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Read Letter

Of Husbands and Cleavings

My dear Jack,
I sometimes find myself in the unenviable position of passing on difficult truth. Today is another one of those instances. But it’s a responsibility I’m unperturbed about. I am enjoined by my Creator and my conscience to speak the truth to you in love, always. We sometimes need difficult truth. 

It’s important in life to be able to prioritise one’s hierarchy of sociology. Young men don’t always do this. God’s word says your wife is your No.1 priority. Not your children, not your extended family, or friends. Difficult truth. You can’t possibly know more about marriage than God. He created it. And you can’t be wiser than God. You have to decide what philosophy you want to live by: God’s or man’s. Whatever decision you take will determine several outcomes in your life. 
People get confused mixing up God’s directives with human convention. We sometimes can’t make up our mind whether we want to follow destructive societal templates or follow God. And so like a zig-zagging crab we jaunt to the right and to the left with the aim of forward movement. The moment you decided to take a wife, you sent a notice to the whole world. You told past girlfriends it’s really over. And I want you to keep off! You told your family you’re ready to leave home, to create an independent family unit though federated. You informed your friends and drink buddies your conjugation is a higher dimension of friendship. After all, who can ever be closer to you than the woman who is one flesh with you? These notices of yours have definitive implications. Those implications sometimes clash with strongly held cultural beliefs and human traditions.
Some of those traditions have wrecked marriages through generations. Tell me, how is it that your sister, or brother holds sway over your marriage like it’s a colonial entity? How is it that your sisters can come into your home, shove aside your wife and occupy her kitchen? How is it that every decision you make with your wife needs ratification by your family, as if it’s a UN charter? How is it that your sisters and their children take economic priority over your wife’s needs? How is it that your family members can slap your wife in your home yet claim to respect you? How is it that your family members can cart things away from your home irrespective of your wife? And why would you choose to live in the family house with your wife? She’s going to live under tension! “For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother and shall cleave to his wife”. It’s a powerful statement. If you don’t leave how can you cleave?
And some men cleave unto past girlfriends after marriage, still texting, calling, arranging assignations. Some cleave to their sister. It’s why they take decisions with their sister about their home sans wife. Some cleave to drink buddies and sports buddies. They’d rather go to the club and bond than go home. To be sure women do variants of these things too. Some sit with their friends and gorge on their spouse. Will address that sometime in the future. This is a letter to Jack. It is amazing that we lump marital malfeasance under a nebulous header called “African Culture & Tradition”.
Of course being “tradition”, no one has seen a written copy of this trado-cultural code. In other words, tradition can be anything self interested subscribers call it. And if these self interested people hold on to their beliefs and practices for long then it becomes “culture”. After all culture is integrated belief and behaviour. But tell me, if the family is the basic unit of society, how then can cultural tradition be seeking to destroy marriages? A society propagating a tradition of marital annihilation is soon sociologically annihilated. African tradition as defined by these people comes across as negation of society.
And what exactly is this “African Tradition & Culture”? Is it a mother who having lost her husband decides her son is her new husband and begins to contend with his wife? Is African tradition the strange philosophy of a woman being granted temporary residence in her own marriage? How do we explain a mother trying to destroy a marriage for the ONLY reason that the woman is from another tribe? These things are obviously wrong. How come we never question them?! 
Surely not everyone buys into these philosophies! There are many mothers-in-law who love their daughters-in-law and respect their marriages. Are such loving mothers-in-law not African? So who defined this aberrant culture of marital destruction? And which tradition? You’re not really displaying wisdom subjugating your wife to these forces of nature. You’re subjugating yourself, she’s you! You’re one. You can’t separate her from you, it’s an illusion!
What kind of “tradition” gives extended family members the right to seize a man’s assets upon his unfortunate death? The wife and children are rendered homeless, without means for education or livelihood. What type of ideology is, “Family is family, wife is a stranger”?! You better set your priorities right. Legacies include memories. We don’t want Junior cursing Daddy’s memory do we?
Your mentor, LA.
NB: This is my last but one letter to you this year. I’m looking forward to my vacation.
©Leke Alder 2013
Tags : Marriage, Priority, Traditions

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