"There is no more lovely, friendly or charming relationship, communion or company, than a good marriage." ~Martin Luther

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Parental Consent in Marriage

I was reading online about arranged marriages in some countries like Indian where the parents introduce a son or daugher to a potential spouse based on set criteria that they have. Most of these marriages seem to last (note this is not the same as forced marriages). This got me thinking about what impact parents have on their children having successful marriages. I believe even when you select your husband or wife to be- the blessing/approval of your parent is vital before you tie the knot. Now there are exceptions to the rule where some parents are just unreasonable for no just cause so this post isn’t dealing with such anomalies. I have found though that more often than not, godly parents who have been involved in the life of their children want what is best for them even in marriages.

From the movie: Father of the bride

There is a saying from my culture that goes, "a child may have many clothes like an adults but cannot have many rags like an adults." This means older people generally know more about life than younger people since they have gone through life and experienced life more. As a result when it comes to marriage, the criteria they have for choosing a partner might differ from what a young person considers as ideal. Parents in Nigeria (where I come from) look at things like background, the dynamics of the other family itself, status, health etc. Some even go as far as checking if there are any hereditary diseases in the other family.

From the little I have observed around me- when parents are against a union, few years down the line you beginning to hear of serious issues in that marriage sometimes resulting to separation or divorce. Please note I am not saying this happens all the time. Because we are so "in love" and on cloud 9, we cannot always see where our parents, our family or even friends are coming from when they say they have their doubts. Let your parents be a litmus test especially when you know they love you and want the best for you.

Deuteronomy 5:16 says- “Honour your father and your mother… then you will live a long full life in the land the Lord your God is giving you." This is the first commandment with a promise and such a powerful promise it is. The average person who gets married and lives long will spend most of his/her adult life married. So having a long full married life I believe will be covered by this promise if we honour our parents' perspective. Sometimes young people believe their knowledge of their particular situation is wiser than the wisdom of their parents whom God has ordained to lead/guide them.

Personally, I think every intended couple should endeavour to have their parents’ blessings before entering into marriage. In a scenario where the parents have their doubt, find out what it is and see if it is something you can clear up with them. Be honest with them and let them get to know your man/woman better. It might just be a case of a misunderstanding, misinformation or miscommunication.  If it is deeper than that and you are sure this is the man or woman for you, then go to God in prayer to change their heart. There is nothing impossible with God.

Of course there are cases of people who married their partners against their parents wish and are genuniely happy and sometimes the parents even came around. I personally would rather just have the approval (which I before tying the knot. Remember your parents will always be in your life and will also become grandparents to your children, so ask yourself if it is really worth getting married without their blessing.

Ultimately the success of a marriage depends on both people in the marriage, however the foundation of a marriage counts in this success as well.

What are your thoughts on this? Do you think having your parents blessing or approval is important before you get married? If no, I’ll like to know more as I am sure some cases are not clear cut. Some people are still waiting for parents approval for years. I genuinely sympathise with you and pray God directs such people in the way to go.

Please note that this post doesn't address complex issues that may exist in some families. I am simply just sharing my point of view.

The book series will resume in the new year. Compliments of the season!!!

Sunday, 11 December 2011

Understanding Each Other- Part III of the Communication Series

source: google images
Finally we address the last component of the communication process- Understanding. SH says "if every husband and wife spent as much time trying to understand their partner as they do in seeking to be understood, there would be fewer hassles and problems in marriage." When we aim to be understood and we are not, we end up feeling bitter, miserable and resentful but when we aim to understand our partner, our partner feels less defensive, opens up which in turns helps them to understand us. Understanding is putting yourself in the other person's shoes

Sometimes our partners behave in a way which causes us to be impatient or irritated with them. Our aim is first of all to try and understand why they behaved that way. According to psychologists "all behaviour is caused".  Something causes us to behave the way we do in any given situation.

Sometimes our behaviour is triggered by our upbringing or something someone said, or something that occurred. Some times you find out you are upset but can't remember what triggered it. With some digging you can almost pinpoint what caused you to feel that way.

Sometimes people bring situations from past relationships into their marriage- something SH terms as transference. "This is when a person projects a problem of the past- a bad relationship, a traumatic event onto a person or a situation in the present." It could be feelings towards an abusive father or ex boyfriend now projected on a husband, or the betrayal of an ex girlfriend which causes you to get defensive in your marriage. When couples communication at  level 4& 5 discussed in this post, issues like these are brought to the fore front and each person can understand where the other person is coming from.

We all have an inner child which influences and interferes with our adult lives and relationships. Learning to spot the inner child- both in yourself and your partner will help you to understand yourself and your partner better.

Our upbringing has a great impact on our lives. For example- when a wife nag her husband, he is reminded of his mother's constant correcting as a child and his inner child reacts in defence. It is paramount that we observe our partners, what they like or dislike, what triggers positive and negative reactions in them. By doing this we can aim to eradicate what triggers the negative and enhance the happy triggers. We then open up the lines of communication.

So next time your husband or wife behave in a strange manner, do some digging to try and understand why. Pray that the Lord will grant you the grace to understand them rather than to be understood. By practising the other two components- speaking and listening with understanding you are on your way to establishing effective communication which will transform your marriage.

Future reading- A post on Understanding by Favoured Girl.

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Sunday, 4 December 2011

Listening Effectively- Part II of the Communication Series

Today we continue discussing effective communication. Check out Part I on Talking here.

Listening is the second most important aspect of good communication. Most people will rather talk than listen. Especially when we are upset or hurt, we want to be assertive and get our feelings out there!

source: google images
James 1:19 says- Let every man be quick to hear, slow to speak , slow to take offense and to get angry. 

Listening means making an effort to concentrate on what a person is saying, and being as eager to listen as you are to speak. Someone once said- the reason why God made us with one mouth and two ears is because he wanted us to listen twice as much as we speak. I mean, think about it, makes sense doesn't it?

SH mentioned that communication experts have a term to describe poor listening habits- 'egospeak'. This is when you are already thinking of what you are going to say once the other person has stopped talking. Or jumping in before the other person has finished speaking. Do you see yourself having egospeak. I think most of us have it!

Good listening has to be learnt as it doesn't come naturally to us. Here are some pointers SH presenter:

Recognise the obstacles that prevent effective listening and work on practical steps to eliminating them. One major obstacle is defensiveness. Think about it, when you are defensive all you are thinking about is how to make your position on an issue known, shooting down the other person's comments and why they are wrong and why you are right. You think less of what the other person has to say.

Another obstacle is self centredness or self preoccupation. This is where ego comes in. The ego need to talk rather than to listen. You know, when you are more interested in yourself than in your partner. If we focus on developing genuine love we can become better listeners.

Another obstacle to good listening is physical or mental fatigue. When you try to discuss important issues at the wrong time, listening becomes a great burden. Observe your partner and know when they are more alert and rested before trying to discuss serious matters.

Can you think of any other obstacles to effective listening??

Learn to listen to the feelings behind a person's words and not just the words. SH says- "there is no better way of assuring a person that you are a perspective listener than when you identify the feelings that lies underneath the words." It is the quickest way of making a person feel understood and when a person feels understood, they become less defensive and more cooperative. This takes discipline and practice but often yields great results.

SH gave an exercise in the book with some statements and a list of feelings to associate with those statements.

One way to develop perspective listening is repeating to your partner precisely what you have heard them say. This gives them a chance to confirm or deny the accuracy of what you have understood them say as communication could get distorted between sender and receiver.  Of course this shouldn't be done for every single conversation but for the specially important and crucial conversations.  Most times we assume we know where the other person is going with a conversation which ends up not being the case.  Restating what your partner says indicates a commitment to your partner's well being. You are letting him or her know that you are interested and care about how he or she feels.

Learn to listen as it can bring about a transformation in your marriage.

I have missed some parts in this section as it was more practical with scenarios but hopefully the points above will still be helpful. We will discuss "Understanding", the last important component of effective communication next time.  

I found this picture online and though it seems funny the message is simple and makes plenty sense :)

source: google images.

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