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Value systems grow in marriage

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 Value systems grow in marriage (Photo: iStock)

Character and behaviour are aspects of human life that are modelled over time. It is a journey that starts in childhood. Those two are the basic building blocks that make a person’s social DNA, influencing decisions in one’s life and even friendships.

Beyond the genes inherited from parents, the environmental factors play a huge role in conditioning one’s personality and by extension the kind of relationship they can build and sustain with other people.

While aggression can be passed down to a child, the trait can be entirely subdued by environmental elements resulting in a docile, shy and timid adult. Similarly, if a child inherently polite is raised in a surrounding filled with toxicity, the resultant adult would mimic the environmental programming, perhaps reflecting only remote interludes of politeness.

What a child is taught forms their value system. Isn’t it interesting that Christian families keep passing down Christian values and beliefs to their children without necessarily stopping to question even the most controversial aspects of the bible?

Similarly, it is rare to find a rogue Hindu or Muslim who breaks away from their faith. Seventh Day Adventists continue to live up to the doctrines of their church wearing neat suits and full dresses that make even the most sinful of them look holy on Saturdays.

Descendants of founding Anglican families can travel from Mesopotamia to represent their family pride at the local churches every December. For a long time having been the elitists in the rural communities, they were the first to be educated and drive cars. They are therefore primed to keep aloft their family names ensuring they contribute to the Parish kitty emphatically to give their mothers a sense of pride every time their names are called out on the roll. The case is not different with families known for black magic and other awkward qualities that might cross your mind. It is a case of monkey see, monkey do.

You see, children are naturally wired to observe and internalise everything that happens around them. They do not only see things but also listen keenly to every conversation that goes around in the family. Even when they are snoring on the mat, their ears are wide open listening in to adult conversations that only take place in the dead of the night and the safety of the house.

If they hurl an insult at the neighbour’s child calling them a bastard, usually they are accurate because they heard it from the parents. This puts to context why certain families are considered more disciplined while others are considered rogue. The value system is something that runs deep and even the grownups cannot understand the automation that comes with this software update. Once grown, nothing can be changed even by incessant prayer from a good wife or spiritual intercession by Nigerian Televangelists or the local prodigies like Kanyari.

Time and again, young men are advised not to marry girls who grew up in the absence of a father. The problem is that the well-meaning messengers fall short of explaining the background of their advice which is where the gist lies. They simply warn and walk away, unable to explain that these women are poised to make bad wives because their value system and upbringing do not originate from a family set-up.

Their conflict resolution mechanisms may not be friendly to a man having been possibly viewing men negatively. For a girl who never integrated with a live-in father, it would be impossible to understand how a grown-up of sound mind would leave their used socks under the coffee table. If she grew up in a family where meals were largely spaghetti and rice, any human demanding ‘mlima’ and ugali every day of the week is a candidate for divorce on grounds of abnormal demands. The presence of another grown-up in their space fighting for authority is something they cannot bear because they grew up in spaces where mama made all the decisions.

A man from a broken family raised by an abusive father would find it natural to propagate the same character and expect the wife to respond in the same fashion that his mother did – submit. If she talks back or demands explanations, she is a candidate for divorce. You see, while no father sits their son down to teach them alcoholism, many boys bred by drinking fathers end up with the bottle. Few people can condition themselves to drop habits drawn from their formative years. A girl who grew up interacting with different males introduced as dad would never understand the fuss about loyalty to one man. 

With this understanding, we could look back and pick some of these old teachings to lessen the number of cases of separation and divorce in our generation because when witches marry witches, they live happily ever after. The same cannot be said about an ardent catholic who marries a hardened SDA.

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