Marriage:Emotions and responsibility [Archives:2004/763/Culture]

August 12 2004

By Nawal Zaid
For the Yemen Times

With regards to marriage, we can detect a poignant contradiction between emotions and responsibility. One reason for that is high dowry. Having paid too much money for their wives, some husbands feel entitled to treat their spouses as maids, practicing violence against them and delegating to them all the burdens of children and the household, they even attribute to them all domestic problems with the result that quite often emotions get drained between them.
Some wives, attempting to show love and affection towards their husbands, find them cold and indifferent to their advances, thinking that peaceful mindedness at home comes only from satisfying his needs in a good and orderly manner. They do not understand what love, affection, and understanding are, nor do they no see the importance of these concepts, which are the fundamentals of a happy marriage.
Besides, many husbands are not satisfied with their wives. They agreed to marry them just to please their parents. This breeds continuous strife, taxing their affections towards their domestic liabilities. In such a situation, how can they make a compromise between emotions and responsibility, and how would their life proceed? Such a discrepancy makes things much more complicated, and ends up with a vapid and meaningless life. Parents encourage the couple to stay the course, especially the girl, since it is socially unpleasant for a woman to be divorced. They force the girl to try to love her husband, after having forced her to marry him! This is a big mistake.
Suppose parents can force their children to lead their chosen lifestyle, surely they can not give them marital love, affection, and mutual understanding, because these things only come through the couple's contentment with each other and not their parents'.
Unfortunately, some husbands (justifiably and unjustifiably) practice violence against their wives. They mistakenly think that they are responsible for everything, and every act, done by their wives. With violence, they believe, they can protect their families and children from delinquency.
Some husbands do not show responsibility towards their children. A father may put the entire burden on his wife, under the excuse that he is busy at work, or needs to while away his time with his cronies at Qat sessions. The wife becomes solely responsible for the home!
However, if the couple have affections for each other, one of them may willingly shoulder all the liabilities. The woman may show readiness to tackle the responsibility, because she loves her husband. Whereas, if their hearts are barren, and they cherish no love for each other, each would try to avoid responsibility, and start accusing the other.
There is a set of solutions to these problems, which facilitate good relations between married couples, and set the proper way of dealing with married life. First, we should choose the proper spouse, and identify the factors that may influence our future. Then, we should differentiate between love and responsibility, because they are two distinctively different things. We should fully shoulder our responsibilities because they are mandatory. If one party neglects his responsibilities to the other, or has no feelings for him/her, there will be one-side responsibility and love, with the consequences that their lives would contradict and breed resentment.
Moreover, nice meanings and affectionate feelings must be hosted by the couples because they reinforce the love bond between them, engender the feeling of security and provide them with strength enough to endure and survive the hardships and responsibilities.
The parents' selection of a spouse for their offspring contributes to making marital life more susceptible to problems. This issue has been discussed many times, because it is a principle reason for the responsibility-love contradiction.
Why isn't this decision left to those who are about to marry? Youths should bear the burden, and choose their life partners by themselves, so as to be satisfied with and able to tackle his future duties, face the consequences of his decision, and settle his own problems away from parental intervention.
Many people, including youths, don't think love is necessary. Some, especially in our society, regards it as taboo. If they have it, they try to conceal and repress it as something shameful and destructive. It is a negative view and things need to be ameliorated.
Husbands must avoid violence and maltreatment of their wives, because such practices bury love alive.
If love, respect and understanding are present between couples, they can efficiently organize their lives, and strike a balance between their responsibilities and their emotions.