I’m a 27 year old and what that means is for 3 years now, there has been an everlasting eruption of weddings in my circles. In times like these, what that further means is I unfortunately participate in bridal showers more often than I would like.
I don’t like bridal showers.
I hate having to sit for hours with gritted teeth, listening to married women giving brides ‘counsel’ such as “Mu Bubufumbo okumalako olina okweyisa ng’omusiru!”(For your marriage to be successful, you ought to feign stupidity), “Ebyomunju tebittottolwa” (You should never talk about what’s happening in your home), “Omwami bwasobya togamba bantu bo: gwe ojja kumusonyiwa kubanga omwagala naye bbo bajja kumukyaawa, ate era bambi oyisibwe bubi!” (When your husband does something bad, do not tell people close to you because they will hate him and it will hurt you deeply because the truth is that you love him and will forgive him).
I’m embarrassed to have to witness the ungovernable ssenga (aunt) demonstrating what the bride needs to do to (with) her husband and saddened by the fact that all the presents the bride gets are in that line- getting the man to yearn for her.
Here we are, for a full month or so, enduring being in a Whatsapp group with all these strangers (bride’s friends), reluctantly agreeing to reserve the very exquisite restaurant with pricey meals, to go with the suggested dress-code which requires that we shop, to contribute to the budget including cake, decor, photography, videography (name all the unnecessary additions). All that sacrifice for end results as basic as momentary excitement, full stomachs, good squad photos and relief to finally have the event behind us.
Why can’t we invest in our sisters reasonably? Why can’t we set up a committee to plan and give the bride a more constructive preparation? Why can’t we perhaps make appointments for her to see:
- A financial adviser to explore options that have worked for other couples and individuals. Money market, buying shares… etc. Make her realize how many options she has so that she makes informed and strategic decisions.
- A reproductive health expert to discuss family planning options, side effects and perhaps get her to hear real-life stories from other women on what they use and how they feel about it. Postnatal depression is real too, gets very extreme, but can be treated. Connect her to a good doctor you know, with whom you hope she’ll grow comfortable with time. A very loving, yet professional person who follows through with patients even if it means referring them to other specialised and experienced people.
- A women’s rights Civil Society Organisation to get her to understand that the laws that protect her really exist and what to do if things go sour because unfortunately, they do for a number of women.
- A lawyer to take her (them) through the Succession Act. Teach the couple how to write a valid will and elucidate its importance. Suggest measures that ensure that she gets full ownership such as signing as two signatories when acquiring property rather than one signatory and a witness.
- Any self-defense classes going on in town? Pay subscriptions (yours and hers) because you are her accountability partner(s). Pick her and take her. Gender-Based Violence is real in Uganda. If you watch news daily, you know this is a fact- a man cut off woman’s hands and ears, another poured acid on his lover and a legislator criticized the president for having called out men for battering women saying “you need to discipline her, tackle her somehow, streamline her”.
These are some of the real-life crises our sisters may have and for goodness sake negligees are not the solution!!! Between each other as friends, depending on our expertise, networks and experience, surely we can distribute these responsibilities (and more that come to mind). Each of us can agree with her on a mutually convenient day(s) and have (take) her for whichever appointment we’ve been assigned. We want the bridal shower to stay? Cool. Why can’t we invite a couple of such people then?
The more we glorify the institution, the more embarrassed she will feel if she gets any troubles. She will sweep them under the carpet. She will see herself exactly where we’ve placed her. She will tell herself constantly to suck it up because unlike many, she possesses a revered gem- a marriage/ husband.
Don’t exalt the man.
Equip the woman.
In this society, her risk is greater. When women are in love, they will endure anything. That’s exactly how gender-based violence thrives. We need to water that still small voice of wisdom. I see no better gift to be honest. We need to do away with the advice that gets her to think it’s a shame to talk about what she’s going through. If not with any of the people she’s close to, with whom should she share her struggles? Who will better know how to comfort or encourage her? How dare we imply that we aren’t supposed to know?
Lastly, we should visit our sisters. Forget Whatsapp. I know we’re told to give people space when they get married but it’s a trap. Go there without appointment once in a while. Tell them you were in the neighborhood and decided to stop by briefly or that you saw amazing toys that you thought their children will love, bought them and couldn’t wait to bring them. Get every reason you can to check in.
Women bottle up so much, it’s unbelievable. I know of two gentlemen who didn’t realize their wives had developed mental problems until other women visited and told them what to them was alarming and seemingly very obvious. The hero was the man’s mother in one of the stories and the couple’s friend in another. One of the men is a doctor. He didn’t see it. In no time these women were rushing with the couples to hospital. Thankfully, this condition can be medically managed but imagine if you may, how much worse these women would have got? What if they contemplated suicide?
All those shocking stories of people killing their offspring (because they think they have no choice and that no one will take care of them) before they take their own lives too… How is it that we think they’re normal, heartless people and don’t interrogate this further? Could there be a chance that some of them can no longer see life the way a normal person should? We should visit wives. We should make sure they’re fine.
We should let our sisters know that we’re walking this journey with them. We shouldn’t make them feel like they have entered a certain glorious realm and left us to watch in awe. No.
Being elevated is burdening. Don’t do that to them.
Marriage is ordinary and should be treated as such.
I had said on Twitter that I would share some reactions to my first post on this issue 2 days ago but this is already way too long.