A new title was launched this month. Called I Do, the quarterly magazine is billed as an ‘Afro-centric’ relationship magazine, and is edited and driven by the vision of Felicia Buthelezi. Palesa Mokomele reviews the first issue.
Couples and newlyweds have a variety of sources to help them to create a memorable wedding day, or keep a home running efficiently and looking welcoming. The South African magazine market is littered with magazines that offer wedding day ideas, with topics ranging from how to choose the theme and décor to frocks, and food and wine. There is a lot of emphasis on how to make the day memorable and perfect.
Sadly, all too often the rest of the journey doesn’t stay perfect for long.
Globally, the divorce rate is increasing. The media is awash with stories of infidelities and break ups and breakdowns in relationships. Married men and women are often seen as ‘missing out’ on something once they tie the knot. While there is a lot of societal pressure on them to make it work, there is no clear answer on how to maintain a healthy marriage. Locally, Statistics South Africa reported that in 2010, 170 826, civil marriages, 9 996 customary marriages and 888 civil unions were recorded by the Department of Home Affairs. In the same year, 22 936 divorces were granted, with more women (49,3%) than men (34,0%) filing for divorce.
The recently launched I Do magazine has entered the South African magazine market with the express intention of reaching out to a new, untapped market: married couples and aspirant singletons. The magazine’s inaugural issue has many features that attempt to give a full spectrum on marriage. It is also a well designed and attractive publication, and the first issue’s ads look quite impressive too.
It provides couples with advice on issues ranging from finances to parenting tips (there’s an interesting feature on how to raise a special needs child). For singletons, ‘dating in the modern world’ provides guidance on how to pave the way from being single to the final destination of marriage.
While the articles are interesting, I got the impression that some of them could have been researched more thoroughly and could also tackle issues in a less general format so as to provide more in-depth analysis.
The result of this combination of themes for different kinds of markets is well intended, but the magazine does not seem to have a target audience. I get the feeling it is trying to reach out to too many people. In this issue, for example, I struggled to imagine the type of woman or man that the magazine speaks to. And if one reads the magazine, bearing in mind that men are being left by women, one would have imagined a stronger slant towards men and their role in marriage. The impression that it is a woman’s responsibility to keep a marriage strong carries throughout the magazine.
My suggestion would be to focus on less preachy and feel good stories and more on different kinds of marriages and their particular challenges. I Do presents a picture that is too idealistic and at times drives a Christian point of view. This may limit its scope and reach.
I also say this bearing in mind that the kinds of issues in our country that have been blamed on the breakdown in the family unit. This is a challenge to the editor to prevent ‘stereotyping’ marriage stories and instead break away to provide a magazine that seeks to understand why some marriages simply don’t last.
The impression that the magazine gives is that marriage is all work and no play. There is hardly any mention of the word ‘love’. I got the feeling, going through the magazine, that marriage seems like a lot of work. This is the pitfall that the magazine could fall into focusing too much on events, for example, how to show your partner you love them etc, without getting realistic stories from couples on how they try, on a daily basis, to run homes and not focus on small things but to be realistic about their expectations and reasons for getting married without striving for a picture perfect life.
That said, I’m looking forward to the second issue to see how I Do settles into its relationship with its readers.
To find out more: //www.idomagazine.co.za/
On Twitter: //twitter.com/#!/idomag
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