Marriage is an institution ordained by God. Before now, marriage used to mean the union of two people who belong to different sex or gender. Then, when the word marriage was mentioned among people, they would conjure up the image of a man and a woman living together after they had solemnized their marital union in accordance with their country’s marriage laws and the norms and traditions of their towns.
But, today, the scope of the definitions of marriage has expanded. Two people who are of the same sex co-habit. And gays do solemnize their marital unions in churches! Raving dykes walk down the aisles inchurches in European cities, with smiles lightening up their faces. Not a few countries in our today’s world have legalized same sex marriage. So, people with homophobic sentiments are called intolerant people, who are still trapped in the Stone Age period. Even Pope Francis has not overtly traduced gays. We are told that God loves us irrespective of our sexual preferences.
However, many countries in Africa havemade laws that criminalized same-sex union. In those countries, severe punishments await people caught engaging in homosexual act. I am concerned in this piece with the marriage that exists between a man and a woman. For most ladies, their happiest days on earth were the days they tied the nuptial knots. In Africa, a lady of marriageable age who is unmarried is viewed with contempt by most people. Her prolonged spinsterhood makes her the butt of jokes among her kith and kin. In Nigeria it is believed that a lady becomes complete and fulfilled when she has got married.Marriage has become a badge of honour among ladies. That’s why married women flaunt their wedding rings.
Likewise, a rich, educated and unmarried man, who is advancing in age, is called a schmuck or sucker. Being married is a licence that ushers a man into the revered club of responsible people. It confers respectability on men. And it is believed that women are stabilizing forces in homes, especially homes where men are given to excesses.
Nigerians get married for diverse reasons, chief among which is to produce children that will bear their names and ensure
the continuity of their lineage. In Igboland, for example, a man without children is anefulefu, a nitwit. So married women, who cannot conceive babies risk losing their places in their matrimonial homes. Their desperation to conceive babies drives them to undertake dangerous measures. Companionship is another reason for marriage.
Men make their wives their confidantes, confiding their secrets to them and seeking their counsel on knotty issues. That’s why some men’s best friends are their wives.
Two people, who are very close friends as a couple, can bring up their children in an atmosphere of love and peace. They’ll instill good moral values and virtues into them. A well-brought up youth with positive morality is an asset to his or
her country. But marriage mates who live apart from each other cannot keep an eye on their children. Those children are latch-key kids, who are guided and trained by house-helps instead of their parents. And they do pick up bad attitudes from those they interact with.
No sane person prays for the failure of his or her marriage; but marriages still fail for many reasons, ranging from incompatibility, extra-marital affairs, disrespect for one’s marriage mate, financial incapacity of the husband, personality clash, meddlesomeness of in-laws, etc. It is a known fact that a man’s inability to meet his financial obligations to his wife may precipitate quarrel between them that may snowball into a big fight that can cause the failure of the marital union. Some couples could part ways owing to the extra marital affairs.
Nowadays, our newspapers are filled with stories about passion crimes by people who felt betrayed by their marital partners Again, some people dissolved their marriages on the ground of incompatibility. Some aging spinsters who married on the rebound found out that they had nothing in common with their hubbies.
As their morality codes, interests, values and world-views are different, troubles would crop up between them. But two people who are alike in many areas and enjoy great and deep friendship between them can weather their marital troubles.
Friendship should precede the consummation of marital union between two people. When the novelty of sex wears off, the great friendship existing between can make them sustain their interest in each other. And you can be a friend with somebody, if you have the same interests, values, philosophies and world-views. So, people shouldn’t enter the marriage union in the hope of changing the mindset, values and interests of their partners. An adult with a set character and personality seldom change. Change happens in people slowly. So, I advise people to marry their friends to escape being members of the club of people with failed marriages.
A person with failed marriage will feel broken-hearted as his/her dream of raising children is not realized during that period. But time is a great healer. People with failed marital unions should put the past behind them, find suitable, compatible and companion mates and raise families. Family is the basic unit of the society.
Okoye, author and civil servant, wrote from Uruowulu-Obosi, Anambra State
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