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May 21, 2018

THE TEN ‘I’s THAT THE HOME

As October 1 draws near
Swift Share!

MIND AND BODY with  Rev. Fr. Vincent E. ArisukwuMost couples have problems today as a result of the way they handle their marriage issues. Some couples devise wrong approaches towards their erring partners and rather than pull them out of their mistakes they end up making them plunge deeper into muddy waters. Such marriages unfortunately hit the bricks for reasons of foolhardiness. Having x rayed the issue of infidelity, its causes and effects in many marriages, I wish to proffer some solutions. This is both in the case that a couple already established strong evidences that the partner is living unfaithful life as well as seeking appropriate measures to cushion the effects of infidelity. Some of the ideas I am going to offer here may look abstract and impracticable but they are workable especially realizing that only the couple alone can solve their problems.

Greater Love:

The first solution to numerous problems encountered in marriage is greater love. When a couple discovers that their marriage has had a crack, the first thing to be done is to trace back the origin of their love, to rediscover the initial spark that gave birth to the union. For instance, when a woman discovers that her husband is derailing, that he has started keeping out late at night, that he has started keeping bad friends or that he is developing cold feet towards his domestic responsibilities, the best thing to do is to shower more love on him. She should try to discover the reasons for the husband’s queer actions. Unfortunately sometimes, there may not be any justifiable reasons except perhaps that the man is distracted by another woman outside. The right action is not to start back biting and picking unnecessary quarrels. In the scriptures, St. Paul maintained that love conquers all while St. John says, “… perfect love drives out fear” (1John 4:18). There is nothing that love cannot do in marriage only that the demands of love are tough. A story once had it of a couple who started their married life so well to the extent that the husband used to carry the wife on his back every morning from the house to the car each time they prepared to go to work. This activity was fun for them and helped to create a bond which they could not imagine. But at some point the devil sowed a seed of distraction and the man started having another relationship outside his matrimonial home. He gradually withdrew himself and avoided most of the things he did together with the wife including the blissful act of carrying her out for work. The woman struggled and struggled but things were not getting any better. It even got to the point of beating the wife up at the slightest provocation. She didn’t give up on her love for the husband. After a protracted effort, the man started getting back to his senses. It was difficult recapturing their old lifestyles, yet the wife pressed harder with acts of love. The man asked her what she wanted him to do to reassert his love for her. The wife responded that the only thing she needed was for him to start lifting her on his back again to the car as he used to. It was a difficult thing  for the man especially in the presence of the children who knew he had derailed. But the wife insisted. So the man reluctantly did it the first day, the second day and then subsequently it became fun once more. Together with the children they rediscovered their happiness and love. That was how the woman helped her husband out of infidelity.

The equation I have always given to couples I counsel is, “the more the stubbornness the more the love”. It is like what St. Paul said, “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals upon his head.” And he went further to say, “Do not be conquered by evil but conquer evil with good” (Rom. 12: 21). This is the challenge of love and the challenge of marriage. Use love, apply love and enforce love.

Forgiveness/Acceptance:

There cannot be a successful marriage without forgiveness. When a partner errs in marriage and shows enough remorse, he deserves to be forgiven. This is because an unfaithful marriage partner can change having recognized the gravity of his offences. Such a person realizes the harm he has done to the marriage union and resolves to make amends. When he is forgiven, he should as well be accepted. Forgiveness and acceptance are different steps in the process of reconciliation. Sometimes, a person claims to have forgiven another but keeps the memory of the offence at heart. Such a person harbours the offence and readily refers to it. In such circumstance, the offender is unsure of having been forgiven. But when a person receives a guarantee of forgiveness, he is freer and lives a life of transparency trusting that his partner would not make his crime a reference point in the marriage relationship. Remember Jesus’ challenge to Christians, “I say to you, not seven times but seventy-seven times” (Matt. 18:22).

Severance:

One important way of solving infidelity problem in marriage is severance of unhealthy relationships. Relationship in this case involves both the illicit affair and the associations that goad one into such. In the scriptures Christ affirms, “If your hand or foot causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to enter into life maimed or crippled than with two hands or two feet to be thrown into eternal fire. And if your eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. It is better for you to enter into life with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into fiery Gehenna” (Matt. 18: 8-9). This is called healing from the roots (Senatio in radice). For a man/woman to come out of infidelity, he/she must make up his/her mind to destroy the relationship. This is often a difficult step to take which involves firm and courageous decision. This space must however be filled with divine and Godly contacts because nature abhors vacuum. St. James exhorts, “Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you” (Jas 4:7-8). Severe unhealthy, filthy relationships and fill the space with healthy, spiritual ones (Cf. Rom. 8: 5)

Dialogue:

Dialogue is an important key in maintaining successful relationship in marriage. Issues are better addressed when deliberated upon than when avoided. Most families encounter problems in their homes because couples adopt avoidance approach. This is especially applicable in moments of disagreement and crisis. When couples feel offended by one another, they do greater harm to their union by bearing acrimony in their hearts. This leads to misinterpretation of actions and misjudgment of steps taken by another. Some couples live in mutual suspicion in their marriage and bear malice imagining what they think the other person does. Unfortunately, some fail to confront issues but die away gradually as a result of unfounded imaginations. Some suspect relationships, others suspect places, etc. Some of the suspicions may be based on false information from sources. Even in the case that one party seems reasonably sure of the unfaithful behaviour of the other party, it is pertinent to table such for dialogue on time. Such dialogue helps to address issues and to clear doubts regarding hazy matters. It gives room for explanation. It gives room for soberness. It gives room for acceptance of guilt. It also gives room for self introspection and acknowledgement of one’s guilt and most importantly, gives room for repentance.

 

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