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

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As October 1 draws near

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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The Data of Forgiveness

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The Universal Character of Salvation

The most important ingredient in today’s media economy is data. The amount of data available determines how much and how long we can work or play on the internet. Currently, many of the service providers offer unlimited data plans but we know that those “unlimited” plans are not always unlimited. Sometimes, your download speed can get slowed down when you cross a certain point. Today, however, Jesus gives us the divine model of an unlimited plan. It is the unlimited bundle of compassion and forgiveness which never gets slowed downed shut down for maintenance. The theme for this week is that we must learn to forgive without limits no matter the injury committed against us.

In Matthew’s Gospel, today’s teaching on unlimited forgiveness comes after Jesus had told his disciples the parable of the wandering sheep, so it is plausible that some would have wondered among themselves how many times a good shepherd should go after the same sheep if it keeps wandering away. In those days, people believed that forgiveness was limited to three times only – a fourth transgression was not to be forgiven. So, by asking Jesus how many times he should forgive his brother, Peter was probably aiming to increase the limit to seven times. And Jesus makes it clear that we are to forgive others, “not seven times but seventy-seven times” (Matt. 18:22).That means we must dispense an unlimited data bundle of mercy.

In Jesus Christ, we have the forgiveness of a debt we could never pay. Sin is an offence against God and a direct rebellion against his authority and creation. The debt of 10,000 talents mentioned in today’s parable symbolizes the magnitude of the offence that sin causes in God’s eyes, but he is always willing to forgive without limits. However, we can easily cut ourselves off from God’s river of mercy when we refuse to forgive others. We end up restraining God’s mercy and putting ourselves under strict justice. To unfold his mercy without compromising his justice, God leaves each person free to choose between the two. If we insist on strict justice when we are offended, we bring God’s strict justice upon ourselves. But if we offer an unlimited bundle of mercy to others, we draw God’s unlimited data of forgiveness upon ourselves.

The secret to forming a forgiving heart lies in recognizing the evil of our sin and the immensity of God’s goodness in forgiving us. Until we see the ugliness of our ingratitude and selfishness, we will never appreciate the generosity of God’s forgiveness. Let us examine ourselves now to see how much forgiveness we are giving. Is there someone we still cannot forgive even after they have expressed sorrow for their actions? Have we judged someone too harshly because of something they said or did that we did not particularly like? How many times have we failed to help somebody because we are still dwelling on an injury that we suffered many years ago? How many times have we treated someone differently based on preconceived notions or stereotypes? These are some of the factors that shackle us like chains and that disrupt the unlimited data of divine grace in our lives. When we close ourselves off to people or dismiss them based on our preconceptions, mistaken judgments, and prejudices, not only do we make them suffer, we suffer as well.

But it does not have to be that way. Jesus came to free us from and the burden of sin and unhappiness. Forgiveness is like mercury, which runs away when it is held tightly in the hand but is preserved by keeping the palm open. When we lose forgiveness, we lose the ability to give and to receive love because love is the foundation of forgiveness. And since God is the foundation of love, whoever refuses to forgive automatically rejects the love of God. This is the essence of today’s parable and it is highlighted by the contrast between what was owed by each man. The wicked slave owed his master some 10000 talents. In gold terms, that is 350 tons and at today’s price, he owed his master USD21.8 billion. This was way more than King Solomon made in a year which was 666 talents of gold or USD1.45 billion in today’s value (cf. I Kings 10:14). So, this unforgiving servant owed his master what no individual could never payback. In contrast, his fellow servant owed him the equivalent of one talent of gold or USD2.1 million; so a man who was forgiven $21.8b could not let go of $2.1m, and his wickedness landed him in the hands of torturers.

Dear friends, forgiveness is an act of compassion which is expressed in the free choice to pardon one another’s shortcomings every day, and to also pardon ourselves for own mistakes Forgiveness transcends the fear of being wounded again; it is a deliberate act in imitation of the redemptive work of Jesus, the advocacy of the Holy Spirit, and the loving kindness of the Father. The whole point of today’s parable is that our Father in heaven will do the same to anyone who refuses to forgive others. Whoever refuses to forgive is doomed to a life of bitterness, and as the ugly trend continues, the person ends up building invisible walls of resentment around themselves, thereby blocking off not just one’s relationships with other people but with God as well. Forgiveness is not just an emotional expression or a sense of righteousness; it means being merciful not only when there is an explanation or apology, or a promise of amendment from the offender, but even when the offence is deliberate, and the offender is adamant. Forgiveness is a precious gift of grace, which does not depend on the worthiness of the receiver. Forgiveness is what we called to do, and the Lord’s grace is sufficient for us in that regard. Amen.

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Imo Deputy Governor’s giant strides towards revitalizing agriculture

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Imo Deputy Governor's giant strides towards revitalizing agriculture
By Joy Opara

The increasing cost of Agricultural products in Imo State in recent times has continued to be a major source of concern to the citizens of the state.

A critical appraisal of the development of Agriculture in this state reveals that successive governments had neglected this major sector of the economy, over three decades now, and this has adversely affected the revenue of government.

In line with the vision of the “shared prosperity” government of the Hope Uzodinma administration, the revolution of agriculture is among its cardinal programmes for which a high powered committee (on agricultural master plan for Imo State) has been set up.
For the purpose of resuscitating all moribund agricultural industries and facilities in the state, it is not surprising that this committee is headed by a world class Professor of Agriculture and Deputy Governor of Imo State, Prof. Placid Njoku.

The need to diversify the economy cannot be over-emphasized. It is a well known fact that there is no better and more sustainable means of diversifying the economy than through agriculture. It would be recalled that after the inauguration of his committee, the deputy governor went into action, first by visiting all moribund agricultural facilities in the state, which included Adapalm in Ohaji/ Egbema LGA, Avutu Poultry farm in Avutu, Obowo LGA, Songhai farms, Okigwe road, Owerri, ADP farms in Nekede, Owerri West. Others are Acharaubo farms in Emekuku, Owerri North, Imo Rubber Plantation in Obiti, Ohaji/ Egbema, amongst others.
Prof. Njoku in one of his speeches during the tour described agriculture as the economic base of most countries of the world. Considering the dwindling oil revenue, he said it should be a source of worry to people of good conscience that the vision of our founding fathers to generate revenue, food security, economic advancement, industrialization, employment and eradication of poverty was destroyed by successive governments.
The Deputy Governor, who not only is acknowledged as one of the greatest professors of Animal Science, a renowned Agriculturist and former Vice Chancellor of a leading University of Agriculture, the Federal University of Agriculture, Umudike, made it clear that the present government led by Governor Hope Uzodinma is desirous to return agriculture to its former glory.

The Ikeduru-born technocrat and farmer per-excellence said that the 3R Mantra of this administration namely: Reconstruction, Rehabilitation and Recovery is a base for making the dream of Imo State as the food basket of the nation come true.

Noting that government is a continuum, the deputy governor promised that his committee will build upon what is already on ground by rehabilitating the ones that could be rehabilitated and bringing in new facilities where necessary to ensure that the passion of the governor towards agricultural revival is achieved.

Meanwhile, in most of the establishments visited by the committee, it was discovered that indigenes of the communities had badly encroached into the lands and converted them to personal use. Investigations by the committee revealed that agents of some past governments in the state connived with the communities to make it possible, for their personal aggrandizement.

The deputy governor, whose humility has become legendary pledged his total support to the Governor, Senator Hope Uzodinma whom he described as God sent to right all that were done wrong by the previous administrations in the state. He called on all to give this administration the needed support to rewrite the history of Imo State in gold, especially the agricultural sector.

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Child Abuse: A case of betrayal of reciprocal trust

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Child Abuse: A case of betrayal of reciprocal trust
By Christian Uzoukwu

Some years ago, while as a kid, I fell out with my father due to an occasion of sheer disobedience and on that very day, I was given no food and was ultimately battered by hunger. Child abuse includes both acts of commission and omission on the part of parents, guardians as well as care-givers.

These acts have led to a lot of actual and threatened harm meted out on countless number of children. In 2014, the WHO made an estimate of 41,000 children (under the age of 15) that are victims of homicide and other related offences. This estimate, as expounded by this world body is grossly below the real figures due to the views of the society in relation to corporal punishment experienced by children. Girls are always most vulnerable to different forms of child abuse during unrests and in war-thorn territories.

Cases of child abuse can be established in some deadly human vices such as child trafficking, child labour, forced adoption as seen in the one-child policy prevalent in China. In the Asian country, women, by law are only allowed to have one child. Local governments would sometimes allow the woman to give birth and then they would take the baby away stating the mother violated the one child policy. Child traffickers, often paid by the government, would sell the children to orphanages that would arrange international adoptions worth tens of thousands of dollars, turning a profit for the government.

Other striking examples of child abuse are the various forms of violence against the girl-child which involves infanticide, sex-selective abortions, female genital mutilations (FGM), sexual initiation of virgins in some African cultures, breast ironing in some parts of Cameroon – involving the vicious use of hot stones and other tools to flatten the breast tissue of girls who have attained the age of puberty. As if those were not enough, female students are also subject to maltreatments in countries like Afghanistan and Pakistan. This is not to talk of recurring kidnapp of female students in some parts of Nigeria, as we saw in the case of Dapchi and Chibok schoolgirls.

Based on simple analysis, child abuse can be defined as “all forms of physical and/or emotional ill-treatment, sexual abuse, neglect or negligent treatment or commercial or other exploitation, resulting in actual or potential harm to the child’s health, survival, development or dignity in the context of a relationship of responsibility, trust or power”.

This definition by WHO also falls in line with the definition propounded by the United States Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, which says that child abuse are acts of commission. This commission includes “words or overt actions that cause harm, potential harm, or threat of harm to a child”, and acts of omission (neglect), meaning “the failure to provide for a child’s basic physical, emotional, or educational needs or to protect a child from harm or potential harm.

In Nigeria, most cases of child abuse have become cumbersome due to the fact that these acts of abuses are regarded as mere punishments to unruly young ones and by so doing, should be justified and doesn’t call for any further discussion and/or scrutiny. According to various statistical studies and researches, child abuse is a vast societal cankerworm and has four profound tentacles viz:

Physical Abuse: this involves undue hitting, beating, kicking, shaking, biting, burning, strangling, insertion of pepper into the eyes and pubic regions of children, maltreatments from house-help(s) and seniors at boarding/day schools, suffocating and forcing children to live in unwholesome conditions.

Sexual Abuse also includes persuading a minor into acts of sexual intercourse, exposure of the child’s private parts, production of child-related pornographic contents and actual sexual contacts with children.

Psychological Abuse of children can be seen in cases of excessive scolding, lack of proper attention that children should be receiving from their parents and guardians, destructive criticisms and destruction of a child’s personality.

Neglect of children can also lead to children dropping out of schools, begging/stealing for food and money, lack of proper medical care for minors and realities of children looking like ragamuffins.

Consequently, the causes of child abuse can be judiciously related to sex, age, personal history, societal norms, economic challenges, lack of Rights’ Protection Agencies, parents battling with traits of alcoholism and family size. These causative agents of child abuse can bring untold effects upon the society at large and these effects can be emotional, physical and psychological as the case may be, giving rise to individuals with dissociative lifestyles.

Furthermore, the treatment of individuals who have been malformed with respect to the abuses they experienced abinitio, can be a long process because it involves behavioral therapy and other forms of neoteric therapies. Treatments of psyche-related problems are not just a one-day process due to the long-lasting effects of abuses on various conscious mental activities. It is also noteworthy to point out that, prevention is always better than cure and holding fast to this true reality, entails that agencies who have the responsibility of protecting the rights of children must continue to do the needful which requires proper oversights of parent-child relationships.

To conclude this piece therefore, we must agree that untold hardships have been a great challenge for children especially in Africa and some parts of Asia. Children with long histories of abuses turn out to become societal misfits. To this end we encourage that: Children should be given a free platform to express themselves on many topical issues and issues relating to their existence.

Children should also be allowed to freely ask questions on any issue, no matter, how weird it seems to be.

Governments should make regulations outlawing societal norms and values that might amount to child abuses.

Corporal punishments by parents, guardians and care-givers should be discouraged at all levels, thereby making parents/guardians/care-givers who seem to be incorrigible, to face the full weight of justice enshrined in the law of the land.

Education system (both conventional and unconventional) in Nigeria should be able to train up young ones into becoming critical, analytical and evaluative individuals with a view of defending the vulnerable.

And again, since children are said to be leaders of tomorrow, it is pertinent to note that to secure their future, their present existence must be cherished and protected.

Christian Chimemerem Uzoukwu
08100029867 / 09025760804
Admin Critical Thinkers’ Forum.

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