For the umpteenth time, Tokunbo asked herself how on earth she got into the situation she has found herself in. Looking around the sparsely furnished but decent and compact apartment that had become home for her in the last two years, she could just not imagine how a mere suggestion that two split unit air conditioning units should be included in the family budget could degenerate into the hot exchange she just had with Tunde. Back at her parents’ home, a central cooling system ensures that even the toilets are air conditioned. She could not even begin to imagine how she has coped in the last two years without air conditioning units in the apartment.
With her decision to marry Tunde, she had braced herself for a drop in her standard of living, convinced that the love they both share will more than make up for the luxuries she will be parting ways with. What she did not bargain for was the stupid pride and stubbornness that Tunde wears like a badge of honour…it did not make sense to her that he refuses any attempt by her family or friends to make life a bit more comfortable for them. It looks to her like he has a pact with poverty and mediocrity and enjoys seeing her miserable. She has concluded his sole reason for marrying her was to teach a silver spoon child the lesson of her life and making her have a taste of the misery and lack that characterised his life.
When a girl from a comfortable and privileged background marries a guy from a very humble background, what ordinarily appears like a perfect romantic movie plot that ends in a triumph of love is usually not so. That scenario has its undercurrents and if care is not taken and wisdom applied, it may be difficult to salvage the marriage or the two partners may end up living far below their potentials by just staying in the marriage but living totally different lives.
The task of this write up is to suggest ways of handling this very delicate scenario.
When there is a sharp difference between social status, exposure and financial capabilities with the lady having an upper hand, then attention should be given in the manner below discussed:
- Marriage should not be rushed into, rather, the two parties should carefully examine their motives. Is marriage being considered out of desperation, pity or an easy way out of poverty?
- The lady should take pains to consider the guy’s outlook and philosophy to life. Are they in tandem with hers or does she see a meeting point subsequently? Is he visionary enough to aspire or is she ready to lower her standards not temporarily but permanently?
- The two parties need to have honest conversations about what concessions will be made and in what areas? They need to decide the areas in which there cannot be negotiations. Examples could be decisions on standard of living, business or career decisions and in law relations. Family finance and model to adopt should also be extensively discussed. A trusted older couple could also be brought in to guide them through the process.
- Practical steps may need to be taken to acquire needed skills for the life ahead. The lady may need to understudy people with peculiarities similar to her prospective in-laws so as to be better prepared or to aid her negotiation. The man may also need to be tutored in social graces and acceptable conduct. A finishing school may not be out of place.
- Interactions must be had with parents on both sides i.e. the prospective parents-in-law. Each party should give the other a clear understanding of his or her background, the expectations of parents and close family members and a promise to stand by and protect the other where those expectations are concerned. Under no condition should the wedding hold without a sustained interaction over a period of time. The siblings as much as possible should also be interacted with.
Both the lady and the guy should review the outcome of these interactions, discussing freely their observations, asking questions and seeking clarifications on whatever appears shrouded. They should also request and obtain assurances, expressing their fears.
While it is true that love should triumph against all odds, there are peculiar mixes in circumstances that pose as huge stumbling blocks. It is wisdom to be extra careful and very deliberate in navigating your way when your marital pathways are strewn with these blocks. So, the next time you see that silver spoon girl clinging to that below average guy, love struck and hell bent on getting married with or without parental consent and counselling, singing the song that says “all we need is love to make it work”, please find a way to get this article her way. It may just save her a million heart breaks.