A man shall leave his father and his mother, and shall become united and cleave to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. This is the structure of the institution called marriage. Considering this injunction, would you allow your extended family members to interfere in your family crisis?
On WhatsApp Conversation, these are what those who joined the conversation and our expert said on the issue:
Marriage is between two grown-up adults and not an extended family affair. I noticed that when you have an argument with your spouse and family interferes, it takes a longer time to reach a consensus. They rather negatively influence things and make you look like a fool. I would advise that when couples have a problem, they should solve it amicably.
I hope people don’t ruin their lives because of so-called modernisation and private life. If the private life was going so good in the first place, the couple would not be faced with such big challenge. When two people are angry and in a hot-headed fight, it takes a third party to moderate and help instill some form of sanity. Sometimes, help is needed even when not openly accepted.
Most people see nothing wrong in allowing extended family influence their matrimonial homes when there is crisis. But there is personal question I always ask married folks who fall the victims of such, having realised their mistakes: ‘On the day of your marital vows, did any of your family members take these vows with you? No. It is for better and for worse.
Not until it is necessary or in an extreme case. When two have become one, external bodies are not needed, including friends and family members. And, for every sin, there should be space for amendment or forgiveness. We are humans after all.
It depends on the type of crisis. There are certain things extended family members are to tend to. When it is marital, divorce and related issues, the extended family members are to interfere because that is the marital relationships that make the extended family exist in the first place. But cases like children, career, health and others are not their problems.
It depends on the escalation level. If it is something I could still curtail my family and I would paddle our canoe. If it is otherwise, I would seek help from my extended family. After all, that is what family is all about.
It depends on the nature of the crisis. If it is one that threatens the existence of the union such that it involves families A and B, the extended family may be involved. In Yoruba, there is an adage which says: You can condone a bad wife but not a bad in-law. What it simply means is that you must have a family to talk to when you find yourself in such situation.
Family members are third parties in a marriage. There is limitation to the level of interference. A man and a woman should be mature emotionally, financially, intellectually, spiritually, psychologically, economically and sociologically. Any deviation from the aforementioned level of maturity, paves way for foreign bodies.
I believe we are both mature enough to handle our misunderstanding, and if is beyond our control we would invite our pastor. Allowing extended family members to interfere in my family crisis is like exposing my family secrets.
Dr Andy Kwakpovwe, a relationship coach, is our expert on this issue. He noted that marriage is an exclusive union, a two-person arrangement, leaving out all other parties. This is why wedding vows often include the phrase, “forsaking all others.” There are two types of third parties in every marriage. We have destructive third parties and supportive third parties. Any third party that does not strengthen the union and causes couples to grow apart is a destructive third party and should be avoided. Not all third parties are destructive to a marriage. Some third parties are good.
Crisis is normal in marriages. When they come, we trust God to resolve them. This has been a great strength marriage. Bringing in a destructive third party into an exclusive union can often result to a problem called triangulation which is one of the great enemies of good marriages. A ‘triangle’ is created when a wife (Person A) goes to a friend (Person C) for something that she should go to her husband (Person B) for. In this, a spouse is taking a part of his/her heart away from his/her spouse and bringing it to a third party. Any of these external sources gives an unhealthy counsel that might nosedive the marriage. This is not only painful, but also unjust. It works against God’s intention for marriage—a mysterious unity that brings the couple closer to each other in ever-deepening ways.
Destructive triangulation betrays trust and fractures the union. This is why God is so adamant about honest, direct relationships. He hates the deception and indirectness of triangulation. Gossip, for example, is a form of triangulation. A person who gossips separates close friends. God tells us to speak the truth in love. If you happen to be Person C—the one in the middle of two spouses—you may think you are helping the couple. If you are involved in two people moving farther apart, you are a destructive third party in spite of your good intentions. Marriage requires a great deal of safety for intimacy to grow. Marriage brings out the most vulnerable, fragile parts of us. And these vulnerable parts need a warm, grace-filled and secure environment to grow. If a third party threatens this, these fragile parts cannot be safe enough to emerge, connect, and develop.
Next week on WhatsApp Conversation, we would be treating: If being faithful is easy, then why do so many people cheat?
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