These past few weeks on social media, one case of domestic violence has followed another. In fact this year has been one long drawn out drama, with different scenes and episodes, featuring the highs and lows of relationships.
Some victims have spoken out about their experience, and in the process, been blamed for not seeking help, or for getting married for the wrong reasons, or for so many other reasons people seem to spend time coming up with. However, what is most shocking is the fact that it has become obvious to all that not all that glitters is gold. Not every seemingly solid marriage is solid.
Sometimes, people need help but are afraid to ask for help, because of what other people would say, because they are not comfortable with asking for help…and a string of other reasons.
Is that good enough? Sometimes, yes is the answer, and sometimes, it’s the opposite. Only the people involved in a relationship can truly answer for themselves. So, to each its own.
Personally, my husband and I have needed counselling, not once, not twice, in fact, whenever we come up against a brick wall in our relationship and are unable to do sort it out by ourselves, we are not ashamed to ask for help. Some people call it overexposure, I call it selective exposure.
But that wasn’t how I started out my marital life. I strove to be that perfect wife image I had built in my mind; always so loving, never complained, tolerated everything and literally lived to love and please her husband. I wanted to keep everything between just the two of us.
It was that ideal wife that I looked up to, so I set aside my feelings, reactions, pain and disgust at some things that my husband was doing, and pretended as though they did not matter. That was the biggest mistake of my life. I was merely living a make-belief life. All those feelings that I had been setting aside for years all came to boil one day, and on that day, nothing else mattered except that I had my way…or I walked away. It was that bad.
Truthfully, I cannot remember what the issue was right now, which tells you it must have been one stupid thing that triggered my meltdown.
After that incident, we went to see some marriage counsellors in our church, and during our sessions, it became obvious that I had harboured resentment against my husband for years, as I kept referring to the past. I tried to tell myself to shut the heck up, since I didn’t say those things when it mattered. But hey, I needed to say them, to get them out of my system.
I still have my moments when I’m trying to be the perfect wife (it doesn’t last long), but now, we make sure we talk to each other more. This way, we are perfectly blending with each other’s high and low moments.
After that time, we have talked to other people, and each time, it just helps to put things in perspective. We can make it work, we are not alone. Couples have been through this and survived. We can too.
And so can the duo of Faith and Kenny, who got married recently, after 9 years of courtship. For one, I expected that they would have had plenty of time to get to know each other thoroughly, and the instances of quarrels would be minimised, but I guess I was wrong, as I forgot to factor in the fact that marriage changes people in sometimes unexpected ways.
A man who had been carefree can become one who becomes tetchy at the slightest hint of disrespect from his wife, and the woman is suddenly so attuned to the fact that her efforts are not appreciated in the house.
All of these things weren’t issues when they were dating, but they soon became issues they were calling people to attend to in the dead of the night, as one argument followed another.
While, it may seem all of sudden, it really wasn’t sudden. It was just that their expectation of each other as a spouse, rather than girlfriend or boyfriend, or even as fiancés, had changed and they didn’t realise this on time, never mind addressed it.
Faith and Kenny are now having weekly sessions with a counsellor with several years’ worth of marital experience under her belt, and they are gradually coming to a compromise.
But before, they got to this point, it was a struggle, as they found it difficult to ask for help for three reasons, (1), they had dated for almost a decade and thought they should know each other better, (2), they were newly married and should have been in their honeymoon phase, rather than fighting, (3) they did not know who to turn to. In the end, they were able to get past all these issues, and get the kind of help they needed to make their marriage sustainable.
The truth that benefits couples, their relationship and the society at large, is that couples struggling in their marriage should seek counselling sooner rather than later.
Every marriage comes with its own bumps and turns which, if not handled correctly, can create chasms too wide to bridge.
Often, either from pride or shame, a couple does not seek help with issues early enough to save the marriage. They wait until so much damage has been inflicted that the marriage is already dead and the counsellor has little to work with.
Recurring issues in a marriage are like road signs warning of danger to come. Some of these road signs are:
- Inability to resolve conflict in a healthy way.
- One partner dominating the relationship, so that the needs of the other are not met.
- Inability to compromise.
- Either partner stepping outside the marriage to “fix” the problems.
- Breakdown in communication.
- Confusion about the roles of each spouse in the marriage.
- Disagreement about parenting styles.
When a couple recognizes any of these warning signs, it is wise to seek godly counsel, from people who truly have their interest at heart; trained counsellors, their religious leaders, most of whom are trained in counselling.
Please, don’t stay silent. Don’t stay down. Ask for help if, and when, you do need it.
What other people think or do not think, does not matter; you matter, your spouse matters and your marriage matters.
Fight for what matters!
Kristine is a member of The Lovelint team. She is a down to earth person, who says it as it is. Having given relationship advice for years in a national daily, she has found out that fear is one of the main reasons holding people back from enjoying a healthy, happy relationship. She is married with kids and is willing to listen to you and help as much as you let her to.