I cringed at taking drugs when ill as a kid. Trust me, they were bitter! I would sometimes throw them away and pretend to have taken them. I only ended up deceiving myself. My illness worsened. Regardless of the bitterness of the drug, it had to be taken for one to be well.

Truth is like a drug. It is always bitter. However, no matter how bitter the truth is, one shouldn’t avoid it for a half-truth. After all, half-truth, like half-lie, is still a lie. It is about time some young men of today knew this truth… regardless of how hard it may be for them to take it. The truth is… your girlfriend is not your wife! From whichever perspective you look at it, as long as you are not married to her, she’s only a girlfriend… and not a wife.

You may be the best of couples in town. You can be the Romeo and Juliet of our time. However, inasmuch as you haven’t paid for her dowry, she’s not obliged to do anything for you… and not obliged to demand anything from you either.

It’s like walking into the mall to buy a pair of breathtaking trousers. All you can do is to have a gaze of it and admire its beauty… as long as you haven’t paid a dime for it. You can’t try it on. No. You can’t walk out of the mall with it without paying for it. You’ll be beaten into pulp for shoplifting.

Such is the difference between dating and marriage. When you walk into the mall, you’re dating. It doesn’t necessarily mean you may buy something from the mall. When you buy whatever, it’s called marriage. As long as you haven’t paid for her dowry, you are only dating. You can only admire her amazing features from a distance. You can’t touch her. You can’t ‘try’ her on. For Heaven’s sake, you’re not a ‘trying officer’!

Love is such a beautiful thing to experience. It’s only love that would make us sometimes do what we do. But for love, Jacob wouldn’t have labored for Rachel for as long as fourteen (14) years to make her his wife. But for love, Romeo wouldn’t have died for a Juliet.

The interesting thing, however, is when to draw the line between love and the other thing that looks like love. To be in love with a woman, you should know your boundaries… especially when you both are not yet married. A girlfriend, every young man should always remember, is not a wife. It doesn’t matter how long you both have dated. A girlfriend of a decade is still a girlfriend… not a wife.

I recently chanced on a news item where a young taxi driver had stabbed his girlfriend to death because she jilted him. Apparently, he had been paying her fees for God knows how long! For how long would some of us keep repeating the same errors? For how long would we mistake our girlfriends for our wives? How long would it take us to admit that as long as you both are not married, every expense any party makes is voluntary?

Paying for your girlfriend’s great grandparents’ funeral expenses is your headache. Being an alternative pension benefit to her parents is your own cup of tea. You can even compensate her for all the bills she has ever paid since childhood. However, if that relationship doesn’t end in marriage, she doesn’t owe you a penny. Don’t go threatening. You know why? A girlfriend is not a wife. Simple.

Am I encouraging stinginess? No. Gifts enhance relationships. Love is giving and giving is love. However, one should be wary of the worth of whatever they are giving. Know your limit because anything you do for her now is pro bono. It is voluntary. Every expense incurred as long as she’s a girlfriend is a freebie. She doesn’t owe anyone accountability. If you both don’t get married someday, don’t go killing yourself and don’t go threatening her either. Irony is, she would come take selfie with your corpse in case you try anything suicidal.

You are under no obligation to give whatever to her and she’s under no obligation to give whatever to you. If you know your girlfriend is not your wife, you won’t give her one thing and expect another (often sex) in return. You know you’ve not wedded her so how on Earth do you expect her to compulsorily cook and wash for you… just because you bought her a gift!?

Marriage comes with its own rights, privileges and responsibilities. You’re not entitled to any of these if there’s no such ceremony and legal agreement between you both.

Before you dare lay a finger on someone who’s only a girlfriend, ask yourself whether you know how much dowry costs. Abuse is prohibited within the confines of marriage let alone outside of it.

Before you threateningly demand one duty or another from someone to whom you are not yet married, ask yourself whether you are only a boyfriend or husband. You don’t pound someone’s daughter in bed after she’s pounded fufu for you just because you gave her some pounds! Chairman, if you love her, put a ring on it. That’s only when you can demand some duties from her. Until then, you are on your own.

Are you paying fees for someone who’s not yet a wife under the pretense of marriage? Are you footing the bill of a family under the guise of marrying their daughter? God bless you Mr. NGO! After all, if that relationship doesn’t even end up in marriage someday, you would have reduced illiteracy and poverty in your own ‘small’ way. We need more of such donors. Haha.

The writer is a playwright and the Chief Scribe of Scribe Communications, a writing company in Accra. (www.scribecommltd.com). His upcoming play, #MyWifeInLaw, is on September 24.




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