By Tumusiime K. Deo
If Jesus were to return today, I am certain he would have no kind words for the present generation in Uganda. I imagine he would rebuke us as Paul did to the Galatians thus; “You foolish Ugandans, who put a spell on you? Why do you turn the world’s most sacred institution of human existence into a business? Where would all of you be if your parents had been divorced?”
I have been listening to discussions about the so-called Marriage and Divorce Bill currently being attended to by Parliament, and everyone seems to be more interested in divorce and who should get what when marriage is terminated. If we continue to focus so much on material things that will pass away, we lose sight of the eternal blessings of the institution of marriage. The union of two individuals in marriage is supposed by far to be one of the most sacred engagements in one’s lifetime, surpassing time, money, emotions, and all forms of material wealth and possessions.
In any case, the greatest asset that anyone should apportion at dissolution of marriage is actually not the money, not the wealth, but the heart. When we fall in love, we enter into each other’s heart with our nakedness and our soul. This soul that defines our love, for heaven’s sake does not need clothes; neither does it need money; it does not need a house; it does not need a car- for its permanent home is the heart and that’s where the gist of any marriage resides. A lot of the happenings in the act of love occur in that heart that many of us do not see. So if we cannot apportion our hearts, which are most important in marriage, why does material possession suddenly become very important that it should even be legislated upon?
When I first met my wife, for example, I honestly knew nothing about her family background or her education or her religion, her material possession and I didn’t even know she loved me too in the first place. All I knew was that I loved the girl. As we progressed in our relationship, we continued to discover ourselves further and by the time we tied the knot, we both were set for the massive commitment. Since our wedding six years ago, we’ve both been accumulating different forms of wealth aimed at facilitating our physical survival. When we got children, they became key stakeholders in our marriage, and suddenly we live more for them than ourselves. How can anyone explain a situation where a man walks into a supermarket and spends his entire wallet shopping for his wife and children and sometimes forgetting about himself? How can you explain the heart with which it takes for a wife to bear labour pains and raise us all up from zero to where we are, before legislating on divorcing them! No percentage can ever be justifiable share of family proceeds, none at all. Marriage is invaluable; our contribution to the same is invaluable; and our love is absolutely invaluable.
The problems we are witnessing in marriage today have not just started in our generation. From time immemorial, challenges did exist in marriage, but our mothers and their mothers and their mothers’ mothers down to our ancestor Eve did not divorce. Even when their actions threatened to separate them from the glory of God, Eve and Adam did not throw in the towel-perhaps if they had, the rest of us would never have seen the light of day.
This business of marriage and divorce is dangerous and risky to human existence, and it will only make human beings to live superficial lives. We might start seeing husbands and wives making independent investments to avoid any unnecessary impasse in case of divorce, when in actual sense everything in marriage should add up to one. Anyone that does not believe in the principle of oneness should have no space in the marriage institution, because he or she will be sure to fail whatsoever. The fuel that drives the most successful marriages is sacrifice, sacrifice and sacrifice; and the secret tool is patience; and the engine of marriage is friendship. These virtues are no sold in any supermarket in the world.
I can understand that some partners in marriage start sweet, then they get bitter and later terribly sour. However, each of those stages should be treated as an opportunity rather a reason to abdicate. Not so much that people should first fight before enjoying themselves, but this real life experience underscored the divinity of marriage as an institution of human existence. That said, there’s a spiritual component in marriage that surpasses what we can see with our naked eyes.
The above sounds rather naïve especially considering that some people have lost their lives through brutal marriages, but I think we should not lose the bigger picture. If a man is unusually brutal, he must be apprehended according to the existing law regime as experts and the community, undertake correctional measures. At the end of the day, the family institution must remain intact. For those lucky to have adult children, these provide a perfect opportunity for reconciliation. I never forget the moments when my daughter has held my hand and my wife’s hand together to reconcile us after a brawl-yet if we were to sort things out in a court of law, we’d actually be creating wider dents than solving the problem at stake.
I think the sanctity of marriage must be kept away from politicking. All material things will pass away, but three things shall remain; Faith, Hope and Love. I actually think that the marriage vow should be edited to allow intending couples commit to their love even beyond the confines of death since as Christians we believe in life after death. This is how serious marriage ought to be treated, period.
The writer is a media practitioner