By Abdulwarees Solanke, Voice of Nigeria
The real force field of our lives is the value system we adhere to. By force field, I mean those indices that are drivers in our lives and those factors that constitute restraints on us. They serve as our motivational elements and preventive indicators.
The value system we uphold is one of the shapers of our choices and the compass or regulator of our direction in life. In this context, I will be reflecting on value systems to which families subscribe and how they influence choices in life as they relate even to marriages.
However, please note that I am not a marriage counsellor, nor a family psychology specialist. I do not even have sufficient experience that can remedy most marital misfortunes. Neither am I qualified as a family moulding expert.
Yet I am old enough to observe what kills many marriages, wrecks many homes and shatters many families, having lived among different families and cultures, listened to conflict resolution discussion programmes on air and intervened in marriage disputes of very few friends.
It is an issue of conflicting value systems among many marital mates or spouses and not a lack of love. Attachment or conviction in that value system each party in the family upholds underscore the conflicting values.
The value system determines the class you move in, the company you keep, your choices and your preferences. It also colours your aspirations, indeed your ambition. Such value defines your path and your pursuits.
It shapes your orientation and your interests too. The basis of our communication, association and interaction is basically the values we uphold. Similarly, our values condition our reactions to any situation. It animates our interests. It also moderates our innate or natural tendencies and instincts.
On the choice of marital mates: if in search of a spouse, you disdain or trivialise your value system, the likelihood is that sooner or later your marriage will run into a storm. This is because we are supposed to marry our soul mates. A Yoruba adage says (roughly translates) when we meet our soul mates, we become engrossed in animated discussion.
Who are our soul mates, those we share many things in common? They may not necessarily be our husbands or wives in the first instance, nor could they be uterine brothers and sisters.
We do not need we have known them for years before saying ‘I Do’ at the colourful, elaborate ceremony called a wedding, sanctified by a chief imam or presiding pastor, or before a small crowd of friends and families at the court registry. No.
When we are making the choice of life partners, they are expected to be among those with whom we share common values and outlook on life, with the potential of becoming our soul mates, because when we marry our soul mates, the home will be fun-filled, and there will always be love in the air.
Communication will be honest, open and unhindered. We will easily know what each is driving at. Things will be mutual. No tendency of competition, but complementing one another. Body language will be straight to understand between such spouses. No misreading or misjudgement and no suspicion, but respect and honour for each other.
But when the choice of a spouse is based on criteria that discount the commonality of values, they have to align their different values to forge a common value. Or better still, one party should totally abandon the value from which he or she is coming. He or she may need to wholeheartedly assimilate into the new values of the would-be spouse. Unless any of these happens, there is little guarantee that the marriage will succeed.
This is because, in the future, a crucial index of value they neglected will later determine the health of their family. This is because the reason for the crash of many marriages is a conflict of values. Many homes are disjointed, each party going in different directions on fundamental issues that require unanimity.
So, studying maladjustment of many children, disjoining of families or collapse of marriages is likely to be explained as incompatibility. What a euphemism for conflict of values!
I have seen marriages crashing because of the complaint of disrespect for each other’s parents, treatment or reception of friends, non-attendance or participation in family festivities and rites and so many trivial kinds of stuff.
Such trivialities ordinarily could be talked over if they are of the same orientation or they have mutual respect in the conflict mechanism tools and facilitators called to intervene when crisis brew because the likelihood is that such facilitators will be accused of being interested parties and would not be neutral depending on his or her own orientation or background too.
For instance, if you are of the royal class and already groomed in regal carriage, comportment or character, it will be risky to marry outside the royal class or the aristocracy because royal or aristocratic adaptation takes long. If you are a scholar, your best choice is among those who value scholarship and research.
And if you are an artisan, find your mate among artisans who appreciate your profession and easily understand your job. If you are a Pentecostal, marry a charismatic as a complement in firepower prayers.
And if you are Muslim, seek a perfect partner that would help you live the Islamic way of life. That is what can lead you on the path of perfection, not one who will drag you out of your fold.
No marriage is immune from conflict but conflicts are easily resolved with the instrumentality of value system parameters. Most people who have marital crises, early or later in life, are victims because they were never sincere. Or they lack conviction in their original value system or culture.
Such people are hypocritical in their conviction or subscription, inconsistent or lacking depth in and appreciation for it. They are merely sitting on the fence, without full engagement. Better still, they were woodpeckers in their fold.
If you must marry outside your value system and succeed at it, know that you must willingly forego your own. This calls for compromise on your part, assimilation or adaptation, learning, tolerance and sacrifice.
You must be ready to change by developing honour and respect for that value that is strange to you before. And you have to be comfortable with its rites and revere its symbols. You must learn to be at home and even advance in its ideology and schools of thought, spiritual orientation or social circles.
Then you become adoptee of new culture or heritage, ethnic affiliation and religious subscription by conviction in new value system. Then, your family can face one direction.
You can be uniform in everything to have a home filled with love and affection. This is where children would not take sides on the basis of convenience and prejudices. This was illustrated in the popular but now-rested TV sitcom, Fuji House of Commotion. A disjointed family of conflicting values.
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