By Michael WestA Lagos based businessman called to ask for help because he wanted to "secure" his wife so she can always obey him. "When I had money, I was 'king' to her and her family but since things have not been rosy with me in recent times, my wife has become stubborn and confrontational. As we speak, she has refused to return from the East since we travelled for Christmas last December. Surprisingly, she said she is no longer interested in the marriage. Can you imagine? I want to 'secure' her so she can obey me and stop listening to her mother and her influencers."
The caller didn't know that powers sourced through mediums and alternative means are ephemeral. Such powers have expiry time as well as consequences. There's nothing as peaceful, dependable and lasting as the power of prayers which has no consequences. Many of the forced marriages or relationships don't end well. After I explained these to him, he agreed to drop the idea and chose to embrace interventions that will bring back his wife to him through dialogue.
Not a few women called to share their gory tales in bad marriages. While some have "escaped", others said they are still taking their time but are hell-bent on quitting. Two callers said they have settled for what they termed "marriage of convenience" - this means they live apart but still married. In case either of the party chooses to move on or decides to end the union, filing for divorce will not be a problem since separation as a precondition is already being fulfilled.
Today, I decided to publish one of the stories available. The 44-year-old woman explained that: "From the onset, I knew my marriage won't last; because it was more of a reluctant union. I almost backed out at the last minutes but the fear of what people will say goaded me into it.
"The early sign I noticed was that he was hostile to my friends. Later, he restricted his own family members from visiting us, a decision that made it possible for him to stop my own family members from visiting us, too. He did that knowing it will enable him to do whatever he liked with me.
"I read Banking and Finance in the university but when I had a job offer from a new generation bank he rejected it. He said the job will expose me to men and they will chase after me in the course of duty. Every appeal to allow me pursue a career in my field fell on deaf ears. Months later, I got another job offer from a telecommunication company, again, he also declined approval, saying it will expose me to men. There and then I knew I got it wrong in the choice I made in marriage.
"To be honest, I didn't like buying and selling kind of business. I preferred corporate jobs. I went for my MBA with the aim of floating a consulting firm, he allowed me to go through the course sponsored by my parents but disallowed me to prospect for business opportunities. At the end of the day, my parents suggested I should consider buying and selling if that is what he wanted for me. Alas! He said he had no money to invest in or fund my business, not even a loan. He said I should raise the capital by myself. That was when I fully realised that I was into a big marital trouble.
"All the while, I suffered physical assaults and dehumanized treatments whenever we had altercations. Twice I had miscarriages due to abuse and domestic violence. At some point, he stopped me from visiting my parents because they warned him against further assaults. He was a top executive at work, (but now retired) yet, he scarcely provide enough for us at home. He told me during a quarrel that giving enough money to women for family upkeep is a subtle way of empowering them because they will manage it to their own advantage. Callous men are not generous at all and they deliberately deny financial support to their wives in order to weaken, subdue and humble them. The little women have in savings will be spent to augment the needs at home because of children. As a result, abused women will stay longer in lack, insufficiency and in suffering. Whenever such men show a little kindness, feebleminded women easily forget all the torture they have been subjected to. Some will even go as far as telling their men how they had been advised to quit.
"One day, alone in the house, I reviewed my marital journey so far, 12 years had gone without a glimmer of hope for improvement. My dream and passion are being frustrated. I had no sustainable means of income. There's no future here if I stay on. I decided to quit. I knew that he would pretend to be remorseful whereas if he succeeded to hold me back, getting out will be more difficult, I then mapped out a strategy that took three months to perfect without informing anybody about it. The day I was ready to quit, I invited his youngest sister to please see me. When she came, I entertained her and made her to relax till the school bus brought my children from school. After feeding the children and while they settled to do their homeworks, I told her to look after the children that I wanted to pick some items at the nearby store. That was how I left with only my handbag at about 5pm.
"She won't leave until I return and her brother met her at home. They started calling my line. I didn't respond until I got to Abuja the next day. I told him that I'm done with the marriage. He should tell his sister to take care of the children. I needed to progress and pursue my own dream.
"He ran to my parents, got in touch with my friends he said he didn't want to see around me. At the end of the day, I agreed to allow the children to stay with me on three conditions:
• That he must agree to a divorce which he accepted before I allowed him to bring the children to me in Abuja.
• That he must agree to provide for the monthly upkeep and regular payment of school fees for the children. He consented.
• That our discussions thenceforth must be about and not beyond the issues concerning our children. Nothing more. He was initially hesitant but he budged eventually.
"I got a lawyer to draft the agreement and we both signed. That was how I escaped from the lion's den. Previously, I had made an attempt at separation which he thwarted by prevailing over my parents and friends to beg me to return. Yet, this man won't change. After each disagreement, he would demonstrate fake attitudes of a changed man. In fact, he pretended for almost three months at a time during which I almost cancelled my divorce plans. I got so convinced and carried away that I concluded that nobody is perfect after all. A situation later arose which brought out his concealed person. They can only pretend to buy time until it will be too late for their 'victims' to quit.
“I left my children behind as a strategy to have my way and to get them to live with me without yielding any ground to his advantage. If I had gone with my children, he won’t be responsible for their welfare and education, and the journey to get my bearings may not be as easy and fast as it was that time. I took to a wise counsel of a confidant and it paid off.
"I want to advise women in similar situations to please run for dear lives. Callous men are devils, and devils never repent of their deeds. Your sanity, human dignity and purpose in life matter a lot. It is foolish for any woman to die or get mentally deranged because of marriage. I have since been remarried to a valued friend who celebrates me beyond the beauty that my ex was killing me over. He also supports my dream and passion wholeheartedly. The fear of what people will say still keep several women in bad marriages while some are dying in it daily, untimely and silently."
• West wrote via [email protected]