In A Lighter Mood: What Is An Ideal Marriage?

by Ephraim Adinlofu

Women generally like hearing sweet things, always! If you tell most women the truth and the truth is not sweet, they hardly accept it or were they to accept, they do it in most cases, grudgingly. Tell most of them crude lies but embellish it with honey, they succumb easily and by the time they discovered it was a lie that walks on four legs, it’s already too late and they feel hurt. That is why God commanded men to “ follow women with understanding”. In the cause of studying and understanding relationships, I have often told ladies to go for defined relationship. What the heck do I mean? Well, If a man approaches you and says he wants a relationship with you, tell the man to define that relationship and its nature.

By his definition, you will know whether he rightly fits. While the man is sweet talking bla, bla, bla, make sure – as the behold – that you are looking straight into the eyes of your beholder. Don’t look down, as most of our African ladies do. They often look down as if they are searching for a lost pin dropped in a hay sack. By doing that, most ladies exhibit shyness and lack of confidence. You should learn to look straight into the eyes of your beholder. Eyeballs for eyeballs. The English people are experts in that act: they are natural psychologists! They look straight into your eyes when they are talking to you. It is one method often used by them to get the truth and lies out of humans.

I have also – by chanced meetings – cautioned some ladies by advising that love is not what people say but what they do as expression of that love. Now, because an average lady likes hearing sweet things, a ‘masked’ man may consistently mouth to her: “I love you, I love you”, because that is what he knows she wants to hear but beneath those statements, is a variant of Josep Fritzl: a satanic demon, masking and continually denying his true self, stalking, stealthily waiting in the wings, and looking out for an easy but vulnerable prey to control, bully, dominate, and sexually abuse or even kill without any modicum of conscience. Josep Fritzl, if we remembered, is the 73 year old Austrian sex maniac who incestuously sired 7 children from his own daughter, Elisabeth, whom she had held captive in an underground ‘dungeon’ for 24 years and continually raped and, by her own account which she uniquely kept tab of, 3000 times.

As some of us wander and wonder about life, I have come across men and women who married or want to marry, not out of love and companionship, but out of the pressing need to have children only. Just children! They have no paternal or maternal instinct. And, in the process of going for that which they have defined and held in their heads, they go into wrong relationships. Why, because ab initio, they – out of desperation to get hooked and have kids – did not properly defined the relationship to the partner they had chosen to sire children with. They, perhaps got their partner by telling him or her sweet things just to get a hold. They want to have children with you perhaps because they like you. There is no love, affection or the spirit of companionship. This is part of the bane in some other marriages. I have also seen those who married or want to marry for companionship only with no love. Some Nigerian men in their quest and desire to live like the Corinthians of old, call it, “Man no be wood”, the feminist counterpoint of which is, “woman no be wood” too. For a companionship to sustain itself, there ought to be some element of affection.

Typical good examples are found in widows, widowers, and divorced persons. These are people who had once loved someone dearly but the loved one is either deceased or, has left the marriage for whatever reason. They have had children, which is a fulfilled and one fundamental aspect and function of marriage, but only needed companions to assuage their nerves and maintain body chemistry. In those days, the widow would have gone into what in African traditional system of marriage, was called “Marriage by levirate” or in Igbo traditional parlance, “Igbulu-nanzo or Igbu-nanzo”. This is an institutionalised practice, which allows a widow to remain in her deceased husband‘s “compound family” or lineage by remarrying into that lineage. She either remarries one of her unmarried late husband’s brother or, into one of her married late husband‘s brother‘s family unit. Some wives who have established good rapport and are of good behaviour in the family are not let go just like that to go and remarry elsewhere. Nobody likes to let go, a kind, loving and a trusted human being. They are easily remarried through this ritual process of “Igbu-nanzo”, while the badly behaved ones are often allowed to go if they choose to.

But in modern times and understandably too, most widows even though they are still permitted to choose another husband from their late husband‘s extended family units, want to choose a companion outside, especially where she is no longer interested in bearing more children; or perhaps, she might have also, been treated badly by members of her late husband’s family. The principles which seem to interplay at this point of choice in this dicey game of the hearts are, namely, likeness, affection, and infatuation. Love may play little or no role. However, most submissions in this piece should not be read and understood in the absolute. In other wards, that a widow or a widower decided to go for companionship does not mean s/he will not get a loved one.

I have also seen those who marry out of love for each other but with the absence of the feelings of companionship and procreation. What do I mean? Here, if I may use research terminologies, the “sufficient condition” or variable for marriage is love while companionship and procreation are just “necessary conditions”. The “necessary conditions” are not fundamental. Put differently, the couples love themselves to pieces to the extent that companionship and procreation are not strong enough to impact on their love or cause distractions. And that is why they are called necessary variables. Is this possible in real life? Go out and search, you will see them. In fact, in this type of relationship, when a child comes in, the couples regard it as an ‘accident’ which has come to destabilise their love. If at that point, the relationship is not properly handled, friction creeps in and begins to build up. One partner may even commit suicide and this is because that love, which is perceived headed for ‘perfection’ by the duo, is beginning to suffer diversion or divided attention. Now, are these couples selfish? That is a million naira question.

If there is any aspect in human study which is funny and deeply misunderstood by researchers, it is the world of human relationships, especially that between man and woman. Human relationship is deep, especially in the advanced western world that a multifaceted theoretical approach is recommended in dealing with and understanding it. And that is why every culture has its institutionalised ways of dealing with it. The English way is virtually at cross purpose with most African ways, thus and in most cases, the understandable and sometimes misunderstood frictions in some if not in most made-in-Africa and Asian made marriages which had later, because of the search for greener pastures, found themselves in the advanced countries and have collapsed, over what I often call vanity and vaingloriousness. At the point of contact between two cultures, there is no doubt that culture conflicts and clash have always erupted. These historical contacts have thrown up conflicting and contradictory behavio

ur patterns in humans, thus the emergence of cultural schizophrenia.

Examples to buttress my point on cultural differences are the culture of laughter and the concept of unmarried but “live-in-partners.” What makes English people laugh hardly moves me an inch talk less of making me grin. Why? Because, culturally, their laughter is not our laughter. I only join in their laughter because I don’t want to appear odd. I however like their act of smiling, which is one good I have copied effortlessly from them. I often give it to them and whenever I do, I do it so bewitchingly. Smiles are good but most English smiles have different shades of meaning beneath them. Again, what do I mean? An average English man smiles at you but goes behind to stab you so mercilessly that by the time you realised who “done it,” you have been thrown off balance: shocked. The shock might even lead you to apply for a stress leave. I therefore take most of their smiles with a pinch of salt. But overall, smiling, just like laughter is good for one’s health. It makes us appear more human, humane, likeable and lovable. Genuine smiles especially, are a source of spiritual succour.

“Live-in-partners” is another western practice that is viewed in most African traditions as an anathema. It is a form of relationship in which a man and a woman have accepted to live together with no strings attached and have in most cases, agreed to have children. By western standard and praxis, it is a relationship in which couples have literally prophesized that because of their differences – if they are to get married – the marriage will collapse. And when it collapses and in most cases, it does, it becomes a self fulfilled prophesy.

It is however, regarded as an act of abomination in most African communities or {Alu} in Igbo terminology for a lady to move into a man’s house and start procreating when the man has not traditionally paid her bride wealth, often wrongly called pride price. In most too, such normative practice in the advanced western countries, is seen as a lazy man’s approach to marriage. The man is perceived as a coward who is running away from sufficiently taking over his responsibility.

I think it was an English writer who once wrote that the world is like a book and that those who don’t travel read only but a page. This is aptly true when it comes to understanding different cultures and belief systems in matters of relationships. And that was why anthropologists introduced the concept of “culture shock”. When the British Home office advised migrants that if they cannot live according to British norms, values and ways of life, they should pack their bags and baggage and go back to their country. What the office is indirectly or if you like, directly telling migrants is that if they cannot absorb and internalised what they {the migrants} have observed as British “culture shocks” and taboos, they should leave.

In all this rigmarole, I have tried to make some valid and verifiable points and send messages across. I’ll now turn to the crucial question, which is: What is an ideal marriage? An ideal marriage is a marriage that is so perfect and has no problems at all. It is an “admirable but impracticable” marraige. It is a utopia which does not exist in reality but only as a phantasm in the imagination of the thinker. Nothing ideal exist in real life. Ideal capitalism, socialism, and communism do not exist. If an ideal capitalism exist, we wouldn’t have had this present economic crunch. Whatever we see, except we refine and redesign it, that is what we get. That is why God said HE is a spirit and that if you want to worship HIM, you should do so in truth and in spirit. You cannot see God and live, you will die. God is too perfect to be seen. If you know where Moses was buried, go wake him up from his grave and ask him! He only saw the shadow of God and almost went into panic attack. He was overwhelmed by shock that he literally went dump, and that glory, that he saw the shadow of God, only but shone on his face.

Ladies, grow up, you can never get an ideal man! Men, wake up from your slumber, you too can never ever get an ideal woman. If you are looking for one before you marry and consummate your marriage, you might as well wait forever or forget the idea of getting married. Don’t go into it and create unnecessary heartbreaks. In practical realism, what then is an ideal marriage? My candid opinion is that a man and a woman should make a list of what traits they want in a partner, carry it in their head and “memory stick” and look for a partner with sufficient approximations of those traits.

Second, if you are already married and you later found out that your choice was a mistake, stay there, don’t go anywhere. Don’t run! Please stay there. Sit down and find out what your partner lacks and try to refurbish him or her to your ideal practicable standard. Do not succumb easily to divorce, most importantly whereupon, children have been involved. It may not be easy, especially where one of the partners is strong-headed and unyielding. To non-Christians, I‘ll say keep trying. But to non-hypocritical practicing Christians, I’d always written thus: a family that prays together, stays together. Prayers help to reduce tension and smoothen relationships. Marriage is not money, money, money, money, money or buy, buy, buy. No, it is more than that. An ideal marriage in praxis therefore, is a functional marriage in which a married couple, having recognised their shortcomings, is working together to see to the success of their marriage. Put differently, any marriage – which at present is working – is ideal. I rest my case.

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AYIMAN February 19, 2010 - 10:47 am

he spoke your mind you said.

Dynmma May 27, 2009 - 3:13 am

Food for thought!

Reply May 25, 2009 - 5:32 am

Thanks and my Regards to all commentators. May the good Lord continue to protect and guide all of us. Amen, Ese and Ashi’e.

Mercy May 22, 2009 - 6:15 pm

I enjoyed this article as I have always enjoyed Ephraim’s writings on this forum but then he has missed the fact that the problem is not just with the ladies. Men in the West – Europe and America tend to want to eat their cake and have it! When it comes to monetary issues they remember that that both have to contribute but then they continue to act as if they still live in their villages. What selfishness!

Ify May 22, 2009 - 5:04 pm

You couldn’t have said it better.

Rosie May 22, 2009 - 1:00 pm

Good stuff.

Daniel May 22, 2009 - 10:18 am

Uncle Ephraim (hope you don’t mind the ‘Uncle’),

Am really impressed by your write up and how i wish it could be made available to the public especially to the Ladies out there cos they bear the burden more than the men. Am about going into a Relationship soon and i must say this article has given me a different view about what to look for and how to go about relationship. I believe i’ll make a better choice.

Keep it up Sir.


tunde sabeet May 21, 2009 - 5:19 pm

i love this,u just spoke my mind bros!


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