“There is absolutely no reason for a man to hit a woman. Regardless of what she does, he must find other, non-violent ways of dealing with it.”
I was conducting a domestic violence seminar for villagers in a farming community. The women in the audience paid rapt attention and I could tell that many of them agreed with my statement. Some nodded, others were more vocal and I noticed that a few silently cast furtive glances in the direction of their male partners.
“What if you trying to live a decent life? You going to church but she want go party, you tell she come to church but she gone and drink, how dat gon look? How you gon control a woman like dat?” The farmer who had asked the question rose to his feet. He looked around the room as the men suddenly seemed to come alive. Even some women seemed to think he was on to something there.
That’s when I said it:
There is no place for control in a relationship.
In fact, at the root of domestic violence is the issue of control. We attempt to control our children’s behavior by beating them (maybe we will discuss this in another article), and way too often, we attempt to control our spouses in the same way and it is wrong!
We can only truly control ourselves. Your partner (husband or wife) is entitled to choose his or her own behaviors. If you perceive the choice to be unfair, unwise or unacceptable, then dialogue is necessary. If a settlement cannot be reached then the couple may seek help from a trusted third party such as a religious leader or a counselor. If that fails, the slighted party could choose to live with it or terminate the relationship. Any attempt to exert control over your spouse is a recipe for disaster!
For generations we have been taught that men are to dominate women; some women attempt to dominate their men in protest. Our parents and grandparents had a lot of things right but they got this one wrong. A happy relationship is not one where you have full control. It is one where there is mutual respect, understanding, communication, shared interests, care and consideration and freedom to be oneself. We cannot force these qualities out of anyone and when we show these qualities we are more likely to attract them in return.
We need to learn to talk things over and seek to understand the other, even as we seek to be understood. We must be strong enough so that we are not threatened by the other’s refusal to see things our way. We must be considerate enough to sometimes step back so that our partners can be themselves, and above all, we must not do to the other, anything that we would not want for ourselves.
If all else fails, walk away! Many have done it and were able to start over successfully. There is no shame in letting a stubborn spouse have their own way. And there is no glory in abusing another human being. Absolutely none!
Heal Guyana is a registered, not-for-profit organisation which functions as a civil society platform that focuses on empowering Guyanese and influencing citizens toward positive behavior change.
The views expressed herein are those of the Author; they do not necessarily reflect the views of Heal Guyana or its Executives.