A few weeks ago, Pastor S of Mavuno Church asked me to go and talk about the end of dating during a Saturday night service. While these two marriages are not a qualitative sample, they are a result of what passes for dating in Nairobi. If we call dating an interviewing process through which a man and woman establish compatibility and assess their capacity to build a life together, then these two couples failed.
Is it that we do not know how to date so we do not note signs of incompatibility? Or we do not know who we are and have not been honest with ourselves about the lives we want to live so that we cannot pick the right partners? Are we optimistic about the effect that a marriage certificate will have on our mate and his or her behaviour? Do we have unrealistic expectations of what our spouse or marriage will do in our lives? Is it that we do not get the gravity of divorce and what it does to children?
Looking at these women and their choices through the lenses provided by their angry and biased husbands, it seems that they did not know what they wanted before they ever got married. It seems like they thought marriage would fill a gap in their lives, perhaps even give them a life. All this would be fine; you never know what is available for you until you declare your desire for it. Perhaps there are men out there who would have been looking to raise a woman instead of partner with one.
So what to do? How about we take a concept that works well elsewhere and use it in the dating world? The mood board. If you walk into an ad agency and declare the desire to create a ‘brand’, you will eventually create a mood board – complete with pictures of what informs your brand, what it stands for etc. Couples ultimately want to create a brand, a family unit and the creation of a mood board when a couple become serious can highlight what it is that they have in common and what each of them thinks is a successful life.
Sure we grow and change throughout life, but this mood board would simply be the beginning of an ongoing conversation. The unit that a couple creates is a reflection of their values and a mood board will let you know if your potential partner cares about the same things you do. If my pals had created mood boards then, maybe they would never have married women who were ‘finding themselves’.