“I love you more than my mother”: How to balance storge and conjugal loves

I read on Facebook this morning (Friday, June 11, 2021) about one of the love hunters in the Date Rush programme on TV3 who is reported to have said he loves his prospective wife more than his mother.

That isn’t bad at all, at face value. But it got me reflecting, as l did my morning meditation. So, here is what every young man must understand:

The love between you and your wife, as well as the love between you and your mother are both covenantal.

But they are marginally two different types of covenants. The love between you and your mother is NATURAL, united by an unbroken umbilical cord. It is the real type of love that never ends.

The womb is the symbol of your mother’s love for you. Its unbroken, hollow, pear-shaped structure represents a storge love (or instinctive, or consanguine love) that is eternal.

As a child, l recall my mother, Agatha Adjei, often reminding me and my siblings, “You only crave your father’s womb after you failed to secure that of your mother.”

Whenever my mother was hurt by any misconduct from us, she would beat her womb, symbolically, with a sigh, “Ah, childbirth is difficult”.

But instead of cursing, she would also add, “A mother never throws away her womb to fill its place with leaves.”

When she is stressed, she would say, “But for me alone, l could choose not to work and still live.”

My mother has been widowed for nearly thirteen years, but she still remains single to take care of us (even though we are all adults and young adults).

When my father, Anthony Prempeh, died on December 13, 2008, and a week after his burial (on January 30, 2009), l participated in and wrote a thorough account of the ceremony that saw my mother willingly accept to undergo widowhood rites that culture imposed on her.

For a whole one year, she wore “bereaved cloth” and mostly stayed indoors. She went out without any earrings, with her shaved hair always covered. She had to also wear black slippers. She ate only within specific time periods.

All this was against the background that she and my father were married peacefully for more than 30 years, producing 7 seven children (including a set of twins). She married early in her early 20s.

After the one year of widowhood rites, people were urging my mother to re-marry, because she looked young and beautiful. I personally saw a few men seeking to make some moves with political promises.

But she would reply, “For the sake of my children, l will not re-marry.” She is rather deeply committed to God, including interceding for me and my siblings. That is a mother’s sacrificial love.

Impliedly, your mother’s love is peerless. Your mother’s love is more emotional, instinctive than rational. Your mother’s love was cultivated right when you were conceived. Your mother’s love is effortless. Your mother’s storge love is real and timeless. It is unconditional to a larger extent.

I still fondly remember my mother’s joy when after my graduation from the University of Cape Coast, she went to church, Maamobi Grace Assembly of the Church of Pentecost and excitedly said the Twi equivalent of, “My son is victorious.”

Since she never stepped in school, she didn’t understand what it meant for me to have had an unprecedented First Class in BA African Studies (specializing in Socio-cultural Studies) from the University of Cape Coast (UCC) in 2008, even though l explained how difficult the UCC was/is.

But as a mother who knows how painful it is to carry pregnancy, give birth and nurture responsible children, which are more burdensome than racking a brain to get a certificate, her statement, “My son is victorious” carries an eternal weight.

On the other hand, the love between you and your wife is of a different type of covenant. It is a covenant that needs promises of fidelity at all times.

The symbol of that covenant is a wedding ring. Its round symbol mimics mother’s (womb) love, with the expression, “My love for you is eternal.”

Because it is not a natural love, both the man and woman must take a vow to stay for and with one another even in an event of misfortune.

In the past, some Akan men would say a vow called, “Nkwasia Siw” (lit. “Foolish Vow”). It was a creative foolish vow because the man promised to outsource every good thing that accrued from the marriage to his wife and her family. He added that he would take all the bad things that accrued from the marriage.

You may never understand this until you appreciate the complexities and nuances of the matrilineal paradox of the Akan.

Back to conjugal love: Again, because conjugal love is hardly natural, both spouses tend to be more rational than emotional in keeping the love running, especially in difficult times.

Similarly, with conjugal love, it flows on reciprocity: the woman procreates, takes care of the home, nurtures babies (when blessed with one or two).

The man responds by protecting, providing, and leading his wife and family, as required by the Triune God.

There is a bit of reciprocity in storge love, too, but usually it is more ethical than transactional. For example, while my wife would think it’s natural for me to take her to a restaurant, my mother wouldn’t.

When l took my mother to Accra Mall in 2019 to “spoil” her, she was so happy that she never stopped blessing me. When l send her my fortnight small pounds, she would only intensify her reason to pray for me.

With all this, if you are a man, be very careful not to conflate your mother’s love and that of your wife.

Love both of them as important stakeholders in your life. Don’t let one of them feel jealous because of your recklessness.

For when your mother or wife curses you, you would be cursed, indeed, for both are women with similar elements.

Your mother gave you life, but your wife may (and pray so) give you life that lives after you (procreation).

Your mother helped your father to give you identity through naming. Your wife will help you to name others.

Your mother blessed you effortlessly, but through your wife, God will bless you.

Your mother saw you first in your nakedness, but through your wife, God will cloth you. God clothed Adam, after Adam named his wife “Eve”.

Your mother gives you natural food to keep you energetic and active. Do you recall the dirge that is sung when a mother dies, “It is a mother who knows what her children would eat”?

This song was a popular marching song for the schools in the Accra Metropolitan District, including my schools: Kotobabi Presbyterian Primary School (KPPS) and Kotobabi ’15’ JSS, during independence days in the 1990s.

I still don’t know why the organisers of the annual independence ceremony often chose that for us.

Your wife gives you both food and sex to keep you physically and psychologically stable.

A wise man must learn to carefully balance his love for his mother and wife.

Please let us chat with you have questions.

Satyagraha

Charles Prempeh

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