By Francis Ewherido
A marriage is a union of a man and a woman (women in cases of polygamy), with the woman being the wife.
Each spouse in a marriage has duties he/she has to fulfil for the marriage to run smoothly. Shirking of responsibilities by spouses is one of the major reasons why marriages fail.
So, knowing and performing your marital duties is very important. I am talking essentially to young people preparing for, already in, marriage. We have mentioned some of these duties in passing over time, but today we want to focus on them. Incidentally this is one of the topics in our marriage class in my parish.
Today, in line with the cliché, ladies first, we shall focus on the duties of the wife.
The foremost duty of the wife is companionship. In Genesis 2:18, God said it is not good for man to be alone and for that major reason, created a wife, Eve, for Adam. Who is a companion? “A domestic partner;” “a person you spend a lot of time with often because you are friends or because you are travelling together.”
A wife ought to be a companion for all seasons: times of laughter, sexual intimacy, during abundance; in lean times, sickness, health, pains, sorrow and so on and so forth.
Beyond being a companion, the wife is also a helpmate. And God said, “I will make a helper suitable for him (Gen 2:18). A helpmate is a person who provides needed help and assistance.
A wife ought to assist the husband when necessary. For instance, the husband is supposed to be the provider, the bread winner, of the family, but it is no longer a secret that many men are financially incapacitated due to economic or health reasons. Where the husband is unable to fully provide for the family, the wife should help out. If, for instance, the monthly family expenditure is N300,000 and the man can only provide N200,000, the wife should help out if he has the resources.
If, for any reason, the man cannot meet up with the children’s school fees or house rent, the wife should help out if she has the resources. I heard of a case where the caretaker of the building kept harassing the man to pay his rent, which was overdue. The man almost had a stroke. The man later found out that the house actually belonged to his wife. That is witchcraft.
The wife is also the lover of the husband. This is also at the foundation of marriage. After a couple has been joined as husband and wife, the marriage is still not complete until it is consummated. Consummation of marriage means “full sexual intercourse between married persons after their marriage by the insertion of the penis into the vagina. Inability to consummate because of impotence or refusal to consummate is a ground for nullity of the marriage.” Beyond consummation, subsequently, whether for pleasure or procreation, the wife remains a lover of her husband.
For Christians, the bible expressly states that the woman’s body does not belong to her alone, but her husband. The bible further states that the wife cannot deny her husband sex except by mutual consent. It is wrong for a wife to use sex as a weapon or bargaining power. In marriage sex must be freely given and received.
Wives should handle the issue of sex in marriage with care. For instance, if you are not in the mood, but your husband is, surrender his thing to him. If you like, lie down like a wood, he will still pleasure himself and get his ejaculation, the climax of sex. Many married people – men and women – have gone to their graves prematurely because they denied their spouses sex. As the bible says, do not deny your spouse sex, except by mutual consent. Husbands take it hard when their wives deny them sex. Wives, let denial or abstinence be mutual.
The bible enjoins couples to “go ye into the world and multiply. Gen. 1:28.” Husbands and wives must come together before procreation can take place, but the responsibility of carrying the pregnancy rests totally with the wife. Spouses do support each other in other duties, but a husband cannot help his wife carry a pregnancy.
He can only provide moral support, like helping her to unbuckle and remove her footwear, doing domestic chores, running errands, helping out the children like getting them ready for school, etc.
We are in very difficult times economically. Many men have lost their sources of livelihood. The Corona Virus has further shifted the goalpost in a way many breadwinners are yet to come to terms with.
A friend recently told me that in the town where he lives, wives have taken over as breadwinners because many husbands have lost their bearing in the midst of the multiple economic summersault.
This is a wonderful gesture on the part of the women, but I plead with the wives not to rob it in. Very few things break a man harder than being unable to provide for his family: inability to pay rent, school fees and provide money for food. If your husband is in this category, he is already broken.
Please do not rub it in. show understanding, show love, encourage him. The only husband, who should be an irritant is the one who is down and is not making efforts to get back on his feet; husbands, who stretch their legs from morning to night in front of television and husbands, who do fine boy upandown with no desire to be economically useful. Such men do not have my sympathy. Anything dem see for marriage make dem take.
Your home is a domestic church and the wife is the asst. parish priest or assistant pastor. A good wife should be prayerful and help build a praying family. She should use her prayers to cover herself, her husband and her children. In many homes, the husbands do not even realise that they are parish priest or pastors of their domestic church. Any wife in such a situation should become the de facto parish priest or pastor. Do not leave any vacuum.
One of the things a husband craves most in life is respect.
Wives should respect their husbands. Another thing husbands crave is peace of mind. A good wife ought to give her husband peace of mind. There should be no nagging. On a Saturday, if the man is watching soccer, especially his team, please let him be unless it is a matter of life and death.
In 1982, a man threw his wife through their first or second floor apartment in Europe (West Germany, East Germany, Holland or Austria) because of soccer. The match was the classic World Cup quarter final match between Italy and Brazil and the wife kept changing the channel. Allow your husband watch his soccer.
Last week, we treated extensively the duty of the wife as the chief cook of the house, so we shall not go there today. But there are other duties, including shared duties like parenting. We shall focus on the major ones when treating duties of the husband.