Monday, February 6, 2023

The Fundamentals Of Marriage Problems..

Recently, some of my friends and mentees drew my attention to a trending video where there was a squabble between a mother-in-law and a daughter-in-law. 

There have been great analyses of the drama that played there. Today, I am pleased to wade into the ongoing conversation and lend my voice.

The scenario: the wife served rice with stew to her husband. The mother-in-law served a delicacy (soup with swallow).

Both meals are great.

The wife has the moral, legal, and spiritual right to serve a meal to her husband. She's the Chief maker of the home. She's the home administrator and she decides and prepares what the family eats. In many families, there is a meal roster being followed. 

The mother-in-law does not have any right to cook for her son in his home when the wife is available and didn't authorize that, let alone the way she went about it.

There's a fundamental problem with marriage: interference.
Interferences happen a lot in marriage, especially in African marriages. Here are the reasons:
1) Many, if not most Africans, understand little or nothing about marriage as designed by God. 

2) Most part of Africa operates a clinic or communal system of family. Marriage is often seen as the extension of the larger family.
3) Many mothers are very possessive and controlling when they have just one son or child. 

4) Many mothers have not emotionally detached themselves from their sons to allow them to build their own families.
5) Mothers whose marriages never worked well are often prone to be possessive and controlling.

To mitigate interferences in marriages, it's always advised that couples set boundaries in their marriages and homes. With what happened in the video, it's clear that the husband especially didn't set boundaries.

No matter how good a cook the mother-in-law is, and the meal she thought was far better than what her daughter-in-law served, she was in the wrong for competing with her daughter-in-law in her home. She has no right to compete in another woman's home. What the mother-in-law did was ill-advised and unacceptable. I am very sure that if she was in the position of her daughter-in-law she would not take it.

Marriage is like a kingdom. The husband is like a king while the wife is like a queen. Like the monarchs rule in their domains, the spouses rule in their marriages and homes. They call the shots. Even if they're not perfect in the way they do their things, nonetheless, they call all the shots and nobody has any right to challenge their set-up and policies in their home. One can only suggest or advise. Dictating his son's wife in their home is not acceptable. A rule to never break: don't ever outshine the owner of a thing. That's disrespectful. No right-thinking wife will ever take that. 

The husband was supposed to address the issue, but he was too ignorant and immature to do so. If he had set the boundaries around his marriage, his mother wouldn't have disrespected his wife in his presence and in their home.

Please permit me to share with you a personal experience on how I addressed an issue of interference in my marriage years back. I am an Igbo man. In addition to that, I am an only son. In Africa, especially in Igbo land, mothers don't play with their only son (they call their only son "ofu Anya"). Because of this, my mom is very possessive of me and I know it. When I got married, I set boundaries to protect my wife and to protect my mum as well. However, I know that my mum out of the love she has for me will trespass periodically. So I was prepared to deal with her 

A few years ago, my mum visited and spent about a week with us. She was given a very nice reception by my wife. One day, my wife was in the kitchen trying to fix something for all of us. I sat in the living with my mum and we were chatting. Suddenly, my mum rose and went where we placed the artwork and changed its position. She said that where we placed it wasn't appropriate.

Knowing her nature too well and what she did, I told her respectfully that my wife loved the artwork placed where it was. She argued with me, but I repeated what I said. She kept insisting that we placed it where she wanted it to be. I reminded my mom that she was not in her own domain but in another woman's own. Then I added this: "Mama if you were in your house and your own mother-in-law acted the way you did, would you have liked it?" She answered in the negative. I concluded by telling her that she just did to my wife what she couldn't take herself. My mother stopped arguing. 

Sadly, many mothers-in-law are like that. However, the bigger problem in many marriages is not even the problematic mothers-in-law, but the men who have not totally left their parents (emotionally and physically) to cleave to their wives. Although married for donkey years, their loyalty still lies so much with their parents, especially their mothers.

Therefore, here's my professional verdict:
1) The husband carries 70% of the blame for being so immature and not setting boundaries around his marriage.
2) The mother-in-law carries 30% of the blame for coming to someone's domain to outshine her.
3) The wife isn't to blame for the outburst. If the husband had done the needful, his mother wouldn't have done what she did.

This is a wake-up call. Husbands, please set boundaries around your marriages. Protect and defend your wife when her rights are unlawfully and unjustly trampled upon by your mother. Defend and protect also your mother when her rights are unlawfully and unjustly trampled upon by your wife.

Concerning marriage, the husband is supposed to be 100% loyal to his wife, not to his mother. That's how God designed it to be (Genesis 2:24-25). If a man isn't ready yet to leave his parents (emotionally and physically) to cleave to his wife, he should remain single. Most times when men don't do the needful in their marriages concerning setting boundaries if their mothers are problematic, possessive as well as controlling such squabbles happen. Most times, the wives are just victims of the over-possessiveness and controlling tendencies of their mothers-in-law. 

If Mama felt that the daughter-in-law needed to learn some things about meals, she should have done that with some respect for the wife and love. If the husband has a favorite that he would like to eat from time to time, he should let the wife know about it. My wife knows my favorite meal because I told her. At home eat whatever is served to you. If want something different, I will inform my wife as I am leaving for work or when at work. The mother-in-law complained about the type of meals being served. Again, that was not her point of call. The husband isn't complaining. I want to believe he knew what the wife was cooking for dinner. 

Dear friends, marriage is not that difficult. The challenge is that many people are ignorant of what marriage truly is. With what I know about marriage, I protect the interests of the two women in my life: my wife and mother. In marriage, the wife comes first in order of relevance because she is the life partner. The mother is very important as she is, she's her own husband's life partner, Papa.

I hope you have heard me very clearly!

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