In the bachelorhood or spinsterhood, the question every young man or woman usually asks before embarking on any venture is, “What will happen to me if…? “Or sometimes, “What will happen to my parents if…?” The “if” here means, if they hear it or if it boomerangs or if it happens, etc. It can go on and on. The emphasis in this case is to weigh the consequences of a person’s action not only on himself but on the person whom the individual holds dear. On getting married the question changes into, “What will happen to my husband/wife if…?” “What will he/she do if he/she hears it?” “What effect will this have on my marriage?” These basic posers usually help the individual to give some consideration to both his action and the recipient of the act. In that light let us look at some remedial measures that could help some erring couples retrace their steps in marriage.
Be selfless: Marriage is not a private business. In marriage the two are a united whole. It is not a two in one kind of thing but a one in two. Christ says, “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. So they are no longer two, but one flesh” (Matt. 19: 5-6). In marriage the couple forms a community of life and love, a community of one in two. That is why the couple forms an inseparable bond. Where one denies the other of any good, he denies himself. When one cheats the other, he cheats himself. And this is the marriage mystery; mystery of one person in two bodies. Saint Paul puts it thus, “So also husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one hates his own flesh but rather nourishes and cherishes it, even as Christ does the church because we are members of his body… This is a great mystery, but I speak in reference to Christ and the church” (Eph. 5:28-32). The unitive dimension of the marriage covenant demands unreserved love for one another. It demands selflessness. Selflessness here is two dimensional: giving and feeling. I have seen a situation where the woman is better positioned and more buoyant than the husband. Instead of treating the husband like the man he is, she decided to reduce him to the level of a house boy. The man would receive insults each time the children came for money and he couldn’t provide. The woman would after all solve the matter but at the expense of the man’s happiness in the house. Sometimes the man would be in need and continued to suffocate, but the wife would never accept she had any money to give. She would tell him all sorts of lies to dismiss the demand he made. But the irony is that the man in question was the bread winner of the house before a misfortune befell him. In some cases, the reverse is the case. Men would cook all sorts of lies in order to evade the family’s responsibility. Imagine that a man would want the wife to kneel down and beg for something before he would consider giving it to her. Giving only accompanies feeling in marriage. Feeling goes beyond emotional sympathy to point to the real essence of marriage. Feeling depicts love. If one partner loves the other, he feels for/with him/her. If the husband loves the wife, he feels with her. If the wife loves the husband, she also feels with him. When couples love each other, they won’t be selfish, insincere, insensitive, etc. Selflessness eliminates insincerity in marriage.
Be transparent: No marriage works without transparency. It is applicable to both the husband and the wife. Unfortunately, most times, husbands would like to be the mirrors for their wives while themselves remaining very opaque. Some men would want to know every detail of their wives’ movement, transaction, relationship, etc, but wouldn’t want their wives to know a bit about themselves. This is wrong. Reading through Funke Egbemode’s column in Sunday Sun of September 1, 2013, I found the confessions of one Gerald Rogers titled, “My advice to married couples after divorcing my wife of 16 years” relevant to our discussion. Among other things, Mr. Rogers advised men thus, “Be fully transparent. If you want to have trust you must be willing to share EVERYTHING… Especially those things you don’t want to share. It takes courage to fully love, to fully open your heart and let her in when you don’t know if she will like what she finds…Part of that courage is allowing her to love you completely, your darkness as well as your light. DROP THE MASK… If you feel like you need to wear a mask around her, and show up perfect all the time, you will never experience the full dimension of what love can be” (Back page of Sunday Sun, Sept. 1, 2013, Vol. 10, No. 541). Transparency dispels fear and tension in marriage. It eliminates insincerity.
Build Mutual Trust: To build mutual trust in marriage means eliminating all sources of fear and suspicion. It means appreciating one’s partner the way he/she is. It means overlooking the sour spots of one’s spouse and concentrating on the very attractive qualities. It means concentrating more on the qualities that gave the marriage union its initial impetus. Fear, as we said earlier, leads many couples especially women into insincerity. However, to get the best of the woman, the man must give her reasonable freedom. He must make her to trust him and feel safe confiding in him. This is what marriage is all about. The woman wants to be appreciated so also the man. The woman wants to be trusted. She gives her best when she is treated with dignity. She improves when she is corrected from her mistake with compassion and care. She tells her husband the whole truth about herself when she feels secure. Once the woman is trusted, she trusts the man in return without question. One good way to avoid or eliminate insincerity is by building a relationship of mutual trust for one another in marriage.
Severe negative factors: Many negative factors have been discovered to be responsible to insincerity in marriage. While some of these factors like habit, greed, etc, come from within the person, some other factors are external. The external factors often times arise from bad associations that influence the individual negatively. They emanate from contacts with friends or peer groups. They can also be acquired from reading novels and literature books that promote unhealthy practices in marriage. The most common of these influences nowadays come from home movies which teach couples that certain acts are possible to survive through manipulations in marriage. Some times, individuals are ignorantly addicted to either persons or programs that influence them unconsciously. Attachments to certain relationships result equally in pressure in marriage. Such pressures invariably give rise to telling lies to one’s partner as a means of cover up. For the man or woman to liberate himself/herself from the bondage of insincerity, he/she must first severe the source.
Appreciate hard times: Married life is deeper than the initial attraction which young people feel at the early stages of their meeting. Sometimes there is a kind of euphoria or exuberance which carries with it great excitement for intending couples. That is normal. Every young man wants to settle down. Every young woman wants to fall into the hands of a wonderful young man who would care for and love her all the rest of her life. The actualization of such dream eventually goes with aha experience on both parties in marriage. That is why the wedding day is the most celebrated in the life of every couple. But some couples have made the mistake of imagining that marriage is all roses. They fail to see the inner dimension of marriage with its challenges and responsibilities. They fail to accept the difficulties that come as marriage progresses. This is why some persons begin to gamble in the course of their married life. On the part of women, some fail to acknowledge the role of woman-hood, mother-hood and house wife-hood that is a sine qua non. Some want to enjoy absolute freedom, want to belong to every association of their choice, wear any dress of their choice, maintain every relationship of their choice, do every business of their choice, embark on every trip of their choice, at the expense of their marriage. For men, some would want to do any business of their choice, drink as they want, spend their money as they want, attend parties as they want, all without minding the feelings of their wives. Failure to acknowledge one’s conditions and the true position of married life is failure to be sincere to oneself. Failure to live up to the difficulties in married life also leads to insincerity in marriage. For example, a marriage was almost torn apart because of a plot of land purchased by a woman without her husband’s knowledge. She did the papers of the land without the husband knowing. When the man eventually found out, she told him lies concerning the transaction. When eventually the truth surfaced, the woman became obstinate. She remarked that she no longer trusted the husband and had to do that to protect her future. When it became so tough, she maintained that she preferred to lose the marriage rather than give up ownership of the property.
Be in love with Truth: Being in love with the truth is also a habit. It is a virtue acquired over time. Just as one cultivates the habit of telling lies, one can as well cultivate the habit of being sincere. A sincere wife is admired so also a sincere husband. The important thing is for the man/woman to realize that the partner is honest. Such a partner surely has the confidence of his/her spouse including that of the entire family members. He/she can vouch for the partner even in her absence against any accusation. Assuming a young wife breaks the husband’s most cherished glass cup and knows that the husband would surely be angry with her. The best action is not to hide the pieces and pretend as if nothing happened. She is not even to wait until the husband queries her since she knows the truth would surface in no distant time. The secret is for her to device a way and study the husband’s mood to communicate. The same applies when she needs money. Rather than pilfer her husband’s money, the in-thing is to discover the best times for her to get the better of the man. That is part of marriage, little things that matter. Unfortunately though, some husbands are very tough and impenetrable. A woman described her husband as “iron”. I appeal to such “iron” husbands to soften a little for the sake of love. “Iron” husbands can make women to coat themselves and become resistant to their toughness. The resultant effect would be that “iron” jams “iron” resulting to insincerity and mistrust. But when a man plays the fool sometimes for the sake of love, the woman in turn makes herself his fool. But the man who claims he knows everything and plays the hard man always is often at a loss. To both husband and wife, remember, Christ is “the way, the truth and the life” (cf. John 14: 6). And he commands, “If you remain in my word, you will truly be my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8: 32).
To be contd.