The black market called marriage

To many, marriage is about love and passion. To others, it is an investment and to someone like me, it is all of that and also black market. You can love all you want and not be able to keep the glow. You can be as passionate as you can and still not be able to keep the fire burning or your spouse in your bed and within your vows.


As an investor, we all know you can’t get it right all the time. Some investments are just not destined to last long or become blue chip. Many just fizzle out. You watch your profit margin diminish as the operations cost soar until you are in the red, bankrupt and then you go into receivership if you are lucky.

Some women get a second chance to re-invest, others have to live sadly forever thereafter with their first bad investment choice.

Whatever your description of marriage – passion, love, investment or even a divine call, what is common to all marriage is, it is about flying blind with only faith, providing the wind for your wings. Think about it, even when two pastors marry, they are not sure of anything except their faith that tomorrow will be all right and God will see them through. You just set out on this long journey, hoping for the best, not sure what tomorrow will bring or if tomorrow will come at all.

Let’s look at the investor-bride for instance. There are women who for reasons of background, or whatever, are clear-eyed when choosing a husband. He’s either rich or not. There is no middle road. May be not Dangote-rich but he must be able to afford the good things of life. This bride is not turned on by humble-beginnings or aroused by let’s-start-together-from-the-scratch pitch. The soup must not only be cooked and ready to be served, there must also be a servant to serve it. But what is the guarantee that that is a wise choice, that the soup will not go sour one year down the road?

There are dozens of cases of once-upon-a-rich men who are today barely picking their bills. There are tons of women who used to be pampered silly but are now breadwinners. You see what I mean by flying blind? You just take off and hope you’ll land safely, with faith and determination as your wings and wheels.

A dear friend once told me to take a census of women; wives driving choice cars in and out of Banana Island, Lagos. His point? That I’d see they are the ones in their 40s to early 50s in Mercedes Benz G-Wag, Lexus, Porsche etc. They are not overly dressed or wearing heavy make-up. According to my friend, “these are women who made the right choices years ago. They saw prospect in certain young men and married them and today they are reaping the fruits of their labour in the lap of luxury.”

What do you think? I didn’t, still don’t agree with my friend. First, his theory credits women with clairvoyance, the ability to see tomorrow. Yeah, women have uncanny intuition but we are not always on point, our choices and prediction not always on the money. In other words, not all gambles on prospect in a ‘toaster’ pan out. Some just peter out into near penury. Many times, the rich fruits expected are so late in coming, some wives lose faith and sight of what they saw and married. Some women give up and move up the road in search of ripe fruits waiting to be harvested. However, there are scores of women whose predictions paid off and are indeed living in mansions, being waited on by uniformed stewards and ferried around by liveried chauffeurs.

I read in the City People magazine the interview of a man who used to sell rat killers, rat gum, local insecticides, then planks and later cows. For years he suffered. His wife, whether she saw the millions in his future stood by him. Until four years ago when he hit it big with an herbal drink that is now raking in the big bucks, with choice automobiles packed on the premises of their mansion.

Last Sunday, I went to see a movie that got me thinking, again, about the import of the choices we make when it comes to marriage and the staying-power we all must have to wait for our dreams to come true, as women. I’ll not reveal the synopsis of the movie so I don’t spoil the fun in case you have not seen the movie. I’d tell you another story you and I can relate with.

Benita and Joe met when they were in their final year in the University of Benin at the graduation party of Joe’s roommate. Joe read Geology, Benita read Biochemistry. It was that kind of relationship that graduated smoothly into marriage plans. The two surely wanted to be together forever. They knew the number of children they’d have, where and what they would be and live in 20 years.

Benita was sure Joe would be rich, even if not filthy rich. He’s a geologist and his eyes were on any of the oil companies.

Twenty years ago, when they both graduated, those oil company jobs were not as scarce as they are now. Joe promised Benita they’d have a huge fifth year wedding anniversary since he couldn’t afford a big wedding. Their wedding ring was from roadside shop. Each time she came home with an ‘Okada burn’ or torn skirt from alighting from a moving bus, he promised to buy her the latest Range Rover.

The couple had non-stop landlord trouble because they were never able to pay their rent as at when due even though they lived on the outskirts of the city.

Joe applied to every International oil major, then he scaled it down to oil service companies, yet nothing happened. Benita had a teaching job which could barely keep them fed and clothed. They made two babies in four years and life just got harder. She took on private teaching and selling ‘this and that’ to her fellow teachers and neighbours. She moved from wearing old dresses to second-hand dresses. Her kids too. Joe’s promises and reassurances began to sound like unrealistic dreams. She began to be irritated by his consolation. She simply got tired of the ‘I will make it, just be patient’ stories. She was perpetually tired and stressed from being breadwinner, running around. Joe’s golden fleece didn’t seemed like it would ever materialize.

Yet, Benita trudged on, living on hope, though her determination was waning by the day. Then her second child, her beautiful daughter died in her arms because they got to the hospital too late. The poor girl had been running temperature for days and she had been giving her the anti-malaria she bought down the road. She told herself that she would take her to the hospital for test and better treatment when she got her salary the following week. Then the baby started convulsing. She barely made it into the consulting room before the beautiful girl took her last breath.

Benita went berserk. Her daughter died because her husband didn’t have a job, they were poor. She was just tired of the struggle. She needed a man to take care of her. She was done with this life of dream and promises. Joe just brought her bad luck. The doctor already told her she might not be able to have a third child. Now she was left with one. She was not going to risk losing the remaining one to ‘this poverty-infested life’.

And so Benita moved out, left Joe to sort himself out. It was over, she said. She filed for divorce. Joe was disconsolate. He couldn’t even insist on the custody of his son. He loved his wife and could see her in pain. It was a sad end.

Then barely 18 months after Joe and Benita parted ways, fortune smiled on Joe. A friend called him to supply diesel to a company. It was the beginning of open doors. One supply led to dozens and then several. In less than six months, he was able to rent an office, move into a decent apartment.

Long story short, all those good things of life that he promised Benita went to another woman, Joe’s new wife who seemed to have arrived just in time for prosperity. She was the one who got the diamond ring, the society wedding, the G-wag and the beautiful house on rich people’s island. She got it all.

Benita’s investment did not lead to harvest. Her stress, pain, and loss were just seeds for another’s comfort.

Was she impatient?

Was she right to leave after her daughter died?

Was she wrong when she saw Joe’s prospect all those years ago?

Why did fortune smile on Joe when Benita had lost a child and her space?

My conclusion? Only God knows the dreams that will come true, the prospect that will materialise. The bride can only gamble, fly blind and hope she lands safely and not on her bare buttocks.

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