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Why should it matter if I am married or not?

Saturday September 14 2019

MARRIAGE

There are so many assumptions made about a woman based on whether she is coupled up or not. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

JOAN THATIAH
By JOAN THATIAH
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Before we start, I need to get something off my chest.

A young woman reached out to me this morning. She is pregnant with a man she has been dating for a couple of years.

She is in her second trimester and is in a big dilemma. When should he start paying her rent? Here is my advice – pay your own rent.

It is what millions of other adults are doing in this country. It is what is expected of you.

History has already proven that the Kenyan woman is capable of so much more than paying her rent. Why are you trying to drag us back down?

Who has been paying your rent all this time since you moved out of your parents' house anyway?

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Now that that's out of my path, let's talk about an intrusive question that people just won't stop asking. "Are you married?"

ICE BREAKER

I was in a business meeting this week that was going quite well until my potential business associate popped the question.

Ordinarily, I would have blurted it out, but this time I asked him why he needed to know.

I have been asked this question many times. Some people even see this question as an appropriate ice breaker. I find it rude and intrusive.

The same way I will not be asking someone I just met how much they weigh, what colour of underwear they are wearing or how much money they made last month; the ‘are you married' question should never be an ice breaker.

Not unless you have your sights on someone and are trying to establish their availability.

More importantly, I wish people stopped asking because I do not want to be defined by my relationship status.

BIG PICTURE

I would rather be defined by other things like the many relationships I have built over the years, the causes I am passionate about and the accomplishments I have had along the way.

My marital status is a simpler fact of my life and, sadly, there are so many assumptions made about a woman based on whether she is coupled up or not.

This reminds me of a woman that sat me down a few years ago and wondered out aloud why I thought I was qualified to write about womanhood yet I hadn't lived all of it.

She was trying to reduce my experience of womanhood to just how long I have lived.

The same way someone asking about my marital status will be trying to reduce my life experience to whether I wake up with someone in the morning.

RIGHT QUESTIONS

True, there are instances when it matters whether I am married or not like the census or if I'm trying to get a loan against a piece of land; the bank will need to know if there is another person with a legal interest in it. Most of the times though, people are just being nosy.

It shouldn't matter whether I am married or not most times. Not at the garage, not at the women's chama and not at a business dealing unless my answer will determine the details of the contract.

I have noticed that most of the time someone asks me about a husband, they are trying to find out something else.

So let's ask the right questions. Instead of wondering whether my husband is with me, ask me whether I came alone.

Ask me whether I will be available to work long hours, ask me whether there is someone that can guarantee me for that loan.

Before you ask a woman whether she is married or not, ask yourself what you are going to do with the answer. Is it just a juicy piece of information? Then don't ask.

Instead of asking people intrusive questions, ask them what it is that you really want to know. If you are trying to start a conversation, there is a variety of other things that you could ask about.

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