Osinachi Tragedy; a Word of caution to marriage counselors

By Rev. Fr. Dr. E. Obadjere
The sudden demise of the gospel singer  Osinachi Nwachukwu, famed with her “Ekwueme” song, came as a shock to many. The situation is made worse by emerging revelations to the effect that she was often abused by the husband; abused in the sense of being frequently  battered (as alleged) by her husband at the slighted misunderstanding. The inference being drawn now is that she died as a result of internal injury from  battery. I do not know if an autopsy has been conducted  to ascertain the cause of death, and there are also scanty information in the public domain as to whether she shared with her friends or anyone what was happening in her marriage.

The Social Media Marriage Counselors perspectives

Notwithstanding, the unfortunate incident has been greeted with diverse reactions. Suddenly, everyone has become a marriage counselor on social media and other platforms, with some making such statements  as:
>if your husband becomes abusive, leave
> marriage is to be enjoyed not endured
> It is better to leave and be alive than to die in a toxic marriage.
> marriage is not a do or die thing
 etc
Understandably, Osinachi’s death and the allegation that she might have been a victim of abusive marriage has brought to the fore once more issues about the  sanctity of marriage bond, the indissolubility of christian marriage and conditions under which an abusive marriage can be managed.
First, we must be quick to condemn any form of abuse in human  relationship, and in this case, marriage. There’s no justification whatsoever for physical abuse of any of the partner in marriage.

Marriage Abuse And The Best Way Out

Secondly, it is true that some couples are going through different challenges in their marriage, the commonest being abuse from a partner. For some men, beating the wife at the slightest provocation/ misunderstanding is as reflexive as the  blinking of the eyelids. In some cases, the children are even invited to join or are driven by natural instinct to hit back, especially when it is their mother  that is been abused. At other times, the abuse arises out of the  desire of a partner to punish the other for daring to discipline the children. We once had a couple nearby some years ago whose children  often retorted in tears whenever  the mother was disciplining them for any wrong doing: “You are beating us, abi ! Don’t worry oo, daddy is coming for you. You will see yourself” And true to it, the father usually descended mercilessly on the mother once the children reported her to their father. This happened severally and I remember intervening once to appeal to the father to stop abusing his wife to please his children. For marriages in which a partner is suffering any form of physical abuse, we pray that God may convert the heart of the abuser, that marital bliss may thrive.

The Psychological Perspective Of Abusive Marriage

Thirdly, abusive marriages do not begin overnight. In most  cases, the signs often manifest in tinges, but are usually ignored because one has become blinded by love. In fact, some women who are already accustomed to physical abuse believe that sex is sweeter when preceded by bitter quarrel or physical abuse. Warped reasoning!
 A psychological theory states that certain behavioural pattern  are symptomatic of erotic disorder or sexual tendencies. In this thinking, they  explain the connection between physical abuse and sexual abuse, which follows sometimes in quick succession. In other words, most physically abused are also victims of  sexual abuse by the same partner  (battered in the day and sexed in the night; or battered in one moment and romanced in another moment). In any case, the signs often manifest during  courtship but are either  ignored  or thought will fade away with time.

The Foundation

Fourthly, there are marriages that turn abusive because the foundation is faulty. Charm and all forms of love portions are employ nowadays to lure and capture a partner for marriage. Boys are doing it to get girls and vice versa. It may work for a moment, but it  will certainly fade someday and lamentation will begin.
The intensity of the  sexual bond is the reason interventions of outsiders in  abusive marriage often fail. It takes an expert to tactically navigate such waters without getting his fingers burnt. If you are not careful, your counsel will be the subject of analysis when they reconcile, especially when in bed. Admonish a partner to get a job before going into marriage so that at least one party has something doing and  you will be shocked that that  marriage will hold elsewhere without your knowledge. Except for some critical cases, it is safer to counsel quarreling  couples together so that you are not maliciously  misrepresented.
The Catholic  church  has in place a long period of preparation for intending couples. Some parents  sometimes, on account of their  privileged positions in the church, attempt to aid their sons or daughter to  evade the preparatory class by putting forward flimsy excuses. Where they succeed, it is often to their peril.

What The Church Says About Marriage

Being a sacred and life- long  union between a male and female, the church desires that those who embrace it be properly introduced to it through a gradual and continuous process : Remote,  Proximate and Immediate Preparation. Details of this can be found in John Paul II’s Apostolic Exhortation Familiaris consortio (Nov 1981) Summarily, the Pope teaches that in making the marriage institution to work, parents have their roles in ensuring proper upbringing of their children (can 1136). The Priest has his role which is principally to prepare them and support with wise counsel and prayer  after marriage. (can. 1063,1064) The christian community also has a role to support the married.
Very importantly, the couples themselves have a role: “Once the couple is married both man and woman must accept the realities of married life. Real love presupposes respect for the person of the partner. One has to accept the other as he (or she) really is and not as he (or she ) ought to be. One should love each other with all his (or her) imperfections and faults. . ” ( Frederick Con Gagern, Marriage Partnership 1968. p. 105)
This is why Christian marriage, especially Catholic marriage doesn’t admit of divorce. But the church permits temporal  separation in the face of life threatening danger: ” A spouse who occasions grave danger of soul or body to the other or to the children, or otherwise makes the common life unduly difficult, provides the other spouse with a lawful reason to leave, either by a decree of the local Ordinary or, if there is danger in delay, even on his or her own authority” (can. 1153 $1)The temporal nature of this separation  is expressed in $2 thus: “In all cases, when the reason for separation ceases, the common conjugal life is to  be restored, unless otherwise provided by ecclesiastical authority.”. And  Can. 1155 says the innocent spouse may laudably readmit the other spouse to the conjugal life, in which case he or she renounces the right to separation.
So, could late Osinachi have taken some time off if it is true that she was constantly  abused by her husband? Can someone who is frequently battered by her husband have the equanimity of soul to script such beautiful and inspiring songs?  Could her perceived  spirituality  have  been a sudden and consoling  flight from a toxic mundane represented by a violent husband?  Questions and questions.

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