It cannot be for nothing that every man longs for a day he will be driven out of his mind and swept off his feet to land in the warm embrace of a woman. Similarly, a lady looks forward to meeting a man of her dreams by whose side she desires to live a fulfilling rest of her life— a desire for the proverbial Mr. Right. The question that then arises is: What lies behind it—behind man and woman irresistibly longing to unite in marriage? As I sought to explain last week, man and woman, like hydrogen and oxygen, are split species, each party seeking complementarity. Science teaches us that two molecules of hydrogen and one of oxygen unite to give us water in the same way that sodium and chlorine, both splitting of a species, unite to form sodium chloride, the common table salt.
For batteries in our cars to work, we have positive and negative charges. What science has validated is a union of elements to give fuller value of existence. Since the same law pervades and governs the universe, man and woman also being split species—man factor, positive and woman factor, negative— they drift, as if by a pull, towards each other for a union in their search for complementarity.
Since the modern man and the modern woman have come of age and won their freedom to throw out of the window the old match-making concept and practice, young men and women keep their eyes open and ears to the ground to sense and identify their suitors. Where this fails and does not provide wide enough circles to choose from, for decades, the modern man and modern woman have devised ways to help themselves. Girls and women in the free world, including Nigeria, because of their steep rise in population and after several years of lonely nights, can no longer wait for Mr. Right; they take the initiative to announce themselves in magazines and newspapers, and also now in the internet. The advertisements usually contain qualities they are seeking in a relationship, the age bracket and telephone numbers.
I recall an advertisement several years back on matters of this nature, although it sounded strange at the time. The advertisement was published in a journal meant for farmers and was appropriately titled Farmer’s Weekly. According to The Times of London at the time, the advertisement was by a woman who longed to see her daughters settle down in marriage. The London Times reported that the girls had waited long but Mr. Right was not within sight. Concerned as all mothers were wont to be, the woman, Mrs. Janet Cross, put up an advertisement informing men that her daughters, all four, were available…for marriage. The youngest of the girls was 27 and the oldest 32.
The advertisement wrapped in Biblical allusion, read: “Man-eating daughters of Zelophehad seek strong partners for life-safari.” She continued: “I am very serious about this. I just want to see them married and happy. They are all lovely girls, holding down responsible jobs, and have had many boyfriends. But none has really come up to scratch. I think I am as particular as they are; we all want Mr. Right.”
In our land the variant is usually contained in what may be called Help Page in newspapers or magazines; it is not paid for and it is by girls themselves. In this country we sometimes blame the increasing spectacle of girls of marriageable ages waiting lonely nights for the right suitor on high bride price and cultural inhibitions. It is hoped sociologists will some day make convincing pronouncements on the subject, and priests, cathedral address for contemplation. It is pertinent, however, to say that in this country the tribe of spinsters and Ms are widening.
In addition to the occasional reaching out to the Help Page, the Nigerian girls have devised a more imaginative way of coping. Once they wait one year, two years and Mr. Right is bluffing, they simply return to the university for the second or third degree. This helps to keep their minds off marriage, but certainly not their eyes just in case, and for Mama’s peace of mind. When Mama says: “Where is the man? All my friends now proudly carry their grandchildren.” The response is usually,” But Mama, I am in college now. And one thing at a time.”
The whole world has been driven to believe that the place of a woman is by the side of a man and any woman who does not clutch the hand of a man is unfulfilled and is to be pitied. Consequently despair rules the heart of many a girl and her mother’s. The girl distresses herself; friends and neighbours pile pressure on the mother. In desperation, the girl succumbs to societal pressure. She marries to please her mother and the neighbourhood. For herself, she has not found joy. The meaning of marriage is still Greek to her.
Must a woman marry? If she does not marry, can she be fulfilled? A woman can be fulfilled if she does not marry, much more than a married one who lives under the false respectability of marriage. Sacred as the marriage institution is, respectable as it could be if it is built on the right foundation, not on scheming, the tasks of a woman go by far beyond marriage. Where the marriage is one in which the strings of harmony and happiness vibrate and sound, it does not hinder the fulfillment of a woman in her tasks. It is a union in which conditions required for complete harmony are fulfilled, where there is appropriate devoutness. It is such marriages that are united by God and before God, and are thus made in Heaven. For such union the warning by the Lord rings loud and clear: “What God hath joined together, let not man put asunder!” To cause disharmony in such a marriage or wish that it collapses is a cardinal sin, for the harm done is not only for the couple but also for the environment, and depending on the strength of the rippling rays the union, the entire world. The world would have been denied the blessings that were bound to flow for the upliftment of mankind.
What appears to have goaded men into regarding marriage a must for everyone is the realisation of the complementarity between a man and a woman. A man cannot do without the activities of a woman and the woman cannot do without the activities of man. It is these activities that are thought to be applicable or tied only to marriage. This is not necessarily so if the roles of woman in particular are properly understood. And a woman can fulfil these roles whether beside a man or living far apart from him. While men engage in tough, hard activities, women are more at home in fine, delicate activities. It is easily observable that women are more psychically stronger than men and have sharper sixth sense. Men are, only physically. While men may offer physical protection to womanhood and provide material needs, the fairer sex offers psychic protection to man and enriches his life, guiding him with the exercise of her intuition, which coming from a noble woman with a sharp sixth sense, cannot go wrong.
Nature ensures balance; where one is coarse, the other must be fine. Man is rugged and square; the woman is round, supple, delicate and fine and has overwhelming presence and influence over men. She is more connected with Nature. It can be seen from this, therefore, that in order that man does not get lost in his day-to-day activities, the woman mediates strength to him and pulls him up. In the process, both raise their inner and outer qualities. According to the unique and higher knowledge spreading on earth today, the woman is therefore to lead man to the finer heights of life.
As a store house of power which she draws from On High, she pulls men up and dispenses to them, spreading beauty, ennobling the environment and directing affairs to a glorious end. All women carry these abilities; they are not inherited or derived from marriage. These tasks are to be carried out whether a woman is married or not. Marriage, as I already stated earlier, where it is right does not hinder the performance of a woman’s roles. In other words, marriage for all women is secondary. So is child-rearing. The role of the woman is much more sublime. The destiny of a country is in her hands. A nation is to be rightly judged by the quality of her womanhood. A depraved womanhood will lead its nation to decay and ruin, whereas a noble one will cause the nation to storm the high Heavens. Before a noble woman, a man must bow. Something makes him unconsciously, but joyfully to open the door for her. We can see therefore that a brutalized man is a consequence of a fallen woman.
The woman’s principal task is to build a beautiful, harmonious society for her people. She is to ennoble her environment and uplift it. A woman teaches and guides her society and passes strength to it. She leads it, setting the pace. She could lead it to tribulations, or raise it from the depths to the highest and glorious height. The overwhelming influence of a woman on a man is palpable. A little girl can hold the world’s most powerful man in her hands and direct his life and affairs and manipulate him. In gatherings, as soon as a woman enters, all heads turn in her direction, and unconsciously, men try to adjust themselves, adjust their ties, or button up and comport themselves; many their caps.
The woman in question may not even pay attention to them. What you find is that even where she does not utter a word, the men behave. In school, if you hit a girl, everyone will be alarmed. Colleagues and teacher will ask in indignation and pointedly:”Are you not ashamed?” No one wants to listen to any story. Everybody feels something must have gone wrong with you to hit a girl. It is just not done. The woman has all-pervading influence over her offsprings and hubby.
A majority of men drive themselves to please a woman somewhere, to be approved by her. It need not be their wives. It could be girlfriends, sisters, or a woman of noble presence somewhere, at the other end of town from whom he seeks advice and guidance. These things happen routinely without the society paying attention consciously to them. What is this mystery about women? I wrote on this as far back as 2017. It suffices to state that she it is who forms the bridge, through her richer spiritual make-up, for man with On High and the outflowing power of God Almighty, herself being closer to Nature, thus standing a step higher than man. It is an aspect of the same bridge she provides for children to come to this world.
Her refinement is a consequence of the nature of her activities. She is so endowed with sensitivity that enables her to know the nature of right and the nature of wrong. So, she is a better teacher and a better judge. She makes a better decision. According to the ordinance of the Creator, she it is who is to make decisions and man is to carry out. The man is, therefore, more visible while the woman is quiet and gentle. Chief Obafemi Awolowo lifted the veil a little on the uniqueness of a woman in his last interview on earth granted to this newspaper, The Guardian, in 1987. In the interview Dr. Yemi Ogunbiyi had with him, he said that his wife was “a jewel of inestimable value who is usually divinely guided!” Recently Donald Duke did a similar thing on the power and influence of a woman. One day, as Governor of Cross River State, he spoke harshly to his chief of protocol. Unfortunately for him his wife was present when it happened. In the nature of women, she did not talk. But on their getting home the wife said Donald Duke would not sleep in that house on that night except he drove to the chief of protocol’s house to apologize to him.
In his words: “When I see public office holders misbehaving, I used to have this thought: ‘Probably they do not have a good wife/ husband or a good marriage.’
“As governor, I was on call 24/7 sometimes. I got angry and could take my anger on anyone. So my chief of protocol bore the brunt one day. I had a reception for guests and he placed them in rooms, not the way I would have done it, but he didn’t do anything wrong. He used his own judgment. I would have done it the other way, but I over reacted. I spoke very harsh to him. While I was doing this, my wife walked in and didn’t say a word. She came in, did some other things in my office and left. When I got home in the evening, I’d forgotten about it. It’s just a normal event in the day.
“My wife went down on her knees in front of me, looked straight into my eyes like a penitent sinner and said; ‘The way you spoke to that guy was wrong and we have to go and apologize to him.’ She said I had no reason to speak to anyone like that. I said, ‘What he did this…and she interrupted me, ‘Yes I heard everything. The way you would have done it was different, but he didn’t do a bad thing. He used his discretion. So, what are you going to do? You have destroyed his self-esteem. Tomorrow, he is not going to do anything discretionally. He would wait for orders and then you will get irritated at that. You have made him lose his self-confidence and that is wrong. You need to go and apologize to him. Why should you speak to someone like that? Because you are governor?’
“I ignored her, stood up and went into the bedroom, still fuming. As she will always do if she wants to have her way, my wife followed me into the bedroom and went on her knees again to plead the cause of a man as if she had begged her to plead his case. ‘You have to do it this night and not tomorrow’ because I kept saying I would do it tomorrow. Onarie, still on her knees and almost in tears, insisted and said, ‘No, tonight. That man is not going to sleep well and so you do not have the right to sleep well when he is not sleeping well.’
“Clearly defeated, I got into the car and we drove to his house. His gate man froze when he discovered I was the one. In his confusion, he did not know how to properly open the gate till Onarie told him to take two deep breaths before attempting to open the door again! We were ushered into the living room by an equally confused maid who had to stumble over chairs. His wife turned in. They were about to go to bed. She was in her night gown. She saw me and scared with the expression of. ‘Okay, you have come to fire my husband finally. The guy came downstairs, petrified as my wife and I walked into the private living room. The wife wanted to get up and leave. I told the guy I came to apologize for my rude and harsh behavior towards him and told him I am sorry. They all got emotional but I got relieved. It was like a heavy load had been taken off me. I still get upset with things going up wrong, but I don’t get to a point I feel I am too big to say sorry. And I am learning to treat people better…”
I have referred to the statement made by the wife of a one-time President of France, Charles de Gaulle. Conscious of the power of women, she said to her husband: ‘’Charles, you rule France, but I rule this house, including you.” Such is the awesome influence of the woman over her husband.
Unaware of their heavy responsibility to their societies, women long for the executive activities of men. They forget that negative and positive charges of a battery are not interchangeable. They want to be presidents, prime ministers, ministers, governors, commissioners. Some of them already pride themselves as great footballers, boxers, crane drivers and wrestlers. In the process, they suppress their womanliness and shed the refinements that make them women, steel themselves and become alienated from the currents of life. They develop muscles, some grow beards. They lose the precious gift to guide their society. The society, because it is not guided, plunges into depths. Think of it: If women were to oppose corruption; if they were to oppose dishonor; frown at embezzlement by their men or loved ones.
Marriage is the coming together of two persons for a joint task in their journey through life which will raise their inner and outer values. Each person brings with him or her at birth certain qualities, certain abilities. These are what are in need of development, pressing need, in fact—Not roles assigned by 35 per cent affirmative action! A woman who distresses herself for not marrying or having babies does so out of ignorance, and she harms herself.