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By Francis Ewherido

Aristotle,the  legendary Greek philosopher, committed a school boy error,  a mistake you do not expect from a renown intellectual.

“Aristotle maintained that women have fewer teeth than men; although he  married twice, but it never occurred to him to verify this statement by examining his wives’ teeth.” – Bertrand Russell , The Impact of Science on Society . Besides his two wives,  Aristotle also had a daughter, Pithias, who was named after his first wife. Aristotle made this  mistake based on assumptions when facts were  available. Unfortunately, Aristotle’s blunder still plagues us till date.

My poor knowledge of the sciences notwithstanding, I know about hypothesis.Hypothesis means assuming when facts are not available. What this means is that the only time you are supposed to  guess is when you do not have facts, and you cannot get the facts.

But Nigerians argue about everything even when the facts are staring at us, and this problem did not start today. Our Head of Department at University of Nigeria, Nsukka, Professor Sylvanus Ekwelie, used to tell us in the mid-80s that “only foolish Nigerians argue about facts.” It did not make sense to me then; now it does.

Assumption is one of the problems tearing marriages and relationships apart today. One spouse gets a brainwave that the other is no longer giving her the attention he used to. There can only be one reason:he is having an affair. So, what a man can do a woman can also do and even better. Since she assumes that her husband is dating another woman, she decides to date two men.

Second scenario, a man runs into his wife having a lunch with male colleagues or clients. She seems to be enjoying their company. He jumps to the conclusion that she is having an affair. When she comes back from work, she is welcomed with a stone-face and then he launches a psychological warfare: he will neither talk to her nor eat her food,  and the madness and foolishness can continue for weeks.When he manages to come back to his senses, he realises it had all been “sound and fury, signifying nothing.” He has just made a  fool of himself.

Like in the sciences, there should be no room for assumptions in marriages except where facts are not available . If you have issues or doubts, create the appropriate time and talk them over. Couples who communicate frequently and appropriately are more likely to resolve their differences.

Couples should also make it a duty to thoroughly understand their spouses. Understanding your spouse is not a one off affair. It actually starts during courtship and continues during marriage because changes happen as time goes on due to age and new experiences.  The beauty of communication is that you know where each person stands even if you disagree.

Sometimes assumptions result from information from talebearers. If you choose to run your life and family with information from talebearers, at least do yourself some good by verifying this information before you cry wolf … .

In the run up to their 25th wedding anniversary, a woman dragged her husband before their pastor,and complained that the husband did not love her any more.

The man was bemused: “But I take care of all your needs, I fulfil my duties as a husband, what else do you want?” the man blurted out. “So what is the problem, madam,” the pastor asked? “Pastor, the last time he told me ‘I love you’ was during our wedding 25 years ago.”

“Is that true, chief,” the pastor asked. “Yes, pastor, but I have not said or done anything to the contrary since then, so the ‘I love you’ I said 25 years ago is still subsisting,” but madam assumed that chief no longer loved her. One of the ways we can take assumptions out of our marriages is by constantly reassuring our spouses in wordsand in deeds.

There are spouses who score high in both, some score high in only one while some are just very poor in both. This is dangerous, unhealthy and inimical to your marriage.

Spouses need to rid themselves of assumptions. It creates avoidable tension, bitterness and acrimony.



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