THE High Court in Harare has, over the years, continued to record an increase in the number of marriage annulments.
By Phillip Chidavaenzi
Title: Beyond the Vows
Author: Duncan Manyon da
Publisher: New Heritage Press (2016)
The cancer of divorce afflicting the country, especially in the last few years of socio-economic turmoil, is part of a staggering global disease targeted at tearing apart the family unit, itself the very core of society put in place by God.
In his book, Beyond the Vows, Duncan Manyonda offers profound teachings that cover almost every area of marriage from a biblical perspective.
Sex and finances, which are often hot spots that have made significant contributions to the failure of many a marriage, are extensively explored.
Manyonda also deals with subjects of managing differences and friendship in marriage, changing seasons and external problems in marriage, evolution of marriage, handling family matters, boundaries, spiritual warfare, building a culture and recognising personal desires in marriage in 11 short chapters. These marital areas, if not handled properly, often end up as the fault lines along which many marriages collapse into a pile of rubble.
Manyonda, however, equips married couples with the ability to see the problems from afar and the weapons with which to fight for their marriages whenever the need arises.
One of the book’s major strengths is that it accomplishes two goals in a single sweep — it will help those whose marriages are on the brink of collapse to get back on track, and arm those just about to walk down the aisle with the knowledge and wisdom to start off on the right path and avoid common mistakes that have shipwrecked other people’s marriages.
Drawing lessons from over 15 years in his marriage to Sheila, Manyonda downloads a raft of priceless lessons for those eager to have some colour and flavour in their own unions.
Writing in the foreword to the book, LASOF Leadership Institute founder, Charles Mugaviri, says: “While scripture says the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life, this book is not just but letters — it carries the Spirit that, if you yield yourself, you will see your marriage vastly improved. It is an interactive book that gives you the opportunity to look at your marriage through the questions segment at the end of each chapter. You can go through the segments as a couple and see how they can help improve your marriage.” (ppiii).
For many people in relationships, different character dispositions can often lead to friction and, if not properly managed, eventual collapse of the relationship.
This book, however, provides an understanding that the differences between two people in a marriage should actually be used to the marriages’ advantage rather than its collapse.
He writes on page 1: “If one of you desires to stay in a flat while the other prefers a conventional house, instead of seeing this as a difference, we have learnt to view this as diversity. Unique preferences must never be viewed as a source of friction but must be looked at as an opportunity to have double because two properties are always better than one. One of the two properties becomes an investment and a revenue stream while the other becomes your dwelling place.”
Many marriages fall apart because some patriarchal notions are allowed to creep in and end up sinking the marriage.
Manyonda, a gospel minister based in South Africa and with 20 years in Christian ministry, proposes that a couple should be able to determine who between them is more financially literate, and that person becomes the “finance manager” in the marriage because they are able to exercise stewardship over finances within the marriage, including budgeting.
No marriage remains static. They all evolve over time, and it becomes important for the parties to the marriage to be able to discern every phase in which they are, so they can derive the best benefits from the marriage.
Manyonda explores the four different phases of a marriage — honeymoon, exposure, adjustment and maturity — and how ability to negotiate these will help strengthen the marriage.
Manyonda also looks at how children are sometimes used as shields in a marriage, particularly during arguments, moments of frustration and misunderstanding — and the far reaching consequences.
“Every shield will exhibit marks of warfare that was never its own. In our marriage, we have agreed never to use children as human shields. Never say things indirectly meant for your spouse to the children. Some people have a tendency to be intimate with their children unknowingly when they are having misunderstandings with their partner. This creates bitterness and you will find after years some resentment manifesting.” (pp41).
There is a whole lot more to this book. The wisdom dispensed here can help any couple improve its marriage and fine-tune it so that it becomes the dream marriage they visualised during courtship.Feedback: firstname.lastname@example.org