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Tradition and your expression of love

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Charles Ighele

When my mother died in the early 90s at the age of 60, I did not know it would have so much effect on my father, who was then 68.

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 my father loved my mother so much. Like I have had cause to tell people, I never saw them hug each other, not to talk of kissing. I never heard my father openly said words of love to my mother, although she gave birth to eleven of us (a football team). He was a kind man, who worked very 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 was in 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 of the book, 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 new way to love and live in a changing society.

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, while walking down the street. I provide for her and that is enough.”

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However, having grown up in a traditional marriage and family life, I know it is possible for a product of a traditional family to decide to show love in words and actions to his or her spouse. Many men and women, who, like me, grew up in traditional families, made deliberate decisions to make life sweeter for our spouses than the way our parents did.

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