Are you married but don’t know so? Shape up and communicate

Last week, the Governor of Dar es Salaam found his way to local and international news for announcing his plans to create and publish a national database for married men. He said that this move will save women from the heartache and pain of entering relationships that lead to nowhere. The governor said that he has been the recipient of numerous complaints from women who have been abandoned by their lovers after marriage proposals, others who have been promised marriage and started paying bills only for men to walk away.

In my view, any women who voluntarily decides to pay a man’s bills just because she has been promised marriage is simply daft and deserves whatever misfortune comes to her. Anyway, back to the governor - he believes that this proposal will beat infidelity and lead to happiness and improved well-being for Tanzania’s women.

This proposal had me thinking about this thing called marriage. The dictionary defines marriage as the legally or formally recognised union of two people as partners in a personal relationship (historically and in some jurisdictions specifically a union between a man and a woman), while another one describes marriage as the “state of being united as spouses in a consensual and contractual relationship recognised by law”.

While the dictionary leaves little room for doubt on what constitutes marriage, real life shows that things are not always that simple. Based on practical experience, it seems that men send signals and display certain habits that lead women to believe that their romantic relationship has become a marriage. This usually happens when the same men use excuses and other tactics to delay the formal part of creating the marriage. So, to save our men, here are a few things that may lead the woman in your life to believe that you have married her.

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24-hour house test

There is something called the 24-hour house test. If the man spends more than three full 24-hour sessions per week with the woman in his life, then it is possible that the woman views him as her husband. A typical 24-hour session must include waking up in the same bed (where one gets to see their partner in all their natural glory, sharing meals (not eating out) and then sleeping in the same bed (while allowing for free movement of bodily fluids and shameless emission of farts and other undignified sounds). It is important to note that the 24-hour house test only applies for houses; spending that much time together in hotels does not count. It really is simple, tallying the hours can help the man gauge where he stands on being considered hubby.

Family introduction test

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The second thing is the family introduction test. This means that the man needs to evaluate how many relatives of the women know him and are known to him. Knowing means - how many of the relatives know of his existence? And the real reason for his existence? How many have met him in person? How close are the said relatives to the woman in question? If you the man have visited the woman’s parents (in their homes and not during funerals or weddings) more than once, if youhave mobile money statement showing frequent disbursement of funds, if you are called in to mediate in family domestics - then simply put you are married to not only the woman but to the family. Be very afraid if the woman’s parents start referring to you as ‘our son’; our son simply means my daughter’s husband. If you have answered yes to most of these questions, then you are expected to formalise the obvious.

Support staff test

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The third thing is the support staff test. This refers to how well versed the woman’s domestic staff are of your existence in her life and in her house.

If you realise that the watchman keeps referring to you as Mzee and if he takes it upon himself to provide you with updates on visitors and other activities related to the woman’s house, then chances are you are considered the ‘husband of the home.’ If the house help is very respectful to you and has the knack of preparing all your favourite meals every time youvisit, then you can bet she has received instructions to treat the ‘boss’ (aka husband) with utmost respect. If you get to the point where the support staff are unburdening their woes and asking for help to pay school fees, contribute to church harambees or hire an unemployed graduate, then you are definitely in the husband zone.

It is therefore incumbent upon men to avoid any behaviours that may lead them to being perceived as having ‘passed’ these critical tests and become someone’s husband. If youhave no plans of marrying a lady then avoid sending the wrong signals and for heavens’ sake avoid the freebies: the sex, the food and the house.

Women too are not that blameless in this marriage-duping business. Many women should know that in matters marriage - only the marriage certificate counts for anything.

Words of mouth count for nothing whether they are couched in breathy whispers in the bedroom, in alcohol-fueled pronouncement or in promises of better times ahead.

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There are also other random red flags that can point women to the truth - the disappearing acts on weekend, failure to allow meetings with close family members and a general inexplicable mystery and failure to commit.

Despite his good intentions, the governor of Dar es Salaam, needs no database to stop this marriage silliness. Both men and women just need to shape up and communicate clearly. There is no Morse Code needed for marriage, just the marriage certificate.

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