Re-imagining marriage and its original values

Core to thriving relationships is love. This love must embrace values such as faithfulness, trust, and honesty. PHOTO/internet

What you need to know:

With many changes having taken place in the world over the last few decades, the family unit has endured lots of tests, leading to a new definition of marriage for some people.

Being social beings, relationships play a key role in our socio-cultural lives. Relationships provide an opportunity for a deep connection between a man and woman that may lead to marriage. Being the core unit of family, marriage provides parent-parent and child-parent association that is essential for the growth of society.

With many changes having taken place in the world over the last few decades, the family unit has endured lots of tests, leading to a new definition of marriage for some people.

Today, family dysfunctions define many families; from single parenthood, blended families to separations and abuse. Little seems to be celebrated about families. Many who have been wounded or seen their friends being hurt in relationships find it difficult to believe in the beauty of marriage. So, before we re-imagine what marriage needs to be, what is the state of marriage today? What defines today’s marriage and family?

Recently, my wife and I met a woman in her 30s who has two children from two different men. Sadly, her first child was conceived out of an intimate union with a step father who abused her when the mother was away. When she told the mother, she chose to stand with her husband.

Heart broken and being labelled a ‘malaya’ meaning harlot, she left home to live with an aunt. While there, she conceived a second child with a married man, in a relationship arranged by the auntie.

This second man abused her physically, leaving her for the dead. The cause of the fight was the discovery that this man had another wife and several other women he moved around with. When confronted, he admitted and said, “Your auntie knows everything. She wanted to get rid of you, so, I am your saviour.” Knowing that the police were after him, the man escaped to a different town, never to be seen again.

Talk about misfortune. This woman had seen it all. She was wounded and hated men with a passion. And who can blame her? Her mind and reasoning had been poisoned against men and the institution called marriage. What went wrong? Was this only due to bad choices on her part?

Before you answer, let me mention that she trusted family relationships, but the step father took advantage of her and abused her. Her own mother treated her as an outcast. I am of the feeling that the mother could have saved her daughter had she taken time to listen and seek medical advice. But, she chose her man above her daughter.

In addition, believing in her auntie, she took a man she believed she would create a good future with. But, this man turned out to be an abuser of women.

Cultural angle

From when we are born and go through initiation, enter marriage, get children, to when we die, society plays a key role in these stages. Our relationships and cultures, to a great extent determine how we process information, make choices, and handle conflict.

Modern era angle

With the coming of education, technology and entertainment, the perspectives we have about key issues change. Over the years, technology has to a great extent influenced behaviour as it provides the much needed entertainment. New values have and continue to be adopted that slowly change the way we relate and deal with information and issues that arise.

The big question is; who is setting the pace when it comes to acquisition of values in the home? So, how do we re-imagine marriage as initially intended by God?

Sacrificial love

Marital relationships must be defined by sacrificial love. Core to thriving relationships is love. This love must embrace values such as faithfulness, trust, and honesty. What we see is what we get. Because love is a word that has been abused and misused. Its meaning based on the perception by today’s generation lacks the depth of enduring character and expression.

Most believe that the only goal of marriage is sexual desire or lust. Instead, love must be a choice we make to stand by someone at all times. Our decision is not based on what we receive from them. That is why couples vow to stick in the relationship in diverse circumstances. This is sacrifice.

Companionship

Relationships flourish when they are built on the foundation of friendship. Friendship is about mutual relatability. Great friends build an accountable climate with either spouse that help remove suspicions and mistrust. Many relationships have died because of assumptions, mistrust, and suspicions. Building a healthy environment will require emotional intelligence. This is our ability to know each other well so that we can know how we can ride on their emotions for the good of the relationship.

Value

We show value by showing interests in what concerns our partner. It is about my partner and I bringing support, affirmation, correction, and constructive feedback to each other. This is what investing in each other means.

The future is only possible where a couple not only sees and acknowledges the values they see, but when they also commit to investing in each other.

The writer is a senior pastor and relationship expert

Adapted from the Daily Nation

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