Gender Focus with EMELDA MWITWA
WITNESSING the celebration of 40 years of marriage by a couple that is resolved to continue growing old together, kind of enthuses my commitment to family values.
A solid marriage, they say, is one of the good gifts a couple could give to their children, society and the nation as a whole because strong families are the bedrocks of society.
This is why every one of us is proud of coming from a well-cultured and solid family, and no one takes pride in saying that they come from a broken family.
But due to unbeatable circumstances of life, millions of children today identify themselves with broken homes or absentee fathers, because apparently divorce has become fashionable.
Many women today have been left heart-broken by runaway husbands, while children are deprived of necessities of life such as food, shelter, clothing and access to decent education because a single mother can’t cope with all the needs of the family.
Equally, there are jilted husbands who have opted out of marriage after being double-crossed by their wives because in the course of marriage, infidelity creeped in and brought up irreconcilable differences.
Some of the latest statistics on divorce in Zambia indicate that the country recorded 28,101 divorce cases between January and August 30, 2017.
So, to see Bread of Life Church Bishop Joseph Imakando and his wife Reverend Bernadette Imakando celebrate their 40th wedding anniversary last Sunday, was such a consolation to me that after all, we’ve got God-fearing couples to look up to.
Forty years of marriage and still committed to each other is no mean achievement because not many couples could make a marriage work for that long.
Bishop Imakando and his wife got married in their twenties, but in their sixties, with grown-up children and grandchildren, they are still living happily as husband and wife.
To me, they are a good example to their children, flock in the church and other people who look up to them in society that the marriage vows that we make on God’s altar are doable.
The couple also demonstrate that it is possible for a man to remain married to ‘one woman’ or a woman to be married to ‘one man’ for decades and be happy and satisfied in every aspect of marriage.
Obviously not many of their surviving colleagues who got married around that period are still living happily as husband and wife.
Most likely, many have divorced; some have grown out of love with their partners due to infidelity; others have taken second or third wives along the way; and perhaps others still, have fathered children from extra-marital affairs.
We live in a society where all the aspects of spouse cheating are considered normal and women are schooled to tolerate male infidelity, because men lack sexual discipline, so say traditional marriage counsellors.
But really, can the women stomach the emotional abuse and live happily in a crowded marriage as though everything is okay?
Of course not.
This is why marriages are breaking down at an alarmingly high rate in Zambia, whereas sexually transmitted infections (STIs) continue to take their toll on men and women because of lack of sexual discipline.
The young people that are contemplating marriage actually feel threatened to see once upon a time happy couples going separate ways, or their families being torn apart by divorce.
It is also disheartening for our children to see parents who have practically divorced but continue to live as mere housemates (not roommates) to avoid the complication of a formal divorce process.
For your information, the capital Lusaka, with 5,889 cases, was last year leading in terms of marriage dissolutions of men and women aged between 20 and 45 years, while Western Province was trailing with 5,537 divorces recorded during the period under review.
Both Christians and non- Christians alike are affected by the high divorce rate in our country, which according to information from the local court is mainly propelled by infidelity by men and women alike.
In reality it’s the extra-marital affairs, mostly by men, which fuel what we call irreconcilable differences, being cited as the major cause of divorce in our courts of law.
Other common causes of divorce that were cited were lack of intimacy, unrealistic expectations by both partners, abuse (physical and emotional) and disputes over money and assets.
But in the midst of all these things, young people need role models to demonstrate that a man and a woman could live happily as husband and wife until death separates them.
While divorce soars, there are also stories of happy endings in marriage and these stories need to be told to inspire young couples and those contemplating marriage.
There are couples who have grown old together, and have chosen their spouses and families, over destructive things of life, whose love stories deserve to be heard.
I was encouraged to see Bishop Imakando walk hand in hand with his wife and speak fondly of her at their anniversary after 40 years of marriage.
From the over 20 years that I have known the couple, I can confidently say that he was not just putting up a show. That’s how they have lived their lives.
This is one couple that loves and respects each other and I believe they have done their part in setting a good example to their family and disciples in church.
The bishop, who celebrated his 64th birthday last month, shared at his 40th wedding anniversary, which also marked his 40 years in the ministry of the gospel, that making a marriage work takes commitment.
He said storms in marriage are normal, but with mutual commitment, a couple could weather any storm.
The bishop, who said divorce is for ‘cowards’, also advised that when a problem crops up in marriage, a couple should focus on a positive outcome, and not an easy way out through divorce.
For me, Sunday was an evening well spent because of enriching messages from other speakers such as Bishop Edgar Ng’ambi of Praise Christian Centre, who also has been married for many years.
Bishop Ng’ambi, a guest of honour at the occasion, spoke on the need for Christians to look up to couples whose steps are ordered by the word of God as role models for marriage.
He said the Church should not allow the secular world to infiltrate marriages because the Bible clearly states that marriage should happen between a man and a woman, not the other way round.
In ending, my advice is, choose your role models wisely because whichever side of the coin you opt for, there will be people to influence your life – for good or bad.
We still have good ambassadors of marriage that people could look up to despite the bad things happening in this world.
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org/ email@example.com. Phone: 0211- 227793/221364.
Gender Focus with EMELDA MWITWA