Sometime last week, I saw a gory picture of a woman who had been physically abused by her husband because he accused her of sleeping with his father! The woman woke up from her sleep when her husband stamped her on the back with a hot pressing iron. What she thought was a dream was confirmed by several ‘stamps’ of the iron all over her body. The husband kept asking her how many times she slept with the father whilst threatening to kill her.
She got a respite when their son woke up and started crying. The husband had picked the little baby and taken him out of the room. It was when her husband went out with the baby that she managed to creep out of the room. According to her, the last thing she heard one of her neighbours say was that her husband had killed the boy. She opened her eyes to find herself in the hospital.
Reading the stories sounded unreal but the picture of the woman made the truth of the story come alive. I was angry. My anger stemmed from the fact that I have three lovely daughters and I couldn’t imagine anyone treating any of my daughters this way. I thought: “If I were the father of this woman, that man is a dead man.” Again I thought, “But I can’t possibly kill anybody. That will be murder.” I finally found comfort in thinking that I will ensure that the man remains behind bars never to see sunshine the remaining days of his life. The above scenario was what led me into writing this piece.
The choice of who to spend your life with is one of the most important decisions you will ever make. There are so many important decisions but a marriage relationship comes top. This is the case for many reasons: one, a marriage relationship is irreversible. Even when it ends in a divorce, the parties can never be restored to the status they were physically, emotionally and spiritually before they entered the union. To that extent, it can be termed irreversible. The situation is further compounded when the couple already has children. Such children are exposed to the vagaries of situations that could mess them up in life, if adequate care is not taken.
If a marriage relationship is that important, are there roles for parents in ensuring their children don’t flunk this all-important aspect of life? I believe there are. Parents are obligated to provide adequate security – mental, physical, emotional, financial and spiritual for their children. To this end, when it comes to marriage, which has the potential to render all the resources parents may have spent on training their children a waste, their involvement is imperative. The first role is to ensure good education for the children. A good education should not be confused with schooling, which, though equally important, is only part of education. Without proper education, parents are inadvertently preparing their children to fail in marriage. A good education does a couple of things: sharpens the children’s ability to made decisions, enhances their self-esteem and increases their chances of succeeding in future endeavours, marriage inclusive.
Parents should share their personal experiences about decisions they made and the consequences with their children. They should let them know about the good, the bad and the ugly sides of their personal life experiences. These would be of immense benefit to the children. Children that have heart-to-heart discussions with their parents are less likely to make mistakes on the subject matter discussed. At a certain age, it is a good idea for parents to arrange for their children to attend marriage seminars. This should be scheduled early enough. This would better equip them to handle issues when they come up.
For many people, their decision to marry came by diffusion: their peers were marrying, so they decided to marry. The licence they had for marrying was the attainment of a certain age. They went into a marriage and made a mess of it because they lacked the requisite knowledge. People that have never committed to anything in life go into marriage proclaiming love. To avoid this big error, we must teach our children to know that a proclamation of love is a necessary but never a sufficient requirement for marriage.
Still on their roles, parents should get to know who their children are building intimate relationships with in good time. They should be receptive to their children’s friends especially those of the opposite sex. This is all in the effort to get to know them. Parents are in a better position, leveraging on their experience, to determine who is faking in a potential marriage relationship. More importantly, they should take out time to speak to the young man or young woman they see very often with their child. It’s difficult to hide interest. In talking to the young man or woman, parents will be able to establish genuine interest.
Parents should take time to check the family background of their potential daughters-in-law or sons-in-law. Just like in everything involving humans, track record does give a clue to what a man or woman is capable of doing. Checking family backgrounds can give clues to the character of your potential in-laws. In medicine, some ailments (madness, for instance) are said to be familial. Background checks can reveal such ailments and other character flaws early. There’s obviously a familial ailment with our reference case above. A man that accused his wife of sleeping with his father has a serious problem, most likely a genetic problem. Worse still, there’s probably a curse running in the family.
Lastly, parents need to let their children (even married ones) know that they are never alone. They do need that assurance for psychological balance. This would also put a check on their spouses not to maltreat them. There’s no point spending so much in resources (time, money, etc) to train a child and when she is grown, sacrifice her on the altar of indifference.
In my subconscious mind, I could perceive a reader of this article say: “But the Scripture says, “A man shall leave his father and mother and cleave to his wife.”” You’re right but what we’re talking about are preventive measures: making sure the right steps are taken before the need to leave and cleave arises. Did you realize that Abraham, the father of faith, mandated some of his top aides to go get a wife (Rebecca) for his son of promise – Isaac? When it was time for Jacob (Isaac’s son) to get a wife, he went to his uncle (Laban). The children of Israel were specifically warned not to marry the people of the nations they sojourned in. Why? So that they don’t become ensnared by the gods of the people they marry. Samson’s lost his vision because of his association with a strange woman – Delilah. The question that readily comes to mind is: Where did we get the idea that marriage is an exercise in randomness? Obviously it’s not from the Bible.
I have no doubt in my mind that parents have a big role to play in their children’s choice of spouses. To think otherwise is naïve. The Scripture says: “Teach a child in the way that he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it.” One of the critical ways the child should be thought is in being able to make a good choice of spouse.