• Saturday, March 02, 2024
businessday logo

BusinessDay

Parents’ role in ‘trimmed’ marriages

businessday-icon

Perhaps more than anything else, culture plays a prominent role in any society. This is probably due to its influence on the upbringing, education and general well-being of the child. For this reason, most cultures encourage children to adhere to the values their parents inculcate in them. But laudable as it is, this attitude has spawned what is today known as the practice of an “arranged marriage.”

 In some cultures around the world, arranged marriages also called “prearranged marriages” are the norm and the task is assigned to the elderly in the family, who is often the trusted third party other than the couple getting married. This third party is charged with finding appropriate wives or husbands, as the case may be for the children, thereby avoiding the tedious process of courtship altogether.

 This kind of marriage has deep roots in royal families around the world, especially in Africa, Europe, South Asia, India , among others. In Nigeria , for example, the practice of arranged marriages is as old as the nation itself, and is still common in most tribes.

 For some proponents of the practice, parents are obliged to settle their children into “assumed comfortable and influential” homes to seal family ties and business relationships, while others maintain that it is ideal for prestigious reasons.

 In situations where the practice is common, there is mutual consent between family members, with the father as the head and initiator most times. This arrangement can take the form of parents making their interest known to either the family or the prospective couple. It is common among the Yorubas, Igbos, Hausas, Fulanis, Efiks and Ibibios.

While the idea of arranged marriages may seem absurd to some people, several marriage counsellors explain that they are quite different from forced marriages, where parents choose their child’s future spouse with no input from the latter. Occasionally, even without either of the prospective couple’s approval, the marriage takes place regardless.

 In extreme cases, the parents may threaten the child with punishment, and sometimes with disinheritance and death. Motivating factors for such marriages tend to be social or economic. For example, the interests of the family or community goals served by the marriage are believed to be paramount, while the preference of the individual is considered insignificant.

 Today, some people still favour arranged marriages regardless of age, status or tribe. This is because they feel that prospective couples can all too easily be influenced by the effects of love to make logical choices.

 Even in situations where courtship practices are fashionable, young adults tend to view an arranged marriage as a fall-back plan if they are unable or unwilling to spend the time and effort necessary to find spouses on their own. In such cases, the parents become welcome partners in a hunt for marital bliss.

Another way of going round it is through an ‘introduction’ arranged marriage, where parents may only introduce their son or daughter to a potential spouse, while they briefly talk to the parents of the prospective spouse. From that point on, it is up to the children to manage the relationship and make a choice. But no set time is attached for the process to culminate into marriage, leaving the two persons involved to make or change their minds.

 Akinpelu Peter, marriage counsellor and pastor, says the role of parents in any marriage is very important, no matter the form in which their input may come. “Things are now different from the way they used to be years back, when arranged marriages were based on proscriptions. Now, the arrangement is more pragmatic. Children now have a say unlike years ago. If done the right way, I don’t see anything wrong with this arrangement, especially when the children have a say and are involved from beginning.”