Happy home? Making it work for good of all
The home is under pressure. These days, marriages appear to crumble faster than they are built. The traditional idea of the father and mother providing a haven for their children in the home, where they are raised with love, stability, values and focus, is being eroded. Many factors, ranging from economic to social, are seriously threatening conventional marriage ideals. Since the family remains the bedrock of society, however, it goes without saying that whatever affects one, will inevitably impact on the other. So, no effort can be too much in saving the home front from total collapse.
Defining what a good home is, Ebele Chinwe, a DreamBuilder coach at the Life Mastery Institute, Surulere Lagos, told The Guardian that a good home goes beyond being just a dwelling place for the family, as it should also offer comfort, support, love and happiness.
“A good home is supposed to be a happy, healthy and holy place. It is a place meant to foster a pleasant atmosphere of good fellowship among parents and their children. The atmosphere of a good home is always positive and healthy for everyone in it to live happily,” she says.
In her view, one of the qualities of a good home is that the individual is accepted there despite his/her deficiencies, and there is also trust. This dictates that the home becomes a sanctuary, where men and women flee from the world’s toiling to find comfort and relief. “It is where life is nurtured, character is moulded and discipline inculcated in the children,” she explains.
But to achieve this, all concerned, especially the mother and father have vital roles to play.
“We all know that building a good home is not something you pick from the store, as it involves thorough planning and determination. Both parties involved have different responsibilities, commitments and sacrifices to make in achieving a good home. Indeed, everyone in the family has a part to play to achieve this goal. So, all hands must be on deck.
“For instance, the parents must love each other, as well as love their children equally, while the children must respect and obey their parents in return. All men desire to be respected, so the wife has the responsibility to respect her husband. This is mutual though, because the husband must also respect his wife,” she explains.
Florence Duke, a banker and a mother of two, says although building a good, happy home is many people’s desire; it is quite a challenging task. However, if a couple is able to achieve it, the reward cannot be quantified. “Peace of mind is one of the major desires of all human beings and the greatest part of this can only be achieved within the family,” she says.
Especially now that the world is in so much turmoil, the need to build a good home becomes more necessary than ever. She feels the home is one place, where parents and their children should look to for solace and protection.
“The Lord designed the home to be a beautiful place of love and joy for parents and their children. It is meant to be a place, where the individual runs to after the struggles of the day and he/she is sure of finding rest, relaxation and comfort. There is no place like home, but in the situation, where the home has become a war zone, then it is no longer a home. There is a popular adage that says ‘it is better to live under a leaking roof or on a tree than living with a nagging wife or husband”.
In her view, building a good home doesn’t begin after marriage, but well before. Indeed, it is more of a personal exercise in determining and deciding the kind of home desired before the two people involved come together as a couple.
So, what are those factors militating against building a good home?
A marriage counsellor, Prof. Onyeka Iwuchukwu, believes the fundamental problem lies in the fact that most contemporary husbands carry the traditional perspective of marriage into Christian and modern marriages.
“Marriage in most traditional Nigerian societies is close to an enslavement of the woman. She has no rights and cannot question her husband’s decision,” she says. “She is there solely to serve him from the kitchen to the bedroom. In fact, he owns her. In those days in my town, Awka in Anambra State, the level of the bride’s subservient position is reflected in this advice to new bride (“O shi gi sue ishi no’oku sue”- “if he asks you to put your head into the fire, put it”.)
“Some men want that total Zombie-like obedience and submission, but they forget that the times are different, the social structure has changed, just like the women’s role in the family, which has changed so radically that some women are not just the bread winners, but also pay school fees and rent. Should a man in such a position still expects the woman, who leaves the house at 5am and returns between 7pm to 8pm, some even as late as 10pm to 11pm to still cook, wash, clean and sleep with him? It is impossible.
Iwuchukwu did not spare women, as she explains that many of them contribute to the rising divorce rate, as they try to cover up and not disclose what they are going through because of societal pressures (what will people say?) Some women even hide it from their mothers and siblings. She lists greed, selfishness and self-centeredness on the part of one of the spouses as reasons for absence of love and harmony in the home.
“And then there is the irrationality of some women, who because they earn more, treat their husbands like piece of trash,” she says.
Dr. Raphael James, a psychologist prefers to look at the issue from two perspectives: the environment, consisting of the homes and the neighbourhood, as well as communication.
“A husband that was brought up in an environment, where domestic violence was a common sight, would believe it is the right thing to do, and so would likely beat his woman all times. Again, a male child that was brought up to believe that he is superior to a female child would also feel the same way and would want to oppress his wife with his manly ‘superiority’.
“If a couple lives in an area, where all other neighbours or most of them beat their spouses, it could encourage the man to do the same. But from studies, I would attribute it largely to lack of proper communication.
“Though I don’t advocate a man beating a woman for any reason, it should, however, be stated that some women can provoke a man to the point of beating them. The same also applies to some men.”
On her part, Chinwe highlighted some of the factors militating against building a good home to include, the so-called ‘little things that people don’t take into cognisance, but which are destroyers of good homes.’
“First comes nagging, which is the act of repeatedly reminding and complaining to someone in an annoying way, often about insignificant matters. When you nag, you bother the individual’s memory persistently and even the Holy Bible frowns against this.
“Another factor is laziness and irresponsibility, either on the part of the man or woman. When either of the spouses doesn’t want to hear anything or add value to himself/herself, or they never want to be accountable or called to question. There is also unhealthy commanding, criticism, high expectations and discontentment, all of which hinder the building of a good and healthy home.”
But Florence believes that among all these factors, lack of care and affection for one’s partner, as well as acts of selfishness, cause more damage to the home than can be imagined. “It is a common thing to hear women complaining of how their husbands are selfish, though this is not restricted to the men alone, as some women are also guilty of that offence,” she explains.
Other causes include lack of personal self-development and low self-esteem, which is when a partner feels comfortable in his/her present condition and never wants to improve his/her ability or expand his/her scope of knowledge.
In spite of the seeming challenges involved in building a good home, all the respondents are of the opinion that it is possible to achieve a good home. All it requires, they say, is sincerity of purpose, determination, ability to make compromises, persevere and love, among others.
“Couples should remember that it takes two mature and ready minds to pay the sacrifice involved in achieving a good home,” says Chinwe. “Therefore, everyone must be ready to pay that sacrifice, fulfil their parts and complement each other.
“Love covers all things, even in the midst of multitudes of sin. When partners have genuine love for each other, then, they will have no issue to settle. Over time, it is lack of love that leads to estrangement, bitterness and unhappiness.”
On her part, Duke says that for couples to achieve the home of their dream, they should learn to lubricate their love and renew their marriage. “They should also cultivate the art of effective communication and do away with assumptions. Verbal communication is to be preferred. Aside this, both parties should squarely undertake their roles and responsibilities. Couples must also learn to forgive in advance, even when it sometimes seems difficult to do so.”
Gaudonu Babatunde, a sociology lecturer at the Lagos State University says “there is nothing fundamentally wrong in the home than the absence of fundamental facts and principles about marriage. Both parties must be compatible in social, economic, beliefs and principles. They must be open to each other in terms of past lives and be ready to blend or adjust. They must also uunderstand each other’s physiological nature— sexual drive, weaknesses and strengths and be ready to assist in building each other.
“A marriage based on wealth or materialismm, beauty and handsomeness will definitely crash. Both must see each other as a partner in progress. Trust is the bedrock of marriage; hence do away with third party in settling quarrels and misunderstandings.
“God should be allowed to be their pillars, for without Him, they can do nothing. I don’t see any reason why partners should separate. What brought them together as husband and wife should be able to sustain them to face the storm together. There is no marriage without its storms, but the ability to stand and overcome is what makes the home a happy one. Childlessness is not a licence for separation, for its God that gives children and not doctors.
“Financial bankruptcy is also not a permanent problem that must bring about separation; extended family issues should not be a reason for breaking a marriage. It is instituted as a life-long affair, which is why a certificate is given before entering into it. It is an institution, where you can never graduate until you die. So, for whatever excuse anyone could give, marriage is not to be broken.”