- Post 12 November 2007
- Last Updated on 23 April 2008
- By Chris Odetunde
“Women marry men hoping they will change. Men marry women hoping they will not. So each is inevitably disappointed.” – Albert Einstein.
Up till man started tweaking marriage, marriage was universally, biblically and Quranically accepted as a union between a person of the opposite sex as husband or wife in a consensual and contractual relationship recognized by law. In Genesis, we are provided the first account of the first union or marriage between one Adam and one Eve in the Garden of Eden and given the ingredients necessary for a good union.
Legally defined, marriage is a contract made in due form of law, by which a free man and a free woman reciprocally consent to live with each other during their joint lives. The terms freeman and freewoman in this definition are meant to be not only that they are free and not slaves, but that they are clear of all encumbrances to a lawful marriage. To make a valid marriage, the parties must be willing to contract, capable of contracting, marriage must for legal reasons and not a set up for criminal acts and marriage must have actually contracted.
The parties must be willing to contract. Those persons such as idiots, lunatics, and infants; males under the age of fourteen, and females under the age of twelve in marriage contract, have no legal capacity in point of intellect, to make a contract, and cannot, therefore, legally marry. In some countries such as the United States of America minors are allowed to legally marry if they have the consent of their parents or guardians.
Wedding is the actual mechanism of joining a man and a woman together in matrimony or it is the ceremony together with the associated celebrations. Unfortunately, many couples are fixated on the mechanics of marriage rather than what happened the day after the wedding. The day after is the best strategy for a lasting marriage. I was once asked to render my own advice to the young couple while I was lecturing in Daytona Beach Florida. The title of my speech was, “The day After.” The topic was specially chosen for the sole purpose of letting the young couple know that the wedding dress, the cake, the fine cosine, the showing off to friends who thought we’ll never be married are not as important as the day after the wedding. That every marriage encounters spotty trouble periods but how one manages the marriage troubles defines if a marriage will survive. I wanted the couple to focus on how they would solve their problems when everyone would have left after eating, after taking beautiful photographs, and after flushing the food and wine into the toilet. Have you thought of how you’ll best handle your own marital problems because I know all relations have mountains to climb?
Under any law of man or the almighty, marriage is supposed to be the highest calling. It is therefore surprising that men and women approach marriage in a simplistic manner. No General goes to war without preparation. We were made to understand that Adam had no choice of who his helper or wife was. Adam was never given a choice of checking if Eve was beautiful, tall, short, educated, black, brown or white yet, the first couple exhibited unity and love for each other. The only problem we were made to understand existed between them was during the temptation by the devil when Adam placed on the blames on Eve. God simply gave an opportunity and Adam took it. Moreover, Adam also resolved their problems without resorting to divorce.
Marriages established in Africa and Asia replicated what marriage of Adam and Eve depicted. Most parents understanding the nature of their families and their children go out of their ways to find compatible partners for their children. The parents had no hindsight of DNA but relied on historical perspective of their environment to know who better fitted their children’s needs physically and emotionally. Most of such marriages survived because they were established and enabled by and nurtured by families. As soon as the children transmuted to America and Europe, divorce became so fashionable, financial strength of one partner against the other was used as the standard by which marriages survived or failed and couples have no capacity to tolerate each other as our parents did.
Marriage relationship in Africa was a contract between a man and a woman but supported and relationship established more like between the family of the wife and the husband. When the usual marriage problems manifest themselves, the elders are always available to shed light on how to resolve the issues. In the past, families were able to see through issues with clear vision. They apportion blames, in a very loving way, to whoever of the couple erred. This was when poverty was not pervasive in Africa. These days, elders measure who out of the couples is richer and then decide guilt or innocence. Even at that, marriages between two, say Nigerians, is likely to survive in Nigeria than outside of Nigeria except if such marriage is anchored on the almighty. This is because, outside of Nigeria, marriage has been so commercialized that money and material wealth determine survivability. There are also attorneys that can hardly wait to get their fingers on the family's wealth so their advice is to get couples to divorce. Even it does not help to go to most marriage counselors because most of them have been divorced more than two times.
Marriage is the most difficult relationship that has ever been existed, yet could be the best institution that has even been established. Marriage is difficult because it involves two people of diverse background, upbringing, opinions and environment and experience. It involves directly or indirectly some jointly interested persons (family and friends) who may obfuscation the prevailing facts of a troubled marriage for their own personal gains. Marriage relationship is also more convoluted because there are family interconnectedness (good or bad) and friends who are doing everything not to loose their competitive advantages or whose marriages might be going south but hidden from the prying eye of the public.
Marriage can be the best institution because it teaches management in its rudimentary form because it helps couples manage their finances, grow children the way the almighty wants them with loving discipline even when couples did not experience the best of childhood or best of their parent’s marriage life.
Actually, more marriages might survive if partners realize that: 1) All marriages, no matter how perfect they look from outside, are imperfect on the inside because union between imperfect people cannot be perfect except by divine intervention; 2) If partners can associate with people that are interested in growing a wholesome relationship in spite of the imperfection, their marriage will weather the storm; 3) There is always light at the end of the tunnel and better situations comes after the worse wind has passed; and 4) We don’t see ourselves as getting married to someone we can live with but someone we cannot live without, a best friend. Some of us look for a perfect person when we know that we are also not perfect.
Remember that successful marriages are predicated upon six fundamental pillars: 1) Finding the right person; 2) Being the right person; 3) Working together in spite of imperfections; 4) Sharing each other’s successes and failures. The world is a war front so couple need to be each other allies; 5) Making sure that their marriage is not pivoted on materialism; and most importantly 6) Laughing with and at each other.
Most people in Diaspora should struggle to see their marriage work because the failure of any marriage provides a potential for the children to misbehave and can lead the children to the big house prepared for likes of Uncle SAM. Responsibilities in any marriage are to love each other even when one of the partners is unlovable, and to bring the best kids in the world. To survive this treacherous world, it is time to identify special friends who you can confide in, pastors you believe in or an Imam who can take your marriage troubles and bring you a cheerful resolution. Marriage partners should always oppose xenophobia and act sensitively rather than gloating and riding roughshod over the feelings of others. For Nigeria to survive as a nation, marriages must survive, children must be brought up right and then given opportunity to know their parent’s cultures and countries of origin. Wishing you all a rough but a surviving and loving marriage!!!