Which ‘picture of marriage’ do you have in your mind?



Which ‘picture of marriage’ do you have in your mind?
by John Kpikpi

Next in importance to being clear about what kind of man or woman you ought to marry, is the matter of finding out what ‘picture of marriage’ is in any prospective partner’s mind.

We all have different ideas in our minds about marriage.  We may have drawn these from observing marriages around us as we grew up or absorbed them unconsciously from the cultures and traditions of the tribes and nations to which we belong.

If the picture of marriage in a husband’s head is different from that which is in his wife’s head they will find that they are either on a constant collision course with each other or actually going in opposite directions – whereas the expectation for a happy marriage is that the two persons will be pulling in the same direction!

Often such a couple have no idea what is ‘biting’ them in their relationship.  Let’s look at an example…

In some cultures, a young bride is expected by her extended family to divert as much money as possible from her new marriage to her siblings and parents.  In such cultures it would be considered a real mark of success if the lady managed to build an entire house for ‘her people’ at the expense of her husband and the new family unit they are supposedly building together.

Imagine the conflict and confusion in the family finances if a husband is struggling to build a home for the nuclear family while his wife’s undisclosed agenda is to build a house for her extended family members (who are actually the ones she is thinking of when she thinks of ‘her family’!)


This clash of ideas about (or pictures of) marriage is also seen when a man who grew up in a large polygamous family – where his dad had, say, five wives – finds it difficult to understand why his wife is so upset to discover that he has had (‘only’) one or two affairs!

So what is the picture of marriage in your mind?  Since we are all products of our cultures, we can perhaps restate the question like this:  What are the expectations of your tribe for marriage?

And if an Ashanti man marries a Hausa woman, which tribe’s ideas about marriage should ‘rule’ the house?  If the husband and wife both want to hold on intently to their very different cultural traditions they will find many things impossible to reconcile.

But there is a way out:  God has His picture of marriage in His mind and He has arranged matters so that it has all been written down for us in the Bible!  Compared to all our personal and tribal images of marriage, I think God’s image must be the best one by far since He made marriage in the first place.

So here is our answer. If we insist on building to our own personal mental images or to our tribal or national pictures of marriage, we will generate many impossible situations because these pictures are all so very different from each other. However, if a couple adopts God’s picture of marriage, which is only one, they will both be aiming for the same things and heading in the same direction – the right and best direction – and success and happiness will be theirs.


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