Most of us grew up in homes where we never saw romantic exchanges between our parents. I do concede that there may have been and there are a few exceptions. However the average West African family is a male dominated family where the woman is simply a "wife" whose roles as defined by the culture are basically child-bearing, caring for and training the children (especially daughters and meeting the dietary needs of her family. Even if the wife is a professional, society has taught her to accept this role as the norm. The same may be said of the husband: his role as defined by culture is to be a covering for his family; which means being the bread winner for his family, protecting his family, educating his children, and being the decision maker.
Isn’t it understandable that African men and women enter into marriage with these preconceived, deeply entrenched cultural perspectives? However, what they do not bring into their marriages is the romantic spice which in my opinion is the seasoner and preserver of marital bliss. While our fathers and mothers may have modeled for us societal roles of a father/ husband and mother/wife they did not model the romantic simply because in the African culture romance is a “postpositive,” and in most cases it is a taboo. All of us here are quite aware that open romantic overtures is a taboo in most African societies. A man will not kiss or hug his wife in a romantic embrace before the children because it is “improper.” The same may be said of the woman. (I want to repeat again that there may be a very few African families for whom this may not hold true; they are the exceptions.) Because our parents did not model a romantic relationship for us, we had to learn on our own in the universities i.e. in the young adulthood stages of life (sometimes even after marriage). Let it be understood that giving and showing romantic love is a learned behavior in the same that showing respect to our elders is also a learned behavior. We see it modeled in others and we learn to do same.
Added to this cultural mix is religion with its "spirit-centered" over-emphasis. The theological error of a false "dualism” which teaches that body with its innate propensity for gratification is evil; and that the inner man or spirit is pure. This fallacious and error ridden teaching had the effect of reinforcing aspects of our cultural values. Interpretation: Sex is unclean (even in marriage it is only useful for procreation), expression of romantic feelings is carnal, and even kissing is also sinful. It seems to me that misguided, ignorant and untrained teachers of religion have denigrated that which the creator placed inside human beings as a part of human nature.
Given our social, cultural and religious contexts is it safe to say that African men/women enter into marriage with serious “romance deficiencies”? In my humble opinion I think this is the case.
If African men and women do not make up for their "romance deficiencies" by learning how to be romantic, (I EMPHASIZE THIS IS LEARNED BEHAVIOUR) the relationship will remain dry, and stale. We hear African men complain that their wives are not romantic in bed, but the women also complain that their men are cold, and certainly not romantic outside of the bedroom. Come on guys romance is not synonymous with copulation neither does romance begin in the bedroom when you’re all jacked up and ready for action. WHAT DO YOU THINK?????
By The Equipper from Naija Village Square