DEBATE: Has marriage become an outdated institution?

As someone who hasn’t so much as sniffed the scent of marital life, it is safe to say that I am yet to understand the institution.

No, marriage is not the problem, people are

Rachel Garuka

As someone who hasn’t so much as sniffed the scent of marital life, it is safe to say that I am yet to understand the institution.


I’ve seen people walk down the aisle; I’ve seen cute posts on Facebook of the wonderful life that is theirs and the undying love for each other. I’ve also liked a couple of baby pictures on Instagram (they were hard to ignore; some people really have cute kids). And of course with all this, you can’t help but feel inspired.


However, the inspiration is brutally cut short, for just as you are dreaming of emulating the couple that makes marriage seem like peaches, cream and a Michael Jackson concert rolled in one, a rumour about the man’s inability to keep it in his pants goes around faster than you can say ‘wait a minute’. Or worse, if you are acquainted, he sends you an inappropriate message, emojis and all, and all you can do is jeer at nothing.


However, even with all this, I’d like to believe that all is not lost. There might be a few ‘rotten apples’ in the institution – but before we judge them, we need to walk a mile in their shoes. Why do they do what they do?

How is it that a well-known married man hits on anything with a pulse more times than Miley Cyrus sticks out her tongue? Or that his wife is out fishing for boys young enough to strip in public and no one will bat an eyelid?

They say marriage is not easy. Clearly. I believe it takes more than love and a fancy ring to make it work. ‘Till death do us part’ is the line. In a society like ours where divorce is more or less taboo, are people giving up too quickly? Why give up anyway?

Many people have seen the 50-year mark in their married life. It’s not to say that theirs is a smooth marriage; there’s no such thing, so I’ve been told. But I’d like to believe that love, respect, endurance, and above all, overwhelming faith in God will make it easier to sail on.

Now I’m not so naïve to think that some lovey dovey texts and a trip to church every Sunday will guarantee a fine marriage. But I do know that it is a lot easier when, for starters, you actually know who you are getting married to.

Many marriages in Kigali are said to be in existence because of the infamous ‘Kigali Proposal’. A girl gets pregnant and because society will judge, a hasty wedding is set.

Just because two people got into bed together doesn’t mean they are fit for each other and are therefore ready for a commitment as strong as marriage.

If you think about the history of marriage and the commitment it represents, you will find that it has been with us for generations. How now can it be outdated? Marriage hasn’t changed. People have. Its values are still the same. But people have become selfish and impatient. If things do not work in our favour, we move on to something else. Marriage wasn’t designed that way.

Marriage cannot be outdated, not when there are many people out there who still understand what it means to be truly joined in Holy Matrimony.

Marriage is simply a legal issue


For better or worse, for richer or for poorer; in sickness and in health…… Oh Lord!! In this age of Diamond Rose IPhone 4 distractions, pharmaceutical abundances, and purchased pleasure and luxury and contentment and comfort, why would anyone choose that? To go through the boring process of reciting words that are more or less like nursery rhymes?

Eons ago, our parents sent lectures down the lineages, messages as confusing as trying to understand how guys in school used to find ‘Y’ in a math class. We were told to be independent but not too independent, to be intelligent but act dumb, to find our own way, and then find a strong, educated and stable spouse to take care of us and our children. Well, I guess this is the reason so many of my generation are bewildered and lost when it comes to love, marriage and commitment.

For procreation purposes, controlling promiscuity, bequeathing property and maintaining family names, marriages came into place. However, most marriages have since turned into economic arrangements for the benefit of both parties. When one looks at infidelities and divorce cases around, it triggers the question; is marriage, as a construct, outdated?

One thing should be clear; marriage and love are two very different things. For the romantics, it is a passionate feeling towards someone while marriage is being united with another as husband or wife in a consensual and contractual relationship, recognised and defined by law.

So, marriage is a legal issue, not an emotional or spiritual one. It has become so entwined with society and everyday life that all we think about is “what to do” when we “grow up”. Walt Disney has also not helped matters by producing Cinderella tales that excite parents into preparing their kids for D-day. Imagine how little girls start thinking of their wedding day, in white flowing dresses, a big reception with flowers and a big cake.

The other major reason for divorce other than infidelity is the feeling of ceasing to be ‘you’ and becoming ‘they’.

Would this be any different in a non-married, yet committed relationship? Perhaps we need to rethink committed relationships in general. People can be in love but not married, which gives them the space to explore other options when things don’t work out.

If not for legal terms, why would I have to swear my allegiance to the person I’m getting married to? A marriage certificate is simply a statement of commitment and responsibility. However, it doesn’t mean that it prevents irresponsibility or that both parties will be completely committed to each other.

If it did, we wouldn’t have marital violence, divorce or irresponsibility of parents even if they already have a child.

So, is marriage relevant, not really! Co-habiting can work as a substitute, does love matter, yes! Does it mean that people in love should get married, no! This explains why people are now engaged in polyandrous relationships. Perhaps this is the next logical step in our social evolution.

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