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May 21, 2018

THE TEN ‘I’s THAT BREAK THE HOME (5)

As October 1 draws near
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MIND AND BODY with  Rev. Fr. Vincent E. ArisukwuREMEDIES TO INFIDELITY

Avoid other bad habits: The worst way to conquer evil is by the aid of evil (Cf. Mark 3:20-30). Two wrongs cannot make a right. It is wrong for a couple to become addicted to another bad habit simply because the partner has taken to extra marital affairs. For instance, some couples indulge in alcohol and become drunk as palliative to the effects of infidelity. Some learn to keep away late also to solve such problems. Others too look for extra marital partners to fill in the vacuum created by their man or woman. Others still become gossip tools to pour out their troubled hearts. These are wrong methods to adopt. They never solve the existing problem. Once a  person continues to operate under the control of these erroneous outlets, he remains hypnotized and cannot reasonably confront the situation.

Sublimation: To sublimate means to redirect or to rechannel one’s sexual energy into some other acceptable activity. It is different from suppression or repression of sexual emotions. It does not mean to pretend that an emotion does not exist. For instance, I have always advised couples who become victims of perverse partners not to kill themselves in the case the partner proves difficult to handle. The first thing that can help the situation is to redirect the sexual energy into religious activity. Commit your energy, time and pleasure to things that would give you joy and distract you positively in the church. Join associations, sodalities that really preoccupy you outside working periods. Secondly, once a couple begins to live together and beget children, a major outlet automatically opens up. No doubt love for children cannot substitute love for one’s husband or wife but we are treating exceptional cases here. The exception is that the unfaithful husband/wife has become unreasonably distracted and is not concerned about how his/her marriage partner feels. It then becomes wrong to be dying gradually for such a person. My advice to such a victim is to embrace the children totally and make the man/woman feel jealous by the way you relate with the kids. Let him not feel the vacuum his stupidity has created. A third way to sublimate is to be reasonably engaged. I bet you, once you are busy, infidelity is of no essence. Discover what gladdens your heart and engage yourself with it. It helps to cushion the effects to a great extent. These steps do not rule out the need to show love and to continue fervently in prayers.

Reasonable Freedom: In his letter to the Galatians Saint Paul wrote, “Do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh; rather, serve one another through love” (Gal. 5:13). It must be understood that the marriage institution is not a prison yard where people are censored or even coerced. Love is not by imposition. It is rather a free, voluntary phenomenon that flows from within. What couples do in marriage is to sustain and nourish love. For this reason, couples must avoid giving their partners the impression that one is monitoring the other. As a man or woman in marriage, one must establish a sense of confidence in one’s partner ensuring that he/she enjoys a reasonable freedom. Every man/woman must acknowledge the fact that his/her marriage companion has other relationships even prior to the marriage union. These relationships can never and must not substitute marriage. But they must not be destroyed except in the case they become detrimental to the healthy sustenance of the marriage union. Reasonable freedom means accommodating relationships and possibly managing them together as a family for the good of the home. It means that all clandestine relationships must be eliminated and that both parties should be aware of each other’s relationships for the good of the union. Reasonable freedom eliminates suspicion and fear.

Prayer: Prayer remains the major ingredient for overcoming the problem of infidelity in marriage. Just as many of those who become victims of infidelity are spiritually blindfolded, so also the ultimate solution to infidelity remains firm commitment to God. Unfortunately, some couples whose partners become victims of infidelity apply pressure without spiritual commitment. Some approach the matter by nagging and complaining to everyone they see. A woman even told me she decided to expose her husband and to confront him everywhere since he has brought himself to public disrepute. She quoted the popular verse in the bible that, the kingdom of God suffers violence from of old and only the violent can take it by force. Ironically too, her husband became used to her tactics and made up his mind to deal with the wife since she has reduced him to a mere object of mockery. He insisted that his ego has been smeared and there is nothing again to protect. This is a very poor approach to solving the problem of infidelity. Saint Paul wrote about marriage thus, “This mystery has great significance, but I am applying it to Christ and the Church. To sum up: you also, each one of you, must love his wife as he loves himself; and let every wife respect her husband” (Eph. 5:32-33). Couples must therefore realize that marriage is more than a mere physical contact or cohabitation. They must recognize the indispensable spiritual dimension and take all marital cases to God who is the origin of marriage. In situations of confusion and distraction God must be the first to consult. According to the apostle to the Gentiles, couples must “put on the full armour of God so as to be able to resist the devil’s tactics” (Eph. 6:11-12). Any man/woman who finds his/her partner in the unfortunate habit of unfaithfulness must take the matter to God (Kasarachi). It may not be easy but there’s no other way out. The famous slogan,“prayer is the key”, never changes. But it requires what I postulate here as the last remedy to the problem of infidelity in marriage.

Patience: There is a popular saying that the patient dog eats the fattest bone. This axiom holds true in marriage. The marriage institution is very complicated. It unfolds daily and is peculiar according to individuals in it. The greatest mistake a couple could make is to compare their marriage with another. God has a purpose for every home and that is why He remains the greatest source of consolation and encouragement. Pastors and priests are there to motivate and inspire couples to live out their marriage vows and promises. They help couples to seek the face of God especially in difficulty. They help them to appreciate the vicissitudes of life in marriage and seek a proper way of solving them. There cannot be a completely free and comfortable marriage just as there cannot be a completely easy life. It depends on when each difficulty comes, how it comes and how it is tackled. It becomes important to adopt the virtue of patience especially when the temptation of succumbing to the flesh creeps in. For whatever reasons, a married person should always live with optimism that no condition is permanent and avoid destroying his/her future in pursuit of temporary pleasures. For this reason, St. James writes, “Be patient, therefore, brothers, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient with it until it receives the early and the late rains. You too must be patient. Do not complain about one another…” (Jas 5:7ff).

 

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