Abusive Marriages

December 2019

Gender-based violence continues to be a big issue in our society. Hardly a week goes by that we don’t hear of a woman who has been battered by her husband. Many women are suffering in abusive marriages and relationships; they are too scared to speak out. We were invited to speak at a bridal shower and listening to the other women in attendance brought this point sharply home. Women who have been in marriages for 5-20 years all have tales to tell, most of them unpleasant. One lady told us that she was told by her mother that marriage is for life and that no matter what happens leaving is not an option. The girls are taught from a young age that they are the ones to keep the marriage alive; the man can do as he pleases, but the woman is to submit and support her husband.

While long ago this was the rule, times have changed and so have people. Many couples are fighting in their marriages and spouses are turning on each other; many have been killed in the process.

When we discussed mental illness, we realized that a lot of people are walking on the streets battling serious issues of depression. A man who is known in his neighborhood as loving and gentle will one day turn on his family, killing his wife and the kids and then hanging himself. The whole neighborhood will be left in shock; no one saw it coming. Where the wife survives, she will tell of a life of horror with the man. She has been beaten more times than she can count and threatened with death, but regardless, she clung onto the relationship. She did not want the stigma of being a divorcee. She has sought marriage counseling numerous times, but things just have not changed.

Young women are getting into marriages with a lot of fear; they don’t know what to expect. We may not have a remedy for all the problems or an answer to every question, but caution is definitely needed. We have a breed of men who do not mind sitting in the house while the wife goes to work, pays the bills, and buys the food. A man should ideally be the provider, and in cases where one loses his job or is unable to work for one reason or another, the couple at least needs to have an amicable discussion on how they will move forward from there. If the woman pays the bills, she won’t feel the need to respect the man; it takes a rare woman to pay the bills for the house and respect her husband, too. The man, on the other hand, feels disrespected when the wife commits her salary to other use without consulting him. When roles are flipped there will generally be arguments and upheaval; the roles need to be balanced. The young ladies and men who have stable jobs and are looking forward to a union in marriage are at a crossroads; they do not want to make commitments that are not sustainable.

Marriages are failing so much of late; the children are the ones left to suffer. They grow up with a lot of bitterness and resentment towards the parents or parent they feel failed them. They do not want to make the same mistakes their parents made, so they try to be careful in their choice of a life partner. If not carefully mentored, children from broken homes tend to have a lot of challenges in their own marriages.

We teach the young girls that it is okay to say ‘no’ when they are not sure of a relationship. Marriage is a beautiful thing when it is between two people that love and respect one another. Each spouse needs to understand that they are in a partnership that requires each party to pull their weight; leaving all the work to one person causes conflict and fighting that may end up being fatal. We caution women not to stay in a marriage where there is violence.  Our contention is it is okay to walk away, not to wait until it is too late. We need more rescue centers, so women can find a safe refuge. They don’t have to contend with domestic violence.

Valvisions Scholar helping out at Village Dance

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