At the age of seven, Femi’s idea of marriage is having a man stand as a protector to take care of the house, provide funds and protection and discipline for the people in it.
Femi’s father having fought in the civil war as a general was all about discipline, he learnt that a man had to strike to command obedience, so he lovingly beat his family into shape, or he believed he was doing so.
Femi grew up and decided to not be like his father, his father was too insensitive, his father flogged his mother with a cane from time to time. Femi swore to protect and build a good home for his wife and children.
He studied Computer Engineering where he met Bola, she was the sweetest girl ever. Bola, a first-year business student was just two years below Femi. They started dating immediately, and Femi was sure he would build a family with her and protect her and their future children.
Bola came from a loving home, her father was a doctor, she was not exactly a spoiled brat, just was a child who had received a lot of attention. Bola was a feminist and believed in equal rights. She loved Femi a lot; he was a protective bear. He had the sole aim of spoiling her and shielding her from any hardship. All they needed was to work on that temper, the last guy who harassed her was yet to leave the hospital. But it wasn’t a biggie, he only shouted at her once or twice, he was only being protective or wasn’t he?
THE THERAPY SESSIONS
“He changed overnight, he became an animal.”
“She suddenly nags about everything; I even compete with her father.”
It’s been just 3 years, how could everything have gone so wrong? Where did they miss it? Therapy sessions this early in marriage wasn’t the plan.
“He promised to love me all my days, he promised to protect me, he beat up guys who offended me, I have no idea how I am now part of the punching bag?”
“I was always so supportive, I cheered him on, I was his support, but he’s just a controlling freak.”
“Why can’t I work, in 2020 a 30-year-old man won’t let his wife work?
“When we first met, he kind of insinuated that I won’t have to work, but who is serious about that, I thought it was a joke.”
“Discuss with him? That mad man only speaks with his fists.”
“I love my wife, truly I do.”
“I can’t look myself in the mirror; I killed my baby, I am a monster.”
“It’s like I get possessed by this maniac that just goes berserk, I watch myself pounding her and I see my father in me, when did I become that guy?”
“Two months after our marriage, I got a job as a business analyst for The Light Electronics. I only worked for 7 months; my manager was hitting on me. I told Femi, but he went to my place of work and raved like a mad man, I was so embarrassed I wanted to floor to open up. I didn’t know he would be so irrational. Losing my job like that, I was so furious. When I got home, I screamed my head off, I called him all the names I could think of. He had just made me lose my dream job because of his foolish jealousy. He was so mad, he started crying. I started crying too, I told him my dad would have ignored the manager that most offices are like that, that it’s a normal thing. He got so furious immediately and asked me if I loved my manager, he called me a whore. He removed his belt…”
“That was the first time.”
“When I was 15, my dad decided to stop beating my mum, she was too depressed. He let her start a business that year; she was selling wrappers. She seemed a lot happier that year. She had this supplier that was so kind, but dad didn’t like him. Dad was calm that year, but all of a sudden, he became cranky and started urging her to stop her business. He wasn’t forceful as usual and still let her run her business. One day, I came home to meet my mum injured, her clothes torn. She had been alone at home with the supplier that day; he had a good opportunity to have his way with her. If not for the police, my dad almost beat him to death that night. My dad cried that night, he told me he should never have stopped beating my mother. That beating her made her obedient.”
“I didn’t agree with him, until now.”
“He said his dad was strict and his mum was an angel, his childhood was boring, he had no stories to tell”
“No, it not that I didn’t want to find out, I was sharing my stories, so he would learn to share his. You know my family was a model family; my dad loved my mum…sorry, doctor why do you have that look on your face?”
“I was simply using my stories to teach him how to be a good husband. He needs to learn from my father.”
“Wait are you judging me, doctor look, he beat me, he’s a monster, he killed my baby.”
“Are you a shrink? I said he killed my baby, how dare you look at me like I was a nagging wife.”
“You didn’t have to call me a nagging wife; I saw the look on your face. Let me remind you; I am the victim here”
“It was so hard at times, she compared me with her father, I never measured up”
“Is it an ego problem? I don’t know.”
“Well maybe it was about my ego; I don’t know. But doctor what I know is this, I have a psychological problem, I can’t seem to stop beating my wife”
“I mean at times, she nags, oh heavens she nags. I could throttle her on such days. She is kind of spoilt you know.”
“I don’t mean to beat her, but that’s the only way I know how to protect my wife.”
“I know he loves me, but he gets fiercely possessive at times.”
“I think something happened to his mum, but he never talks about it, he just says she’s a sweet angel.”
“I think I may still be able to love him, but I don’t want him to kill me.”
“Her world is so perfect, I can’t compete. I’ll never measure up, she doesn’t think I am the right man for her.”
“I don’t know what else to do; I don’t want her hurt, but she only obeys me when I beat her. She’s like a disobedient child that listens only to the rod of correction.”
“I don’t want her to suffer like my mum, but what do I do?”
I have come to believe that domestic violence could be a form of mental instability or a result of one’s belief system. Domestic violence is triggered by several things; one’s past life usually plays a major role here. It’s about what one has come to accept as a belief system, the violence could come from a man or a woman, it could be physical or mental abuse.
If you are in any form of abuse, please seek help from a therapist today.
This is not a story about who is to blame or not. If you follow my stories, I aim to find out what went wrong. When did the problem start growing? What added flame to the fire?
One of the lessons I got on relationships, in general, is to know your partner’s background and their past demons, not to run away if they are ugly, but to figure out how to work on them together. If you figure you can’t work together to conquer those things, please don’t enter that relationship. And it is also advised to go through this process with a counsellor.
Bola and Femi needed to have paid more attention to their personalities, spoken to a marriage counsellor and worked on some many issues of their past together. If Femi couldn’t learn that he doesn’t have to beat his wife to make her obedient, Bola should never marry him.
Even if he learns how to work with his demons, Femi would need an accountability partner for every time he got angry to discuss his actions. Bola would need to learn how to be the right support for Femi and learn a high level of emotional intelligence. If they want to make that marriage work, she would need to know the right words to say.
My recommendation is that they do not marry until a psychologist had cleared Femi on being able to love without fear.
I know you may be wondering why I am not banishing Femi to a life of singleness. It’s because the victims of the civil war and so many other mental wars are a lot in Nigeria. Many families exist just because they have children, many women and men are daily being abused mentally and physically.
Seek the help of a trained specialist, sit and discuss, know your partner. Ensure you aim to find the problem not to find who is at fault. And pray for understanding through the entire process.