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Chasing shadows, ignoring substance

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chasing of shadows

By Francis Ewherido

I interacted with some youngsters recently. My conclusion after some of the interactions is that many young people still do not understand the marital institution they want to go into. There is too much chasing of shadows and little pursuit of substance. A recent viral video of an engagement that went awry further reinforced my conclusion.

A guy took his fiancée to a public place to propose to her. He brought out the engagement ring, but rather than stretch out her hand, the fiancée stood in bemusement staring at her fiancé and then sideways at the onlookers. The guy asked her, “Will you marry me?”

The bemused fiancée asked, “Why are you standing….you are proposing to me and you are standing?”  For the fiancée, to propose without kneeling down was a “disgrace and public embarrassment” to her, but for the guy, he loved her and kneeling down to propose had nothing to do with love. They could not resolve their differences and the engagement was called off; the fiancée walked away.

Now what was the substance? To officially get engaged. That was the paramount reason why they went to the public place, but they chased shadows and the engagement never took place. Now, where is it written that a man must kneel down to propose? Does kneeling down to propose make the relationship stronger ultimately? I have proposed twice in my life.

The first time, I was on one knee, but the engagement never led to marriage. I cannot even recall how I proposed the second time, but I did not kneel down to do it. But it led to marriage and I have been in the marriage for the past 22 years. How a fiancé proposes to his fiancée is secondary to the decision to spend their lives together, which should take precedence.

Also, did they need to go to a public place to get engaged? I could hear other voices telling the fiancé to go on his knees, a plea he rebuffed. Marriage has not started, yet third parties are already involved. Too many cooks spoil the broth.

May be if he had proposed to the fiancé privately, kneeling down or not kneeling down would not have been an issue. The fiancée would have accepted it that way, or they could have resolved the ensuing disagreement. If this relationship dies, the two of them will be the only ones singing the funeral dirge. The third parties will long be gone. Young people, get some sense.

I advised a newlywed recently to take his young marriage off social media. All through the engagement to the marriage, it was all in the social media, but I told him it was time to go private. Marriage is a personal and private matter. Some celebrities are complaining that being in the public view is affecting their marriages, why join them?

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But the incident also threw up other fundamental issues. The fiancé (the guy) said they have been dating “for over five years.” Really? And they failed an elementary test? What is dating (or courtship) anyway?

“Courtship is that traditional period before engagement and marriage when couples date to get to know each other and decide if they should go ahead with the relationship” or not (Life Lessons From Mudipapa). Apparently, these two still do not know each other well enough. If they did, the engagement would have gone smoothly. They have apparently been doing every other thing, except courting.

During the week, I saw another viral video where a lady claimed that she was the fiancée in failed engagement video. She was boasting that the guy “must” kneel to engage her and he must do it publicity. Apparently, it was ego that stopped their engagement; no new lessons learnt. And she is still planning to go ahead with the marriage?

There are areas that people who are dating should focus on during courtship. One of them is core values. “Core values are principles and qualities that guide your internal conduct and determine how you relate with the external world. Your core values define who you are; they go to the root of your existence.”

This intending couple certainly does not share similar core values. If they shared core values, the engagement would have been done differently and the outcome would have been different, or maybe they would not have been in a relationship in the first place.

Marriage is a union of give and take. Couples regularly make concessions. If you are the type, who wants to have it your way always, marriage is not for you. One-sided marriages no longer work. This brings me to anotherinteraction I had some time ago. I said, these days, there are two voices in the marriage, which must be heard and respected.

The respondent now asked: is this “your two voices that must be heard” not responsible for breakup of many modern marriages? I responded in the negative. Some of the one-sided marriages of old were not necessarily happy marriages. How can a marriage be happy when one spouse’s voice, feelings and opinions are suppressed or ignored? In many happy marriage, there is a thesis, anti-thesis and synthesis decision-making process most of the time.

Thesis is the first spouse’s position, anti-thesis is the second spouse’s opinion, while synthesis is the outcome of both opinions, which have been synthesized and refined. More often, synthesis is better than thesis and anti-thesis.

I always ask proponents of one-voice-only marriage, would you allow your daughter, on whom you have spent a fortune in time, energy, emotions and money, to go into an only-the-man’s-voice marriage? If yes, good for you, but I want my daughters to put all that they have learnt to good use in their husbands’ houses. That includes respect for their husbands, but they will not be docile and silenced wives. Lions beget lionesses. I no born goats.

In yet another interaction, one young man was quick to direct me to Ephesians 5:22-23. “Wives, submit] to your husbands as to the Lord… Now as the church submits to Christ, so wives are to submit to their husbands in everything.” I laughed. Submission here does not mean over-lordship of the man. Marriage is a complementary relationship. Your wife is your HELPMATE, not your inferior. The man is undoubtedly the head of the house, but do not affirm your headship with your gender. Please earn it.

You earn your headship of the family when you are a role model, mentor, leader, protector, provider, friend, guardian and unifier of the whole family, and lover and companion to your wife.

The other bit of Ephesians 5:22-23 is that “husbands should love their wives as Christ loves His Church.” That is a tall order: Love is patient and kind; it does not envy, boast or dishonour others. It is not proud, self-seeking or easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil, but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, trusts, hopes and perseveres (1 Cor 13: 4-7). My young friend, how far?

Young people should leave shadows and chase the substance of a happy marriage: love, companionship, friendship, fidelity, trust, honesty, humility, patience, forgiveness, consensus, commitment, communication, selflessness, etc.


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