For better or for worse, that’s the vow that every couple makes when tying the knot. But for Tina*, the longer she stayed in her marriage, the worse things got.
In the early years of their marriage, her husband would at least lie about where he was when he was with his mistresses. As the marriage progressed, he started flaunting his mistresses in her face.
“One time I came home early from a business trip, and he had a woman in our home, our matrimonial home!” exclaimed Tina. When she confronted him about it, her husband could not be bothered to explain. When she insisted on getting an explanation, she got the beating of her life! The beating was so bad, she actually had to be hospitalized.
But that was not even the worst part of the ordeal.
“After being hospitalized, it dawned on me that I did not want to live like this anymore. Married, unhappy and lonely! So naturally, I confided in my mom and my close friends about leaving my husband.”
Shockingly, Tina’s mom and friends were all against it.
I will never forget what my mom said. She told me not to let those other women (mistresses) win by leaving. I should stay and fix my marriage.
My friends on the other hand encouraged me to be less outspoken to my husband, I shouldn’t question him too much. They also told me to pray hard to conceive because a baby could make him a better man! How crazy is that?” said Tina. Similarly, Rachel*, a woman in her mid-30s, is faced with making the same decision of leaving or staying in her relationship. Unlike Tina, she is not married and from the look of things, she isn’t going to be getting married, any time soon.
Rachel has been dating this guy for four years and like any normal person, she believes that she is in a serious relationship. The guy on the other hand, feels differently.
Even after four years, he still introduces her to people as his friend! Rachael is really bothered by this and has made repeated efforts to let him know how uncomfortable it makes her feel. But he always responds with “Friend, girlfriend, same difference!” or “They know who you are, do I need to remind them all the time!” or “I like my privacy, so who you really are to me is my business not theirs!”
Rachel’s demands to be acknowledged always end in big fights that leave her feeling broken and unappreciated. She often contemplates ending the relationship but the thought of her ticking biological clock and the four years that she has spent building the relationship make her stay back with the desperate hope that things will change for the better.
I am sure that a lot of men and women can identify with Tina’s and Rachael’s situation. Most times it seems easier to hold on to a bad relationship than to start a new one or worse still, be alone. Our African cultures which treat divorcees like lepers and look at older unmarried women with pity, make such situations even more difficult.
Granted, no relationship is perfect and it takes sacrifice, commitment and some level of compromise to make it work. But at some point a line should be drawn between what can be fixed and what cannot be fixed, what should be tolerated and what should not be tolerated.
At some point we need to stop making excuses:
I made a vow (for better or for worse).
Honey, you have been married for ten years and for those ten years you have experienced nothing but pain, when is the better part going to come? It is long overdue!
But the Bible says that love is patient.
Yes it is patient. It is also kind. So if your spouse or partner or boyfriend/girlfriend is beating you, cheating on you and outright disrespecting you, that is not love and doesn’t deserve to be reciprocated with patience.
How will the society look at me?
Members of your society will have a lot to say. They will definitely call you names and they will certainly say that you walked out on your family either for another man or woman. You should expect them to say a lot of things and look at you differently but soon enough a new story will come up and they will shift their attention to that and forget about you and your situation. So forget about them!
What about my children?
What about them? Think of the effect your relationship will have on your children when you are constantly in the hospital nursing wounds that were put there by your significant other. Think about the effects that your relationship will have on your children when you contract HIV because your partner has been around the block. Just think about that. And who is to say what is better for your children, divorce or two miserable parents?
I may not get another chance at love
You may or you may not. You roll the dice and hope for the best. But what you need to think about is your current situation. Chances are if you do not fix the present, you may not see the future.
I have invested so much in this relationship
The first thing that you need to know about investments is that they always come with risks. In the words of John Maxwell, “sometimes you win, sometimes you learn” and in both situations, life still goes on, the most important thing is to learn from the experience.
Please do not get me wrong, I am not encouraging you to leave your significant other. If it can be fixed, by all means fix it. But if it can’t be fixed, please be brave enough to accept it and stop making excuses.
Tina eventually left her eight year marriage. The husband is yet to agree to sign the divorce papers and her family is not too happy about her choice to leave him. She is also still struggling to fit into her new life but I have never seen her more full of life.
Rachel on the other hand, is still waiting anxiously for her man to pop the question and for her sake, I hope he takes the relationship to the next level soon.