There are parents and there are good parents! There are parents who can lay down their lives in defence of their children. Such parents don’t mind to go naked in order to clothe their children. It is such sacrificing parents that will sell their treasures to finance their children’s education. They frequently go on their knees praying for their children. Though fathers may not be hysterical about children like mothers, nonetheless, responsible fathers will go any length to protect, support and provide for the needs of their children. Even as adults in marriage, good parents still don’t joke with their children. Money don’t determine their responses to the situations of their children. They love and treat their children equally and bring about harmonious relationship among them and quell any semblance of divisive tendency. Caring and disciplined parents may mouth “once married, you’re forever gone for good and you have no bedroom here with us again,” yet, they won’t condone abusive relationship or marriage for any of their children under any guise!
Complaints I regularly receive from people involved in bad marriages keep bringing up different hues and dimensions of jinxed marital relationships to the fore. During the week, I received a mail from a woman who narrated her ordeal in her marriage. She is typical of women whose marriages have become transactional deals that benefit everybody else but themselves, especially their parents and in-laws. She lamented her forlorn hope in the marital limbo she found herself.
According to her, she got married hurriedly due to parental pressures. She was denied feeding and access to basic needs at home because she was getting into her late 20s without a stable relationship. Her mom in particular usually used her peers who had got married or those jumping from one relationship to another as examples. All she cared about was “when will she begin to enjoy the benefits of being a mother-in-law?” Morals and values that parents and culture hold so dear do not count at that time.
During our telephone conversation, she told me that what she’s going through in the marriage over the years do not concern her parents and in-laws as long as her husband continues to “settle” them. They don’t care even when the amount is ridiculously insulting to them, they’re okay. Her story reads:
“Why are some parents so selfish? Why are some spiritual leaders so clueless? Why are people indirectly committing murder or sending people to early graves consequently from degenerated health condition due to abuse and burden of bad marriages?
The sole reason some parents won’t allow their children to quit bad marriages is because of benefits attached. Such frequent gifts and money they get from their children’s spouses are their targets. How can one love money to the point of sacrificing their child’s happiness, well-being and purpose, consequently escorting that child to an early grave, in some cases?
For some parents and in-laws, it’s all about ego, transactional friendships and spiritual beliefs. God hates divorce, yes! But does God want anyone to die untimely and without fulfilling his/her purpose in a wrong marriage? No! Does God love abuse? Why did God not force Abraham to keep Hagar? But some parents are forcing two wrong people together in a marriage because of children. This is wrong!
“I agree that no marriage is perfect; I also agree that many troubled marriages are not hopeless and can still work if proper intervention is allowed. However, I know that some marriages need to break up for the sake of sanity, peace and general well-being of both parties.
“Sir, I am writing from the place of pain. I am not happy. I am in a marriage where I am all alone by myself and for myself. I do not have a soulmate in my spouse. Every little thing gets at me because of this. I don’t have someone who can watch my back, share my pains and shoulder or partake in meeting my personal needs in case I don’t have the means. My marriage is highly transactional; this, my spouse spelt out right from the very beginning. It is only profitable to my parents and my in-laws. An attempt I made to quit at a point was firmly resisted.
“The whole family and people close to us are celebrating the fact that we are together but we are not happy. We are suffering in silence and things are still the way they are. Who really are we deceiving?
“To the society, please stop being selfish. Open your eyes and see that some couples need to break up. So many men and women die early in bad marriages. A highly stressful marriage will have a negative impact on the health of the people involved. Sir, I am so tired!”
A man wanted a divorce, his in-laws rallied his pastor, friends and his siblings to mount pressure on him to stop the move. His lawyer had gone to court to file the papers but he was roundly prevailed upon. Barely four months later, he slumped and went into coma for days. The wife had run away thinking he would not survive the heart attack due to her troubles, but thank God he narrowly survived. As you read this column, they have gone their separate ways.
A 44-year-old mother of three quit her marriage after surviving health challenges as a result of constant assaults from her husband. Her family would not listen to her complaints because her husband usually sends monthly upkeep to them. Unknown to them, for almost six years of the 10 years in marriage, she’s the one feeding herself and children. The husband, according to her younger sister, was “deceiving our parents with fake caring attitude whereas my sister was suffering serious abuse in the marriage.
“Each time she cried to our parents, they didn’t believe her story. Initially I didn’t believe too until one day I went to visit her and the husband wasn’t around. I was in the guest room when he returned home only to greet my sister with hot slaps without a reason at all. He was shocked to see me. That’s how it all ended. You won’t believe that our parents didn’t support her separation arguing that she should learn how to endure the hardship because he’s a good and caring in-law. I personally spearheaded my sister’s exit from the prison called marriage.
“As at the time of her exit, she had lost two pregnancies to abuse. She had become so lean and sickly. Until her neighbours began to tell our parents what my sister went through in the hands of her monster husband, they thought she was giving excuses to quit her marriage,” she said.
Parents, siblings and in-laws should show more than passing interest in the well-being of their married children. Even those in the Diaspora are facing similar if not graver situations. Some have died prematurely in abusive marriages. Some of the deaths could have been averted if parents and in-laws had cared beyond pecuniary gains and gifts they enjoy at the expense of their married children. Let’s end transactional deals in marriage in exchange for the lives of their children. Please report to any government or non-governmental agency nearby in cases of life threatening marriage or abusive relationship. Human lives matter than selfish benefits inherent in abusive relationships.
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