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Does tradition affect the way you express your love?

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When my mother died in the early nineties at the age of sixty, I did not know that the effect would be so much on my father, who was then sixty-eight years old. While we were preparing for my mother’s burial, my father entered my mother’s room, called her name and left very sad. It was that day I knew that my father loved my mother so much. Like I have had cause to tell people, I never saw them hug each other any day, not to talk of kissing each other. I never heard my father openly say words of love to my mother any day, though she gave birth to eleven of us (a football team). He was a kind man, who worked so hard to provide for my mother and the whole family’s needs, but there was something missing-the ability to express love to his wife. It is under this traditional marriage atmosphere that was a little better than that of Okonkwo in Chinua Achebe’s “Things Fall Apart” that I grew up.

For those who might have read Chinua Achebe’s “Things Fall Apart” or watched it as a stage play or film, the main character, by name Okonkwo, was so traditionally buried in the Igbo culture of his home town Umuofia to the extent that he was not ready to accept any other new way to love and live with a changing society.

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Sometime ago, a young man said, “I love my wife but I do not just know how to express love. I was not brought up like that.” Some people have been heard to say, “I am a typical Yoruba man. I’m not an English man, so I cannot show love.” Some say I am a typical Igbo man. You don’t expect me to be holding my wife’s hands and walking along the street hand-in-hand. I provide for her and that is enough.”

Having grown in a traditional marriage and family life, I know that it is possible for a product of a traditional family to decide to show love in words and actions to his or her spouse. I and many other men and women like me, who grew up in traditional families, deliberately decided to make life sweeter for our spouses than the way our parents did.

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Someone may ask, is that really possible, going by the fact that you are your background? My answer is that it is possible, when you decide to uproot yourself from different background that you know will not make life pleasurable for your spouse, children and other loved ones. We all say that we worship God, but the Bible says, “God is love” (1 John 4:8). The true nature of God’s love is not just that He loves us, but that He showed His love for us by Jesus dying on the cross for us. And you can see from the Bible that Jesus kept expressing His love in words and in actions. The way God wants us to love our spouses and our children cannot, therefore, be hidden under any culture, family background or traditional beliefs. It is the kind of love that is selfless and flows out in spite of culture.

So, if you feel you love your spouse, your children or those around you and you hardly show it, you have to examine the type of love you have. God will love it, if you my dear reader can deliberately decide to show love to your spouse and family, whether you feel like it or not. Once you decide and start practising it, you will perfect it. Love you.

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