By Debo Akinyemi
Definition of marriage differs from one man or woman to the other. Ask 20 married adults to define marriage and you would get 20 different definitions. This is because each person would reflect his own peculiar experience in the definition. For instance, a friend of mine who is still smarting from the pain of divorcing his first wife, defines marriage as ‘’coming together of two enemies in a love relationship.’’ He insists that this definition draws credence from the fact that the man and the woman are universally known as opposite sexes.
My friend’s definition could be very queer and unacceptable. But you can’t shoot down his perspective on marriage. After all, his reasoning is borne out of experience. Truly, male and female are opposite sexes. But these two opposites are supposed to merge in to a purposeful and reproductive symbiosis to enable both parties savour shared pleasure and friendship in total intimacy. So marriage is best defined as a conjugal arrangement involving the man and his woman with God at the middle. In other words, marriage is an intimacy of three personalities- the man, his wife and God.
However marriage assumes a new meaning the moment God is pushed out of the equation. And as soon as God’s place becomes vacant, the devil comes in to fill the vacuum. Though uninvited, the new third party comes with his own agenda to set new tone for the marriage. And consequently, the two hitherto lovers would suddenly become two sworn enemies. That explains why in many homes we have gladiators living together. That is why divorce is on the rise. And sadly, that is why we are now inundated with worsening spate of spousal killings.
The other day in Ibadan, capital of Oyo State, a female lawyer slaughtered her husband in cold blood. In Lagos, a woman who accused her husband of duplicity drove a knife in to his stomach and shut the door on him so he that he won’t stand any chance of being rescued. In the highbrow Banana Island, a Danish went berserk, killing his Nigerian wife and their only daughter. He allegedly killed them both smashing their heads on the floor of the kitchen.
We had hardly come out of the shock of the Banana Island madness when the news of another spousal killing hit us with seismic bang of shock. This time around, another Lawyer stabbed her husband and learned colleague to death, cut off his genital and placed it on his thigh. From all indications she had it all arranged. Investigation revealed that she had gone shopping for a new set of razor -sharp knives the previous day. And she had planned to quickly jet out of the country as soon as the murderous mission was accomplished. Recently, there was also the case of a man who killed his live-in lover and dumped her remains in the garbage bin. God, have mercy!
It is normal for partners to disagree at home. There have always been skirmishes between husbands and wives. Just as there have always been peaceful resolutions of domestic conflicts. So why it that more couples are now opting to settle their differences with murder? What can we say is responsible for this devilry? Could it be worsening economic frustration? Or mutual mistrust? Or new waves of whammies from the pit of hell? The reason could be one or a cocktail of all of these factors. But whatever it is, the time has come for all of us to begin to have new thinking about marriage. I think it is no longer smart to see marriage as a journey of a life time that must be taken by couples willy-nilly. Churches now need to put outer clauses in their marriage doctrines to enable any of the parties opt out when it is no longer safe to continue.
I know God hates divorce. But I dare say that God also hates murder. So I think it is better couples go their separate ways than staying together until one kills the other. Let me make it clear that what I am suggesting here is just separation and not divorce. The man and the woman can still remain legitimately married even when they live apart. The beauty of the separation is that it allows the warring partners to give each other a much needed break when situation begins to get out of hand. It also helps in putting safe distance between them, thus reducing the chances of one having the opportunity to strike the other dead. How I wish the Danish man who killed his wife and daughter had simply packed his things and left for his country home before the murderous instinct got the better part of him.
It would have also been better for that female lawyer to quietly abandon her matrimonial and utilize the visa that she had already procured. Now her husband is feet down the earth surface while she is facing a murder charge. One good thing separation sometimes does is that it helps the warring couple to mature over time and develop new affectionate feelings for each other. We have several instances of divorced partners coming around to make up and start living happily together again. My own case is a good example. My wife and I went our separate ways for six years after we had our first child out of wedlock. The quarrel was so intense that we were not seeing eyeball-to-eyeball. But later, we suddenly realized we were meant for each other. Today we have lived happily together for 24 years. Only God knows what would have happened had we been forced to stay glued together during our period of animosity.
Before joining intending couples, the joining institution should now compel them to go for psychiatry test. They must both tender certificates to show that they have the level of sanity required for conjugal liaison. Odd and repulsive as this may sound, it would help in assuring that all is well upstairs with both partners. And if not, it provides both parties opportunity to call it quits before making life-time commitments. If the church now makes it a condition for intending couples to go for genotype and pregnancy tests before joining them, then checking for the state of their mental health is not out of place.
The government at all levels should complement the effort of the church by coming up with tough legislations against abusive relationship. One needs to commend the Lagos state government in this regard. But it is clear that a lot still need to be done. Any woman or man caught in spousal abuse should be made to face more stringent penalties. And handsome reward should be attached to whistle blowing on domestic violence. When a man or woman knows that his or her next door neighbours are waiting to make some cool cash from his or her momentary insanity, chances are that he or she would excise restraint , no matter the level of provocation. In Europe, the police direct telephone line is known by everyone in the neighborhood, including the kids. The same thing must happen here. Our homes would be the better for it, if we all knew that a whistle in time brings in the police to avert fatal consequences.
Akinyemi could be reached on 08069376368