This undoubtedly has been one of the recent debates among married couples and sometimes observers. While some believe it should be between the two people in the agreement according to them, any addition to this number is interference and can cause disruption in the marriage.
Others believe marriage cannot be complete without the inclusion of the two major stakeholders, the family. They believe what some may term interference is actually an intervention.
This school of taught believes no marriage can stand in isolation and even buttress their point with the analogy that when two people sign a contractual agreement at law they are required to each have witnesses and seek professional legal advice before putting pen to paper. They conclude by saying in marriage agreement the parents are the best witness and the best solicitors to seek for advice.
Anyway one choose to look at it both sides have good arguments to support their assertion but to fully understand the dynamics at play one has to go beyond marriage itself to find the source of this divide. We are talking about Traditional and Christian marriages, a tale of two belief system, one predicated on culture while the other is predicated on religion.
The issue of culture and religion are a great concern in marriages today especially with the conversion of many to Christianity two individuals who are married might have two different views to issues and solutions in the house.
While culture or tradition defends a standard that has been tested with full-proof, Christianity, as a religion, believes in faith and couples are expected to learn from mistakes on-the-go while praying and fasting. Many pastors have tried to take over some of the roles of families, parents by instructing the couples who attend their churches to come for counselling when they have an issue but from experience, this hasn’t turned out as intended.
The incidence of domestic violence or other abuse have been on the increase and couples have been rebuked by pastors, whom they see as their spiritual fathers. The couples go home, committed to change but then they come back over the same issue. Whereas families, parents have recorded better success.
Parents and siblings do not need couples to come to them and confess they have a problem in their marriage, they tell couples the problem and already have a series of solutions. Even when couples deny, parents and siblings insist there is a problem and they are always right to the last detail no matter how much you try to cover up.
Your parents have known you all your life, they brought you into the world and know the real you. Not the ‘YOU’ that go to Church early, greet everyone, assist in ushering other members in, sweep the floor, pay tithe, pay offering, smile a lot, most times to impress the pastor and it works but you can’t hoodwink your parents or siblings, they know the real ‘YOU’.
Families have a resolution mechanism to settle marital issues which the Church does not have beyond the pastor and him asking you to pray. Most sessions with pastors end up with both couples getting blamed for allowing the devil to penetrate the walls of their marriage and the golden solution usually is – more prayers and fasting. This is assuming every issue has to do with spirituality whereas the majority of marital issues are practical and can be solved practically else merry-go-round would be the case.
We have had situations where the solution proffered by a pastor is doesn’t go beyond couples deliverance whereas the practical solution, which the families quite understand, could be financial and parents and siblings rally round to provide support that totally diminished the problem. Many have complained that their pastor and Church declined assistance the moment they mentioned money, choosing to offer prayers for financial breakthrough instead of actually offering financial assistance.
It is actually possible to sit before a pastor and lie but very unlikely to succeed in lying to one’s mother – will virtually sleepover in the son or daughter’s house until she gets to the bottom of her suspicion.
When they eventually find what has been well hidden from mere mortals, including the Church and pastors, they escalate it within the family by involving every family stakeholder from both sides, husband and wife.
You find a situation where the guilty party is meant to own up to their wrong and not just apologise to their spouse but to the entire family for wasting their time over this “childish behaviour”. The truth is no matter how old you are, you can never be too old to be rebuked, pull by the ears, slapped some sense into, and asked to kneel down by uncles, eldest siblings, father or mother, especially when it’s a combined effort with you at the middle like a cockroach in a court of chickens.
So many people still find the idea of opening up nucleus family secrets to a total stranger but will speak freely with family members hence, many still run back home to confide in sweet mother, their first friend and ally in this world.
The role of the family in marriages can never be compared or substituted by any other institutions because starting a new family does not mean an end to the old one but it is an extension, and growth of the old one, which is why each family head is represented at the large family meetings. No education, no faith, no marriage counselor can replace a fatherly or motherly advice in a home. They are there when you give birth, they are there when you don’t have and they are there to bring down your shoulders of pride when you think you have grown too big.