Gender Focus with EMELDA MWITWA
MARRIAGE is a desired relationship by many because by nature, a woman and a man are social beings. God has put in us an innate desire to want to belong to someone who belongs to us. This is why when a woman and a man, who love and mutually respect each other marry, the ensuing bond tends to be stronger than any other relationship that one could ever have with a fellow human being.
I am referring to relationships built on mutual love, respect and equalled commitment, involving a man and a woman who have chosen to belong to each other without compulsion or an ulterior motive. And neither partner should take a vantage position nor hold their significant other at ransom, on assumption that they are doing them a favour for marrying them or continuing in marriage with them.
Sadly, some spouses who appear to be on top of things begin to call the shots when circumstances change and their partner finds himself/herself in a vulnerable position.
Circumstances may change due to terminal illnesses, physical disability, loss of employment, infertility – failure to make one’s wife pregnant or a wife’s inability to conceive – and any other unforeseen reasons.
A story is told in our Sunday Mail of a man who started taking girlfriends home because his wife tested HIV-positive. Because he was HIV-negative, his attitude towards his wife changed, and he did not only womanise, but did so openly.
Apparently, he felt he was doing the woman a favour and without regard for their two children, instead of being sorry for his infidelity, he would taunt the woman about her medical condition.
He takes home an X-rated video (on phone) of his girlfriend and doesn’t care what his wife would feel. Obviously, this is one man who promised to go to the moon and back for his wife, but when sickness creeps in, he begins to maltreat her for doing her the ‘favour’ of marrying her.
And when I learnt of this development, I asked myself, is this how things should be?
Should sickness create a rift between a man and his wife who once claimed to love each other dearly?
But cases of people holding their spouses at ransom for staying with them when disability or a life-threatening disease creeps in, are quite common.
Sometimes it’s loss of employment or a financial storm that would turn a once upon a time respected husband into the most despised person in his home.
Both men and women are affected by this problem.
A story is told of a man who lost ‘vital power’ to a combination of diabetes and high blood pressure. His wife became promiscuous, and openly so, because, for obvious reasons, the man could not perform one, and only one, of his conjugal duties. The man could provide other needs for his family such as food, shelter, love and care.
But his disability in one area turned his wife into a double-crosser. As far as she was concerned, her actions were justified, because no woman could marry her husband in his ‘disabled’ state. When the man tried to show some jealousy over his wife’s obvious infidelity, she would rub in more salt to his injury and remind him of his new name – impotent man.
But there comes a day when someone has got to stand up and say ‘enough is enough’. So one day this man decided to liberate the sexually starved woman and allow her to freely mingle with men who could satisfy her.
The woman could not believe it that her husband, in his state, could opt for divorce, more so that he chose to stay alone for life.
Her plea for mercy did not change the man’s decision.
I feel it was a wise decision because it is wrong to abuse and mock one’s spouse on account of a situation or condition they can’t alter, which only God can change.
I know that from a traditional perspective, people would say the man should have accepted the status quo and kept quiet about his wife’s infidelity because she has fresh blood running through her veins.
I care less what that means but what I know is that marriage has some rules of engagement which the parties involved must observe. Ideally, the marriage contract should be broken by death, not by a terminal disease.
But traditionally they say it’s okay to cheat if one’s spouse becomes medically incapable of performing bedroom duties.
Perhaps what traditionalists may not know is that many people, especially women, have been sent to their early graves on account of seeing a partner misbehaving while they lie on their sickbed.
If I may ask, what does the vow ‘for better for worse, in health and in sickness, for richer for poorer’, mean if people mistreat spouses when misfortune strikes?
My view is that it’s better to part company and stay alive than allow a spouse to torture you on account of your vulnerability.
Being in a condition you think no one else can ever think of marrying you is no reason to endure gender violence, either physically or emotionally.
Every human being deserves respect, regardless of social status and medical condition. If circumstances change and your significant other turns tormentor, one has to choose between freeing oneself from the abuse or sitting back and stomaching the torture.
Imagine a woman who lost a womb while giving birth, refusing to part ways with an adulterous husband because no man could marry her.
The man sues her for divorce in a Kitwe local court. She says, “This man has no respect for me, he talks to girlfriends in my presence. But I can’t divorce him because I have lost my womb, no man can marry me.”
When I read the story in our Sunday Mail, I was astounded that one could cling to an abusive partner just because no man could marry her if he left her.
Honestly, it makes no sense to sacrifice your dignity for an abusive marriage, as though marriage is the sole purpose of human existence.
Don’t get me wrong, marriage as intended by God is good and important, but some perverts have turned it into an institution of abuse and torture. The point is, no one should sacrifice their life, self-worth and happiness in the name of marriage.
The essence of this write-up is not to encourage married couples to separate but to remind them to treat each other with respect when circumstances change.
Life, they say, is not a bed of roses, no wonder people’s financial, social and medical statuses change over time. Being in a better off position is no reason to despise and mistreat a vulnerable partner.
Remember, whatever a man sows, he will reap in return, says Galatians 6:7-8.
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