Attitude,  Marriage

Intercourse with artefacts

Every day at work is quite typical for me. Most times, I have to visit clients in their homes and so it was commonplace diary calling at the home of a guy we would call Tony. His house was a short drive from my office and having made a mental calculation of how many turns I needed to get there and current road diversions, I decided the services of the satnav would be necessary. 
Guided through a few turns by the lovely voice of the Sat nav lady,I eventually  pulled  into the drive of a white cottage house. I smiled to myself, impressed by the  “typical” middle class house. 
Judging from the outside,I was not expecting it to be “really” bad …after all most of my clients were just folks struggling with uneven legs of a table in their challenges of daily living. I was wrong. Tony let me in ……he was dressed in just underwear. Alarm bells now buzzing! I was immediately conflicted with the complexity of intersectionality  …my multiple self that sums up who I am – cross roads of the professional self, the middle aged British-African male, the Christian, a father …and more; and of familiar and strange elements. The forced experience of being in intercourse with realities of a client: a man, his lived and living story, and his lived space. His story is simple. His wife has had a mental breakdown and became hospitalised …he had cared for her till now and he is on his own; he is struggling with his mobility from infected leg sours and can’t really manage by himself. He has no one, no family nor friends to help. It has not always been so. All around were items or should I say totems with non-verbalised tales …they embody narratives of affluence, poverty, strength, weakness, joy, sadness and broken dreams.  Every totem had varied levels of fade, shades, filth and dust. Tony is a pleasant man …a man needing my help.
The spiritual experience of engaging with personal lived spaces like my encounter with the spatial realities of Tony was profound. For me, there were layers of possible intercourse with speaking elements of his lived space …the most important sounds are always the silent narratives inhabiting the artefacts that are sharing the intimate space with “the person” …the pictures on the wall, books on the shelves, the thought moulds that are age sculptured and now shaping both perception and interaction with the world, his world. This is the total man. I am suddenly awakened to the paradox of metaphors when I realised that this experience mirrors all encounter with “the other” person within all relationship types – both the mundane like in business and the spiritual like in marriage.
The folly of most relationships is that most are taken by the outer presentation of “the person”. Their interaction with the possible partner may be defined by these loud voices of the person …the looks, job, family estate and background, potentials etc. They may be let into a peeled layer of the habitat of their potential spouse …spiritual convictions and temperaments. However, I have found that the whole person has more layers to their person than that …artefact with moulding powers. If marriage is the objective of a relationship, intercourse with these artefacts is definitely a must. Meeting a spouse is same as seeing a beautiful cottage and knocking on the door to participate in a life of a “total person”; it will definitely be a journey of interacting with the “artefacts” resident in their lives. Perhaps it is helpful to serve a caveat that “artefacts” refer to elements of personal history, communal and cultural experience. The good book speaks of “not wrestling with flesh and blood…”; hence,these artefacts, for instance “anger” may be a representation of a “spiritual stronghold”. What you may discover is that it is rooted beyond the obvious – its taproot may be buried in the scars of past unresolved trauma like abuse.  
Some trauma could be transgenerational. For instance, grandma married a man who abused her; mama saw and lived through this, she did not only witness it but also experienced the lashing out of both grandma and grandpa – she was to blame for grandpa’s inanities. Mama has never ever forgiventhe male figure in her life. Her thought mould for a “husband figure” is an abuser; this mould formed mama’s perception and engagement with males and this is the mould that has produced the lady you are dating. Your spouse to be has been brought up by a woman with transgenerational artefact, her mama …mama married an abuser and she has infused a thought mould that is compromised as far as dealing with the male other is concerned. Imagine what grandma thought mama; what did mama pass on to her daughter about men. What are the triggers of your spouse anger? You may be surprised that anything that suggests that you are another grandpa or papa sets off her tinder. It may be the start of an encounters with her complex self as this single artefact may be interacting with others like “trust” and “expression of affection”. Please note that I am in any way referring to what some tag as “ancestral curses”; if you are a child of God, your ancestry is in Christ and it supersedes all other forms of blood ties. I am particular about issues that may be generational, trans-generational and simple personal experiences that constitute thought-moulds that produce character traits. Some of these moulds could present as be physical elements and otherwise.
The naive disposition is to take each artefact as single self-existing entity. It is not. It interacts with other resident and non-resident artefacts. It weaves complex web of unique fabric that forms this unique personality. Hence my grouse with most self-help books, they are generic in prescription, suggesting that one size fits all. So, when one gets engaged, it is more like merging two fabrics of complexities that define two different persons with intention of making them into one “coat of many colours”. No kidding!
My drift is clear! Put quite simply, you are going to be locked in behind closed doors and in intimate proximity with the complex-self of another both pre and post your marital vows …yes, behind closed doors! Most others may never know what reality or realities you are living in. To them the building is the beautiful normal cottage on our street, admired by many. This can define your marriage as either a blessing or a curse, dream or nightmare. You must have heard that depressed rhetoric of many folks:“I am surprised she is that kind of person”; “he is a Christian, I had no clue he can be like this”; and “I saw it but just did not figure, thought it didn’t matter”. My guess is that everyone at some point has voiced such sad tales. The truth is that this is marriage reality; how we engage with it makes a difference. We all carry certain amount of toxins just as our potential spouses. We can be the anti-toxin for each other to weave an admired marriage; as the bible will say – “iron sharpens iron”. If the toxin of another does not agree with you, well, prophet Amos has a question for you – “can two work together unless they be agreed?”
I did not set out to write a depressing piece but marriage is not a trip to the cinema. You will need to be prepared for what you are getting into and most importantly, you need God to prepare you …no matter who you are.
We have seen in recent times heads of million membership strong ministries fail at it. So, it’s not about pontification on “spirituality” but the humble embrace of God’s grace in the journey of marriage and being malleable to his guidance. There will many layers of the complex self that will unfold before the marriage vows; some will be after the honey moon. You will be prepared for some; and for others, you will not only need to hold unto the hands of God but mostly, you will need God to hold you. You will need God all the way …if Christian marriage is the aim. The beautiful cottage has many rooms; most non-residents will never go beyond the living room; but for you, each of the rooms presents the potential of being a beautiful intimate space. It will depend on how you “engage” (pun intended). 
Last word: if you are getting ready for marriage, then get ready!
Sincerely Yours, 

Barnabas
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