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December 12, 2014 / bswitaba

Generation perdue (Lost generation)


Marriage is not a bed of roses, so goes the old adage. Days ago during lunch hour at a conference, a physics doctorate scholar-cum catholic nun posed a question to my peers and I “why is it that my generation has fear for commitment? And why can’t they sustain a marriage?”.
The querry was a bit complex; maybe easy depending on which angle you look at it from. One lady and a friend from Puerto Rico jumped on board to contribute to the debate as I sat back and listened to their argument.
Sister Mary was categorical: Our generation has lost it all because of various factors – one of them being the absence of father and mother figures to mentor couples and prepare them for the marriage institution. According to sister, back in the days ladies would be taken through immense mentorship on how to treat and respect their husbands, and how to carry themselves as married women. The men went through such too but in the 21st century, no one seems to deem it vital anymore!
The other aspect that cropped up was the insincerity among couples during dating and courtship. Some couples fall for each other for all the wrong reasons – some for the looks, out of desperation and others for the money. The money part was seen as a main contributor to failed unions because when financial fortunes dwindle, the union eventually ended up on the rocks.

As the points kept coming, I was recording them in my mind (for this blog post off course). The arguments made by the discussing parties resonated with our everyday life. The sister continued to reiterate “women have always been the centre of the universe and the marriage institution as a whole. If they crumble then the whole institution crumbles”. I had heard a similar version before, that if the woman of the house was an angel, however “devilish” the man would be, she would strive to bring him on the right course. On the other hand, if it’s the man that was the angel and the woman “devilish”, the woman will always prevail in her rogue ways. This is to say that if the woman was righteous, she will build her house on those tenets regardless of the state of the husband. But it would be a toll order if it were the other way round.

In a separate forum, my good friend Jenn Mswahili emphasized that marriages fail to work because couples are not ready to “meet the other person halfway”. Her belief is that if couples learnt to compromise, then a marriage can overcome all odds. But how far can one compromise?

During the conversation initiated by Sr. Mary, one lady said that she loves flowers and she would require her significant other bring her with no compromise. There are men with phobia for carrying around flowers (am one of those sadly), how do they handle such? Let me use another formidable and sensible example – assume that one spouse is an extrovert and a party animal while the other is a reserved introvert.

In this case what happens? Should one compromise to go out with the other and or remain indoors just for the sake of “finding a common ground?”.
Isn’t this where the rain starts beating couples of this generation? Once you make a commitment to settle, there are some “teen” traits they need to do away with bearing in mind the responsibility ahead and repercussions those habits bear.
Compromising therefore can really become tricky at times especially when the other party has to be urged to do so to keep up to the level.
A wise folk once said “Never apologize for having high standards. People who really want to be in your life will rise up to meet them”.

That said, I feel compromising makes one spouse happier and the other unhappy because let’s face it, they are obliged to do that which they may or may not like.
The end result? One party ends up feeling aggrieved to an extent they hurt but wouldn’t say it for “peace’s sake”. If you know what it feels to be happy on the outside to please the world while in reality you are suffering with bitterness from inside then you may resonate with this.

Similarly, respect was also pointed out as a key contributing factor to failed relationships. I may not be religious (note this doesn’t mean am an atheist), but I know what the good book states about love, submission, and respect. Respect and submission always go hand in hand; lack of the previous will always result to absence of the latter and eventually quarreling. Further, the good book further says “it is better to live in a desert land than with a quarrelsome and fretful spouse”.

Unfortunately, despite today’s lady who terms herself educated and religious, she tends to view submission and respect as a sign of “inferiority”. This means since she’s learned, she should not be corrected. The best she can be is be overly defensive, talk back when talked to. So who’s to blame? Her surrounding? Family background? upbringing? peers? As they say, attitude is everything – it can thrive a relationship and or kill it.

There have been debates on FM radios with spouses calling in to share their experiences with the listeners how they get treated or treat their significant others. If the radio call ins are anything to go by, it can plainly be deducted that the marriage institution is indeed in a dire straits.
Instances driving couples to stray and or seek emotional refuge elsewhere as an escape while at the same time not wanting to walk out of their current quagmire marital status have become rampant as a result.

Then after all these, we still get surprised why this generation is adamant to delve into commitment and or cannot sustain a union? Not so long ago, the born 80’s generation was said to be the last sane generation – but as it appears, “they have lost it all”. As the English would say “it’s a lost generation” while the French would simply put it “generation perdu” -ridiculous!



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  1. Jenn Mswahili / Dec 16 2014 11:49 pm

    Compromising is when both spouses meet each other halfway. If you like to party and I prefer staying at home and watching movies, then we both compromise. One weekend we go out and you have your fun then the next weekend you cuddle with me and watch a movie. It will always be a win win situation rather than setting your standards high and expect who ever is in a relationship with you to catch up or walk away. That only works in an office or out there but never in a marriage. Dont make your spouse feel like he/she has nothing to contribute to the marriage just coz they are not as educated or principled as you are. Help each other, go down to his/her level and help them rise up together with you.

    • bswitaba / Dec 17 2014 7:17 am

      Thanks for your follow up and wise counsel Miss J.

  2. LM / Nov 29 2015 2:10 am

    What in the world is this? At first I thought this was an old writing from the 18th century telling husbands how to ‘correct’ their wives?!
    “…despite today’s lady who terms herself educated and religious, she tends to view submission and respect as a sign of “inferiority”. This means since she’s learned, she should not be corrected. The best she can be is be overly defensive, talk back when talked to.”
    No, the very best she can do is leave that backwards misogynistic chauvinist! Otherwise she’ll go mad or end up killed by the said husband.

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