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Keeping Risk At Bay

Apart from risk-taking or engaging in what Soyinka calls ‘venturesome rarities’, some of the distinguishing features of youth are: unbridled freedom and sheer love for independence. It is no wonder, therefore, that the first thing some newly married young men and women bemoan the most is the loss of their independence.

Oh yes, while a young man is unmarried, the choice of buying any brand of car (and of whichever colour), which appeals only to his whims and caprices, remains his prerogative and that of no one else. Similarly, as a bachelor, a man may decide to play ‘footloose’, for days, junketing around the world — if he can afford it — thinking nothing of any other thing or person but himself. After all, it is his money, and for the avoidance of any doubt, it is also his life!

A young unmarried woman, on her part, is also likely to spend as much as she sees fit – if her pocket can cope with it — on shoes, clothes and whatever else her fancy attracts. She also reserves the right to decide where she wants to go, at any material time, blissfully free from some of those  ‘distractions’ of matrimony like seeking her ‘significant other’s’ consent and so on. Hmm… Independence.

But, much as most new couples find it difficult to let go of their independence, the issue would seem to pale into insignificance, when one considers the argument that marriage — as opposed to being single — confers on both men and women a palpable degree of seriousness and the ability to be more organised. Indeed, in counselling most young men and women, who are considered ripe for marriage, the point is consistently made, by our elders, that ‘two heads — those of a man and a woman — are far better than one’.

What this line of reasoning seems to illustrate is that man and woman are able to plan better and chart a common purposeful direction, when they are united in matrimony. Also, serving to give fillip to this wisdom, reinforcing its veracity, is that compelling extract from the Holy book which makes it clear to the Christian man that: ‘He who finds a wife has found a good thing and obtains favour from the Lord…” No question.

Yet, over and above all these, it is the predilection for risk-taking, among some newly married couples, that I find most inauspicious. Why, for instance, do some young men take such risks as walking out of one job, without their wives’ getting as much a hint of that ‘make or mar’ step? True, there are countless work place monsters (like atrocious office politics, bosses who are worse than Hitler etc.), which may compel a man to consider calling it quits even without thinking.

But, the truth of the matter is, the moment a man is married, the decision to leave one job — for whatever reason in the world — is no longer only his to take. Indeed, the larger consideration, for the well-being of his family, his home and hardly only his own feelings must be the motivating factor, at all times. There are also women who think their pride and self-esteem have suffered a hurt, in one way or another, and on account of that just decide, on their own, to give their jobs a wide berth. That will be most indiscreet.

I have always argued, vigorously, that most young men and a few women, apart from requiring a lesson in humility, also need to take a few crash courses in risk-management, especially, in marriage. The source of a man’s livelihood is so central to the survival of his family, big or small, that it is important to protect it with as much sense of purpose and determination as possible. Which also means holding down any job requires of a man the ability to shun brashness while immersing himself in the all-too-consuming passion of a ‘sacrificial lamb’ for his family. So, couples will do well to think less and less as individuals and more as partners, with a common destiny. That, I assure you, is one of the ways to keep needless risks at bay.

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