Matrimonial consent is an act whereby two people (usually a man and a woman) willingly give and accept one another for the sole purpose of establishing a marriage.
Before two people are 'officially' joined together to become a couple, there must be consent which equals to an agreement between them.
Where there is a wedding, there is an exchange of vows which is usually the couple promising 'to have and to hold' each other through both good and bad times. The couple then go ahead to sign 'consent forms' (marriage certificates) in the presence of witnesses, which validates the fact that the marriage took place.
Where there is no matrimonial consent, it is safe to say that there is no marriage and if the two insist on living like they are man and wife, it could be labelled as just cohabitation.
Even though some marriage quotes claim that "marriage is a divine institution, which, when validly contracted, is indissoluble except by death", marriages can actually be annulled (while one is still alive).
The implication of matrimonial consent in a validly contracted marriage
Matrimonial consent in a validly contracted marriage means that none of the parties involved are being coerced or forced into doing what they don't intend to do.
When one of the parties denies the other things like conjugal rights or other essential properties required in marriage, or enters the marriage through fraud (having some venereal diseases and not letting your spouse know before marriage or some harmful vice or knowingly entering a marriage with someone who wants to have children even when you are either incapable or have no plans of having children), the other may begin considering opting out of the union even though it was validly contracted.
Things that can render a validly contracted marriage invalid:
There are certain things that can cause marriages to be annulled. Examples are:
- AGE: There is a certain age at which it is believed that one is 'mature' enough to be lawfully married. The Nigerian law sets the legal marriage age at 18 years, that means anyone below that age is considered underage and the marriage can be considered invalid even if it was validly contracted.
- IMPOTENCE: Where a marriage is not consummated due to one of the couple's inability to perform their conjugal right, it can easily be annulled even though earlier contracted validly.
However, there is freedom to agree or disagree, there is also a willingness to overlook mistakes, and where these do not exist, the option of divorce or even an annulment comes in.
Meanwhile, watch this video to see what Nigerians think about inviting your ex to your wedding: