Till Death do Them Part

marriageBy Derrick Koome

I recently heard someone tell a story about a couple whose marriage was on the rocks. The story goes that the husband had acquired a nasty habit of perpetually coming home drunk and very late into the night. She could not take it anymore and therefore she contemplated walking away from the marriage.

Before she took the decision to do so she was hit by the brain wave of visiting a marriage counselor first so as to seek an objective opinion of how best to handle the situation. Luckily, she bumped into a good marriage counselor who had clear ideas. The marriage counselor advised her to try something different instead of walking away from the marriage.

She was to prepare excellent meals for her husband as well as wait for him to come home and serve the nicely prepared meals with a smile on her face. She decided to give it a go. Week in, week out she would prepare her husband’s favourite meals, wait for him to come home and would then serve him the meals in his drunken stupor. She would not complain but simply smiled at him. Little by little the husband started coming home a bit earlier than the previous day until one day, after several weeks, he finally came home quite early and as sober as a judge.

I admire this lady for choosing that difficult but fruitful path to save her marriage. She swallowed a bitter pill especially because what was happening was not her fault. I am certain that many other women who find themselves in similar circumstances would have walked away. I recently read an article in a blog that conveyed good ideas about marriage. It was entitled ‘Marriage is not for You’. In the article, the author described marriage as another way to serve. The husband is meant to serve the wife and the wife the husband. When one approaches marriage with the mentality of placing the spouse in his or her service, chaos will result. Harsh words will be exchanged. Projectiles will find their mark.

I feel a good number of people don’t appreciate an important element of this profound union. The element of indissolubility. When you tie the knot you’re in for the long haul. God, being the author of marriage and of everything that belongs to the natural order, issued the command “What God has joined together let no man put asunder”. Thus it is clear as crystal that marriage, even in the state of nature and certainly before it was raised to the dignity of a sacrament, was divinely instituted in such a way that it would carry with it a perpetual and indissoluble bond. A bond which should not be subject to the caprice of man under any civil authority.

Why then are the rates of divorce in Kenya slowly on the rise? Every marriage has its own difficulties. But I don’t believe there is a difficulty which is irredeemable. All difficulties can be worked out if the parties are level headed and are ready to solve the difficulties. The ‘walking away’ mentality is too easy and may lead to more problems if adopted. But the problem with some of us Kenyans is that we seek advice about marriage and relationships from people who have no clue about them.

When we listen to the radio in the morning we hear men and women spewing intimate details about their married life on air. The presenters laugh and make a mockery of genuine problems that might be afflicting couples. Then other Kenyans call to offer ‘advice’ and with no sense of shame tell of similar tales that have occurred in their own married life. This buffoonery gives the impression that fidelity in marriage is impossible and somewhat sanctions pre-marital and extra-marital affairs. Thus the biblical sowing of cockle among wheat is slowly taking place right under our noses.

Marriage has a certain nature under natural law. Natural law states that if you want things to prosper you must treat them in accordance with their nature. If you want to grow good tomatoes, you must give them water, use good soil, apply fertilizer as well as ensure they receive plenty of sunlight. You cannot put the tomato plant in your wardrobe and expect it to bear fruit. Similarly if marriage is to remain indissoluble it must be treated according to its nature. It must be between a man and a woman.

Thus polygamy, polyandry and homosexuality negate the nature of marriage. The couple must remain faithful to each other. Thus infidelity ruins the stability of marriage although it may not destroy it completely if the act is acknowledged and forgiven. Cohabitation, though rampant, is not a marriage because there is no commitment. It is especially unfair to women. The man has the advantage since he knows that the older he gets the more the number of women available for courtship and eventually marriage. A woman’s fertility and her chance of finding a husband diminish with every page of the calendar. I believe they call it the biological clock. Thus it is the epitome of stupidity for a woman to take herself out of circulation for the sake of a man who can’t commit.

Marriage, as I earlier mentioned, is a profound union especially because all human beings emanate from it, even though some parties are too cowardly to take up responsibility and make it fruitful. We should protect and defend it from all who think that man is an insatiable beast. We should only heed marriage advice from those who are happily married not from bachelor he-goats with a microphone.

I leave you with a quote from Bấ Mariama’s classic ‘So Long a Letter’. “I remain persuaded of the inevitable and necessary complementarity of man and woman. Love, imperfect as it may be in its content and expression, remains the natural link between these two beings. To love one another! If each would accept the other’s successes and failures! If each would only praise the other’s qualities instead of listing his faults! If each could correct bad habits without harping on about them! If each could penetrate the other’s most secret haunts to forestall failure and be a support while tending to the evils that are repressed! The success of the family is born of a couple’s harmony, as the harmony of multiple instruments creates a pleasant symphony. The nation is made up of all the families, rich or poor, united or separated, aware or unaware. The success of a nation therefore depends inevitably on the family.”

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