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The marriage institution

Marriage is a blessed union between two people of the opposite sex. It’s an amalgamation of two people into one unit. They have to seek a blessing to effect a union from the parents. Payment of the bride price to the woman’s parents is highly encouraged by the Lord our God, especially where the would-be bride has maintained her virginity. However, even in the absence of payment of the bride price, as is in some customs, the blessing from parents to the marriage is a prerequisite. God has vested this authority to the parents in recognition of their role in a child’s upbringing. The parents’ approval to the union is enough to validate a marriage. Customary marriages are thus in themselves valid marriages. Weddings are then meant to celebrate and register the unions.

sundayword BY PROSPER TINGINI

There are instances where a man can deflower or impregnate a woman but then refuse to marry the woman. In this scenario, God still instructs that the man should be made to pay a bride price to the father of the woman regardless, and also be forced to marry the woman, unless if the woman’s father refuses (Deuteronomy 22 verses 28-29).

It is a sad fact that almost half of all marriages collapse at one point or the other. Most people tend to rush into marriages prematurely for various reasons. Some people even decide to co-habit without the parents’ consent. Such unions are not blessed and often fall part. Other couples rush to the altar even before they have had any adequate knowledge of each other’s backgrounds, habits, strengths or weaknesses. They will then only find out about each other’s traits when they are already living together. This then sometimes creates problems should individual habits fail to be compatible with each other. Compatibility in areas of interest should be an important factor to be considered before people rush to get married. People who already know each other’s full backgrounds are more likely to succeed as a couple and such marriages are also more likely to last a lifetime. One of the biggest errors people make is to mistake lust for love. Lust is more of a physical feeling whereas genuine love is more on the spiritual side. Men who marry a woman purely because of her outward looks do so mostly just to acquire ownership and out of lust. Once he has exhausted his lust, the attraction diminishes and the woman’s value is reduced and his eyes then start to wander elsewhere in search of other conquests. Women married to lustful partners often face infidelity problems. Loving husbands take good care of their wives and are often committed to their marriages. It is important to distinguish between lust and love.

Another problem in marriages often arises when partners bring in their own children from other unions due to either the deceasing of previous partners or broken relationships. The lives of these children and their interests should be taken into account by both parties and it should be made a rule to treat the children equally. There should be no discrimination whatsoever between the children born within the marriage and those born outside it. All children are innocent, as they did not choose to be born, nor are they responsible for any situations they find themselves in. Step-children deserve equal treatment with all others. Marriages can crush if this issue is not handled properly.

A mistake some women often make is to shift their attention from the husband to the children in the marriage. It is an in-built instinct, for mothers especially, to grow a strong bond with their offsprings. If this deep affection is then centred around the children and not balanced properly with the affection for the husband, an equilibrium is lost. This might result in the husband being displaced as the centre of attention and cause him to feel out of place and seek attention elsewhere, hence sowing the seeds of infidelity. People should therefore not build their marriages around children but rather first around themselves (couples) and then extend this to the children.

Finances play a very large part in any given family. Different couples come up with various routes on how to handle incomes. A single-breadwinner situation often finds the breadwinner in control of finances. Healthy marriages do not draw a line as both parties jointly make decisions on usage of money. In situations where both spouses bring in an income, the most logical thing would be to combine both incomes and make monetary decisions from one pot. It is, however, now very common to find each spouse keeping his/her own purse, then allocating each other specific responsibilities to be taken care of by each individual separately. It will not be surprising in this situation for one spouse who is short of money to meet his/her allocated responsibility to then seek to borrow money from outside of the household, even if the other spouse has some reserves. This kind of marital financial arrangement should be discouraged as it promotes divisions and often leads to a disintegration of the family unit.

Conflicts in one form or the other will always arise in any marriage. The ability to resolve conflicts is of utmost importance. Communication then comes into play. Couples should be able to express themselves in situations where they feel aggrieved. Bottling up accumulated grievances is unhealthy as not only does it stifle communication but can also attract diseases like high blood pressure, headaches and many other ancillary health problems. The ability to communicate keeps marriages watered and in healthy states. Being truthful is also important in any communication because once the other discovers a lie, then all trust can be lost resulting in quarrels and a breakdown in communication in the future.

Every marriage experiences a rough patch. It is, therefore, necessary to avoid animosity between couples in a marriage to keep the relationship alive. Avoid entering into a marriage with a view of changing your partner’s bad habits which are entrenched in his/her character. Failure to change will then affect both parties. Accept the other’s weaknesses and learn to live with them. Do not seek revenge for a wrong deed perpetrated by your spouse. Rather, exercise humanity. Apologise when you wrong your partner even if he/she is not in the habit of apologising. That will teach him/her to do the same and help bring back peace. Avoid comparing yourselves with others. You can never be exactly like them and vice-versa. Marriages may not always be blessed but they can be amazing if handled properly. It is also important to express your romantic feelings for each other as it acts as a fertiliser to the love.

It is advisable to always seek Godly biblical counselling to minimise separations. Professional counselling and resolving disputes through relatives should then be the last port of call to avoid a divorce. Let’s all put our efforts to keep the marriage sacrament intact and to preserve the holy unions that are very much treasured by the Lord our God, in fulfilment of His wishes for the multiplication and preservation of the human race.

Prosper Tingini compiled a book titled, God’s Constitution for Mankind – The Laws and Commandments. His contact details are 0771 260 195 or email: neglectedcommandments@gmail.com.

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