How to find a wife: Advice from my uncle and aunt

January 17, 2013 § 5 Comments

Originally appeared on my News24 column on 2011-03-15 13:35

I went to visit my uncle the other day because he wanted to see my new car. He went in and did what any normal older black person would do. He prayed for my car and my protection and continued prosperity. It was all lovely.

Then we went to the house where I was told that now the next thing I need to do is to find a wife. My aunt and uncle have been married for almost forty years now. They are both sixty.

They sat me down. I was offered biscuits. Choice Assorted. Although they have a large property somewhere in Johannesburg, they are still deeply rooted in the traditions of yesteryear. And oh yes, Oros was also included which my aunt got from something that resembled a room divider. It wasn’t one, but it was pretty close to looking like one.

My aunt and my uncle are that sickening couple that is still deeply in love after so many years of marriage. I remember my aunt starring at my uncle not too long ago, smiling. Then she said out of the blue, “Kodwa my husband is hot.”

I laughed, he laughed and said, “Enkosi Thando.” They don’t call each other by name. They say, “thando”. Thando is love in Xhosa. They are the most affectionate couple I’ve ever known in my life. Ever since I can remember that’s what they called each other.

No public displays of affection

Black couples back then didn’t show affection in public. I think many young people can attest to that. They never really saw their parents being openly affectionate. It was almost as if they were in the closet with their affections. I reckon as young black folks we should try not to emulate our parents in that department.

“If she has no respect for your parents while you’re dating, she’ll make for a lousy wife.” That’s what my aunt said. “If akamboni umzala, myeke mntanam.” If she has no time for your parents she’s not for you my child.

Then my uncle interjected: “Your mother would always say to me, why are you always dumping these pretty girls? They had no idea why I was doing it. I was checking them out. Checking out their behaviour. How they spoke to my parents. If they didn’t ndirhoxe (I stepped back).”

“If she puts your mother down, she’ll put you down. When the woman closest to you puts you down, nothing can get you up.” You can’t let that happen. Marriage isn’t easy; you can’t afford to make it difficult before it happens.

My aunt then said, “If you bring her here to our house, it’s easy for her to like us. It is a nice house. Now take her back home, where everything is not so cosy, if her attitude suddenly changes, she’s not right tu mnta nam. Myeke!” She said.

A woman of character

Then my uncle said, “The most important thing is to pray to find a good wife before you find her. With your current generation – you really need to.” They told me that prayer is important. Then they told me that my generation doesn’t think that prayer is cool, “But find a praying a woman. But you must also be a praying man.” Black parents are strong believers in prayer.

“She must be a woman of character. Some women think that looking good and driving expensive cars is character. Lack of character soon makes a beautiful woman ugly.” I couldn’t have agreed with them more. Then my uncle said, “You can’t expect her to be a woman of character if you have none.”

“If she is not supportive of your ventures, stay away; she will break your spirit and you will resent her.” They told me that there is nothing more disheartening than not having a partner who will not support you, who will try to break your dreams as opposed to encouraging them and then pushing you when you are too lazy to pursue them. “She can’t just be happy to love you and that you love her, she must kick your butt!”

“She must challenge your thinking and you grow. She can’t be a yes-woman.” Those were the words of my uncle. You won’t get anywhere if your wife says yes to everything. She must challenge you so that when you speak to her about a new venture, she knows that you have a plan.

A considerate woman

“If she was the village bicycle in her youth, you might want to stay away from her. Bamoshakele abantwana banamhlanje.” When they said that, I held back a bit of laughter because I really didn’t expect them to say that to me. What many people don’t realise is that the actions of their youth usually have repercussions in their future. They think they were having fun, but that kind of fun has a price. “But then again your generation does things in ways foreign to ours.”

“If she is not considerate, stay away. Myeke mntanam!” Being considerate seems like such a small thing, but it is a big thing when you think about the number of years you will end up with this person because that is the plan, to spend forever with this person. So you have to think about these things. That’s what they told me.

“If her aim is to isolate you from everyone else, stay away. A marriage is also about how you interact with others.” They told me that a marriage is about the community. It’s not just about the two of you. Your marriage will soon be frustrating if you live in isolation.


“You must respect her in every way. You can’t be a husband to someone you don’t’ respect.” I nodded profusely.

“Don’t expect her to be all these things if you are not those things yourself.” My uncle drove this point home. His advice was that many men rattle a list of what they want but they never ask themselves if they deserve the kind of person they want.

Am I all these things? It seems it’s going to be a while before I get married then uncle and aunt.

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