Family Series (2): Contraception, Divorce and Single Parenthood

African American family at homeWe got together again, this time with Mrs C. Ujubuoñu for the second part of the family series. Her session was captioned “Authentic spousal love, divorce and single parenthood” and in her self-engaging manner, she got us all not only thinking, but laughing as well.

Sounding out the participants, she asked, “what is marriage?”, some of their replies were, “marriage is a continuation of a relationship”, “an honest form of expressing love” and “a total giving of one’s self”. Very nice answers. But we all agree that what we see now is far from the ideal. Marriage is a pyramid with God at the peak. It can be likened to a climb, where the spouses have their sights fixed on God. The million dollar question now is, “why do many marriages fail?” To answer this question, she started from talking about true love.

Essentially, there are three stages when it comes to true love;

  1. Romance: this is the chemistry and most people don’t go beyond this stage.
  2. Friendship: this involves a lot of selflessness and is the basis of a lasting marriage, and finally we arrive at
  3. Betrothed love or spousal love.

If (1) and (2) do not go well, then (3) will not work out. The problem starts when we get the first stage wrong, that is, confusing romantic love with the ultimate love. Paraphrasing Nicholas Cage, “If a guy asks for your body parts, send him to KFC.”

Friendship leads to courtship and during courtship, we look out for traits of selflessness in our betrothed. Does he put me first? Do I put him first or am I more interested in what he is or what I can get from him? Can I play/laugh with him? Does he understand my jokes? Am I proud of him? Is he my friend? If the answer to all this is “yes”, then that’s a solid relationship and a good foundation to a long, happy marriage. If the answer is “no”, then we have not started. If we focus only on what we can get out of it, then we are headed for divorce faster than we can say I do.

Large Family

Marriage is about sacrifices. Do not let yourselves be blinded by passions, open your eyes during courtship. The signs will always be there. They say “love is blind”, but it can put on glasses. Once he puts a ring on your finger, there is no going back. Authentic spousal love has no “I” factor. Romantic love has to be transformed into friendship. It is when this does not happen that divorce becomes an escape route for some. Arguments are inevitable, problems will abound, but couples have to form a strong friendship between them to be victorious.

Contraceptives make a huge mess of marital love and friendship because it is contra everything true of conjugal love. True conjugal love must be human, total, faithful, exclusive and fruitful. Saying “yes” to contraceptives is saying “no” to children who are the fruits and crowning glory of conjugal love and the use of contraceptives could also be the beginning of distrust between couples. Unmarried people have no business engaging in the conjugal act.

Single parent2

These matters, if not well handled, lead to divorce and single parenthood which can be very sad and filled with bitterness. Children from such homes, if care is not taken, usually end up as social misfits or have strong aversions to marriage. The only solution is to prevent it from happening and this boils down to what was said in the first seminar, “get to know the person you want to marry”. If love is blind, then marriage is an eye opener, be ready to make compromises, respect, love and trust your spouse. Marriage is a forever thing.

Marriage is a joint effort of the man and the woman but the onus is on the mother and wife to make sure that her marriage is divorce proof. She has to put in measures to ensure that nothing competes with her family even if it means taking a lesser job so she can be available for her family. No amount of protest, modernization or feminism will turn a woman into a man. We are just different and the earlier we understand and accept this complementarity of the man and the woman, the better for us. The way we keep going on about gender equality is not exactly helping matters.

By way of conclusion, she advised against the temptation to use contraceptives even in the face of the noblest of reasons. There is just no need. The risks far outweigh whatever benefits it may claim to have. So we can choose to be open to life whenever it comes. All in all, it was a well spent two hours of enlightenment and fun.

Published by Afara Leadership Centre

Afara Leadership Centre was set up in 1987 to provide an enabling environment for total personal development as well as growth in leadership skills and values for young women in their years of secondary and tertiary education. It is located at 25 Thorburn Avenue, off Montgomery, Yaba, Lagos State, Nigeria. It is a project of Women’s Board of the Education Cooperation Society, a Nigerian not-for-profit, non-governmental organization. The spiritual formation given in the Centre is entrusted to Opus Dei, an institution of the Catholic Church

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