Marriage & Family

Traditionally, all marriages in Africa were arranged marriage.  Although such marriages were primarily arranged by the parents, they were a matter involving the entire community and were, in many ways, a marriage between the two extended families.  Marriage was more about survival and the bearing of children than they were about love and romance.  But, these old ways are dying out as couples become more individualistic and are now demanding that they choice the person they marriage.  This new form of marriage is called, "love marriages."  The family still is involved in the marriage formation (e.g. negotiating the bride price), but the parents rarely decide who their children should marriage.  Having been influenced by the West, couples are now marrying to love.

Unfortunately, this new form of marriage has proven to be far less stable.  When people gain the power to choice who they marry, they also end up gaining the power to un-choice the person that they marry.  Thus, the divorce rate throughout Africa has skyrocketed to levels that were never imagined.  Marriages have become unstable as people's expectations for marriage have increased along with their levels of dissatisfaction.

The problem is basically due to the lack of relational skills.  Although Africans have gained the power of choice, they have not yet learned the relational skills that are necessary to make such love marriages work.  Attitudes have not changed.  Men still see women as property and largely believe that the role of the woman is to serve the man.  Men still beat their wives into submission.  They have yet to learn that love cannot be forced; it must be given.  Successful love marriages require new skills (e.g. learning to honor, respect, and sacrifice for the other). 

Also undermining the stability of African marriages is probelm of infidelity (which is common to most marriages).  Infidelity was not such a problem in the past when love and remance was not part of the marital experience.  It is, however, a major problem for marriages based on love relationships.  This becomes even more serious in view of the HIV-AIDS epidemic.  Many wives now fear their husbands are goingt to infect them with the virus.  And, if this wasn't enough, the epidemic levels of alcoholism is now another major contributor to the instability of the African family.

It is for this reason that Daybreak has included Marriage and the Family as major component of our student training.  It is one of the reasons why we require wives to attend Daybreak with their husbands as our first priority is to strengthen the marriages and families of our students.  Our goal is to teach the essential relational skills necessary for building strong marriages.  It is our hope that our students will not only strengthen their marriages but will be able to be both a model and an advocate for the family upon their return home to the village.  They, in turn, will be able to teach the relational skills that they learn at Daybreak.