The Nigerian culture, indeed the African culture elevates marriage.
It does not matter if you’re from the North, East or South, the approach to marriage is the same. Parents, family, friends and sometimes even the individuals themselves, put pressure on young ones to get married before a certain age.
Women bear the brunt of this pressure the most. By 25 years of age, parents start looking at their daughter in a certain way. If she enters her 30s and is still not married, the pressure intensifies because they believe there’s an age that a man will not find her wife material again.
A Twitter user, @ifbnw puts it thus:
“Someone, more specifically, a woman is unmarried in her 30s and she’s tagged as “old” but someone dies in their 30s and they’re tagged as “young”. Everything na wetin ? Everything na social construct.”
Men get some sort of pressure but not as much as the women. Is there an age where marriage ‘passes’ one by? Be it male or female. Does one become unwanted after clocking a certain age?
All the way in China, they have a term for women who remain unmarried after a certain age.
Sheng nu which translates to “leftover women” or “leftover ladies” is a derogatory term popularized by the All-China Women’s Federation for women who remain unmarried in their late twenties and beyond. This term is used predominantly in China though it has been used in India, North America and other parts of Asia. The term has become so popular it has been used in movies and TV series that deal with that subject matter.
The Next Edition spoke to some people to find out their thoughts on whether there is a ‘cut off age’ for marriage, for both men and women in Nigeria.
“The way we were socialized, marrying “early” was aspirational. As life and times changed, people started marrying later than before.
These days, it’s not uncommon to find people over 35 years who have never been married.
While such people are in the minority, even those who are married or have been at least once, before they turn 35, think that it’s wiser to marry later than earlier.
I don’t think time ever elapses for marriage. I’ve seen people marry really “late” and are happy. For women though, especially those who wish to have children biologically, there’s menopause and the biological clock to factor in. Who’s to say when is “early” or “late”, anyways? Everyone is on their peculiar journey so when you marry, it’s your time. (When you wake up, it’s your “morning”.) – Ama Eminue, Educator
“The age thing affects ladies more. A man at 40 can still marry a fresh lady and life goes on.
A lady at 40 is likely not going to stand a chance of marriage because age has told on her.
She may not easily give birth and no man would want to just marry without children. Except an elderly man who lost his wife or so and is marrying a lady of 40 for companionship. For me, from 37years, it’s difficult to find a man that’s coming for marriage. 27 years old is not bad, at 33 years, a lady begins to have fear.” – Sifon Amah, Civil Servant
“My thought on marriage is that it’s for companionship. There is no age limit to it. It is procreation that sets an age limit for women. I know of a lady who got married at age 70 to a 78 year old man here in Nigeria. If it is for companionship, there is no age limit.” – Uduak Usen-Abasi, Chef
“First of all, there is no age limit for marriage. The society we live in has mounted so much pressure on people to get married when the time is not even right for them and this has led to too many failed/ failing homes. For no reason people tend to see women who are not married before 40 as confused and not really understanding life which I feel is very wrong.
I believe getting married when you’re ready for it is very important. You can be 23 or 26 and ready and you can also be 40 or 55 and ready.
There are different levels of maturity one has to attain to be able to sustain a marriage and until that is gotten you ain’t ready yet.” – Rowland Chiazor, Artist / Real Estate Consultant
“According to society, a lady above the age of 30 will find it difficult in getting a man let alone keeping one because, she will be either too independent for a man or is “yesterdays news”. All of this is wrong and unfortunately it has pushed young ladies/girls to enter marriage straight from school without getting life experiences and truly knowing what it means to not be dependent on a man. There are times I have heard such ladies who get married and start a family say they miss being single.
I honestly feel for them because, I feel they did not fully utilise their youth. It’s not like the single ones do, but at least they fully understand what they are getting into and have certain standards.
Women get married every other day at different ages. As a matter of fact I somehow think that the ladies who marry above 30 are the ones who truly enjoy marriage and the companionship that comes with it because, they understand what being single really is, and will appreciate and utilise the new phase of life called marriage.” – Rita Enang, Procurement Specialist
“I don’t know for others but I have personal preferences. I’d love to get married before I’m 35. I’m a guy. And I’d love to marry a woman who’s less than 30. Not really about social construct, maybe a bit about anatomy. I don’t see why anyone else should make these decisions for others.” – Ubok Akpan, Filmmaker
“I don’t think there is a particular age one can no longer get married.
We can find love at any age, there is no expiry date. I know the society here frowns upon women staying single into their 30s but lauds men staying single to same age. One of the patriarchy nonsense. It’s one of the things we need to get rid of in this country.” – Ed Stark, Civil Servant
“Times are changing really fast and we are beginning to realise that both genders are actually self sufficient. We just need the other sex for procreation. There’s really no age in which marriage passes anyone by. Some people marry at 18 while some find love at 50. The main thing there is to marry for the right reasons.” – Norell Nwoko, Business man
“I personally don’t think there is an age limit, but I know it gets a little more difficult as you get older. Most ladies in my life say, “When a guy is above 40 and has never been married, it’s a huge red flag indicating he has major issues”
I think 40 is the equivalent age in Nigeria to the left over women in China.” -Ofili Chidubem, Analyst
What do you think? Is there an age you can no longer marry? As a man would you marry a lady who’s in her 30s and above? As a lady will you marry a 50 year old man who has never married before? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section.