…As marriages come under attack
Marriage breakups – some of them on a brutal note – have been generating a buzz across the country of late. And many people are getting worried and voicing out their concerns.
Stakeholders are worried about the growing trend, as victims of marriage break-ups cut across cultures and strata of the society.
From Warri to Wurno, from Uyo to Oyo, the marriage institution is under severe attacks. Couples who at some point signed up for lasting relationships with their spouses are falling inexplicably apart, some ending their once blissful unions tragically.
In Lagos, for example, Remi and Bukola (not their real names) are mulling quitting their five-year marriage. Remi – the husband – Daily Sun gathered, lost his job about two years ago and has had no stable job. Consequently, he has not been able to cater appropriately for his family.
Now, Remi is alleging that his plight spurs his wife to invent spurious excuses to break their relationship. The correspondent learnt that he had even been accusing her of infidelity.
“My wife has left home, abandoning our daughter,” he told a friend. “At the moment, I don’t know where she is. She no longer takes my calls. She told those who spoke to her that she was leaving. Perhaps this is the chance she has been waiting for.”
Similarly, in the past five years, Janet and Osaze’s marriage has been facing challenges. They got married in 2007 and have two kids. Since Janet relocated to Benin City where she picked up a job with the state civil service, their marriage has not been the same again.
Shortly after Janet moved to Benin, Osaze lost his job. Things began to take a dramatic turn. Everything he tried his hands on yielded little or nothing.
Osaze says since his predicament began, his wife has been unsparing in her dealings with him; that she mindlessly demands money even when she knows that he has no tangible thing he is doing. He insists Janet’s income is big enough to take care of her and the kids.
But Janet insists that her husband simply abandoned her and the children. She says that Osaze has been starving them of funds and food, alleging that he spends his income on other women while threatening that she might seek divorce.
“Osaze is a man who does not provide for his family. The good book says if a man does not provide for his family, he is no less than a rebel. He does not care about what happens to his children. He does not provide money for their school; he does not contribute a dime to their feeding. He simply doesn’t care.
“If only I had listened to my mother and siblings, I might not have been in this problem,” she told Daily Sun.
But while some couples are on one another’s jugular, some are seeing their marriages to a tragic end. Take the case of the Lagos lawyer, Otike-Odibi, who allegedly killed by her husband Udeme, in their home in Sangotedo area of the city recently, chopped off his penis and even attempting to take her own life too.
This is coming on the heels of the alleged murder of Zainab Nielsen, 37, and her daughter Petra, by her husband, Peter Nielsen, a Danish national in their home on Banana Island, Ikoyi, Lagos.
Just when Lagos residents were coming to terms with this killing spree, it emerged that a spare parts dealer in Oshodi, Isaiah Chukwu, 35, had allegedly knifed his lover, Joy, 26, to death. He allegedly stuffed her body in a sack and was already dragging it away for disposal early in the morning when he was accosted and caught. Joy is an addition to the growing list of victims of brutal marital breakups.
Observers believe that incidents of divorce, domestic violence, and killing of spouses are ills that are unrelentlessly attacking the very roots of the marriage institution and threatening to obliterate its eternal values.
Dr. Charles Umeh, a clinical psychologist said: “The growing incidents of divorce being experienced by couples nowadays have nothing to do with economic factors. Long before now, have we not been having economic challenges? Did we not have poor people in the past who were still able to manage their families very well?
“It has to do more with the fact that we are greatly imbibing and allowing ourselves to be acculturated. Couples are allowing themselves to be heavily affected by values from the West. It is becoming so bad now that many married people no longer want to accept their defined roles in the family. Everyone is asserting themselves.
“Now, the result is that we are having clear erosion of values in the same way we have it in the West. Sadly, we are imbibing these eroded values without evaluating them.
“I think that part of the solution is that people should attend marriage therapy sessions before getting into marriage.
“Over the past days, couples who have been having problems with their marriages have been flocking to my marriage therapy. When you ask them a simple question: ‘why do you want to break up,’ amazingly, none of them can tell you why.
“It is for this reason that I strongly recommend this therapy to intending couples. This will enable them to know why they are going into marriage. They should be led to understand whether they are emotionally compatible or not. They will understand what the principles of marriage are. They will be helped to assess themselves to know whether they can live together; they will be led to understand family rules and their individual roles in their relationships.
“In marriage, it doesn’t matter whether the woman earns more money than the husband. These things should be emphasised from the outset. Couples should learn their foundational roles in the family.”
Dr. Umeh was emphatic that the society needed to go back to the basics to re-discover the essence of marriage. He maintained that when people understand their primary responsibilities, they will be able to build a solid foundation for lasting married lives.
“Once these primary roles are understood, couples will build on them. They will learn to tolerate each other. When they understand this, they will not be asking out anytime a little pressure comes. A lot of people are coming out of their marriages when little problems come.”
Prof. Isaq Akintola of the Muslim Right Concern is emphatic that Muslim couples must understand that part of the foundational roles in marriage is that “Prophet Mohamed said a man can marry a woman for four reasons: her beauty, honour, wealth and religion.
“But above that, the foundation virtues every Muslim has to look out for in the life of their spouse to be are piety and the fear of Allah.
“If a man or woman is God-fearing, they have to tolerate one another. Both of them should see themselves as partners. The woman should not dress indecently to entice others. She should not steal her husband’s money.
“Both of them should learn to love, tolerate, care and respect one another. They should learn to avoid checking each other’s phones and text messages. Rather, they should put their reliance on Allah.”
He, however, reflected on some of the reasons that lead to breakups. “If the husband is not doing well at work, there might be a tendency for misunderstanding between him and the wife. But the wife should understand that Rome was not built and destroyed in a day; so she needs to understand her husband.
“On the part of the husband, preference for a particular sex can be a problem. If a man bears all girls and because of that wants a divorce, that is bunkum. Both sexes are gifts from God; they are good,” he said.
Mrs. Maria Ariawhorai is the President, Provincial Marriage Advisory Care (PMAC), a body in the Catholic Archdioceses of Lagos which prepares couples for marriage.
She is bitter that Christian marriages are breaking up because intending couples no longer prepare for married life.
“When you ask intending couples to attend marriage courses, they look for excuses. But if marriage preparation is taken seriously, issues of divorce, which we are experiencing today, will be minimised if not eliminated.
“In the Catholic Archdiocese of Lagos, we have made a case for marriage courses to last for six months before the wedding. But people will not take it.
“In 2007, for instance, an intending couple broke up because of some major differences they noticed. So they went their separate ways. But they later reunited and continued to dialogue. When they overcame their differences, they got married in 2009. That means that if they had married before then, their marriage could have broken down with time.”
She recalled that even nowadays, some marriage registries are organising seminars for intending marriage couples.
She said in doing that, attention must be paid to preparing people for lasting marriage as against getting them ready for the wedding, emphasising that attention should be focused on the youths. She said the foundation of every Christian marriage must be love.
“Couples ought to marry for love. They must find out whether they have a commitment towards the marriage relationship they are about to go into.
“The virtue that ought to be looked out for in marriage is love. If couples have a commitment to their marriage, they will exercise tolerance, patience, mutual trust and mutual understanding. They must show each other sacrificial love. When these virtues are there, gossips and suspicion will not thrive,” she added