Marriage may be a huge challenge for those who do not understand and conform to traditions of the marriage institution within their culture and geographical location. Yes, the culture and location in which you reside affects your marriage. It moulds the sensibilities of the couple and will ultimately affect how they behave in marriage.

Being married in America for instance is definitely not the same as being married in Nigeria. The cultures are completely different and the behaviour of the men and women there is completely at variance with what obtains in Nigeria. I agree that there are standard rules in marriage which applies irrespective of your location, these are mutual respect, love, tolerance and sacrifice. However, the process and means by which these are achieved vary by location and culture.

In most western countries, the natural ego present in every man has been tamed, the law and societal norms protect the woman, men who confront this get burnt. The men have been indoctrinated over decades to conform and accept the vantage position of a woman in marriage. Men who understand and respect this are successful in marriage, they know that in the event of divorce, they have more to lose. This is why some of our African raised brothers in the west have found marriage challenging. Only those who understand their environment and have learnt how to manage their ego survive.

In Africa, using Nigeria as an example, the opposite is the case. Societal norms are against the woman, appropriate laws have not been enacted to protect the women, even where these laws exist, it’s application is tainted by traditional practices which seek to continue to subjugate the African woman. I respect and support the push for gender equality in Nigeria, this must however be pursed with wisdom and tact, Pitching yourself against tradition will only make you a scape goat. When in Rome do like the Romans.

It is dangerous for a man to apply in its entirety the African marriage tradition while resident abroad, the opposite applies to a woman who attempts to apply the western marriage tradition in an African setting. The exceptions in these cases are; an African woman well grounded in the African tradition who in spite of living abroad decides to live according to the African marriage tradition and societal norms by honouring and respecting her husband unconditionally, and a well grounded man resident in Nigeria, who despite the draconian subjugation of women in Africa recognises the equal status of his wife and respects her without leaning on the trend in Africa.

Wherever you live, you can make your marriages work. All it takes is for you to study the culture of your location and try to find ways to balance your beliefs with societal norms, culture and tradition. You can be happily married if you understand the beliefs and sensibilities of the people in your local environment including your spouse. You must understand that the advantage given to you by law or tradition is not intended to be used to intimidate or maltreat your spouse. Let your conscience guide you to use these advantages in a way that will be beneficial to your marriage – Sir Stanley Ekezie