“You don’t look married” they say

Whatever that means

This apparently innocent remark made in passing used to bug me. A lot. My husband and I had naively thought we could DIY this marriage thing and nobody would mind. As we soon discovered, the world made it its mission to remind us of the many ways we were doing marriage wrong.

See, until recently, I wasn’t aware that there was a look that was supposed to give you away as married. When we made this lifelong commitment to each other five and a half years ago, I was too fresh an immigrant in Kenya to understand social norms with any nuance. So I started thinking (way too much) about what it meant to look the part. I haven’t come to a definitive answer yet, but at least I have some idea of what people mean when they tell me — and occasionally my husband too — that we don’t look married.

So today I present to you, after more than 5 years of research, reflection, overnight discussions, all this done with a deplorable attitude unworthy of a married woman:

A practical guide to looking married: Nairobi edition’.

All the things I didn’t know I was supposed to do and even if I had known I probably wouldn’t have cared.

Many of these rules are specific to women but male readers can benefit too, for instance by knowing what a married woman should be like and reminding your acquaintances to uphold the code.

  1. Watch wedding shows so you know what a wedding must look like.

Protip: it doesn’t happen at the AG. You cannot just whip up a modest party with family, friends, colleagues, food and music to celebrate your commitment to each other. That’s just rude. Your only excuse would be poverty and even then, it might be wise to wait another 10 years so you can have the wedding of your dreams. Oh yes, here’s another thing for women to keep in mind: you’re expected to have been dreaming about your wedding for years because for you, the ideal marriage starts way before an actual relationship unfolds. In other words, it’s never too early to choose your theme colours.

2. Wear rings.

This is very important. Otherwise, people will have to talk to you and pretend to be interested in what you have to say only to find out that you are not going to sleep with them. What a waste of time for everyone! Also, gold is the currency of love.

3. Have children when you are told to.

It’s a well-known fact that a marriage without children hasn’t been sealed. While it’s understandable that you’d want to spend some time with your spouse as a couple, don’t overestimate your grace period. Two years is pushing it. At five, you’re a lost cause.

4. Drop some wisdom on your single friends…

Now that you’ve achieved this coveted status of ‘married woman’ or ‘married man’, you are the resident expert in relationships. Unleash the superpower by starting a sentence with ‘As a married woman…’ to flaunt your achievement. In a few years and if you’ve had the right number of children at the appropriate times, you’ll even get to pressure your nieces and nephews into getting married so they can have a happy family like yours. Fun times!

5. …if you dare keep them around.

There is a dark side to having single friends when you’re married. I have it on good authority that once you let them hang around your home, friends who up to this point had been loyal to you, will try to snatch your spouse. Yes, the correct verb is snatch, you can’t make this stuff up. Luckily there’s a couple of ways that have been developed by our predecessors over the years to solve this conundrum.

You could break up with your single friends before the irreparable happens. This way they don’t even get a chance to exercise their evil snatching powers on your spouse. If that’s not something you want to consider (for now), you remain with the option of marrying them all off, which sounds more decent but may turn out much harder and more time-consuming than you think. On the other hand, it gives you an excellent opportunity to practice dropping some marriage wisdom on your single friends (see 4.).

Disclaimer: this guide makes no claim to be comprehensive but it has the merit of being backed by lived experiences and gossip, which is nothing else than second-hand lived experiences.

You’re welcome.

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