When families become disintegrated and the family fibre is weak then the nation also in turn becomes weak and disintegrated.
In the book, Mainstreaming Livelihoods into Gender HIV and Aids programming by OxFam Canada, it is highlighted that the family is a place of wealth creation not only for itself but also for the nation and future generations. It is also pointed out that the family provides the value and norms to guide one in life.
It is the family which is the main source of provision for all the food, shelter, education, clothing and other basic needs. In terms of sickness, for example, due to HIV and Aids, it is the family that provides care to the affected and infected.
People with a strong family background have been seen to contribute immensely and positively to the development of the nation.
The importance of the family unit is usually highlighted on the international Commemorations of the Day of Families which is spearheaded by the Ministry of Women Affairs, Gender and Community Development every year at national, provincial and district levels. On such events emphasis is placed on the need to ensure harmony within families and extended families.
However, people have never imagined the importance of love in marriages. It is love that brings two people together and it is the same love that binds them together. Once this love diminishes then there are problems in the home, in marriages and in unions.
It is this diminishing love that in turn separates couples and fuels the spread of HIV and Aids that brings hatred and disharmony even in the nation and the entire world.
The 21st century has seen an increase in the number of divorce cases which can also be attributed to the fact that people don’t take the time to get to know each other before marriage. Our children learn even up to university level but are never taught about life, about courtship and marriage.
Imagine a 15-year-old getting married, with no knowledge of how to take care of a family, the husband also without any formal training on these issues. A recent article in Chronicle told the shocking story of a young girl who was sold away to a man for $70.
These are some of the incidents taking place in the lives of our children. Surely as parents we need to uphold our norms and cultures.
In their report on the State of the World’s Girls 2010, Plan International quoted Queen Rama of Jordan as saying that girls are the most inspirational, the most transformational, and the most untapped currency in the world today. Girls, given the support, are well able to grasp the opportunities available, yet there are some greedy parents who grab every opportunity available at the expense of their own flesh and blood. It is also unfortunate that in sub Saharan Africa and South Asia 50 percent of young women in rural areas are married by the age of 18.
1 Corinthians 13; 4-8 clearly highlights what is abound by love. There are quite a number of couples who exchange vows today only to divorce in a couple of months.
It seems vows nowadays are a matter of regurgitating words after the marriage officer without total commitment to the union. In a book written by Dzidziso Yekupenya Counselling Institute, it is highlighted that some diseases such as high blood pressure, sugar diabetes, arthritis and cancer might be caused by the lack of harmony and love among couples.
In most African societies, the love shown by the couple during courtship slowly fades away during marriage. The gifts, the hugs and the kisses all become something of the past.
Some women interviewed even confessed that they couldn’t remember when they last received a present, let alone a kiss from the same man who used to shower them in excess.
A number of men do not even remember the dates of important anniversaries nor their wives’ birthdays or their children’s. It is important to note that it is the little things that hold together a marriage.
It is also true that other women do not appreciate the efforts made by their spouses to take care of their families. Some women never learn to say thank you, theirs is to nag and complain, and this is disheartening to the husband and might worsen the situation.
What most women also forget is that marriage is not the end of one’s social life. Men also feel that they ought to socialise with other men and discuss social life, just as women also meet at different forums where they discuss women issues and share ideas.
Some women insist that their spouses should drink from home. While this is a noble idea, marriage should not create a barrier to one’s social life. Once the man resists, then there is tension in the home. Proverbs 21vs 19 clearly addresses this issue by highlighting that it is better to dwell in the wilderness than with a contentious wife along with vexation.
It is important therefore for a woman to build a strong relationship with her husband through trust, respect and understanding.
Love in marriage can also be expressed in various ways, such as the way in which the woman cooks for the husband, washes and irons his clothes, in the modern day scenario some women totally leave all the wife’s duties to the maid, and this should not be so.
The general cleanliness of the house and how the woman dresses and carries herself are all critical issues in a relationship, it is also necessary to keep the fire alive in the marriage, thus recreation and spiritual activities like prayer help bring the family together. Parents hence should set good examples for their children as these are the parents of tomorrow.
l The writer is the provincial development officer for Bulawayo in the Ministry of Women Affairs, Gender and Community Development.