Husband, to Whom Do You Belong?
When a man and a woman come together in marriage, it is expected that this is an institution between two persons who have come together in love with promises to “have and to hold”, through thick and thin, “till death do us part”. Hence, a third party coming between the two is, by its nature, not acceptable. So, this piece is directed specifically to marriages that are expected to be monogamous. It would not apply to marriage settings where the man, either by religion or culture, is allowed to have more than one wife.
Though it is nothing new to know that there are men who are in supposedly monogamous marriages, but they, as individuals, are not convinced that one woman is sufficient for them and so they do not endeavor to live by its tenets. Nonetheless, in a monogamous relationship of one man, one wife, it is regarded that the two mature individuals love, grow and build each other and set up a family.
However, it becomes a dilemma as to where the heart of the man or the woman really lies when a third party is allowed to get into this dual relationship such that the latter subtracts, even in the slightest form, from its unity and integrity. With this “other man” or “other woman” it becomes a dilemma, for example, for the man, as to whom he really belongs because he has his hands, his mouth and his legs in different pies. His wife is not all sufficient for him. He still wants to have “the other woman in the other room”. Sure, he says to himself, “Of course I belong to my wife”, but he knows that his self-giving to her is not total and exclusive. Even the bible says “If a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand” (Mark 3:25). So, a husband or a wife who has a hand in another pie becomes the first instrument for dividing his/her own home.
A wife may ask her husband, “What is it that I have that you are looking for outside?” This is a question women have never found a satisfactory answer to. However, various analyses around this, well known to you, would give reasons as to what a woman does or do not do that makes her man go outside the marriage. Here, justification is not the issue. The point here is the personal responsibility that every partner in a monogamous relationship has, to ensure that s/he keeps his or her home and marriage in the unity, integrity and in a “total” self-giving love as expected of such relationship.
A husband or a wife who has a hand in another pie becomes
the first instrument for dividing his/her own home.
Never mind when you are not around; Wives, watch out what your husbands do with the house girl in the kitchen and around the house while you are around! Indeed imaginations may go wild. Here it sounds like the wife is being encouraged to be suspicious where formerly she was not. But the question is: How does a woman keep the balance between trusting her husband and at the same time guarding her marriage or her home from being broken by “the other woman”? Believe me; every woman lives with this dilemma, even in the most loving and trusting of marriages. Except that the degree of anxiety may differ and range from sensible to obsessed or even paranoid.
What about the “the other woman” out there? Every married man has met a woman out there who potentially is or can become “the other woman”. If you as the man is not being hypnotized or juju used on you, then it means you are consciously aware when such a person begins to enter into your life and how you let such person truly become “the other woman”, as subtly as you may be permitting or fostering it. The same applies to a woman who keeps and nurtures “the other man” out there.
Love is the language of the heart. Everyone wants to love and to be loved in return. Some would argue that this love needs to be shared. However, in a monogamous marriage, the man is not expected to share the same love as he shares with his wife with anyone else. His love for his kids, his relatives, his friends, and so on would be expressed differently from that between him and his spouse.
In the face of the above, it is fair to keep in mind that some married couples would have a problem with the line of thought in this piece. This is because there are persons who find themselves in marriage relationship with someone who is not anywhere near the person they would want to be spending their lives with. Those who have remained in such marriages had done so for several reasons. Some have accepted their fate and are making the most of it, some have found ways to compensate themselves by keeping “the other” out there, while others are outright unhappy, even have regrets and may opt out given the slightest opportunity. Some stay on because of what other people will say.
Nothing justifies a third party in a monogamous relationship. This is why the seriousness of the marriage institution is resounded but people do not take all the trouble to “look before leaping” into the promise of “forever” with another human being. But even with someone who looks before leaping, there is no firm guarantee that all shall be as perfect as we wish it to be. Just as one takes a risk in life, marriage too is one of those risks in life, as human beings change and no one knows what the future holds. Everything in life is done with hope that all shall be well or at least we shall be able to handle the challenges that will arise.
Despite such cases, the train of thought outlined here regarding monogamous marriages still applies to many marriages who have relatively kept it together. The call and the challenge here is: your marriage can be better than what it is now. Everyone can give excuses for “going out” or you have gone outside for so long and have gotten used to it such that it is just part of your life, but that does not make it right. Someone, somewhere pays for it, suffers for your lack of fidelity to your husband or wife. Your spouse certainly suffers and so do other dependents.
It is my belief that each new day is a new opportunity to begin afresh. A brand new day is a fresh opportunity to better one’s self, one’s work, one’s business, one’s skills, one’s career as well as one’s relationships, particularly, relationship with one’s spouse. Old habits may die hard, but they can still die and you become a new person. Here, the Divine Being you believe in can also intervene if you have faith.
Even in front of the One whom you claim to worship, you still owe the Divine Being fidelity to your wife or husband. A friend shared with me that, he believes that without true fidelity to one’s spouse, one cannot begin to claim any sort of fidelity to God or a sincere relationship with God. Hmm… Food for thought!
At least, the daily efforts to undo that which one has been doing, which was a source of division in one’s marriage, can build up to make a happier family. No effort to improve one’s quality of marriage is wasted. You can be a better husband, you can be a better wife, a better father and a better mother. “The other” out there is simply a distraction that steals from your joy, peace, resources and integrity.
- Linda Ellah