“He knew no sin; neither was there any guile found in His mouth.” That was the first statement that stared us in the face as we began our discovery of what keeping our ‘Likewise’ would mean from 1 Peter 2:21-24. (N.B. This is the fourth episode of our 1st year anniversary teaching series. Check out the page for the earlier episodes so you can relate better.)
Even from the days of our Courtship, we could easily tell that one of the greatest sins that couples commit day in, day out is the sin of malice. It comes so easily. It seems entrenched in the human nature that when your partner offends you; when you have a heated argument; or when you think they have disrespected you – you withdraw into your shell and stop speaking to them. In addition for women, they immediately shut down the conjugal bed and start kitting up fully when it’s bed time to forestall any eventuality or they move to the visitor’s room. And usually that moment, money stops flowing from the husbands to their wives.
In essence, there are three ways by which couples keep malice. And the three usually co-exist during moments of protracted disagreements.
1. They stop talking to each other.
2. They stop having sex with each other. Usually, the man would not ask his wife for sex so he won’t be at her mercy; and if he pushes himself to ask, the woman will usually turn him down.
3. The man (if he’s the leading bread winner) stops giving the wife money for her needs and other necessities or luxuries which he would have otherwise provided.
This can go on for weeks between couples each time there is a malice-project.
The thinking is always that; “I’ll not talk to her/him until s/he realizes what s/he has done and apologizes to me. Unfortunately, as one partner is thinking this way, the other is thinking the same way; justifying his or her actions and feeling that it’s the other person that is wrong and should apologise.
In reality therefore, the apology never comes from neither of them. Then their anger towards each other increases when they get no apology as expected. As the anger festers, it leads to resentment and hatred; then if it festers the more, what started as a little disagreement will transmogrify into a deep rooted bitterness. While this goes on, their sex life is suspended leading to further anger as they are both forced to bottle down their genuine sexual desires towards each other.
Since malice really doesn’t lead to reconciliation – it only provokes the other person’s pride to rise up, as they seek to show that they can also do without their partner if s/he thinks they can be intimated by withdrawal – my wife and I concluded that there was no sense in it. Apology usually flows better under an atmosphere that is cordial, where no one feels conquered by apologisiing.
So as a rule, we decided that we will not keep malice in our marriage (and we really started practicing this from our courtship days- except the sexual aspect). No matter the quarrel, we committed ourselves to continue to talk to each other even when no one has offered any apology; to continue to have sex with each other if anyone has need; and to never use money to settle scores.
In reality, the two people in a relationship may not commit to this rule at the same degree at all times. As long as at least one of them is committed to it, you can always get your partner to fall in line. What matters is that you’ve agreed to this prior and you both genuinely desire to reflect the life of Christ at all times.
There were times when I offended my wife, eventhough I feel she was the one that actually offended me ? and then we both go cold. Usually after a little while of coldness, I won’t be able to tolerate the coldness further because my senses are already trained against malice. All I need to do is to look for her wherever she may have gone to hibernate eventhough I’m also hurting. I may touch her deliberately. She’ll tell me to leave her alone.
“I won’t leave you alone because I promised never to leave nor forsake you my beloved wife.”
“Who’s your wife?”
“Who else? You now.”
“You don’t have any wife.”
“I have a wife now; you’re my one and only wife. If you’re not my wife, whose wife are you then?”
“I’m married to Jesus.”
By this time, the atmosphere would have lightened up and she’s already chuckling as I tell her that Jesus has already given her to me to marry her on his behalf. I usually won’t leave her until she lightens up, no matter how long it takes. And sometimes, just right there as I tickle her to make her lighten up, our bodies are joined together in holy matrimony ? and off we go to the heavenly Jerusalem. That’s the end of the dispute. If you saw how heated the argument was, you won’t believe we could do what we just did just a few minutes after. It’s a commitment to Jesus’s life that makes such a miracle possible.
At the end of it all, if someone is truly wrong, the apology flows out easily because the tense atmosphere is gone. Sometimes, both of you apologise to each other because you were both wrong. And if no apology flows at all, who cares, you guys are back together. That’s what really matters. You don’t always have to insist on an apology. If the matter is serious enough, your partner should know that an apology is necessary for perfect restoration of things. But not to insist on a formal apology on every little issue.
Even if the matter has not been resolved yet, if I make a sexual move and she rebuffs me, all I need to do is to remind her that we made up our minds never to keep malice. We will surely resolve the issue later on. Viola, the road opens up because she is also committed to being like Jesus.
On my part, since I’m currently the leading bread winner, I never withhold finance even under the greatest provocation and offence. She knows she can easily ask for anything she needs even those times when she knows I’m really upset with her. It’s a commitment. I don’t see the money as mine alone anyways. If she has equal ownership as much as I do (and that’s our mindset), why should she not be able to access it just because there’s a quarrel?
The truth is that under this kind of atmosphere of “keep-talking;” “keep sexing;” and “keep loving with your finances” quarrels cannot last for long. You both can then have more days of your marriage to really be at peace and enjoy each other’s fellowship. ‘Abeg’, marriage no be war. You came in because you wanted joy and peace. Why then should we spend more days fighting than really enjoying what we came for?
And you know, it takes two to sustain malice in a marriage. Even if one person wants to keep malice, if the other person deliberately keeps talking to him or her and being loving towards him or her despite the hurt, the malice will easily fizzle out.
Who still wants to be “Likewise” as Christ in their marriages? He knew no sin! If you will know no sin in yours, you need to eliminate malice – to my mind, the leading sin between couples. How do you eliminate malice? We recommend our approach for your adoption. Marriage should never change you from being a Christian. That life of Jesus must be expressed through you “without power failure” regardless of what your partner chooses to do!
We wish you joy and happiness; but above all things, we wish you love.
Peniela E. Akintujoye.
©️Peniela Eniayo, Akintujoye| firstname.lastname@example.org