I know why I am not married. I am waiting to fall in love…

Marriage is something that has been constantly on my mind since I was a young girl. Everything that has been taught to me had to do with being a good wife. At 11, I would wipe my grandmother’s stoep clean before going out to play. At 14, I started to learn how to cook, wash, and clean in order to be a better woman.

I was taught about my body as a young child by my mother and aunt. I was constantly reminded that the essence of my existence was to be bought for marriage.

I’m half way to 50 now, and I still do not see marriage in sight. Some of my friends have children and are happily married, and I wonder when for me that feeling will come to settle and quell the fire burning for stability.

I want stability, but not in the form of a man or marriage

I want stability in the form of finances, job satisfaction and creating a home.

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As I have grown older and comfortable in my skin, the importance of marriage in my life has diminished. But last month a pretty silver and white envelope arrived in the post. I opened it thinking it was a promotional letter with shopping vouchers. But it was an invitation to a wedding of a neighbour.

I gave it to my grandmother and she could not stop gushing about how some people have all the luck. People with daughters who are well learned and married. Did this mean she was unlucky? My mother and aunt never married, and amongst my female siblings and cousins, there has yet to be an announcement of marriage.

My grandmother’s gushing about the wedding began to sound like lamentations to God to deliver to me a husband who is fat, wealthy and generous.

There are many people like my grandmother, who believe that marriage offers all kinds of securities

But I believe it is an outdated view, because people do get divorced, people don’t marry for love, people get married out of community of property, people get married because they have personal problems that they would rather cover up with the façade of a happy marriage. Some get married simply because they are expecting a baby and think it is right to do so.

I believe marriage gives one a social standing above those dating or single. Married people are perceived to be more stable, reliable and trustworthy. This may open up new business ventures for them, or promotions at work. This is because the world in which we live and work still has a largely traditional view on society.

Marriage, when it was being promoted to me as a child, felt like a long list of obligations that fell heavily on the side of the woman. I was not taught of love and working together as a couple. I was not taught that both partners can both be ambitious and reach for their dreams. It was only in my dreams where romance and marriage were one.

Fifty years ago, most of the securities that a woman can now attain on their own, could only be attained by a change of surname. The reasons we marry should be different.

I know why I am not married. I am waiting to fall in love.

Article by Nobantu Shabangu for Change Exchange.