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August 21, 2018


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MIND AND BODY with  Rev. Fr. Vincent E. Arisukwu


It must be acknowledged that many marriages are undergoing intimidation today. It is also ironical to imagine that women suffer more intimidation than men in marriage as a result of their gender. Many married men are also undergoing psychological trauma. But because a lot of them struggle to protect their ego, they pretend that all is normal while internally bearing the brunt of a terrible marriage partner in the home. Let us postulate some panacea to overcoming the evil of intimidation in marriage.


Recognize that marriage partners are equal:

In the nuptial blessing given to newly wed couples, the Church prays, “May her husband put his trust in her, and recognize that she is his equal, and the heir with him to the life of grace”. The Church affirms from this prayer, that there is no superior or inferior in marriage. This equality derives from the image of God which each of the marriage couples bears ontologically from creation, “In the image of God He created him, male and female He created them” (Cf. Gen. 1: 27). Any marriage relationship that recognizes this equality usually enjoys their union. This does not rule out the idea of respect, obedience or love. The truth is that ordinarily every sensible man knows his position in the home so also every right thinking woman. The man doesn’t need to say to the woman, “Look I am your husband, your Oga”, or the wife to the man, “Don’t you know I am your wife”. There is no need to communicate one’s rights and privileges in marriage by intimidation in order to show one’s supremacy.


Let Love speak: The best language in marriage union is love. Saint Paul exhorts, “Over all these clothes, put on love, the perfect bond” (Col. 3: 14). When the language of love reigns, intimidation and abuse disappear. This is why marriage should arise from the pure and genuine love of the man and woman for each other. Marriage should go beyond what a person has or what he can offer. It should go beyond a person’s name or possession. It should be an appreciation of a person irrespective of anything. That is why the words of consent says, “…For better for worse, in sickness and in health, for richer for poorer, until death do us part”. Any marriage guided and propelled by love does not sour. Love does not expire. But marriages experience intimidation when the emphasis is on material possession and pretence. Some women in certain cases have married their men based on societal placement, financial background, political connection, etc. Some have married based on the man’s sexual activeness. Others have married for the man’s intelligence. The same thing applies to men who marry for mere physical beauty or financial connection. The sayings then would be that love is blind. Ironically, love which is blind opens its eyes as the couples advance in age and the financial elephant begins to trim down or the sexual lion becomes calm. The resultant effect becomes constant aggression which the woman brandishes on her husband or vice versa. This is wrong. It can only be overcome when love reigns, when marriage is genuine. According to St. Paul, “Let love be without any pretence… In brotherly love let your feelings of deep affection for one another come to expression and regard others as more important than yourself” (Rom. 12: 9-10). That is the language of marriage.


Forgive and Forget the past: When Peter put the question to Jesus, “Lord, how often must I forgive my brother if he wrongs me?” the response was, “Not seven, I tell you, but seventy-seven times” (Matt. 18: 21-22). This should be applicable in marriage. When love governs, forgiveness follows. The sister to forgiveness is forgetfulness. When a spouse cannot forget a wrong done to him/her, it becomes a reference point, sometimes in a sarcastic manner. To forgive is to imagine a wrong never existed. It means to erase completely from the heart. It means to realize that one can also offend another and as well be forgiven. St. Paul maintains, “Bear with one another; forgive each other if one of you has a complaint against another. The Lord has forgiven you; now you must do the same” (Col. 3:13-14). Husband, forgive and forget. Wife, forgive and forget. It eliminates intimidation in marriage.


Empower your partner: The idea of some men refusing to empower their wives in marriage is totally wrong. I have had a case whereby the man refused to allow the wife with Masters Degree work simply because he claimed he was shielding or protecting her from other men. Two ironies are involved here: (1) The same man kept complaining of the weight of solely catering for the family. (2) He couldn’t shield himself from women either. One way to make a woman reasonably busy is to empower her. This makes her appreciate her husband as well as get involved in the family affairs. When both parties contribute in marriage, the burden of training the children is reduced. When both contribute, no one becomes a pest on the other. When both are empowered, no one is intimidated.


Shun Cultural bias: The prejudice that holds male as superior gender to female is completely fallacious. It shouldn’t exist in marriage. When superiority is measured by an individual’s productivity, the implication would be that many men would be more inferior to women because a lot of families depend on the women for survival. A woman cannot be superior to her husband in marriage because she is the breadwinner. The man cannot be superior to the wife simply because he is Igbo and just keys into the anachronistic cultural mentality that the woman is inferior even when she is feeding, clothing and sheltering the man. When such superfluous arguments are eliminated in marriage, intimidation fades.


Avoid In-Law Syndrome: Abuses in most marriages have arisen from interference/intrusion from mothers and fathers in-law. Some mothers in law have become so domineering that they want to be the superintendents of their children’s marriage. We are not submitting that fathers and mothers are no longer relevant to their children after marriage. We are saying rather that parents should limit the level of their involvements in marriage. Your child’s wife should give you respect as a father or mother but it should be clear to you that she is not marrying you. Allow daughters in-law to breathe fresh air and let the husbands be the ones to dictate their faults. Husbands on their own should not be fed from some parents’ prejudices against their wives. This has been the cause of some intimidations in marriage. It should be eliminated for the marriage bond which is the union between a man and his wife to survive.


Be docile: Docility means openness to correction. It means acceptance of one’s mistakes and readiness to make amends. The docile husband/wife is humble and meek. He/she is submissive. He/she is the type that steals a man/woman’s heart; he/she wins a man/woman over in marriage. A docile wife not only absorbs the man’s temperament, she rather weakens his strength. A docile wife is quick to say sorry while a docile husband acknowledges his faults and quickly asks for pardon. He does not hide his feelings but expresses himself in such an amiable way that makes the wife give herself totally to him in love, care and compassion. St. John admonishes, “In love there is no room for fear, because perfect love drives out fear” (1John 4:18).


Don’t idolize Money: Christ said of money, “Use money, tainted as it is, to win you friends, and thus make sure that when it fails you…” (Luke 16: 9). Two things are deductible here namely: That money could be of great value and that it could fail or disappoint. Many marriages have been made by the prudent and wise manner they have approached money while others have been marred by the entrance of money. Men or women who idolize money pay less attention to their marriage. In fact, those who adore money love less. They become power drunk by negative pecuniary influence. Some women have treated their husbands as rags because they suddenly acquire wealth. Some men have also become stupid, extravagant and incorrigible because they have money. This is wrong. Money should be given its place in marriage and not allowed to substitute love for husband or wife. When it is worshipped, it becomes an agent of intimidation. When not idolized, intimidation is strangulated.


Seek Counseling: A spouse that feels intimidated should always seek counseling from professionals and experts. It is wrong to suppress bad feeling for one’s partner in marriage because it could result in wrong outburst. Psychologists have proven that cases of suicide and murder have resulted from suppression. It is important to consult marriage counselors to enable one come out of the problem of intimidation. This is in order to receive objective advice. These may be experts in psychology or pastors. The rule is, “Never consult the wrong person”. Seek the advice of those who will proffer sound solution without taking sides as well as help rescue the marriage from crisis. Above all, prayers are necessary because God makes all things possible (Cf. Luke 1:38). He can change the heart of your abusive partner at a time you least expect.


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