British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has become a father at age 55 with a fiancée 24 years younger.
Some have depicted him as a selfish man, engaged to a woman young enough to be his daughter; after two failed marriages, and many colourful sexual affairs.
Perhaps the very emotionally clever Boris may know something Kenyan men may wish to learn from. Many Kenyan men, myself included were socialised into the school of thought that greatly valued and prized marrying before you were 30; with the equally misleading narrative of having children early, “growing with them” and gracefully aging with their mother! One would see the fallacy of this limiting narrative which viewed women largely as child bearing vessels.
There are obvious benefits of marrying late for men: Consider these with me: First the narrative in favour of men marrying in the mid-20s was premised on a time when life expectancy especially in Kenya was below 60 years (remember retirement at age 55?).
Life expectancy has since dramatically risen. Barring the misfortune of illnesses, most men who avoid smoking, excessive alcohol and are financially secure are likely to live well past 70 years.
Even if they die earlier than that, financially secure men (unlikely to be in their 20s) shall leave behind wealth sufficient to look after the children they leave behind (for Boris Johnson six, rumoured to be more, and he could yet sire even more!).
They are also likely to leave behind a happier widow free from the wrinkle strains of financial worries. Secondly, any man marrying in his mid-20s commits a great injustice to both himself and the person they are marrying; who if younger should be in a nightclub dancing her heart away.
Failing to do what your age demands only postpones it to a less suitable time in the future. Indeed, marrying too early has terrible drawbacks which excruciatingly manifest themselves in later life. The consequences are the many breakups and exponential rise of the married single-i.e. those trapped in marriages they are exceptionally unhappy and miserable to be in.
Tragically men in unhappy marriages are likely to meet untimely deaths! Third a man who marries after age 35 is a mature adult in sharp contrast to the one marrying in their 20s. Such a man is likely to focus less on the fatal attractions such as beauty in favour of character and values; resulting in greater compatibility and a higher likelihood of a happy and lasting marriage.
Marrying in your 20s dilutes this benefit. Men marrying late are also likely to have broader and realistic life experiences and this could translate into imparting these tested and practical life lessons and values on the children they bring forth especially on financial literacy.
To demand of a mid-20s man to be domesticated and quarantined at home, 7 days a week in the name of marriage is a most egregious burden to place on an individual who should be busy sampling life’s niceties. Fourth and the most important consideration is economic. Why should a man waste his most productive years (20s and 30s) burdening himself with the financially crippling responsibilities of marriage and a family? He should be working his back off to build wealth and achieve financial security. Imagine a man who starts working at age 23 and is lucky to have a net monthly income of 40,000 shillings (just above Kenya’s median income).
Were the savings from such an income to grow by a modest 10 % a year (ceteris peribus), he could with careful financial planning/investment be a millionaire by the time he marries say by age 40. Being single could result in him saving a significant portion of this income.
To say he needs to marry for the wife to help him “secure” this income is a lamentable and patronising hypothesis to continue peddling. Marrying early shackles and condemns this income to the costly child rearing costs, school fees and other sunk costs.
Financial worry is the silent killer of many men in midlife; and a sizeable cause of suicide among them. A man who marries later, while financially secure greatly mitigates this risky cloak of death! As an example, Charles Njonjo married at age 52, by which time he was Kenya’s Attorney General and very well off financially.
This did not stop his children from growing up to become very successful in their own right. That he is already 100 years may in part be due to the fact that he avoided the killer and toxic experiences that men expose themselves to by marrying in their 20s. Boris Johnson’s first marriage was at 23 and the second was at age 29. Both ended in divorce.
He is perhaps likely to be more careful. With a gorgeous young wife, his legendary and stallion like erotic capabilities, he may live past 80. By this time his son will be 25; having likely just left Oxford University. Evidently, children growing up in economically secure environments are more likely to have better life chances than those from deprived households. 42% of Oxbridge places go to privately educated children. Boris Johnson’s father, brother and sister attended Oxford.
And by the way, his father’s first marriage at 23 years ended in divorce too. His second marriage at age 41 is still going, 40 years late. He is 80 but looks better than a miserable 55-year-old hustling Kenyan man! Additionally, marrying early has a very close correlation with infidelity in later life.
Correlation does not necessarily mean causation, and this observation must be relied upon with considerable and thoughtful caution.
A man marrying in his late 30s will have reconciled himself to the vanity of multiple sexual conquests and partners. It is also likely that his sexual appetite shall have reached a calming crescendo, resulting in a man more likely to see marriage as a long-term, exclusive commitment with another adult. Considering men are generally more likely to cheat than women, perhaps late marriage by men may help resolve this hideously enduring tension, responsible for much grief. Finally, many men complain of disrespect by their overbearing wives.
The inescapable truth however is that a woman is more likely to respect a mature and economically secure man from whom she sees dexterity, responsibility and a secure financial future. Forget love! Few women in this day and age truthfully buy the promise of a future which may never materialise from a mid-20s financially broke rookie, and hence the disrespect.
The painful fact is that a financially struggling man will often and regrettably find accessing the respect he craves from his wife a lot harder, something many young marriages are great at incubating. It may be politically incorrect to say but few women will boldly walk away from a responsible and financially well-off man.
Such men are less likely to be in their mid-20s! This is NOT a recommendation but only a plausible invitation to wonder loudly whether indeed those with unmarried sons should not contemplate saving them from the servitude they may have themselves unwittingly signed up to, by marrying in their 20s. One more thing, the one marriage Jomo Kenyatta remained in till the end was the one he entered at age 57, to an 18-year-old. It produced a president, other equally successful siblings and a widow whose flawless dignity remains an enduring example even at age 86.
Alex Kamau© Criticisms, Comments, Compliments and Insults most welcome.