I read an article by my friend, Dayo Olomu, titled “Can You Change A Man?”. In this, a woman had asked Dayo if a woman can change a man. Dayo goes on to say “Instead of giving her a direct answer, I asked her: ‘can anybody change you from being you?’ She said: ‘No’. The truth is that no woman can change any man except the man himself decides to change.”
No-one can change anyone (male or female), and quite honestly, noone should try. As a woman who previously lost all self-confidence, became depressive and suicidal, being directly on the receiving end of this “you need to change” and “be submissive” phenomenon, I would say that not all women are unreasonable or unrealistic. I regularly encounter issues like this, and address them during workshops for women in business, and for people in relationship issues. As a matter of fact, several more men, than women, “have not discovered themselves, or what they want from life and relationships” at the point of getting married. Statistics prove that women develop faster than men. Candidly, most women just want to be happy. Lots of men who have not figured out what a “long term relationship” is meant to be or feel like, suddenly find themselves feeling “trapped” once married, and make it the woman’s “fault”.
They then begin to demand “submission”!! a word, which in itself means absolutely nothing, except it has first been personalised. Anyone “demanding” the other person’s “submission” or “change” (usually hiding under so-called Christian principles) has missed the real meaning of “Relationship” (or “Christianity”, for that matter). As a noun, the word “Relationship” itself relies heavily on the word “Relate”, which means to “associate, involve, connect or affiliate”. Submission, like Christianity and Relationship, operates better on a two-way street, where there is an association, affiliation or connection. The popular quotation from the Bible “Do unto others what you expect them to do to you” is a standard that relationships should, but don’t always follow. If you treat others right, you won’t need to demand “change”, “submission” or “respect”.
Men and women want to associate with each other for personal reasons. It is a fact that men and women usually want several different things out of relationships. For a lot of men, what they want is in their heads. What women want is in their hearts. Some men marry a beautiful girl, as a trophy, while some women marry a rich man for his money. If this is the case, I say, there is no reason to expect more. But people usually expect more, and here lies one of the problems. A union is formed when there appears to be a compromise of essential needs and wants on both sides. The major problems that relationships suffer, amongst others, are “hidden agendas” and lack of proper communications.
Believe it or not, these days, lots of women try beforehand to leave turbulent relationships before they become almost cast-in-stone (with the arrival of the child/ren). In a lot of cases, it is the men who don’t let go, promising change, and refusing to be separated. A man’s jealousy knows no bounds. Sometimes, like you said, it is the relatives, the friends, onlookers, well-wishers, etc, who claim to know better, that broker a kind of “peace”, “kiss and make up” situation, hoping for a “lived together happily ever after” condition. There is nothing unreasonable or unrealistic about thinking, hoping, or even, believing, that the man who promised to love you as long as he lives, will actually make good on that promise.
However, it is not as easy as ABC to get out of a relationship where someone has just shouted at you, made you feel very small, cursed both your parents, and even made an intimidating grimacing gesture, fists clenched, or palm raised towards your face, and made you cry. Not so simple. While it can be said that there are women who are cold, conniving and calculating, several more women like to believe the best about their men. So, when they “forgive”, most just forget. Until the next time, that is. Then they begin to see this as a pattern, by which time, it’s almost too late to back out. For some, it is the fear of starting all over that gets them. Hopefully, they can stay alive long enough to start their lives all over.
We still live in a predominantly “men’s world”, despite what lies we may choose to tell ourselves. Society is not very forgiving to women who change men at the drop of a hat. Yet men cheat without batting an eyelid, and are even encouraged by other men, to do so. It is true that the biological clock is not on a woman’s side. So, women wait longer in abusive situations, in order to have their children, (“in one place”, meaning, “with one man”) if it is possible. It should not become impossible to expect that the father of your child/ren will not turn you into an African Drum, beaten relentlessly until humongous sweat drops fall like giant beads from his forehead. Once that curious word, “forgiveness”, is pandered in love-ties, women are very quick to let go. It is not wrong to accept that a sorrowful look, and the words that spell “forgiveness”, might be an indication of future relative harmony. But, if the women should insist that “this is not right”, then, even their family members (oh, and the church!!!) tend to jump in and say “ahahh, relax. He will change. He has said – sorry!!”. And the church is the worst for judgements!!! And so, most women just stay back and accept whatever is thrown at them. Like you said, noone will advice any woman to leave their husbands, but I can tell you this, once a man starts beating his woman, unless by some divine intervention, he will not stop. He simply can’t help himself, and they say the first time (for spousal abusers) is the most difficult.
Women like to believe the best about their men. Most of the women in my mother’s time who endured being beating to pulps seemed to have no choice “for the children’s” sake (as if the child/ren care!) Most children would rather have a well-looking, sane, and poor mother, than one that has been maimed in the name of staying married because of “the children”. The truth is that the women in those days were essentially poor. The reverse is true these days, and a lot of men tend to be intimidated by a woman who is “doing” and “achieving” things. It is not uncommon to hear such colloquialisms as “you want to give my head in exchange…”, “you want to place my head in subjugation”… when a woman is demanding to be treated right. In a lot of cases, heaven help the woman who earns more than the man.
There are so many factors that mitigate against a woman in relationships. I think it is wrong for anyone to advice any woman to endure an abusive relationship. Some men have told me that they “slapped” or “hit” their wives “once”, and immediately regretted it, and sometimes “feel betrayed” that the woman didn’t immediately “forgive and forget”, but is still nursing the wounds years later. Other “things” may be in play, like attitudes, mode of communications, coming home late… Issues that will demand personal self-evaluation, and positive change. As a woman, if you choose to stay, you better be prepared to become the deaf and dumb mute, having no opinion or expressive emotions. Perhaps even, give up your career, stay at home so you don’t end up earning more, or promoted for being excellent at your job. Not that this will appease a man who has made up his mind that you must remain the punching bag or emotional garbage bin.
The conclusion of the matter, like Dayo says here, “Instead of trying to change a man, the advice is, ‘look before you leap.’ And IF you experience any doubt whatsoever after you’ve made the decision to stay, (even if your mother says it’s ok), run for your life. Your pastor will not tell you this, so better hear it from us. Let it be someone else’s problem. Many women have lost their lives because they “thought it would get better”, “maybe he will change”. Believe you me, it never does, and he never does.
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