By Francis Ewherido
Thursday, January 26, 2017, was Spouse Day, a day set apart to celebrate and appreciate your spouse. Spouse Day is a good time to show your spouse how special he/she is and how much you appreciate him/her in your life. After wedding, couples get caught up with work, raising a family and so many other responsibilities that go with marriage. It is very easy to lose focus and derail. That is partly why many marriages suffer and ultimately break up.
So, beyond being a day to focus on and celebrate our spouses, it is also a wakeup call to give our marriages the attention they deserve. A marriage has a life of its own. That is why it dies or survives on life support if it is neglected or starved of nourishment. Truth be told, when was the last time you celebrated your spouse? For some of us, it dates back to the first year of marriage, which is 10, 15 or 20 years ago. Love has since worn very thin and there is “nothing” to celebrate anymore. You know some of us are stiff-necked people who only see the bad and ugly sides of our spouses, we cannot recall the good: past or present. “The evil that men do lives after them; the good is oft interred with their bones” (Julius Caesar).
Is there anybody who is totally bad? I do not think so. In those days, we sent one of our younger brothers early in the morning to buy newspaper. He was waiting for the vendor when a madman came and pushed him against the wall causing bruises and lacerations. As he was crying and dusting himself, another madman came to help him in the clean up. “Don’t mind these mad people,” the second madman consoled my brother, “that is how madmen behave.”
The unknown person who started the spouse Day was only doing humanity a favour by using January 26, to remind us of our failings as spouses. During the exchange of vows, we promised to love and to cherish each other all the days of our lives. So, everyday should actually be your Spouse Day. Loving and cherishing your spouse all the days of your life means appreciating your spouse as God’s special gift to you on a daily basis. If you are not sure he/she is from God, because God will not give “scorpions” to His children, then he/she is the special gift you have chosen for yourself. Love him/her, cherish him/her and celebrate him/her. Marriage is meaningless and tasteless if you cannot love and celebrate your spouse.
I dedicate this year’s Spouse Day to couples who have been married for 25 and above and have managed to find happiness and live blissfully in this delicate and slippery terrain called matrimony. Nigerians can be very modest, sometimes pretentiously, about personal accomplishments. When you ask typical Nigerians the secret of their success, they tell you it is the grace of God. God’s grace abounds everywhere, but only grows and flourishes where there is fertile soil. Some of these couples did not find happiness because they are specially made. They just made a conscious effort to make their marriages work, they invested in their marriages, they focused more on the good of their spouses, rather than the bad and ugly.
I went to visit a couple who have been married for over 30 years sometime ago? I was shocked by the woman’s extent of nagging within the short time I spent there. “How did this man survive this for the past 34 years of marriage,” I said to myself. But they are a happy couple, because the man has learnt to live with it. The woman probably has also learnt to deal with the man’s shortcomings. That is very important if you want your peace of mind and if you want to build a happy marriage.
Your spouse will definitely do things that are at variance with your own constitution. When it comes to habits, humans are like rats that do not outgrow stealing. Old habits scarcely die and expecting your spouse to change is like expecting rain in the Sahara Desert. It scarcely happens. That is why smart spouses adjust and live with their spouses’ shortcomings, instead of waiting for and getting frustrated about change that may never come.
I further dedicate this Spouse Day to couples who have been married for 25 years or more living the “for better, for worse” and “in sickness and in health” vows in every meaning of the vows. I have seen men who do the running around in the house for wives who cannot move around anymore because of acute arthritis, spouses whose other halves have gone blind and virtually live their lives for these handicapped spouses.
I have seen husbands or wives decimated by stroke, but nothing has changed in the love and affection their spouses have for them. Many of us cannot appreciate what it means to stick with a “disadvantaged” spouse, who in the eyes of the world, is a liability for years un-end and still love him/her as if everything is normal. Some wives have stuck with husbands who have lost their libido due to stroke, diabetes and other ailments or over time and remained faithful. I am talking about couples who ordinarily would be sexually active.
Spending your entire life with only one spouse is no tea party. I recently found out that former American President, George Bush Snr, has been married to his wife, Barbara, for 72 years ( Jan 6, 1945)! Seventy two years of waking up and seeing the same face, coping with your spouse’s shortcomings and loving that one person. They deserve an award as professors emeritus of marriage.
Marriage is a wonderful institution, but it is also tough business. These days, you are reminded that God did not want the wife to lord it over the husband; that is why God did not take the bone with which the woman was formed from Adam’s head. God did not also want the man to trample on the wife; that is why he did not take the bone from Adam’s feet.
God wanted the wife beside her husband; hence he took the bone from Adam’s ribs. Without prejudice to some passages in the Bible, this analysis has implications many men would disagree with. It makes a wife a co-pilot, a co-captain and when two captains are in a ship, you need the wisdom of Solomon, the patience of the anaconda and the tolerance of the camel to extreme heat to make navigation a success. The absence of these is responsible for breakdown and break up of many marriages.
But if you asked me, I would say the most frustrating aspect of marriage is that only one spouse cannot make it work. No matter how good you are, if your spouse does not cooperate, marriage is over. To all of you, who have been married for 25 years and above and are still going strong, happy Spouse Day. You are a source of encouragement to those of us coming behind.