As October 1 draws near

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




Communication gaps in marriage result from so many factors. Fada Atado maintained, “Some do not know how to communicate, others are too busy to communicate, or are afraid to reach out to each other”. He went further to describe communication drought in marriage this way, “When you were courting or newly married, you had plenty time for each other. You played ludo game or cards together; you took evening walk or evening drive together; you watched television or video together; you sat on the rug and rolled over each other; at times you backed each other; at times you sat on the floor and your partner sat in between your legs” (Atado, J. C., Marriage Maintenance, October 2005, pp 81-83). Unfortunately these funs are allowed to fade in some marriages. Some either become too formal in their relationship or rarely make out time for each other. WHY?


Unavailability: Unavailability leads to in-communication in marriage. In describing the matter and form of the sacrament of marriage, Thomas Pazhayampallil explains, “We can say that the matter of the sacrament is the mutual offer of themselves as husband and wife made in words or in signs. The form is the mutual acceptance of the same, expressed in similar manner” (Pazhayampallil, T., Pastoral Guide, Vol. 2, p. 817). Some couples today lack the capacity to mutually offer themselves to each other. When a partner cannot offer himself/herself to the other in marriage, his time and attention, he/she becomes unavailable. A spouse becomes unavailable when he/she keeps secrets from his/her partner. A spouse becomes unavailable when he/she becomes selfish. The man for instance, would always want his interest to come first. Anything that pertains to the wife and her own family is always inferior and deserves less attention. When the man’s mother is sick, for example, the entire household is restless. When he plans to visit his parents, it is done with commitment and compulsion. His relatives come into the house and go at will, but when it affects the wife, it raises eye brows. The woman cannot think of visiting her old parents not to talk of asking him to escort her home. A spouse becomes unavailable when he/she places economic, political or professional interest above the partner. A spouse becomes unavailable when he/she cannot put himself in the shoes of the partner. This breeds in-communication.


Social/ Occupational Hazard: Some men are always on the run; running to catch up with one business meeting, political meeting, social gathering or the other. Such men make themselves completely strange to their wives. For instance, a man can be preoccupied with office matters from Mondays through Fridays, on Saturdays he either receives emergency calls regarding his work or hosts/attends one meeting or wedding ceremony, on Sundays he manages to go to church together with the family while he zooms off immediately for meetings that last till late evenings when he comes back to prepare for another week of compact office work. Such a person is unavailable. He doesn’t communicate with the wife. He barely knows his home. He gradually severs affection with his marriage partner. It takes a gradual process but makes the marriage relationship grow weak.


Distraction: “No servant can be the slave of two masters; he will either hate the first and love the second, or be attached to the first and despise the second” (Matt. 16:13). This is the warning from Christ which pointed to the need for commitment and concentration. One major factor that threatens the marriage bond is distraction. When a man/woman becomes distracted, he/she loses not only his/her head but heart as well. Once a person loses concentration he/she becomes less available and absent minded from the home. He gives more of his substantial attention to his new found love. He/she communicates more with the new relationship. For instance, when a man starts a new relationship outside the marriage, he becomes distracted. He commits his energy into it. It affects his level of communication with the wife. A spouse can also be distracted by other factors that make him/her give less attention to the partner. Some become addicted to television – movies, soccer, wrestling, etc. Some are addicted to electronic gadgets and computers, others still are addicted to their telephones that they are always chatting with friends at the expense of their real home.


Guilt: The bible captured Adam and Eve after having eaten the forbidden fruit thus, “The man and the wife heard the sound of Yahweh God among the trees of the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from Yahweh God among the trees of the garden” (Gen. 3:8). For instance, the best way to know when a child has committed any offence in the absence of his parents is the child’s reaction on their return. Let us use the example of a child who breaks the dad’s glass cup. When other children rush to herald the parents’ arrival, such child usually hides. He/she is afraid of the consequences of his/her action. This is the danger of guilt. When a spouse becomes culpable of the offence of insincerity or infidelity in marriage, he/she like the child has broken the marriage glass cup. He/she adopts one of two measures: intimidation or shyness. Intimidation is a way of defense mechanism while shyness is an internal feeling of guilt. Any couple who know each other so well will always find out from the partner when something has gone awry. The guilty person normally becomes incommunicable. He/she loses concentration. He hides his face, he is afraid of the partner’s gaze. He develops a divided attention. He harbours a sense of guilt. He lacks the courage to face the partner. He feels shy. He simply tries to hide like Adam and Eve.


Lack of Self Hygiene: One silent killer in human relationship is lack of personal hygiene. No man for instance, likes to have a dirty wife. No woman also appreciates a smelling husband. Unfortunately, some persons do not place enough emphasis on their hygiene. Some men/women dress very shabbily, exhibit body ordour, mouth ordour, soak in sweat, etc without making adequate efforts to sanitize themselves. These can make such persons become disgusting and repulsive to their partners. Unfortunately, some men/women wouldn’t be courageous enough to voice out how uncomfortable they are as a result of their partner’s inhygiene. All they do is to adopt avoidance approach. They make themselves tactically unavailable. They fear close contacts, give excuses and shrink from even sexual intercourse because of the discomforting factors. A man once told me that the wife has a nasty body ordour that repels him from her but that he didn’t know how to communicate to her. Another woman said she had been so worried by the level of sweat that the husband emitted, that she got soaked each time she was with him. But the more she tried to let him know of it to see what could be done, he became infuriated. This can lead to loss of proper communication in marriage.  Lack of self hygiene is a threat to healthy conjugal relationship.


Habit: Some persons are by nature reserved. They prefer to be on their own and do not have time to reach out to others. Such exists in marriage. Introverts are habitually withdrawn. Not only that they do not talk, they can’t also create warmth in their relationship. They are not moved by jokes and have no regard for social gatherings. Such persons are afraid to share their feelings, discuss their plans, talk about their fears and anxieties with their husband/wife not because of any form of guilt but because it is their nature. They seem to lack the confidence to be together for a  long time with another.




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