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Saturday, 29 March 2014

Leaving and cleaving: Are in-laws aware of their position?


Marriage is designed by the Creator with specific rules and regulations to make it work. Anything contrary to the couple leaving their parents and cleaving to each other surely contributes to marriage disintegration.

In the context of African culture, the in-laws regard and apply leaving one’s parents to the woman and not the man.  The principle of cleaving is totally omitted. In reality a woman marries all in-laws and soon finds out that most of whatever she thought and cherish about the spouse is null and void.  Regardless of several academic degrees and exposure to non-African way of life, African men find it hard to go up the stream and cut loose from the traditional muddle. What works is what the in-laws believe and value.  The most challenging dilemma is to meet the in-laws expectations: The common one is spending the whole Christmas and Easter holidays at in-laws home and participating in cultural rituals.  This gradual slowing down of building and working on married life manifests in subtle tension and resentment of the in-laws which gradually creeps in and become a wet blanket between the couple. It is a common factor which destroys many marriages.

When cleaving is omitted in any marriage, it is replaced with both emotional and verbal abuse.  The in-laws demands take a toll on marital relationship and a woman gradually feels cheated because she is constantly betrayed by lack of support from the beloved husband. Eventually with hushed voices the son is confronted and scolded for not marrying a real woman who fits in the community.  A woman so burdened with in-laws rules will soon forget to be a wife and a mother of her children. This becomes a significant cause of socialization blemishes because unhappy parents cannot give love to their children.  Absence of love and role modeling in parenting contributes to failed relationships to the couple and their children.


The issues of leaving and cleaving are challenges which are real for any modern girl who regards marriage as a sacred contract that deserves to be adhered to. Remedial measure may include migrating to far place immediately after marriage; thus creating excusable reason for not spending all holidays and practicing numerous rules of the in-laws. What an irony! It is tempering with the Creator’s marriage formula!