Abigail Seemayor Dotse
In my Religious and Moral Education class in Junior Secondary School (Junior High School now) and my Social Studies class in Senior Secondary School (Senior High School now), I was taught there are three types of marriage, namely; customary, religious (Christian and Islamic since other religions were not popular in the country then) and marriage under the ordinance. I was taught that going through the rites associated with any of these three signifies marriage.
This has been the norm until it has emerged in recent times that, most marriage rites MUST go through all the three to be properly recognized. These days, a couple who goes through the customary marriage is considered by the society as not married but just engaged. Sadly enough, some churches echo this notion so much that couples who do not go through the church wedding are not given the due recognition they deserve. This practice in most cases has become a hindrance to a lot of people who wish to get married.
Today, customary marriage is termed engagement and dear ones, some friends around you will never see you as properly married if you did only this without going through the other two, more especially the church wedding. But is this really our culture? Or are we a people who have copied everything blindly? Will our children have anything of ours to boast of as to what defines who they are some years to come? Are we gradually going to erase our own cultural practices by embracing that of others?
These days, the frustration most couples go through to get married is not only from the list of items for the bride price but also from the church. Some churches require you to pay before you can hold your wedding in their auditorium or before they come to your home to officiate. Some of these fees, I must say, are outrageous. Meanwhile, you might have been doing everything expected of you as a christian- payment of tithe and giving offertory. Sometimes, the frustration is worse if both partners do not belong to the same denomination. To help solve the problem, some people have to convert to the denomination of the other partner in order to be given the green light.
By this article, I am not in anyway against going through your rite to marriage life any how you deem it fit. But by this, I am of the opinion that, you do not necessarily have to go through all these to be married. I must even state that, the moment a man pays the bride price of his bride and it it is accepted, they are married. No additional rites performed confirms this. I used to think that, the church wedding is to give honour to the woman before everyone. But now, I think differently. What is more honourable than a man realising that, he has found a jewel in a woman and going on to show her that respect and honour by paying her bribe price instead of impregnating her without anything thereby bringing shame to her and her family?
To satisfy the demands of society, many people, mostly the men go for loans in order to have a befitting wedding. A marriage that starts on debt has ramifications. Some keep paying these loans years after the ceremony at a time when no one even talks about how grand their ceremony was because really, there is nothing to talk about again. After all, weddings take place every weekend and well, they must talk of them too.
If you have the resources yourself to do all these, why not? But if you do not, just do what you can.
The only thing the state requires for that customary marriage to be recognised legally is for you to register it at the marriage registry. People are even registering 50-year old marriages. It does not matter the time.
People are of the opinion that, once a man goes through all these types of marriage, they are never going to leave the women or cheat on them. But a critical look at the happenings these days disprove that notion. Marriage is not about the ceremony but what goes on after the ceremony.
I hope, I have in my own small way done justice to this topical issue. Again, this is not to suggest that, it is bad to do all these to be married but to say, do so within your means and any three of them is marriage in our setting.
So I asked the question again, MUST I SAY I DO THREE TIMES BEFORE I AM CONSIDERED MARRIED?