Like everyone around the world, I was eager to hear the details from the Harry/ Meghan /Oprah interview and though I haven’t watched it in full yet, I have watched snippets and read comments and opinions on the facts revealed but what has intrigued me mostly, has been the opinions expressed in the aftermath of that interview on the wisdom of choosing one’s husband or wife above parents and siblings.
I have always been an advocate of women not cutting off their immediate family when they get married mainly because when push comes to shove and the eyes once blinded by love have cleared, family will always be there. Also, I reckon that since the woman marries into a new family whereas the man marries from a family and doesn’t necessarily become part of that family like a woman does, there is the strong likelihood that the woman may not be accepted into her husband’s family and my belief is that she should always have her own people to fall back on.
Also the discovery, that most men who abuse their wives physically or emotionally tend to first isolate them from friends and family thereby making it easier for the women to stay and endure the abusive relationship made me an advocate of that position as I have found that abuse is not hidden for long where a woman’s family are present in her life as they often become a protective shield for her in the several circumstances where she is being exploited .
I however read a thread from a man, whose family members did not attend or acknowledge his marriage and whose father cut him out of his will because his wife was from a supposed lower class than theirs and did not practice their brand of Christianity. The marriage ended in divorce and whilst she had her family to fall back on, he had no one as he had cut off all ties in view of their opposition. His experience and that of Harry opened my eyes to the fact that anyone can be at the receiving end of opposition from their family and that we should not always look at things solely from the female point of view.
However, I have noticed that most of the people that have trouble adjusting to their children’s and siblings’ marriage are those who either have very close ties with one another or whose relationship is parasitic or symbiotic and who have not learnt to create, adopt or respect each other’s boundaries. Please don’t get me wrong, every parent has a duty to ensure and foster close relationship amongst their children when they are young for it’s a good thing when brethren dwell together in love and unity and we must teach our children to be friends with one another, accountable to one another and to do their utmost to help one another. However, in doing so we must also teach them to respect each other’s decisions especially when they disagree with them and also to respect individual boundaries.
Many times, the problems with in-laws arises because people do not realize that with marriage, the dynamics of their relationships change and they still expect or insist that the relationship continues exactly the way it was before the other person got married. They expect that Broda who used to dole out money to his siblings, will continue to do so even though he now has a family he needs to provide for. That Sista who is juggling work/home balance still has the time to carry out all the errands, duties and responsibilities she had hither to performed. That Ogbeni who suckled your breast when he was young, still has the time to come over for lunch every Sunday leaving his young wife at home to amuse herself whilst you catch up with him.
I am a Christian and the biblical injunction to leave father and mother and cleave to your wife / husband has its roots in the fact that since two are now ONE no one ought to have more control or influence over a married man or woman than their spouse nor should anyone’s interest mean more to a married person than their spouse.
In a society such as ours, where we are traditional in our customs and beliefs and tend to view the wife or in some cases the Husband as an outsider notwithstanding the years of marriage , there is the need to step back once our loved ones get married and ensure that we give them the space they need to bond. That is not to say we shouldn’t come to their aid where there is trouble but we shouldn’t expect to occupy the same status we had in their lives. I haven’t done any research on my opinion, but I firmly believe that most of those who wonder as to why a person will choose their spouse over their siblings and most spouses who fight against the closeness of their spouse to members of their family do so mainly from a place of fear driven by tradition and other people’s experiences.
The truth is that spouses and family members need to know and understand that no one can take their place in another’s life. A wife cannot take the place of a mother, a husband cannot take the place of a father, spouses cannot take the place of siblings who share a common heritage and siblings cannot be all that a spouse is or should be to their partners. Everyone has their unique place in our lives and we need the totality of these relationships to make us whole.
For those who still want to maintain status quo in the lives of family members who are married, my suspicions are that you have been bitten by the green eyed monster “jealousy” and are jealous of the monies being spent or the attention and care being showered on the other person. The jealousy and fear has its foundation in the feeling that these “intruders” will take your place in your loved ones lives and make you irrelevant.
Conflicts in marriage due to the in-laws are common but most times they arise and are fueled by our immaturity in handling the situation. Most of us will acknowledge with the benefit of hindsight that somethings were not worth the fight or putting our foot down and that we could have compromised instead of having a hard stance and throwing our relationship into disarray.
Finally, I cannot but comment on the snide remarks of those who are waiting for Harry and Meghan to separate especially because they feel that Harry has given up too much for her and my answer is “It is better to have loved deeply and totally without any holds barred than to always withhold your affections in the fear that you will be taken advantage of.” There exists Love that can make all opposition and vitriol worthwhile even if it lasts a short time and it’s my prayer that we each find such love even if it is once in our lifetime.