What is a hedge? A hedge or hedgerow is a fence formed by closely growing bushes or trees which serve as boundary and as barrier against intrusion.
What’s a couple? Here we refer to the conjugal couple, that is, man and woman who are committed to each other in an intimate and exclusive relationship.
And so, when we talk of making a hedge in a couple, we are talking about putting in place measures to safeguard the conjugal relationship against whatever may risk violating this exclusivity. This in no way means living in isolation, cut off from others. That’s not the point.
As men and women, we are relational beings, meant to interact with others. Yet, marriage is a special relationship with that special person, as wife or husband, in an exclusive way. It means, I can’t relate to more than one person as wife or husband. If not for some cultures which permit polygamy, that will be infidelity.
We don’t wait till our relationship is threatened in order to act, rather, we need to be proactive in safeguarding it. I mean, we protect jealously that which we treasure. Indeed, isn’t prevention not better than cure?
In different cultures we find mechanisms put in place which serve to preserve the exclusivity of the conjugal relationship.
Hedges in cultures
What do we find, for example, in the palaces? It’s the eunuchs who attached to the service of the royal household. One reason, among others, is to safeguard the imperial ladies’ chastity.
You would find also chastity belts which women wore in order to prevent them from having sexual intercourse with another man apart from their legal partner.
There were also certain relations marked by the observance of certain distance, like among in-laws like a man with his mother in-law or a woman with her father in-law. The distance is in order to avoid the familiarity likely to lead to overstepping boundaries, with all the possible scandalous consequences.
In strong patriarchal societies you also find limited of interaction between members of the opposite sex.
And today, we have laws regarding adultery; adultery which can even be a motive for divorce. Such laws and the associated penalties act as hedges.
But why is fencing important?
Infidelity, adultery precisely, is a reality of conjugal life. It brings a lot of suffering to partners, at times even a complete break up of marriage, thus affecting children too, if there are any. so, we just can’t afford being indifferent to such reality.
Suffering that infidelity may cause
The unfaithful partner loses trust, breaks the vows and risks losing not only the spouse but also that they have built together in that relationship. Beginning all over again may not be easy, besides, who knows if the new relationship will work?
Betrayed partner risks, psychologically, suffering from loss of self-esteem, “I’m nothing”; why did he leave me for another woman? There’s also the abuse of trust.
Children who are raised in a conflictual home, marked by infidelity and broken home will likely have challenges in their development as persons. Another problem is the difficulty of being brought up by stepparents if their parents break up and remarry.
Besides the suffering proper to each individual, the family, as collective unity, suffers also. The entire family may suffer economically because of the deviation of resources, especially when there are not enough.
But the hedge against who or what?
Before you can create whatever fence, you should know the enemy or the threat. Against whom are you protecting your couple? Where’s the enemy?
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