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Terms & Conditions Apply

One of the biggest decisions you will ever make in your life is to choose the man or woman you will marry. Some people take it lightly but it can make or break your life. So, with all the ambition and the vision that you have, with all the dreams that your parents have for you, if you marry the wrong guy or wrong girl everything can be derailed one way or another so don’t play with it. Don’t marry a fool whether male or female. Have a sense of who you are; when you have a sense of who you are, you will understand.

Back in high school in the year 2000, when our Christian Education Teacher introduced the topic of the day “Choosing a Marriage Partner” the entire class burst out laughing, I guess it caught most of us off guard. I mean, who could imagine one would need some knowledge to choose and make such a decision, let alone be advised on how to go about it. A majority of us grew up watching and reading fairy tales. Cinderella, Beauty and the beast…. to mention but a few.

We were predisposed to think of love as painted in the fairy tales:  girls especially, the prince charming! Tall dark and handsome. That you will meet him one day, fall in love at first sight, get married in a spectacular garden wedding and live happily ever after. Vividly recalling, the topic mentioned something about studying the character traits, getting to know the person, their principles and values, religion, their faith, goals in life and aspirations, number of children they aspired to have and so on. We were encouraged to have an open mind and have several general friendships with the other gender so as have a wider exposure on different personalities. That having been said and done, once you have circled them as an ideal partner, you move on to courtship with more clear intentions and a goal at the end of the spectrum. Court the person for a sufficient duration of time and pray to God for guidance so that by the time you walk them down the aisle you are sure you made the right decision. “Marriage is permanent!” our Christian Education teacher reminded us.  It was not just about falling in love but tagging your head along as you “fell in love.”

In traditional African setting, the choice of who to marry was never a decision left at the discretion of a young person. They were thought to be naïve and full of emotions clouding their cognitive ability to make sober decisions on such critical matters and from the elders’ perspective, the decision of the young man or woman would determine their lineage, their continuity and survival. It was common practice that as soon as a young man identified a girl of interest, he would alert the elders of the clan who would then carry out what can be termed as due diligence. Who was the girl? her parents, the clans her mother and father come from, whether there were any curses or bitter words spoken by those that came before them in those clans also, whether there was a possibility of incest marriages within those clans, the behaviors of the girl; hardworking, have respect for her elders, kind, honest, a prospective partner had to undergo a thorough screening after which an emissary would be sent to the home of the girl to communicate their intentions. It was a collective responsibility to safeguard the lineage, survival and continuity of the clan. Divorce, separation in that setting was unheard off, marriage was permanent for better for worse, in riches and in poverty, in health and in sickness till death do you part.

Then came the western culture that eroded most our values, changed our attitudes, way of dressing, way of life, our values, the way we socialized among others. In a quest to appear enlightened, we gave in to the pressure and conformed to the change. Marriage became a very personal decision. The criteria for decision making changed: beauty took center stage, education, people meet, get carried away by emotions in the name of “fell in love”. In fact, anyone attempting to get one to change their mind on their choice, let alone advise them to take their time is declared an enemy from the onset whether close friend, family or relative. In worst case scenarios some have met in faraway places and entered into come we stay marriages, civil marriages and cohabitations with none bothering to know where the other has come from, their parents, extended families and clans.

 They bring forth off springs, one or two and feel the need to let their families know and meet only to get the shock of a lifetime and dismay everyone after they come to the realization that they actually are blood relatives and their union can thus not be solemnized. It becomes too late to unmake the decision, children involved and too much at stake. Courtship having become just another word in the dictionary. “We met, it was love at first sight, I knew she was the one and we got married after two weeks, a month, two months, in less than a year!” Games people play!!

On prima facie it looks quite legit, love is really in the air, and they cannot stay away from each other!  The emotions and actions are convincing beyond reasonable doubt that they should spend the rest of their lives together in holy matrimony. The recitation of the marriage vows is more like a poem we used to recite in our junior years with very little understanding of the magnitude and weight they carry, one which will only be felt when there is no time to reverse the decision.

Love is signified by color red, the color that stands for danger, blood, as a matter of fact most warnings are put in red!! I tend to believe the reason behind it is because it signifies life and death, something not to be joked around or played with, to be entered into with the seriousness it deserves. Recent developments taking center stage of everyday news are cruel happenings in the institution of marriage which leaves me wondering what happened to marriage. “When someone loves you, won’t they always love you? Whitney Houston.

People change as life changes as well as their circumstances and being able to love someone as life shapes and redefines them is what will make the marriage work; for better, for worse in health and in sickness, in riches and in poverty till death do us apart, these are life circumstances that will be working to set you apart.

“Till death do us apart” quietly and clearly whisper to yourself “Terms and conditions apply!” The Law of Contract dictates that when the terms of the contract can no longer be satisfied then the contract ought to be terminated Company Law Cap 486.  I’ll equate it to “when love is no longer served, it’s time to leave the table”. Be intentional about your life, don’t allow life to happen to you, Les brown.

As an accountant,  I will fall in love and tag my brain along, more so the profession demands evidence-based decision making, analyze the individual, their past and present behaviors, it is said the best way to predict a person’s future is by looking at their past, morning shows the day as childhood depicts the man. Matters of the heart require due diligence thus the need for courtship, during which I will draw up a ledger account and on the credit side I will write up the negative personalities and taking into account that a leopard cannot change its spots, do an analysis of what I can live with and what I cannot, what value addition to my life in the present and in the future that the partnership is potentially capable of bringing forth on the debit side.. More also, I’ll take into account the positive attributes of the individual and how they complement mine, how their goals and aspirations blend in with mine, what their values are, their attitudes towards life, their conflict resolution mechanisms, how they spend their free time in regard to friends and activities. Make a decision based on which side of the ledger carries more weight. Then project the relationship three, six, nine, twelve years – for an infinite period of time, do a worst-case scenario of potential negatives that would emanate from the partnership in the event things go south and ask myself whether the risk is at an acceptable level. In my risk-based decision making, first I will have a contingency plan to deal with undesirable surprises along the way, like in the event my supposedly better half filed for a divorce, cohabitates with another, neglects their duties and such other undesirable occurrences.

 Secondly make it clear what my irreducible minimums are going to be, my terms and conditions, the basis upon which I will regularly carry out a risks review and below which it will be evident that my so much desired “till death do us apart” cannot give me reasonable assurance that it will be a going concern in the foreseeable future: Terms and Conditions will apply.

CPA Aboge is an Accountant at Mathenge Technical Institute. She is also a Managing Partner: Aboge Accounting & Consulting.

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