Two hands intertwined, one of them with a wedding band
(C) Love Matters | Rita Lino

Reasons for marriage

Marriage is the formal or legal union of two people. But the notion of marriage in today's age is very different than in it was in past times.

We’ve all heard the phrase 'marriages are made in heaven’ (sometimes followed up by the cheeky comment, ‘…to be busted on earth’).

In a lot of cultures across the world, people see marriage as a spiritual union between two, and sometimes more, people. A married couple often makes a public and legal vow to make their relationship last forever. But in some cultures, it’s common to have marriages that are only recognised socially, and not by law.

While in some parts of the world gay and lesbian couples can get married, other countries ban homosexual marriages. Read more about laws and attitudes concerning lesbians, gays and bisexuals.

Couples around the world marry for different reasons. They might decide to say the wedding vows because they are deeply in love with each other, and they might have been in a relationship for a while. These are called love marriages.

In some cases, parents and/or relatives of the groom and bride play a role in setting up marriages. They are actively involved in choosing the bride or groom for their children. Such marriages are called ‘arranged marriages'. The choice of spouse might be restricted on the basis of religion, language, or tribe.

What if you don’t want to get married but you’re facing pressure from your family and society to do exactly that? If you are being forced into a marriage, you can always find help.

Love marriages

Love marriages happen between two people who love and care for each other.

In cultures where love marriages are a norm, one of the lovers usually proposes the marriage and the other accepts or rejects the proposal.

Some people put in a lot of thought and effort into planning and scheduling their proposals, whereas others do it spontaneously. You could go down on one knee on a moonlit terrace of a five-star hotel. Alternatively, you could just light some candles in the bedroom to create a bit of atmosphere before you pop the question. It all depends on your taste and style.

To know more about what you should and shouldn’t do when you’re proposing, have a look at our Marriage proposals: do’s and don’ts.

You might be proposing a marriage or accepting a proposal, but how do you know that you’ve chosen the right person? When’s the right time to get married? Can you ever be entirely sure? What if it goes wrong? All these might be legitimate concerns, if you’re making up your mind on marriage.

And you’re not alone, almost everyone getting married faces these challenges. It’s a big decision after all – are you ready to spend the rest of your life with this person?

The risk of being different

Love marriages can also bring along some practical challenges. If you speak different languages or belong to different tribes or religions, it might mean adjusting to these cultural differences. Life does not follow a script and getting around these issues can be very difficult.

Sometimes these differences, especially in tribe and religion, can be particularly hard to overcome. In many parts of Kenya, couples face real threats of rejection from their families and communities – with their mixed marriage seen as an affront against group honour.

Depending on where you’re from and what your background is, you need to weigh the risks and be absolutely sure about wanting to marry someone outside your tribe or religion.

Come we stay

In Kenya, couples often live together without being married, which is commonly called ‘come we stay’. Once you’ve lived together for over six months, it’s essentially the equivalent of being legally married – but only if it’s recognised as such by a court.

The Marriage Act of 2012 was introduced to give more legal rights to partners and children of ‘come we stay’ unions. While termed as ‘cohabitation’, ‘come we stay’ is not officially recognised as a union and Kenyan courts interpret each situation on a case-by-case basis to establish a ‘presumption of marriage’. That means that if you did what married people do – lived together, had children, shopped together, attended family functions, had a joint medical coverage, etc. – then these are taken as evidence of a union. If there’s no contrary evidence, the courts will likely decide to recognise it as a legal union.

Arranged marriages

Arranged marriage is a type of marital union where the bride and groom are selected by their families rather than by each other.

There’s not one single formula for arranged marriages. It all depends on your family background.
In some cultures, parents, relatives, or a matchmaker find a match for the man and woman once they reach a marriageable age or at a later stage. The bride and groom may or may not meet before the wedding day. But the final decision about the marriage often rests with the parents of the bride and groom.

Some families do it differently. Parents or relatives find a suitable partner for their son or daughter. They then introduce the couple to each other. They may meet once or several times to see if they like each other and if they are compatible. Depending on how they feel about each other, they decide whether they’d like to get married or not. These kinds of marriages, where the families only introduce the man and woman but leave the final decision to them, are known as ‘introduced arranged marriages’.

Getting married is not only about the ceremony and having a good time. That’s just the beginning of a lifelong partnership – in the case of an arranged marriage, with a person you hardly know.

In a lot of arranged marriages, the man or woman could face pressure to conform to their family’s wishes. If you are considering an arranged marriage, here are a few tips that might help you along the way:

  • Ask yourself if you are ready to be married. Your parents might think that you’re of a marriageable age, but are you ready to give a full-time commitment to a new person in your life? Think about the kind of changes it will have on your lifestyle. How would it affect your social life and your professional life? Would you be able to handle the changes?
  • Think through your new responsibilities – not only to your partner but also to their family and friends. There will be a lot of interaction, keeping up relationships, and maintaining cordial relations with new people. People will have expectations of you. Are you ready to deal with them?
  • Sort out the finances. Will your spouse be working? If not, would you be able to support them? Are you expected to make a contribution to the family expenses? Have you discussed this?
  • Insist on having a meeting with your proposed spouse before making any decision. Of course it makes sense to see them and find out if your personalities match before you decide to spend the rest of your life together.
  • Be honest when you meet your potential partner. Don’t start what could be a life-long relationship with a lie. Tell them openly about your past life and what your expectations are from the future.
  • Listen to your future partner’s story. Give them a chance to open up to you. Try your best to ease the pressure off the situation.
  • Let them know whether or not you think they are a potential mate. Tell them how you feel. Keep your family informed, too. But take your time. Often when you first meet someone, you can’t see the difficult side of their personality. Give yourself time to discover each other’s strengths and weaknesses.
  • Let your parents know what the weak links are. If your parents are expecting you to get married to someone you find incompatible, explain the situation and reassure them that this won’t be the last chance you’ll have to be married.

Did you learn something new?

Hello Makungu, A Marriage is a relationship that is legally binding and many times persons involved will go public about it which may include informing parents or even registering their union legally or a public wedding/marriage ceremony. When two people are just in a relationship or dating it means they are spending time to get to know each other but there may not be a serious commitment like that of marriage. Breaking up while dating maybe much easier than when one is married. Often times a marriage will start with a relationship/dating and then grow to a place where the two want to further commit to each other.
Tue, 07/25/2017 - 05:48 pm
Hi Brendah, You may need to consider a few things including the following:- Are you mature enough for marriage, Are you ready for the kind or long term commitment, Have you thought/decided on what kind of a partner you want and what kind or relationship you want, are you ready for compromise, are you the right partner for the person you are looking, are you dating anyone now...among others. It also includes where you are emotionally. Think about it. We wish you well.
I have been dating this man for 2yrs now,he is the kind of person I want to spend the rest of my life with,he proposed 6months ago and I accepted but the problem is he's not potentially stable though he makes an effort to provide for me and my child "which is not his".he has all the quality of a good man but I still feel he is not enough,,i met this other man who has everything I design and I'm starting to like him already,I Know it's not fair but I like being pumpured with goodies....I'm confused, kindly advise me
Hi Mary, You need to think about what it is you want in a partner and in a relationship. It is also important to consider what you want not just today but also in the future. This is a decision only you can make. Take sometime and think about this and make an informed decision.
Hey Abel, there is really not right age to get married as long as the persons who want to get married are of legal age and they feel they are ready to handle the responsibility that comes with being married whether husband or wife. Another important question is how to you know you are with the right person for marriage... Check out this article;-

Hey Elsie, this really depends on the people dating and whether in the course of dating they feel they are ready to move the relationship to the next level. Aside from time there are a few things you want to look out for to see if the person you are with is the right person for marriage. For instance are you both in love with each other, are you friends aside from being lovers, do you find it easy to talk to each other and spend time with each other, do you feel you know your partner well enough, do you respect each other among others. Have a look at the following article;-

Wed, 08/08/2018 - 10:42 am
My parents are against my relationship since I am dating a guy from another tribe. What pains me is that they have not even met the guy and they are already judging him. I can't imagine loosing him I don't know how to convince them they won't even talk about it???

Hey, this must be very frustrating for you. You can consider talking to a close family friend or relative to help you talk to your parents about this. Also, try find out what exactly your partner do not like about this tribe, it maybe easier to address the issues when you know exactly what they are. Also, you can consider bringing him over to meet your parents. Perhaps if they meet him they may have a change of heart. 

Kisaka Mike
Fri, 09/21/2018 - 04:16 pm
My girlfriend got pregnant now her family want is to get married efore the ba y is born. I am not ready for marriage and sometimes I think she set me up for this ? I am not sure whether to break up with her or get married????

Hey Mike, the important question is what do you want? It's important to get into what is a long term commitment for the right reasons. If you are not ready for marriage, let your partner know and the agree on how you will support her during this time including raising the child after birth. Check out the following article;-

So, I think Iam ready for Marriage only that I dont seem to get a good guy so far... What choices can I make to ensure that I surround myself with Quality Suitors? Is it because I work in A segregated area or whaaat? Or let me ask directly, where the Suitors/Ready to get on the Ride of marriage? I need one coz I don`t wonna be a Single Mom... So help me God

Hey Shee, I can't really tell you where ready for marriage suitors can be found, however you may need to get into situations that will afford you the opportunity to meet new people. These may include social events where you get the chance to meet new people or introduced to new people. The more people you meet the more likely you are to meet someone who would be interested in marriage. Take time and think about what you are looking for in a partner and marriage partner. We wish you all the best.

Hey Sharon, sorry about your relationship. I can't really tell you if he will indeed change. You need to think about whether you are willing to give him another chance considering the aggression and verbal abuse. Think about what you want in a relationship and then make a decision to either go back to him or keep things as they currently are. Have a look at the following article for further guidance;-

Hi Devin, there's really no right age to get married but one should consider afew things including the legal requirements for one to be in such a relationship, whether one is mature, whether you are ready to handle the responsibility of being married, whether they have met the person they wish to marry and what you are looking for in such a relationship. With these and other considerations one can then make a decision as to when to get married. 

Hey Lucy, this really depends on what the partners are looking for in a marriage. For some love is sufficient, others will look for friendship or companionship. It depends on the person and what they want and what is important for them.   

I am thinking of accepting a proposal of being a second wife I just don't know if I have the skin to deal with a first wife. I love this man, he treats me right but I never though it would come to thin in my life. Help!

Hello Rose, unfortunately, this is a decision only you can make. You have to think about what you want now and in the future. Think about what you want and the consequences of this choice before making a decision. We wish you all the best. 

We love each other and that's all that matters to us. Our families are againts our love because we belong to different religions. We don't know what to do to make them accept. We are first borns so we don't want to go against our parents.

Hello Gene, if you do not wish to disappoint your parents who are against your relationship, you may have to break up. Religion is usually a very sensitive subject and most people are usually unwavering as you may have experienced with your respective families. Take sometime and consider your options and the consequences before making a decision. We wish you all the best. Have a look at the following article;-

Wed, 09/25/2019 - 12:36 pm
My fiance has to leave the country for about one year but he wants us to be married before he leaves. I am not sure about what this means though I love him so much?

Hi Caroline, have you asked him why it is important for you to get married before he leaves? It maybe useful to talk about you reservations with him, get to know his reasons so that together you can agree on how to proceed. Only, do that which you are comfortable. A marriage is a big step especially when your partner is going to be away. Talk about it and agree together. All the best.

Hey Josephat, there is no ideal age for marriage. It is important that both partners are mature enough and are of the legally required age, they are ready for the responsibility of marriage, they want to get married. It is therefore upto an individual person to consider when it is right for them to get married including the reasons why they want to get married. 

Arranged marriages work better than this thing where people meet in the big city and decide to get married. Bcz you dont want to disappoint the families and parents you work hard to make it work. Agree??
Tue, 10/15/2019 - 03:45 pm
We really wanted to children when we got married but after 2 years we still don't have a baby. My hubby is getting frustrated by this but she is keepi v a brave face. I don't know how to deal with this.

Hey Sheillah, if you have been trying for longer than 12 months, it is important that you consider seeking the services of specialist. The specialist will be able able to carryout test and then advice you and your partner based on the outcome. In the meantime have a look at the following article for more tips;-

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