I am having one of those months. A lot of ideas but the inability to type it down. However for the past three days, I have been conversing with a reader who has been having some serious marital issues. Like I have told her and everyone, I am NOT qualified in the slightest to give professional advice on ANYTHING. (Newly Married myself and still trying to balance my innate feminist nature of “I will never be controlled’ to becoming a submissive African wife. It is a daily struggle). I guess my reader just wanted someone to talk to, that was a stranger.
This is one of the problems in Nigeria (amongst many). Couples don’t have anywhere to turn when they are facing crisis. True, some turn to their parents or siblings, but in more cases than not, it makes the situation worse. A Scenario- A man goes to complain to his mother about the character of his wife. Even if the mother is one of the sensible ones and does not take sides, there is always going to be that resentment from the wife’s end that so you went to report me to your mother and vice versa, so It is a No-Win situation. I believe that the saying “The wife is the one that makes or breaks a home” is a tremendous and unfair burden placed on married women. It irks me that a failure of a marriage is on the woman because they are magically expected to do whatever it takes to make a marriage work, even if it involves loosing herself in the process. Whatever happened to personal responsibility? What is the man’s role in making sure that a marriage does not fail? I remembered a married friend once said “A husband’s role is to provide. A wife’s role is everything else”.
Then there is the saying “Do not bring a third-party into your marriage’. While it is true in many situations, there are issues that couples cannot figure out themselves. Sometimes, confiding in a third-party would be helpful. Some people confide in their pastors or their imams. My major problem with these set of people is that they usually give the spouse(usually the wife) the P and the E solution. PRAY AND ENDURE. That’s it. A wife is expected to pray that things get better and endure it till it does. Now, I have no problems with prayers, but just like no amount of prayers would help you pass an exam that you didn’t prepare for. No amount of prayers will help you rescue a marriage that You don’t work on. It is simple logic. I know women who stay in unhappy marriages hoping that they would one day change their husbands. My personal belief. You CAN’T change people. People change themselves. You either accept a person, warts and all or you don’t. That’s my own opinion. As for the enduring, why do people assume that women have an unending tank of enduring capacity. Why do people think that it is better for a woman to stay in an unhappy loveless marriage than try to make herself happy? I am no advocate for divorce, but I don’t think enduring helps anyone except making the woman a shadow of her former self. Likewise the man, why would a man want to stay in a marriage when the lights are fading? Most times, both parties want to work out their issues, but they don’t know where to turn. That’s where a marriage counselor comes in.
Marriage Counseling is not a new concept and emerged in Germany in the 1920s. Now most mosques and churches hold marriage counseling classes before a marriage, but after it is done, most revert to the P and E solution (I stand to be corrected). Sometimes, it is good to have a stranger specially trained in marital issues to come save the day. Sometimes, it is good to have someone to vent to, that would not take sides, tell you to endure or tell you that the anger you feel towards your spouse is a sin. Sadly, we have very few to none in Nigeria. There are a lot of divorce cases pending down in the High Court (with the most flimsy reasons) that may have been averted if there was some form of marriage counselors. (I say ‘May’ because there are a lot of marriage counselors in The U.S and their divorce rates are still high, so it is not fool-proof). But I believe that it is something we sorely lack and would be more useful in helping couples work out their issues, than family meetings and P and E solution!
This is simply my opinion. I would love to hear from my readers their views on the issue. Am I wrong in my views about the impact of the Pastors and the Imams? can family help instead of counselors? or should couples learn to fix themselves by themselves all the time? Drop a Line.