This is a simple question as it looks but it is richer than we think in order to answer it meaningfully. Marriage is not first of all conceived of as a union for the single purpose of sexual pleasures alone. Marriage is deeper in approach, meaning and application to individuals and society. That is why responsibilities are culturally and biologically ascribed to mating and to all expressed and symbolic forms of female and male intimacy. Marriage is associated with life and society far beyond the individual components of selfish desires. People marry therefore for companionship, procreation, care and support for one another, security and protection of each other, honour and continuity of kinship and community. It involves contributing to society and sustaining the same. As marriage is a Godly injunction entrenched in the holy bible for Christians, it is equally a cultural injunction authenticated by customs and traditions of a community group. As such, to marry is an obligation to live a good life – have children, raise them, expand human society, create alliances with in-laws and marriage sharing neighbours. Marriage helps to cause, fight or stop wars among inter-marrying neighbours.
Often we talk about love as if it is a simple thing. Love relationship is a complex biological and psychological dimension of life. No one takes or gives love to himself or herself. Love must come from someone else to another. It is given, received and shared. I am not concerned with forced or commandeered love here – such as casino, kidnapped, military or police love in a given time and place of war or turbulence. One of the premises of exercising love is in marriage and friendship. To direct love well and reduce its abuse, marriage is founded as an institution to systematically channel and stabilize sexual needs as important function of love. Furthermore, in marriage, love is said to be sacred to it and apparently a home of contribution and sacrifice to members of the love-bonded family. Marriage can be good or bad, sweet or sour, long-lived or short-lived, successful or unfortunate. Family as an institution of love is a sacred business centre of husband and wife, including their children. Singular culture or intercultural participants have ways to find whom to give their love and receive love. This brings me to the question: how do people seek out for those to love and in turn become loved? How many love letters or phone calls do people write or make to win love? How many love-gifts – exchanged or wired – including endless dating and outings can truly win love and secure it? How many individuals do people approach before connecting and hooking up? What shortcuts do men and women apply to secure their heart desires and live by it comfortably? How do people display consequential love behaviours in order to be considered serious and good enough to be trusted before being handed love to behold and protect as their own? The love-thing is emotional, and indeed, is not a material asset we can see and take it home just like that. It must be sought for, given, received, appreciated, tolerated and jealously guarded, secured and protected. To admire and express love is not a crime. But cheating in love is said to be a moral lapse – yet a social curiosity and palaver-game. Love can give peace or trouble, progress or failure. It can build or destroy.
No other situation enables love to flourish and endure than in marriage happenstance. Let us say that marriage is the last angle of chasing love and tying it up. We corner it and in turn it corners us. Thus it becomes a pulling together of all there is in life and society. People marry to please themselves, others and God. It is aimed to confer maturity and responsibility. It ushers in cultural honour, and never a cultural loss. It is dreamt of, facilitated, discovered, cherished, and carried shoulder high. Some buy love with wealth. But this prototype of love in itself soon flies away when wealth – its harbinger, is not flowing down any more. Everything people in love do, they do it principally, I am told, for the love of romance, being, living and dying. A society like the Igbo take love and marriage seriously because its marriage tradition is determined by its reason d’être.
I personally think that people marry for celebrity, personal, religious, communal, social status, economic and political considerations or reasons. One reason is not enough to determine why people marry but the most important factor is the need to connect, belong – care and get cared for, love and get loved; or even so, sample others and get sampled by others; marry someone and get the someone uplifted or down-lifted. It also includes but not limited to being bonded or unbounded, voiced or de-voiced, married or divorced, empowered or disempowered, enriched or impoverished, spiritualized or bedeviled, abused or respected and vice versa. To channel sexual health and responsibility into the promise to multiply and occupy the world for God and society consist in the central factor why societies argue about getting their daughters and sons at the right age and time to embrace and engage in marriage ceremonies as unavoidable heritage.
To marry, technically and culturally speaking, is to build a love bank and love safe for the love partners - male and female; and all other variables or partnership selections and combinations to engage in making love deposits and love withdrawals as they build up and build down, move from youth to old age until grave time with lasting memory in family heritage. Marriage brings into place a home for culturally negotiated and endorsed love talks, love meals and responsibilities that go with love at home and outside. Endogenous Love Bank matters for lovers but more importantly for a culturally married family. We can tease out the question about understanding heritage education more by asking to know if "you are culturally married?" By being culturally married, I mean how societies compel or ritualize wife givers and wife takers to embrace their beliefs and values associated with marriage for honour and respect, protection and continuity in the alliance relationship.
Let us now return to the Igbo and examine how partners are sought for and show the meanings the stages or processes in place produce for them.
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