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Opinions of Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Columnist: Awuni, Manasseh Azure

If You Can’t Find a Comfort Ocran, Make One!

I had my inbox inundated with mails – complimentary, explanatory, advisory, and a good dose of life experiences of both married and the likes of me who’re still searching for Mr. Right or Mrs. Right. What we often forget is that the Mr. or Mrs. Right we are desperately looking for is the man or woman we see in the mirror. Anyway, that’s the reason for this piece. But before that, a little background for those who didn’t read the previous article.
In my previous piece titled: I Want to Marry a Comfort Ocran, I tried to speak to an issue raised by the Italian Prime Minister, Silvio Berlusconi, who recently urged ladies in his country to marry rich men like him. I tried to advise our ladies to look for men who appreciate them for who they are; men who will consider them as partners in achieving their goals and those who see them as sex objects, child bearers or cooks. I advised against men who can to give them anything under the sun but dump them after satisfying their [the men’s] libidinal drives or go ahead to marry them and treat them like rags. In short I said serious minded men need women who have something to offer in terms of achieving the collective goals of the marriage and for the betterment of society. And in my estimation, the ideal couple I’ve always admired and could not have gone without citing are Albert and Comfort Ocran. I also stated that most men like me are yearning for the likes of Comfort Ocran, hence the title of my piece.
The Comfort and Albert Ocrans are Scarce
But I was overwhelmed by the responses I had. A lot of people [mostly women] who wrote to me shared their personal experiences and I had never appreciated the importance of old age until last week. If only I sported some considerable amount of grey on the covering of my skull, I would have taken the opportunity to become a marriage counselor and made money. This piece is a response to issues raised by readers of the first article. I’m not going to discuss anybody’s marital problem or specific experience which readers shared with me here, but a general issue and which was the commonest of the mails I received.
The men who wrote to me said the likes of Comfort Ocran are extremely rare: as rare as armed robbery cases in Burma Camp, I presume. The ladies on the other hand say the men of today are too intimidated to accommodate the likes of Comfort Ocran. To them, the likes of Albert Ocran are extremely endangered species: as rare as twenty-one-year-old virgins in this twenty-first century of ours, I suppose.
If you can’t find a Comfort Ocran, make one! And if you can’t find an Albert Ocran, make one!
That’s why the boy from Bongo has his fingers dancing on his keyboard tonight, instead of snoring. You may agree or disagree with what I’m about to say but, hey, opinions are like noses. Some fit well; others look as if they were hammered hurriedly against the faces they are supposed to adorn.
Is There Ever a Perfect Couple?
According to Dave Meurers, “A great marriage is not when the 'perfect couple' come together. It is when an imperfect couple learn to enjoy their differences." There is nothing like perfect couple. No two persons are created the same, have the same likings and think the same way or have the same goals and ambitions in life. Even if they do, their approach may differ. Andy they must disagree. In the words of Lyndon Johnson, the 36th President of the United States, “If two people agree on everything, then you must be sure only one of them is doing the thinking.” So the idea of a perfect couple, who think the same way and agree on everything is utopian. It exists only in dreams and, perhaps, in marriages in which either the man or the woman is a liberal democrat like Robert Gabriel Mugabe.
“Marriage is an Eternal Compromise”
But there’s a way out. There are some who think that once you have a vision you must stick to it and not give in to what your partner says. In Praise George’s book Understanding Compatibility, the author writes, “Friends, I will advise you not to compromise your vision for any reason whatsoever because you’ll regret it.” The author, a marriage counselor, emphasizes many times in his books that neither partner must compromise on his or her vision, and this is where I have problems with his passionately written book.
In her novel titled So Long a Letter, the late Senegalese writer, Mariama Ba, teaches us that “Marriage is an eternal compromise.” I agree perfectly with Mariama Ba, and those who think it is practically impossible to get an Albert or Comfort Ocran should consider making one by accepting to compromise. He wants five kids and you want three. A compromising couple will settle on four if there will not be negative health implications. But if both parties stick to their guns, the marriage may degenerate. Marriage is an eternal compromise!
That is not to say one must compromise on the fundamental principles and values of life. For my mentor Chinua Achebe admonishes us that “a man may swallow phlegm for the fear of offending others, but not poison.”
Marriage is a Risk
Another way of getting a Comfort or Albert Ocran out of a partner is to enter into the relationship with an open mind. Every relationship or marriage should be considered a risk. It is a business of its own, and in businesses we either gain or lose. In actual sense, breakeven is non-existent. And so it is with marriages. But the risk of losing in marriage is so devastating that you have to work extremely hard to build the relationship. You must not lose. You and your partner a different pair and must learn adapt. I don’t think Albert and Comfort Ocran were what they are today when they first met. I’m sure they learnt to set common goals and work together towards achieving those goals. Goals are crucial. And if you’re into a relationship and realizes that your goals are heading towards Bawku and those of your partner are heading towards Takoradi, then you must reconcile. If you don’t, you’ll r rush in only to rush out after the ceremonial funfair called wedding.
It must be noted that setting goals in marriage is not enough. We must change. According Mahatma Gandhi, “We must be the change we wish to see.” And in the words of Jim Rohn, “The ultimate reason for setting goals is to entice you to become the person it takes to achieve them." So if your goal is to marry a Comfort Ocran, let that goal entice you to become the Albert Ocran it takes to accommodate a Comfort Ocran. And if a woman wants to marry an Albert Ocran, then that woman should prepare to become a Comfort Ocran.
Men Feel Insecure with the Comfort Ocrans
Another issue some women raised was that some men feel insecure with women achievers. That is true. I know men who will never marry a woman with a degree. To such men, women achievers are seen as a threat to their position as heads of the family. There is no need struggling for superiority. The woman must know that the man is the leader of the home and the man must never assume he is the ruler of the home. [Don’t ask me why. There can’t be a ship without a captain]. Power wrangling in marriage is a sign of immaturity. The couple must learn to practice power sharing like Mwai Kibaki and Raila Odinga not Mugabe and Tsvangirai. The problem with some of such women is that they assume some airs and would not buy their man for a pesewa. But every sensible woman achiever must learn to submit to her husband and so should the husband do even if he is the Head of State. Mutual respect is the password.
The truth, however, is that some of the so-called women achievers who are without husbands are disrespectful and the few who have found themselves in the NDC and NPP aptly corroborate my claim due to their utterances. But it’s more about their personal character than their positions. There are women who cannot recite the first four letters of the English alphabets and are financially handicapped, but their husbands no longer fear terrorists because they live with them. What about them? But even the women achievers who are without husbands are a minority. And some of them have genuine reasons for opting out of marriage. They cannot live to see their husbands chasing everything in skirt and inflicting them with perpetual pain.
But if men learn to see their wives as partners and not competitors, there will be nothing to fear about a woman achiever, if she will still respect the man as her husband.
There are no Human Rights in Marriage
Marriage is the only democratic institution where there are no human rights. [As for this one, ebi me coin um] I’m not advocating any human rights violation in marriages. Far from that! Jesus Christ tells us that if anyone wants to follow Him, let that person deny himself/herself and carry His cross daily. You can’t enjoy a successful relationship or marriage if you can’t deny yourself. Self denial means giving shedding some of your human rights, for your partner’s sake. Now I can go out and return home at midnight. That’s my freedom of movement. But I can only do this before the evil day comes. I will have to shed my human rights one day for someone’s sake and until you learn to do this, every Comfort Ocran that comes your way will be a Jezebel and every Albert Ocran will be a…
And always remember that “a great marriage is not when the 'perfect couple' come together. It is when an imperfect couple learn to enjoy their differences." A word to the wise is in Bongo [in the north] where Albert Abongo is MP and where yours truly was hatched two and a half decades ago.

Credit: Manasseh Azure Awuni [] Email: The writer is a freelance journalist based in Accra. To read more of his writings, visit