One of the most common admonitions for couples intending to get married, from formal or informal sources, is the need to resolve issues within themselves and ensure they do not involve the mythical ‘third party’. This third party could be parents, siblings, friends or even work colleagues. The couple is advised to resist the urge to share personal concerns with any ‘third party’.
The reason is not far-fetched. Individuals react to issues based on their own understanding and experiences, thus, the advice I as a person would give, might very well work for me in my relationships but not for my brother or sister or friend. Also, there is the possibility that long after the couple have resolved their issues, the third parties might not be able to let go of whatever opinion they have formed about the erring party. Case in point, Mummy is called upon by couple A to resolve some dispute, tempers rise, words are exchanged and then the issues eventually get resolved. The couple have forgiven and forgotten, but not so, Mummy who might still be nursing some resentment against the other party.
Before we got married, I was convinced my husband and I would rarely have any arguments or fights just because we got along so well. In fact when a friend and fellow young wife mentioned that even the honeymoon was not left out of argument zone, I just laughed over it. Well, a couple of years down the line and many disagreements later, she was proved right. And yes, even during the honeymoon!
I have been tempted to involve third parties in our disagreements, not necessarily to ‘report’ my husband, but to get a neutral sounding board as to who was right/wrong in the circumstances. I want to know if I over-reacted, what the third party would have done differently, were there better ways I could have handled the issue? etc. This, I believe, is not a negative insertion of the third party but an avenue to balance out opinions. Some might disagree.
Recently, in the course of my work (provision of legal services), I have come to see this myth as critically debunked. Clients who are undergoing challenges in marriage or even relationships come to find out their legal options in the event of a separation or divorce. I am usually quite stunned at the eagerness with which they divulge even the most intimate details of their relationship to strangers. This cuts across people and includes not only the person bringing the petition, but also the respondent. Male or female, they just want to pour out their feelings and frustrations. Refer back to the neutral sounding board I mentioned earlier. In most cases, they have involved family, friends and even religious leaders who unfortunately, take sides and rarely resolve the underlying issues for which they eventually have to seek legal resolution.
The conclusion of the matter is that while the invitation of third parties into a marriage is not the ideal, there are situations which warrant that one does not keep silent. Domestic violence, sexual or verbal abuse and financial deprivation are some of the most pressing matters that involve immediate intervention of a third party.
My counsel would be to seek an impartial third party, who could be a counsellor, therapist, lawyer etc. Family and friends are a great support base but rarely offer that fresh and unprejudiced perspective on relationship concerns which an unbiased umpire would provide.
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