The hedges in your couple, against who or against what?
Before you can create whatever fence, you should know the enemy or the threat. Against who, are you protecting your couple? Where’s the enemy?
In fact, there are both external and internal threats. It means, what’s going to pose a threat to the marriage is not just something out there, but also from the couple itself.
As external enemy, we have persons out there who:
have no values of fidelity
have no respect for what belongs to others
desire or who are attracted to your spouse
or attract your spouse
Besides, we are a living in a society with easy interactions with little boundaries: through school, work, church, and easy means of communication.
The organisation of the traditional society, with its mechanism of separation doesn’t just work today. You are married man, married woman; but you share the same workspace with someone’s husband or wife. You can hate each other, or you can also be super friends, to the point of becoming even intimate friends, even more intimate than you are with your partner. And there you have the recipe for things to happen.
Given such exposure, it becomes necessary to have in place measures of protection, as hedges against the external intrusion.
Apart from these external “threats” there are also internal ones.
What may provoke unfaithfulness are not just bad people out there, but also the partners themselves in the couple. This can take different forms. It can either be the weakness of the partners as individuals or the weakness of the relationship, as a couple.
A couple that is living in a chronic conflictual relationship, and where there’s serious lack of friendship between partners, is vulnerable to infidelity. I can add also, to say that, a couple that is seriously handicapped economically is vulnerable. In fact, if you look at some of the reasons people engage in sexual relationship -money is one of them. It’s just a reality of our society. The satisfaction that partners don’t get from their relationship will be sought elsewhere.
As individual partners
Partners, as individuals, may become vulnerable to infidelity due to number factors. The quality of the relationship can either make them strong or susceptible. An unhappy couple may tempt partners to seek outside what they don’t get in their relationship. Other personal factors may include:
Type of work they do, especially if it involves frequent and prolonged absence from home.
Their upbringing also counts, especially the type of family in which they grew up; was fidelity a value for their parents?
And it depends also on the moral virtues of the partner, the capacity to be faithful to their commitment.
What type of hedges?
Declare your relationship: Let people know of your relationship. Marrying before civil or religious authorities is a way of rendering public your relationship. Be proud of your partner, don’t be ashamed to introduce them to your friends or workmates and be ready to speak about them in a positive way. In that way, you are not selling yourself out as someone in need of rescue from a miserable couple.
Ideally, it’s important for a couple to be living together; prolonged absence doesn’t render good service to marriage.
Don’t expose yourself, or your partner, unnecessarily to danger. (The social etiquette for the Bemba of Zambia, a man who comes and finds his friend absent but only the friend’s wife, normally he shouldn’t stay. Of course, it depends on the number of situations, especially when there’s no one else around. Why?
An unbridled familiarity can lead to trouble. It’s good to bear in mind that there are not rare cases where problems in a couple are triggered, not by strangers, but close family friends.
In fact, when there’s a problem in a couple, there’s tendency to compare your spouse with their friends to point of entertaining the dream: “I wish I was married to his or her friend -I would have been better off.”
When you are harbouring such thoughts towards your partner’s friends, then, it’s important to take precautions in the way you interact with them. When you appreciate the risk, you take the necessary steps to mitigate it.
For internal hedges, you think of those concerning the individual partners and as couple collectively.
Internal personal hedges
Cultivating values of fidelity and being coherent with one’s commitment. Know yourself: know your strengths and your weakness, and then act appropriately. That is, know what renders you vulnerable: alcohol? Desire for money? Then, know the safety valves to put in place: what amount to drink, where and in which company?
Why do I insist on knowing yourself and putting in place safety nets? It’s because often people begin with no intention of committing adultery, but they end up in it.
Knowing oneself includes also admitting that you are vulnerable. You are not stronger than anyone else. You are human being; you are attracted by others, and you also attract some people. There’s nothing wrong with that; what matter is what you do thereafter, taking into account of the existing relationships. How careful are you about putting hedges in place?
Do you have a crush on someone? How are you handling it? Don’t deny it. Admit you are feeling something for someone and then “run away”, if you must.
The situation worsens when you don’t want to accept and to face what’s going on, and so, you don’t run away. “There’s nothing”, you say, and so you put no hedges. If you don’t admit there’s something to hurt you, you won’t run away. You shall be caught up.
Running away is not about avoiding people, but rather, facing what’s happening and taking the respectable distance, especially avoiding those situations where you see yourself defenceless.
Eyes, actions and the mind are three areas in need of hedges, where internal and personal threats are concerned. But we shall develop that in the next chat.
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