• Fri. May 24th, 2024


Nov 18, 2017

God the creator of humanity and of marriage itself has laid out his plans for marriage as a lifelong union. God knows this design is the best. When we stray from his plans, the results are damaging on many levels.
Unfortunately, the rate of divorce in the Church is comparable to that of the larger society. Many people see nothing wrong with divorce; however, it should better be imagined than experienced.
Marriage is the first institution created by God. God made the first man, Adam and then created a woman, Eve. He blessed them and their union and gave them the earth to rule over. The creation of marriage occurred prior to the entrance of sin into the world, when man disobeyed God.
On the other hand, divorce is the tearing apart of the foundation of all stable societies, which is the family. It is most unfortunate that the rate of divorce in our society today is greatly on the increase with severe dangers associated with it.
Hence, the need for all to join hands together to nip the menace of divorce from our society becomes imperative, in order to foster peaceful co-existence and mutual relationship among married couples
According to Chief (Dr.) F. A. Onyekpeze “As a social institution, marriage touches on the social structure of the Ika society and changes in the system of marriage in the community affect it. Once an indigenous marriage was contracted under Ika native law and custom, it had recognized stamp of permanency. Before the advent of the British rule, the separation of husband and wife was an extremely rare occurrence because divorce as a judicial proceeding was unknown under the indigenous system. In addition, disputes were always settled by the families or the couples. If after arbitration by the families, a woman insisted on deserting her husband; and if every persuasive means proved ineffective, she was compelled to remain with her husband. There were, however, cases of temporary separation due to very serious disagreements, which under western standard, would inevitably lead to divorce proceedings. But under Ika traditional marriage system, the wife under such circumstance went to stay with her parents. Ultimately, settlement was made by arbitration; the man presenting Kola nuts and other consumables to his parents-in-law before taking his wife back.
To keep wives submissive, husbands often sent them temporarily to the harems of their important relatives, Chiefs or the Obi/Okparan-Uku. In such circumstances such women in the harems taught the wives lessons in national harmony through the hard way. Such wives were made to do excessive work for the women in the harems. They would be staved and given various punishments. Besides all these, were the temporary loss of husband’s company and the deprivation of freedom associated with their own homes? It was no wonder that such wives usually pleaded after a while to be sent back to their husbands. It is true that many may frown on these practices and qualify them with derisive adjectives, but there is no doubt that such imposition of discipline by families on married people made for ultimate stability in marriage. It inculcated in those affected, a spirit of tolerance, which is very necessary for the success of marriages. It can be plausibly argued that the forcible detention of women in their husbands, houses was a stern disciplinary measure which operated for the good of the community.
In very exceptional cases, divorce was “theoretically” granted for reasons of impotence on the part of the husband or sterility on the part of the wife; persistent and unbearable cruelty and desertion by the husband or wife over a long period as well as for incurable and disease in either party. Theoretically in actual practice, in the olden days, most of the above reasons did not constitute sufficient grounds for divorces. Importance, for example, was often concealed. The woman usually solved the problem her own way with the husband’s connivance on the understanding that the resultant children belonged to her husband. Sterility was often sidetracked by the husband’s resort to polygamy with the wife’s support. Persistent quarrels and cruel treatments usually brought the intervention of the families or village elders and chiefs and these very rarely led to a divorce.
A typical marriage in Ika was a family affair. It was a form of contract between two families of the marrying pair and not just between individuals. The origin of this aspect of the contract lay probably in the fact that before a suitor’s kola nuts, wine and other offerings or services were accepted in respect of a particular girl intended for a wife, the family usually deliberated fully with the girl’s parents. The antecedents of the suitor were weighed and all other attendant circumstances in the proposed union considered. Consequently, the two individuals, by their marriage, served as the bond or link between the two families. Where two families were on very good terms, or where two friends belonged to the same society, marriage was easily arranged between their children. Matrimony was used in such cases to cement inter-family relationships. As mentioned earlier, the families settled any serious misunderstanding between the pair because disagreements which threatened the marriage with failure were regarded as a disgrace to both families. In other words, the two families had a stake in the success of the marriage.
Until the bride price was paid, the marriage process was not regarded as completed, neither was the contract-validated. Like as it is today, there was no fixed bride price under the pre-colonial Ika marriage system.
Following the British conquest, the general political and economic impact of the colonial rule resulted in considerable modifications in Ika traditional marriage system. One of the most important of the new influence under colonial rule which affected the Ika marriage institution, was the gory and expansion of education. It resulted in girls’ rejecting matrimonial arrangements entered into by their parents when they were young.
Secondly, as a by-product of education and advancing civilization came the gradual emancipation of women, girls grew to detest the absence of choice in their marriage and many began to insist on selecting husbands for themselves. It became generally known that the District officers frowned at the practice which gave girls away in marriage without their consent. Parents were fined in native courts if their daughters were courageous enough to throw themselves at the feet of the District Officers as helpless victims of their parents’ decision to force them into unions against their will.
On its own, Christianity which followed the flag brought in its wake, the same familiar social and political changes as associated with other parts of Nigeria. Its influence on the marriage system was monogamy in place of polygamous marriages. Girls who became converts repudiated their betrothal to pagan suitors and usually refunded bride price.
An important aspect of the Ika traditional marriage which was significantly altered by the colonial rule was the indissolubility. This was done mainly through the machinery of the native court system. In this respect, divorce as a judicial proceeding was established by the native courts. Provincial officer’s presiding over the courts or superintending them in Ika and other areas of the then Benin province) saw nothing wrong in helping to break marriages, which from all indications had hit the rock or were on the verge of complete breakdown. Under changed circumstances and changing social setting, the machinery for upholding traditional marriage institution could no longer function.
In her contribution, Mrs. J. Okobia, said “one major factor is our value system, we have lost the expected value in almost every facet of our life. For example, God instituted marriage as a life time issue, a relationship to be cherished between two people. Companionship is one major aspect of marriage, then procreation comes in but you see that most people enter into marriage with lack of understanding; what I mean by lack of understanding is if you have understood that this person you are going into marriage with is for a life time, you will take your time to consider the person in totality, understand whether he is a kind of person whom you can actually spend your time with, many of us do not do that. We just talk of love which we do not understand. The bible says “love covereth all sin”, but because we do not have this type of love that covers all sins and weaknesses, rather we have what I call infatuation, people get infatuated carry it into marriage as they get into marriage they now begin to find out that oh this person, I am not compatible with him, this person wouldn’t have been the person I would have spent my time with, regrets comes in you begin to find faults here and there, begin to compare your spouse with people outside, you have forgotten that you are a different person, so also your partner. You don’t expect two of you to behave the same way, for naturally even twins do not behave the same way; they have their differences even when they are identical so when you have decided to marry a man or woman you must be prepared to face whatever challenges that will come up, knowing that you are from two different family background more so when people now use Christianity to deceive themselves getting into inter-tribal marriage, God knows the implications of inter-tribal marriage that is why he restricted the Jews not to marry outside their own tribe, even till today you can hardly see a Jew marry outside his or her tribe but you see us an Urhobo man going to marry an Ika lady, you have forgotten that you have different traditions, customs and beliefs even values; then after six months into the marriage you begin to find negative things that you use as excuses, to say no you can’t stay with this person any longer.
So if we want to minimize the rate of divorce, we much first of all understand what marriage is all about, some will tell you that you don’t endure marriage, there are things which you must endure because they are two different people from two different backgrounds with two different upbringings. So you must be patient, you must be tolerant; you must make excuses for the next person, knowing that you are two different persons. Not everything that your partner does will irritate you or you look for the third person. If you have this understanding you will hardly consider divorce.
Secondly, you need to understand that once you have children in the marriage, you have a third party, you must be very sensitive in dealing with that third party that is the child or children because it is no longer you or your spouse; you have now brought in the third party. The moment you think of divorce remember that the emotional torture is going to rest on this children. The children will now begin to take sides either positively or negatively. Like my own mother told me she said by the time you want to marry be sure, because where you have your children you must remain there until death, she practicalized it and anytime I remember that, no matter what my husband does I will think of these children and say No, if I make any stupid move the children would be victims; the children must be considered and many of us doesn’t consider our children. A woman may say I will leave with my children, while some will say no, I will leave the children; then when you leave the children, you leave them with improper upbringing and they may grow up to become truants in the society, they may become your own enemy because you have robbed them of their parental care which they would have gotten. You will see that out inability to consider the intricacies of marriage is the major factor of divorce.
Another one from the point of the women is that most women feel that their husbands should be everything, he married me, he has to take care of me and all the responsibilities, no, “it takes two to tangle”, if your left hand washes the right, the right hand washes the left hand, the two will be clean; you must compliment, that is what the bible says, “you are a help mate”, you must be there to support, don’t suck him dry to satisfy yourself and your own family without considering his family, if you do the end may be divorce.
To have a sustainable marriage, you must avoid the third party because most time when you tell the third party this is what I am suffering in my marriage, she will say ah, God forbids if I am the one, I can’t take it from any man or I can’t take it from any woman, where as he or she takes much more than that from his or her own spouse. If we are able to curtail these areas and also always understand that God instituted marriage, you must invite Jesus Christ into your home, for “the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom”, when you have that wisdom you will be able to surmount whatever problem that may arise in your marriage. You must consider God, give our lives to Christ, give our marriage to Christ; make him the head of our home and you will see that the issue of divorce will be minimized.
Conclusively, the world is becoming too porous, families should advise their children on the need of courtship before marriage, a period to understand yourselves in order to know your strength and weaknesses, whether both of you are compatible or not for a life time union. Above all you should commit your marriage to God, by inviting Christ into your home; and always protect and guide your marriage with prayers, love and understanding.

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