The pressure on young ladies to get married is real. It is like if a man doesn’t find you, then do yourself a favour and find a man. Many women therefore hustle to get this done, and once this is achieved, Hallelujah, we can now move to stage two.
This stage is where things get comical, where the ladies have to insert themselves into their boyfriend’s families, especially in Yoruba culture. I have seen demons turned to angels, stingy girls suddenly become Santa Claus, introverts turned extroverts, just to make sure they are accepted at first. The ploy to spoil the in-laws is very real.
In Yoruba community, the communal culture and respect is very important. In-laws seem to have so much power. They can make or mar the woman’s marriage if the man is not strong or mature enough to shield his family from external influences.
I therefore see the fake smiles plastered on young girl’s faces when they are with in-laws, the unwilling courtesies bestowed on every family member, the loads and loads of bribes disguised as gifts. The thing is the in-laws know these things too, in many cases. But what do they care? After all, they are the beneficiaries of these things.
Coming from a very small and private family, I have always wondered I would be able to fake my way through this process. Thankfully, my mother always told me to be myself, and not to start what I can’t finish. There’s no need going to a man’s house, and fawning over your mother in law if you are not a natural fawner.
You hear Yoruba ladies who sight their in-laws, and they go “Oh mummy, you are looking so young, your skin is glowing o, mummy. This your hair, where did you make it? Ha, you like fixing? Don’t worry, when next I’m coming, I will buy Peruvian for you, bla bla bla.” They say all these, knowing 90% of everything is a LIE. She isn’t glowing or looking younger. In fact, her hair isn’t properly made.
I have seen a situation where there was a lot of fake fawning. It was so bad that I just had to walk away in irritation.
The unfortunate thing is that such acts cannot be sustained. After a while, the real person comes out, and the in-laws feel cheated because they feel the initial actions were just a front to get into the family, and they start saying things like the woman is a pretender. They might even tag her a Yoruba Demon who is just showing her true colour.
One of my closest friends is from a family of 4, i.e. she has just one sibling, her brother. She got married into a royal family. When she was courting, she used to tell me of how they used to be at the family house every weekend, cos there was always one party or the other. She would enter a room, and there could be as much as 50 in-laws seated in a circle. The bad part was that you couldn’t stand in the middle of the circle, and greet them all at once. Each in-law would require his/her own greeting. Even though my friend was a natural fawner, it was just too much. It was at that point I knew I could never get married into a royal family.
My friend has been married for 6 years now, and they don’t go to the family house or buy aso ebi every weekend anymore. They don’t do all those greeting of 70 people. In fact, they stay away as much as they can. It just wasn’t sustainable.
My opinion is that if you are a naturally polite, friendly, respectful and well-raised person, there won’t be need for fake smiles or shady compliments whenever you have to meet in-laws. Even if you are quiet and reserved, your character will shine through and speak for you. You will naturally understand that there are some places you shouldn’t go empty handed the first time. It won’t be bribery or effort to win people to your side so you can get the man to propose, it would just be second nature.
The main thing is just to be yourself, and people would love you for you.