There is a shortage of tips on how to make trial marriages work. A lot of people in Africa have not even heard of the term “trial marriage.”

For those who have, some scoff at the term for its seeming absurdity. Others dismiss it as something millennials coined up to give themselves an easy way out. However, trial marriage in Africa is not a new trend.

Trial marriage is an arrangement by which couples cohabit to see if they are compatible for marriage

Although it is not new, trial marriages in Africa are offshoots of a patriarchal society.  The arrangements were made with the aim of satisfying only the man. In addition, it was used to test the woman’s fertility and wifely virtues. It did not take the woman’s desires and needs into consideration.

Those who came up with conventional marriage vows might have done it in good faith, but millennials saw that it slowly became a tool that unleashes all forms of subjugation and baggage, especially against the female gender.

Millennials weighed conventional marriage and its other subjects and concluded that forever maybe too long. Of course, there are a few other factors that drove that conclusion.

People often hide away awful parts of themselves. They wait for when those vows have been taken to reveal the monsters that they are. This deceitful behavior is prompted by the knowledge that most African women are socialized to see divorce as a western phenomenon. A personal failure, which then becomes a stigma.

Tips on how to make a trial marriage work

Whether you support the more recent version of trial marriage (which is more balanced) or not, what is undeniable is the fact that divorce in conventional marriages in Africa is on a steady rise. A rise in income levels, feminist ideologies, education, and support groups have prompted women (and men) to leave abusive relationships.

This is not to say that trial marriages are without risks. In fact, they come with a peculiar set of problems.

Before agreeing to such an arrangement, it is safe to assume that you both have feelings for each other. You’re just looking to see if marriage is a good idea before jumping in with both feet.

Here are a few tips that can make this period successful:

  • Try not to see the arrangement purely as a means to an end

This might be a bit tricky. But entering a trial marriage with this mindset is problematic. You don’t want to go in thinking this is a prerequisite exam you absolutely have to pass. And marriage to your significant other the prize for getting a pass mark.

Remember, the arrangement is a two-way street. You are there to see if he/she is a good fit for your kind of person. You want to see if there are red flags. You want to know the other person as much as you can.

Therefore, looking at marriage as something sort of prize blinds you. Might lead you to develop a fear of antagonizing the other person. You force yourself to tolerate things as long as it leads to marriage in the end.

  • Be yourselves

One of the reasons why many conventional marriages fail is that one of the spouses wasn’t what he/she was cracked up to be. One of them entered the union with a wrong picture of the other person in their head.

When the shock of this realization settles, they absolutely want out. As far away from the person as possible.

During your trial marriage, be yourself completely. Let your significant other see you for who you are. The small and big things. And if they choose to go ahead with the marriage, they know what they’re going into.

  • Give it your best shot

Someone agrees to commit a year or two of their lives, you both should give it your best shot. Without being phony. Don’t ever assume they know. Show your significant other how much they mean to you. Are you a person who loves to listen? Then listen to what your significant other has to say. Are you a fun person? Share that fun side with them.

  • Keep your minds open

It is a trial as the name trial marriage implies. While being dedicated and optimistic, have it at the back of your mind that in the end there’s a chance you both might not be compatible for marriage. You might have to find a totally different arrangement that works or even go your separate ways.

  • Stick to your timeline

Let a one-year trial be one year. You don’t want a trial that leads to another trial that births even more trials. If by the end of the trial there’s a huge problem you both can’t seem to get past, then the trial was a successful one. Just not in the way you expected it. That is the whole point of a trial marriage—to catch things that make couples incompatible. You both can now decide to fix your issues.

  • Don’t get pregnant

Because everything is going fine halfway through the trial doesn’t mean you both can go ahead and make a baby. A baby is a connection that may last a lifetime. At the end a marriage trial, even if you no longer want the other person anywhere near you, the child will continue to bring you both together.

This article was first published on AfricaParent.com



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