WEEKEND ARENA

Truth: Everyone must not stay married

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Prince Emeka Obasi, my boss at National Mirror once said something very instructive about life during one of our numerous editorial meetings. We were in the process of fine-tuning a story idea for the Saturday title, when he, impulsively remarked that a perfect life was a mirage in reality. According to him, life was designed in a way everyone cannot be rich, must not be married, will not give birth, and cannot have top-notch health. Life was a bouquet of realities and the best anyone can do is to design a way to handle his or hers. God in His infinite wisdom must have a reason for this, and humans must respect this in order to have a fairly harmonious life on earth.

This stance flashed through me after reading the story of Destiny Adaeze Ikpeama, the female lawyer whose husband, Anthony is being held in police custody for her death. According to the story, Adaeze had had two kids and was pregnant with the third. Their marriage, consummated in 2014 had been having issues, with members of both families often intervening to broker peace, but this did not mean much to the husband, Anthony Ikpeama (the Igbo translation of his surname is ‘he who cannot be at fault’) who would always hit the woman according to his mood. The zenith of this pummeling would however come last week at their residence in Ajah, a suburb in Lagos, during a brawl, which resulted in the man hitting her to a point of unconsciousness. Their neighbours had intervened by taking the lady to a nearby hospital, where an oxygen mask was fixed to help resuscitate her, but the husband was so consumed in anger that he pulled off the mask, triggering a heart attack that eventually killed Adaeze.

The husband is still in custody and yet to avail his account of the incident; although there will be no reason cogent enough to justify murder. So many groups, especially in the legal field, which is Adaeze’s constituency, are queuing behind her, to make sure her supposedly aggrieved soul gets justice. It is my prayer that this is expedited as I join in reiterating Prince Emeka Obasi’s stance that people must live according to what life throws at them. One is obliged to try his or her best, but when it seems it is not working, one must surrender to that superior reasoning and move on.

Everyone must not stay married. In Destiny’s case, she may have tried to cope with the hope that things would improve. She may be one of those hanging on due to her two children or parents or even what the society would say, but the plain truth is that none of those is weighty enough to equate with life. When an old woman falls twice on a journey, she must take a second look at her basket and know the items to get rid of. If the old woman insists on accommodating all the items in her basket, then she is ready to be overburdened by the weight of that basket.

May be the society should be blamed here, because it places so much expectations on couples; but I will blame the spouses more for allowing themselves to be led overboard by society. Two years after a marriage and a lady’s tummy is not bulging, everyone would be worried on their behalf, why there is a delay, without minding if it is deliberate or not. The couple would attend a church service and the pastor would adopt childbirth as his prayer point. The parents and in-laws would begin to hold meetings on whom to consult for solutions on their behalf. Meanwhile they did not complain to anyone.

Such expectations are responsible for keeping spouses in bad marriages, even when all is wrong with the union. May be the orientation of our female children needs to be modified on how they should see divorce. While not canvassing for a divorce, females must be made to know that at the risk of throwing in their lives, it is an acceptable option. Parents and by extension, the society must stop seeing people whose marriages did not work as failures. In the case of Destiny, whose parents could even muster enough funds to train her as a lawyer at Madonna, a private university that costs as much as N1.2m per annum, it would not be too much to also impart on her the reasoning to walk away from an abusive spouse when her life is at risk. It would not be out of place to raise our female children to learn and earn financial independence to be able to wade through such storms in life, since some of them often hang on for sustenance.

 Adaeze would not have become a failed woman if she had filed for a divorce before this calamity. At least, something (her life) would have been spared. But she stayed on, and two things-marriage and life-got lost in the process. Now the two children from the union, who never bargained for any of those, would be made to suffer for the folly and prejudices of others. Too bad!

Everyone must not stay married…

On a broader and national scale, the Nigerian government must also learn to jettison the idea that the marriage that brought about Nigeria is sacrosanct, cast in tungsten, the hardest metal. No, it is not. And it should not be. If the old woman keeps falling down on a journey with her basket, she must take another look at the contents of the basket and decide what to keep or throw away. If we will be better, more peaceful staying apart, why all the bloodshed to be together? Every marriage, like nationhood, should be enjoyed, but not at the point of death.