence. Divorce is not easily achieved in all parts of Nigeria especially in areas heavily influenced by religion. Also, the welcoming of children to a sacred union like marriage changes everything and any decision made during this journey.
- The beauty of the Nigerian marriage ceremony is unrivaled in the world, but that does not erase the effort needed for this union to stand the test of time.