Previously, it was expected that a man would dream of marriage after landing a juicy job, buy a car, build a house, and then, probably around the age of 35, get a wife. But with, among others, the easy availability of domestic technologies such as gas cookers, microwave ovens, vacuum cleaners, rice cookers and washing machines to ease the burden of household chores, some men have preferred to prolong their bachelorhood.
Richard Kato, 32, a car dealer in Seeta, still enjoys waking up from either side of his bed, and says he isn’t married because he sees no reason to find his rib.
“Many men today are living single because they don’t have a compelling reason to marry and that is what has also kept me in bachelorhood for all this years,” says Kato.
“Marriage is not a bed of roses as many unmarried people may tend to think. It is really about tolerance and endurance.”
He believes marriage is about getting a helper to do things a man would find burdensome to do, like cooking and doing the laundry. But with technology stepping in to take some of the weight off his shoulders, Kato says he finds he has enough happiness in his life, probably more than if he was in a marriage.
“There are men who may never have wished to marry, but because they detest lighting charcoal stoves, cooking and doing the laundry, they are left with no option but take on a partner. But today where I just have to pour the rice in the rice cooker and place my clothes in a washing machine at no extra cost, why would I stress myself with a woman?” he asks.
Referring to the Bible, Kato points out that a woman was meant be a helper and companion, but gone are the days that this must be so, noting that today appliances can as well be helpers while systems such as DStv offer him companionship as they keep him entertained while he is relaxing at home.
Kato dismisses the argument that marrying offers sexual satisfaction. He argues that a man – or even a woman – can get sexual satisfaction without necessarily being married.
“Even those who claim to be married are still getting sexual satisfaction out of wedlock, meaning that we bachelors are happier than them, because we are honest about it and do not conduct ourselves in a hypocritical manner,” he reasons.
ANIMALS NEVER MARRY
However the concept of avoiding marriage and making up for it with technology seems not to be the preserve of men. Apparently the bug is slowly getting to the women as well. A casual run through the listing of women trying to climb the corporate ladder will reveal that more and more of them are opting to avoid the seemingly binding word ‘I do.’
However, Ruth Namanya, a marketer with Airtel, disagrees with this perception.
“In African cultures, it is men who make moves on women, and if you men don’t make such moves on us, what do you expect us to do?” Namanya asks.
In her view, it is the men who are avoiding marriage, noting that some want to remain mummy’s boys and fear taking on responsibility. She, on the other hand, agrees that women who decide to stay single are more worried of men who target, hit and run.
“Men today only want to hit-and-run and have no seriousness with building relationships, and this has made women evolve the so-called culture of ‘de-toothing’ and staying unmarried,” she argues.
She observes that such women find themselves in a difficult predicament because they also want to outrun the ticking age clock that seemingly depreciates their eligibility, pushing them towards the commonly- referred-to ‘off-layer’ bracket.
Joel Nsubuga, a boda boda rider in Mukono, believes that marriage has outlived its glorious days.
When challenged about the continuity of humankind, Nsubuga argues that the end of marriage cannot possibly mark its end. He points out that there is no marriage in the animal kingdom, yet there are billions of animals and insects on earth.
WIFE ‘MARRIES’ HOUSE GIRL
The 43-year-old Ronald Okiror, a civil servant in Mukono, gives a slightly different reason why he has continued sleeping in a cold bed, so to speak.
“Few women today want to do household chores that were traditionally reserved for the womenfolk. So, I rather buy domestic machines and avoid the stress.”
Okiror says the current crop of women, after getting married, insist on hiring the services of house girls who end up doing all the house chores meant for the wife. I can do without a wife who also ‘marries’ a house girl and brings her to my house,” Okiror reasons.
“A woman must be able to do household chores without complaining. But majority who have been my guests will ensure they are crawling out of it last. Others will leave dirty dishes in the sink and prefer eating out to home cooking,” he complains.
Just like Okiror, more and more men, especially in urban areas, are apparently complaining about women lacking in homemaking skills. However, Namanya challenges Okiror’s line of thought. She argues that men are being unreasonable by insisting they want women to do things like their mothers used to do back in the day.
She says if men cannot live up to the standards of their forefathers, then they should shut up and keep their expectations on cooking and homemaking to themselves.
“Unless an urban man can also build a house using mud and thatch it with grass, or hunt down wild game for a meal, he has no business asking me to cook like his mother,” Namanya says.
At 30, Namanya is quite optimistic she will eventually get married but feels no pressure for it.
Okiror believes that things like microwaves and the availability of ready-made and packaged foods have made life much easier for many bachelors.
Okiror’s argument brings into focus the notion that every technological invention tries to fill a certain gap. Microwaves and other modern kitchen appliances, for instance, may be filling the gap left by women who want to be less domesticated. The man now finds it easier to warm himself a meal late at night when he gets home from work or drinking.
Because some household chores are now being made easier by machines, some men are failing to feel the absence of wives in their lives. And while in the past marriage was the easiest guarantee for frequent sex, men believe that today there is so much sex available, including from sex workers and women who are willing to participate in no-strings-attached sex.
“Why would you need a wife now, except maybe for having children? If it is sex you want, you can easily get it without having to be married. As for children, many men are proud absentee dads; for so long as you pay for their upkeep, you are a man among men,” Okiror says with some cockiness.
George Clooney, Hollywood’s one-time iconic bachelor and two-time winner of People magazine’s sexiest man, once put it that relationships were very hard work. He said bachelorhood was a strategy to avoid the emotional work necessary for a healthy committed relationship.
“I don’t see anything wrong with men who feel that a life-long commitment to the same person isn’t right for them. Many people lead rich and fulfilling lives having never married. Staying single is a viable choice for people who feel this way, and absolutely the right choice for those that feel marriage would cause them unhappiness,” Clooney, now married to Lebanese-British lawyer and author Amal Ramzi, said in an interview with People.
He, however, contends that the central dilemma for bachelors lies in the avoidance of hypocrisy. “While a stable, intimate relationship has its benefits, the desire for sexual variety and freedom is often greater; so, these men feel forced to choose between the two,” he says.
He also notes that no one has the right to point a finger at anyone who shuns marriage, arguing that choosing bachelorhood over a committed relationship is a choice for every individual.