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Opinions of Thursday, 7 May 2009

Columnist: Adu-Gyamfi, Kwaku

I Want My Kidney Back, If You Don’t Love Me Anymore.

Institution of marriage is one of the casualties of the recent economic meltdown.

What is the survival rate of marriages in this troubling time? And, can a broken marriage be patched with mathematical calculations?

In recession the material deprivation is not the only worry. Some People have lost their social identity and social networks which they acquired when things were good .The lost of status symbol in the society also foster alienation and bitterness.

The Economic slow –down has also produced a surge in obesity, low birth rate, suicide, personal fear and the rise in aging process—have you seen any stock or mortgage broker and financial planner lately?. And, among other marital headaches, unemployment rate, housing foreclosures and economic insecurity have also brought along the rise in emotional and physical aliments like sleep disorder and sadness.

It’s too soon to say who will be the biggest loser of this recession. But, the institution of marriage is vying for the title. The most visible casualty of all is the institution of marriage; in these hard times. Marriages have suffered a tremendous beat- up. And, everyone is trying to cash in on this phenomenon.

The new economic disorder has also opened up a new frontier for all kinds of professions coming out from the wood work--- supposedly to solve marital problems as well as our emotional ones .There is no end in sight. Psychologists, psychiatrists, family doctors, marriage counselors, pharmacist and other professionals have turned out to be the big beneficiaries of this economic hard- time.

A new trade called,” Mathematical –Biology” has emerged .Supposedly, it’s designed to measure marriages’ survivability. Thanks to the gospel according to a mathematical-Biology professor at Oxford ,in England, who says marriages survivability can mathematically be quantified and repaired .In effect, he claims he can predict with precise accuracy, how long married couples can stay together, based on their communication patterns---it’s no brainer!

You know you’re in trouble when your marriage is managed by mathematical -biology professionals. But, hey, no one is perfect! .Everybody wants to cash in on the hard –times and bad relationships.

The question now is: Can the mathematical calculations tell us all the pot –holes, pitfalls and the traps that we will find along the way in a marriage? The fact of the matter is there is a price to pay for a good relationship. Both spouses (partners) have to give- up or give –in something to get something. However, can we depend on mathematical findings for a happy marriage, without necessary paying any price? We want something for nothing. , huh?

You do not have to be a rocket scientist to know the importance of communication in a relationship, but using mathematical calculation to predict one’s marriage survival rate on the basis of communication alone sounds and looks very tacky and synthetic.

Anyway, the credit crisis and the economic decline of the recent months are having their toll on marriages and families beyond our imaginations. Without disposable income married couples have changed the way they socialize .They are staying home more and they are isolating themselves in order to nurse their economic pains and wounds in private.

As they are home more often than it was before the recession they become lonely or bored so they end up talking a lot on the phone .And, that also rack- up telephone bills. Alcohol and drug addictions increase whilst couples’ sexual life decline because of stress. People do not know who to blame so they end up taking it on each other. And, they are so irritated that a simple discussion can easily metamorphose into a full blown argument with very unhealthy consequence.

No member of the family (including the children) is immune to the fallouts of bad economic times. But, Ghanaian immigrants’ children; who tend to have unhealthy appetite for big material things are going to be affected the most. They are not going to have everything and anything they want as it used to be; at least for the rest of the duration of this recession. Come this Christmas, Santa Claus is not going to be that generous to them. For those of us outside Ghana, extravagant vacations will be postponed without explanation to the kids this summer.

With all that stress, married couples can easily get irritated and that will put a strain on the marriage. All that is enough excuse to ignite a negative behavior that can affect the entire family.

The following story is a classic example of the mimesis of a bad economic time .You might have seen it on the national TV in U.S. It’s a true story. I’m not making it up. This is a story of a marriage that turned into an ugly divorce. The other day I saw on TV the proceeding between two spouses who were in the middle of a bitter divorce. The center gravity of the divorce was the husband on the other hand demanding his kidney from soon-to -be ex-wife.

The man wanted to make sure that the wife doesn’t take his “priceless gift” away. No, I’m not talking about a 100kt gold necklace or an expensive diamond ring. It’s something bigger than that.

They were in court basically, to ask the judge to determine if it was right to get his kidney back. Yes, I know you might be tempted to ask how she possessed his kidney. Wait a second, there’s more to the story.

Once upon a time, the wife got sick and almost died. The doctors determined that she could only be saved if she had a kidney transplant .So out of love and generosity the husband not only took days off from work to be on her bed side on regular basis but ,he was kind enough to donate one of his own kidneys to the wife. In short, he went to the hospital and one of his kidneys was surgically removed to replace his wife’s damaged one.

Fortunately, the surgery went successfully with no complications. Everything was going fine, fine and they supposed to live happily there after. Unfortunately, the bad time struck them and he lost his job .Things were going sour and the marriage became a casualty of an economic tsunamis. Unable to reconcile and salvage the relationship the only choice they had was to decide to go their separate ways for the sake of their own sanity and health.

But, the husband says,”not so soon!’ I want my kidney back if you don’t love me any more”. So to sort out the entire web the case was taken to court to seek the judge’s help to determine the actual ownership of the kidney.

Demanding back his “gift” from his wife is one thing, but removing an organ from a body is more complicated and dangerous. The question is: if the recipient is guilty of possessing someone’s kidney, how is it going to be removed without jeopardizing her life?

One would think she would change her mind and go back to her generous husband, but she says over her dead body (literally).So the case is still pending in court for the judge’s decision, whilst the kidney is still kicking in her body. I feel for the judge who has to go through the ruble and sort things out. I won’t wish such a job on my worse enemy.

Indeed, marriage is a tough institution, so if we can not manage it I wonder if a simple mathematical calculation can make a dent. Could we have calculated if the lady would get away with her husband’s kidney ?And, even if the husband knew in advance that she would leave him after the surgery would he be able to look at her dying face and deny her a new lease on life—without being perceived as mean-spirited individual and lack of empathy? These are some of the questions I have been asking myself when I saw the news. Perhaps a prenuptial agreement should also put in place to include human organs donation or blood donation.

It’s my hope the mathematical –Biology professor will come out with another study ---one day to find a way---- to measure not only how long would married couples stay together, but to figure out a way for forgiveness because it’s hard to forgive.

Relationships are full offenses because when two people get together there is a tendency to get on each other’s nerves, once in a while. Two individuals attempting to get along with each other harmoniously is almost a ridiculous idea to begin with. To think that there will not be hurt feelings between the two is just crazy and ridiculous.

I know you have been told by your pastor that the key to dealing with offenses is to forgive and forget—another easier- to- say advice. Does it work for you? It never did for me, no matter how hard I tried. If I was able to forgive, I never forgot; which probably just meant I did not really forgive in the first place.

You can say all you want, but I’m not that good at forgiving; that is why I try not to offend people. I do not honestly think many of us are.

I like to carry grudges especially if the person who offended me doesn’t accept his or her role in the dispute. . Oh, I like to wallow in the misdeeds of others. Not something to write home about, huh? And, certainly, that is in contradiction with what I write about and stand for. But, at least I’m honest. It’s hard to forgive and forget when the person who offended you is not making any effort to apologize or be remorseful. .

Forgiveness is hard pill to swallow, especially when you have been hurt emotionally, and your trust has been violated.

Personally, I don’t believe in the forgive and forget mumbo –jumbo. It all depends on the degree of the dispute and how remorseful the person who did the damage your feels. Yes, I’m aware of the damages and negative effects of holding on to grudges and their costs to the victim. But, how do you let things go when the perpetrator doesn’t have the need to see and feel what you feel as a victim?

Kwaku Adu-Gyamfi