Tie the Knot with Commitment, Help Society Out

Oct 3 , 2020
By Eden Sahle

Over the weekend, I read a great book called ‘Hope Heals: A True Story of Overwhelming Loss and an Overcoming Love.’ It tells the true story of a young couple’s sudden health-related tragedy, endurance and unfailing love.

Having gotten married right after their graduation at the age of twenty-two, their lives turned upside down by the age of 26, when the wife suffered a brain stroke.

The life-threatening bleeding in her brain not only left her severely handicapped but also added agony to their marriage, turning the husband into a caregiver and the wife into a patient. But amidst the crisis, the couple made sense of the tragedy and that pain that had suddenly swamped them.

It is a great book. It has inspiring marital stories, in which unwavering commitment and sacrifice creates a strong bond.  It is incredible how her husband cares for his wife, giving up everything he had dreamed of in life and loves her unconditionally even when she became physically unrecognisable and handicapped to the point of needing his constant help to carry out the most basic of tasks.

We have similar, inspiring stories of commitment here in Ethiopia, among our close kin and friends. A relative of mine, who had been married for 28 years until her husband died almost a year ago, had a similarly inspiring story.

After they welcomed a daughter, she found a massive opportunity for her career. The husband left his job because there needed to be someone taking care of the children. He stayed home and did the house chores, even when many close friends gave disapproving opinions in line with the traditional culture that assumes that the man should be the breadwinner.

Bravely silencing the outside noise, they lived appreciating and supporting one another. They used this same determination to brave through when the husband had a minor spinal surgery that went terribly wrong and left him with paralysis. He lost his speech and became unable to eat solid food.

But at the same time, it was yet another opportunity for us to witness their strong bond. The wife left her job to take care of him. She became a full-time caregiver to her husband for over a decade until his last breath.

These couples are not individuals who have lost their rationality. They enter marriage aware of the fragility of life and the importance of being there for one another. They fully lived their covenant to have and to hold, in sickness and in health, for better, for worse, for richer and for poorer – they kept their vows with deadly seriousness.

Recently, I was devastated to hear of a man that wanted to divorce his wife because she kept preparing the same type of meal, day in, day out. Fortunately, a religious father mediated between them, but it goes to show how many get into marriage with very little commitment to stick it through.

Marriages and divorces do help to gauge the socioeconomic conditions. One of the more interesting studies to have come out over the past decades has been the disparity in marriages, at least in developed countries, between high-income, working-class and low-income adults. The better-off ones are financially the more likely to get married. They are also less likely to cohabitate, have children out of wedlock or divorce.

What it means for later generations is depressing. Children that have lived with both of their biological parents are more likely to get a college education and have children at a younger age before they are able to support themselves. The socioeconomic consequences of this are huge.

It is thus the case that there may not be something inherently good about marriage, but it is clear that it is an indicator of an improvement in economic well-being. It is thus in economists’ interest to consider marriage in their understanding and analysis of welfare. It can be an indicator of a healthier society when conservative attitudes are held with an appropriate amount of esteem.

PUBLISHED ON Oct 03,2020 [ VOL 21 , NO 1066]

Eden Sahle is founder and CEO of Yada Technology Plc. She has studied law with a focus on international economic law. She can be reached at edensah2000@gmail.com.

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