Elder Ibinabo Perry was taking her usual preparatory class for intending couples when in her characteristic manner, she threw them this poser: “Allan and Grace had recently arrived in Canada having received visas to enable them residency there. They relocated with their three children who were between the ages of one and five years, only to go through the initial settling-in challenges. Grace had to stay home to take care of the children as they were not yet eligible for school and caregivers came expensive. Allan was therefore forced to singlehandedly fund the living expenses of the family in addition to taking classes to enable him access to better employment opportunities. He was stretched as he juggled two jobs with his studies and often had to do the grocery shopping for the family. It was their first winter and he had to contend with clearing the snow around the house and his car as well. This day, Allan rushes in to catch a meal and some two hours of sleep before heading out to his second job. He had promised to pick up some milk and cereal from the store, on his way home but he was so tired that he was already parked in his driveway when he remembered. As soon as he walks in through the door, he gives his children a kiss and hugs his wife asking for his food prior to catching some sleep. Grace glares at him angrily with “Where are the grocery you promised to pick up? The plan was to give the children cereal tomorrow and as usual, you have messed things up”. She kept on nagging and berating him in a loud voice in the presence of the children. All attempts by Allan to placate her proved abortive as Allan apologised that his state of fatigue was responsible for him forgetting to stop at the store and that he had only remembered after parking the car. He requested to eat promising to head back out immediately after his meal to purchase the items. However, Grace would not let up but continued to complain and nag, referring to him as irresponsible and unthinking, while plonking his food in front of him in an angry manner. At this point, the dam burst for Allan and he yelled back at her saying “Will you shut up and accord me some respect? You keep berating me in front of the children and I never knew you could be this disrespectful, else I would never have married you. Keep your food, I don’t need it!” with that he picked up his car keys and left, to clear his head and pick up the items in the process. Grace on her part broke down in tears as she settled the children to bed with the following thought reverberating in her brain “Allan no longer loves me. He doesn’t care that I am alone all day, I am unhappy and unfulfilled yet he doesn’t show tenderness. He doesn’t care.” Given what we have learnt regarding the instruction for wives to respect and submit to the leadership of their husbands and for husbands to love their wives, can you analyse the situation and how you would advise the couple to redress their situation?

John is the first to take a go at the poser. After clearing his throat, he says “I will address this from two angles:

  1. The Instructions to respect/submit and the one to Love are mutually exclusive. In other words, the responsibility of wives to submit to their husbands is not dependent on receiving love from their husbands and vice versa. Husbands should love their wives regardless while the wives submit to their husbands regardless.
  2. The instruction to submit precedes the one to love. That presupposes that wives should first respect their husbands.

I would therefore point Grace to the reality that she has a duty to respect her husband regardless of whatever he may have done wrong. Most especially, berating him in the presence of a third party, (in this case his children) is unacceptable and would be counterproductive. Even where she felt he erred, her actions and words could have been delivered in a loving manner that would spur him to act without raking up rancour. It is not easy to be fully responsible for the finances of the family and combine that with the school. Honestly, he should be appreciated not berated.”

Bodun on her part agreed with John but had this to add. “Although the husband’s love should be independent of the wife’s submissiveness, in practice, when a woman respects the husband, it usually elicits the man’s love. Grace should have been more understanding, given him his meal lovingly and then raised the issue in a loving non-confrontational manner at an appropriate time. That would have elicited a better resolution of the matter especially since there were possibly other things the children could eat. She could have given alternative suggestions regarding the procurement which would engender a peaceful resolution. However, it is important to note that Grace has her own frustrations which may have caused the reactions. Allan needs to be sensitive to his wife’s frustration and needs and find a way of calming and reassuring her pending when they can be adequately addressed.”

Elder Ibinabo ended the class with the following advice.’ In relationships, our speech must be guarded so that we don’t ignite situations. In practical terms, both respect and love must be mutual. If a man demands respect in an authoritative manner it will probably be met with resistance, But if he is gentle and caring, showing love and tenderness and attending to her needs, she will likely respect him. Similarly, when a woman respects her husband and submits to him, his love is likely to shine forth and he feels the commitment to love her. Note that there will be life’s trials and challenges in marriage but mutual Love and respect, will help you surmount them with the help of prayers asking God for the strength to overcome the temptation to be brash.”





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