Hi guys, welcome to my newest addition to my blog – confessions of a modern wife. As my marriage turns nine years next month, I realized that there are lessons that I have learnt over these past years and though I am not an expert in relationships, my experiences are worth sharing, hopefully, someone might benefit from them.
I have learnt a lot and I have come to respect the important role that family plays in marriages. Hence, my first lesson is on that.
LESSON 1: HIS (HER) FAMILY MATTERS
In Nigeria, we have an old saying that when you marry a man or woman, you marry his or her family because our culture is one in which an individual can almost not exist exclusively without his family. In fact, in my country, the success or failure of a marriage is embedded in the roles that family members play as regards to the depth or otherwise of their involvement in such a marriage. The marriage process in my culture is deeply rooted in our family customs and is so cumbersome that it entails a lot of patience and perseverance to accomplish getting hitched. This is because in traditional Nigeria, the couple involved go through scrutiny from family members and elders in the family clan who extend beyond the immediate family members to include a long list of uncles, aunties, relatives and a host of other people whose consents you must seek when seeking for a girl’s hand in marriage. During our traditional rites, the couples are reminded of the large numbers of people (from both families) who have been brought together to approve and witness such unions and are therefore reminded that divorce (which is frowned at) can only happen if such group of persons are brought together again to give their consent (of course, this is only a scare tactic but when divorce becomes imminent, a couple cannot dissolve their union without family members exhausting all resources to keep them together).
In my culture, it is not strange at all to have married couples living with their family members but thanks to civilization and with high rates of marital problems caused by meddling family members, couples are learning to “cut off the umbilical cords” so to speak. Notwithstanding, this does not necessary mean that married couples are free from family interference or that they can totally severe their ties to their family.
It is not common that an average Nigerian would estrange himself/herself from family members.
Having this in mind, it would be foolish for any man or woman to ignore the nature of family of which an intending partner originates. When you take an intending partner home to see your family, the first question that they ask is “what sort of family is she[he] from?”, “what are his parents like?”, “what is the nature of his[her] family dynamics?”, etcetera. Loved ones would always ask these questions because they know the powerful role that the family plays in contributing to the success or failure of marriages in Nigeria.
Personally, I made a promise to myself while still single that I would never marry a man whose family could not love me enough to accept me as their daughter. The reason for this was because I was raised in a loving, close-knit family as such, I wanted same for myself and I knew that if I could find a man who was raised in an equally loving family, then my dreams would be a reality. Being a non-confrontational person, I knew I could not handle family dramas from confrontational or antagonistic in-laws so I chose to wait patiently until I met my husband, who happened to be the son of my parents’ friends, who lived just a few houses down the street from my house and with whom we attended the same church!
It looked perfect but at that time, I was concerned that our friendship would stand in the way of a solid relationship but I never forgot my mother’s advice; she would say, look at his family – they are awesome people. They love you already; don’t miss out on that wonderful family. So, in the end, I married my husband to be a part of his family! And so, in the course of our nine years marriage, his family and mine have pulled through for us, even when we thought we would disintegrate. I can say that my biggest lesson was in realizing the important role both our families have played in sustaining our marriage by giving us the necessary support, love and prayers without laying blames. I think it is important that family members do not lay all blames at the feet of their child’s spouse but to steer such couple in the right direction with sincerity, honesty and love.
Every marriage is different; just as every family is different. While some families are more willing to lovingly accept their in-laws into their families, others see them as competitors or threats. In cases of the latter, it can be quite detrimental to the successes of marriages. It is vital that you know what you are getting yourself into and be prepared.
I would love to hear from you. Please leave a comment and join the conversation.