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May 21, 2018

THE TEN ‘I’s THAT BREAK THE HOME (11) CAUSES OF INTIMIDATION IN MARRIAGE

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MIND AND BODY with  Rev. Fr. Vincent E. Arisukwu

Many factors give rise to intimidation in marriage:

 

MISCONCEIVED AUTONOMY:

Saint Paul advised the Galatians thus, “After all, brothers, you were called to be free; do not use your freedom as an opening for self indulgence, but be servants to one another in love” (Gal.5: 13). There is no gain overemphasizing the negative influence of false sense of autonomy in marriage. Some husbands feel they are absolutely free to do whatever they like in their marriage, so also some wives. Autonomy here could arise from money (wealth), power, etc. According to Fulton Sheen, “We can set ourselves above others, and feel superior to them in either of two ways: by our knowledge, or by our power; by flaunting what we know, or by using money and influence to make ourselves supreme” (Sheen, F., Way to Inner Peace, p.90). Many marriages that started well have been destroyed by the influence of money. Money could make a man begin to treat the wife as inferior in marriage; it could also make a woman begin to regard the husband as the inferior party. It can indeed lead to a false sense of autonomy. The mentality is, “Since I make the money, I am totally in charge”. Once such mentality sets in, the danger is to imagine that every other thing depends on financial power.  All that such persons require is total subservience because they want their spouse to obey whatever command they dish out without questioning. For such men, money is everything in marriage. Their power is absolute in the home. If the woman tries to advise or make any suggestion, the ready question is “Are you the one to tell me how to spend my hard earned money? Am I not free to use my money as I want?” I once met a man who scolded his wife on hourly basis. In one day, the wife would receive not less than ten threats, “If you don’t take time I throw you out of this house”. Money-power can introduce intimidation in marriage.

 

OVER DEPENDENCE: As already established, every couple is inseparably joined in marriage. The man leaves his father and mother and becomes attached to his wife, and they become one flesh (Cf. Matt 19: 5-6). The couple shares every part of their life in communion with each other. Their income is the same as well as their expenditure. In few marriages however, the man tells the woman to serve only as “house wife” and do no other business. Such a woman is confined in the home and takes care of domestic chores. Some men  maintain that it helps to build formidable home in order to give the children a closer maternal attention. Some maintain that it is meant to give the woman greater security from other men outside. Others  feel that what they earn could be sufficient for the family upkeep. In any case, it is unheard of to talk about “house husband” in marriage. Ironically, some women who are constrained to take up house wife’s responsibility are products of higher institutions with certificates that can fetch them good jobs. In some cases they may not be but they are ladies with the strength and eagerness to work. When a person is not doing anything responsible, he/she depends on the partner for every of his/her need. The truth must be said here that it is difficult for a man to provide all the needs of the wife when the woman is totally dependent on him. It is worse when the man is dependent on the woman. In some instances, total dependence on one’s partner turns out to become reasons for intimidation. When the man/woman feels weighed down by worries and has a lot of financial responsibilities, he/she feels a sense of frustration and sees the partner who depends on him/her as liability. The dependant can only function at the instance of his/her couple. He/she uses soap only when the other provides, drinks at the instance of the other, can not even do charity because everything comes from a particular source. Such a person is always a victim of intimidation.

 

CULTURAL BIAS: The impression in Africa that man is always superior to woman is latent in the mind of every man. This plays itself out especially in marriage whereby men feel they are the boss in the nuptial relationship. No one advocates disrespect for any man in marriage but it has been observed that one major reason for intimidation in marriage is the African male syndrome/ mentality. Since the woman’s family is settled in marriage through the payment of bride price, many men believe they have simply paid for their wives and so they become the properties of their husbands. Even in some cases where the man was aided by the wife to take care of the traditional rites, the mentality is the same. Some women in some cases do the entire sponsorship through their husband but wouldn’t want anyone to know for reasons of their personal pride. Yet such men feel they should always impose their will upon their wives. That is why some of them do only what they want to do. They feel women have no contribution in the affairs of the man simply because the woman has no place in the African culture by their standard. A man once told me that the best way for a woman to solve the excesses of her husband is to overlook or pretend she doesn’t see them. According to him, the Igbo culture is that if a woman is caught committing atrocity in marriage she goes, if she catches the husband committing atrocity she also goes. This is a major cause of intimidation in most African marriages.

 

CHAUVINISM: Male dominance is a factor that unconsciously plays itself out in every relationship involving man and woman. Ordinarily, every man feels a sense of greatness and self esteem. Even in the family setting, the boys in the home would want to assume that menial responsibilities should be performed by the girls alone. They imagine that they are the men in the house and should be in-charge of their sisters either old or young. Men are gifted with natural physical strength and always feel stronger than women. This instinct has given rise to male dominance and male chauvinism. It is for this reason that Women Rights Groups arose to advocate for the recognition of equality of gender and women’s rights in the society. It is not true that men are always more intelligent or productive when they compete with women. But unfortunately, some marriages have suffered as a result of such chauvinistic syndrome. The man feels the wife can’t contribute anything. He feels she should be relegated. He queries her about everything and every movement but wouldn’t disclose any of his activities to her and wouldn’t tolerate any questions from her either. Such a man provides for the wife but doesn’t allow her the necessary air to enjoy the resources he gives her. She is programmed like a robot, her movement is timed, her friends are chosen by him, her job is secured by him, and her associations can only be sanctioned and approved by him. She only goes to church if he is going. She can’t exchange pleasantries carelessly else she receives queries. Woe betides her if she misses his calls because he will need divine explanations to convince him. She is not allowed to improve herself either by work or education since the man does not see reasons for a woman to go higher lest she begins to compete with him. He is the only star in the house, the wife is an addendum. Such a wife suffers psychological intimidation.

 

SYMPATHY MARRIAGE: Some men and women suffer intimidation in marriage because, directly or indirectly, they pleaded to be married by their partners. They make themselves inferior owing to either the beauty of their desired woman or the wealth of their desired man. They lure such persons and force them to propose marriage. Such marriages are contracted on sympathy basis because the man or woman in question feels he/she is marrying the other to help him/her. A man was having serious challenges with the wife after a few years of marriage. He was accused of not giving the wife the necessary attention as a husband. All he told the woman was that she should even be happy to receive the much attention he has given her. He went further to open up to the wife that she should have known that she forced him to marry her because he never loved her to the point of marriage. “You know you are not my level”, was the bomb shell he dropped for the woman. There can be no greater intimidation than this.

 

PERSONALITY TYPE FACTOR (EGO): Some individuals are naturally arrogant and proud. They derive joy insulting others not minding whether such persons are their husbands or wives. Those who have personality type factor usually belong to the melancholic temperament. They become easily abusive. Research shows that such abusers tend to lack empathy for other people, and as a result, see love in terms of possession rather than intimacy and respect. Their primary concern is the self, they neglect the interest of another. This happens in marriage relationship. A man/woman can be selfish lacking the approachability that the partner deserves. He/she snubs the husband/wife not necessarily by words but by character or attitude. He damns the feelings of his spouse. Such behaviors can intimidate one’s spouse.

 

IGNORANCE: The disease of ignorance is so bad that the ignorant person reasons otherwise. The ignorant person is in his own world. Emptiness for him is richness. The ignorant person is not only empty but holds tenaciously to wrong principles. Ignorance is a threat in marriage. The ignorant man for instance, would be the first to quote to the wife that women have no rights in marriage. He will be the one to insist that bride price is business transaction. He will be the one to tell a wife that a woman should only be a house wife looking after the house and children. He will be the one to insist that the woman’s money is her husband’s since it’s the only way to pay him back the money he spent on her head. He insists that it is the man who has the right to get drunk. He insists that it is the man who can commit adultery and go free in marriage. The ignorant man manufactures rules in marriage based on his convenience. He is the one who readily accuses the wife of infertility in the case of difficulty having a baby but shies away from carrying out medical tests on himself. The ignorant man avoids talking about himself but talks about the wife always. He not only intimidates the wife but may end up inflicting physical injury on her.

 

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