April 13, 2024

Collapsed Marriages: Uwevwirohwofabeno, by Francis Ewherido

Francis ewherido

Uwevwirohwofabeno in Urhobo, means that it is very difficult to understand the inner workings of another person’s home.  In the last one year, some celebrity and high profile marriages have collapsed. What surprises me is when some outsiders express shock over the crash of these marriages. I am surprised because I wonder what these people know about these marriages. What do you think marriage is?

It is beyond what you see or read on social media, public spaces or public displays of affection. The real marriage is mainly what goes on between the couple and what goes on behind closed doors in the homes of the couple. You can never know unless you live with the couple, you are a close family member or friend in whom the couple confide, or they speak out. Sometimes, even their children know only in part. Marriage is a private matter. It is the marriage ceremony (wedding) that is public most times. 

I chose the word, uwevwirohwofabeno. It is jaw-breaking and many Urhobos and non-Urhobosdo not know how to pronounce it, but it is apt. People should stop expressing shock when any marriage collapses. You are not part of the marriage. You do not know what has been going on, so what are you shocked about? The marriage institution is full of mysteries that are difficult to figure out. Every marriage is susceptible to collapse unless you are deliberate in nurturing it and making it work. 

Longevity of the marriage is no guarantee that it cannot collapse. A 99 year-old Italian man filed for divorce from his 96-year-old wife of 77 years. Reason: The wife had an affair over 60 years ago, but the man just stumbled on the evidence (letters she wrote to her lover then). Al Gore’s (former US Vice President under Bill Clinton) and his wife, Tipper Gore, separated after 40 years of marriage! In 1998 the 38 years marriage of Frederik Willem de Klerk (last President of apartheid-era South Africa) to his wife, Marike de Klerk, collapsed due to the former’s infidelity.

 Assuming one spouse wakes up one day and says he/she wants out. That automatically means that marriage has collapsed. What do you want the other spouse to do? Only one person cannot keep a marriage going. You need the input of the other spouse no matter how little. I have a whole body of knowledge and materials on marriage, but I will never accept that tag of “marriage expert.” The terrain is too slippery. I just devote myself to learning everyday on how to make my marriage better and getting any new information that I can share on this platform.

The first article I wrote on this column was published in Saturday Vanguard of November 17, 2013. It was titled, “what does marriage mean to you?” Marriage is not an institution you jump into because others are going into it. If you do, you might jump out the same way you jumped into it. You must have a purpose and set goals before you get into marriage. Purpose and goals among people differ but have yours. For me, marriage is between a man and a woman taking the vows – civil, church, mosque, traditional or recognised set ups.

I fully understand that in Africa, when you marry, you marry into a family. But the point is, after the ceremony, how many people will retire into the bedroom with the couple? How many people engage in sex to consummate the marriage? How many people engage in sex to procreate? Only the husband and wife. Any other arrangement is an aberration. These are symbolisms that marriage is a personal matter. That is why there is a saying that too many cooks spoil the broth. Extended family presence notwithstanding, you must know the major difference between interference (intrusion) and intervention (involvement that enhances the marriage) in your marriage. Knowing the difference is critical to the survival of your marriage.

The challenge that many celebrities and public figures have is that they are on Facebook, X, Instagram, Tiktok, YouTube, etc. They have thousands and millions of followers, subscribers and viewers. Some of these celebrities use their space to focus on their marriages and families. They use these avenues to tell their audience what is going on in their private lives. Inadvertently, they invite outsiders into their private space. Some of these followers and subscribers develop a sense of entitlement to knowing what goes on in their marriages and families. Some of them want to tell the celebrities how to live their lives. To keep their followers and subscribers happy and engaged, some celebrities pander to their wishes. 

For me, my goals in marriage are to be happy and have peace of mind. I am not interested in pleasing any outsider. What you think about my marriage is outside my control and therefore none of my business. As far as my wife and I are happy, I am fine. The focus of couples should be on how to make their marriages work, not pleasing outsiders. Many people dissipate so much energy in creating a false image of their marriages to the public instead of spending the same energy on improving their marriages. Falsehood endures only but for a while. A make-believe marriage/life is “an open wound. Only truth can heal it.” Fake life means living in misery, self-deceit and delusion which ultimately lead to the collapse of the marriage. You have to be real. There is no need sweeping problems under the carpet in marriage. Deal with them or they will resurrect bigger and more complicated. 

Marriage is an institution where you pay attention to details. Couples sometimes take each other for granted, but it must not become a habit, unless you are inviting a breakup. In my first article I mentioned earlier, two of the cases were as a result of infidelity, but infidelity is just one of the reasons why marriages break up. We know other common reasons like domestic violence, financial matters, lack of intimacy, unrealistic expectations, differing expectations, impatience, intolerance, lack of communication, and unforgiving spirit. Some spouses have abandoned their marriages because they were just bored. But we also have an absurd case of one woman, who left her marriage because the husband was too gentle and kind. He was not violent or abusive and that was a problem for her. Reasons for breakup of marriages just go on and on.

A marriage has a life of its own. You must take care of your marriage as you take care of yourself. Feed it, nourish it, groom it, and improve on it. Marriage is meant to be enjoyed, not endured. How long can your endurance last? Tolerance and patience are essential ingredients of marriage, but they are not unlimited. You will snap one day. Change what is changeable and learn to live with what you cannot change.Love and respect are important and should be mutual. Men cannot stand disrespect, so do women of these days. And how do you live together “till death do you part” with someone you do not love and respect? One spouse will surely be miserable or worse.”Till death do us part” means natural or accidental death, not murder or homicide.