ARE you trapped in a relationship that has made you believe that your partner will change and be at your level?
Is your partner so possessive about so many things that you sometimes feel embarrassed that she or he calls you repeatedly in a rage even in the middle of a serious work schedule, meeting or out of being jealous over nothing even after constant discussions?
These and many other questions are what some men in stressed relationships ask themselves when someone they love treats them badly.
For a couple that had just been married for three years, Mary (not real name) had been harassing her husband.
Later, this led to a stressful relationship that resulted in her husband frequenting a mental health centre for counseling
It makes sad reading in marital court cases where couples who have lived less than two years are being granted divorce due to endless unhealthy conflicts and abuse.
We have seen some partners become alcoholics, cut their friends and family out of their lives, change behaviour, experience suicidal thoughts and develop severe mental health issues due to unbearable stress resulting from a partner.
Most people are on their best behaviour when dating, but once married and reality sets in, their true colours are revealed.
Sometimes, it is unwittingly, but often times it may also be intentional.
Psychologists acknowledge that it is not only possible, but it is almost certain that a kind, loving and sane person will, at some point, react violently if they are systematically challenged by their partner.
Furthermore, an abusive partner can turn his or her partner into someone that will, at some point, act equally abusive.
So who could blame men for feeling apprehensive about the prospect of dating and marriage when some women present with such negative personality traits?
Sometimes the short coming can be subtle when dating, hence making it difficult to be aware of any red flag as we cannot believe our good fortune in our potential new partner.
This was Mary’s reaction whenever the husband presents his financial income which she thought could not meet all her demands.
She would get angry, but eventually her husband realised that it was a habit she would not be able to get rid of.
Like women, many men also stay in emotionally abusive relationships though this can be for many reasons, coupled with the perception that emotional abuse can take on a man’s self worth.
Despite evidence that the incidence of female to male intimate partner violence in the general population is as high as that of male to female intimate violence, until recently, more attention is being devoted to understanding women perpetrators of partner violence and abuse.
A Ndola based marriage counselor agreed that some men have been pushed to the limits by their partners despite them still being in marriage.
Miriam Chongwe said some women have made their partners to become monsters, a circumstance which has exacerbated domestic abuse and violence in some homes.
Ms Chongwe said some women can be deceiving by concealing their faults in their courtship such that one cannot conclude but ignore what may seem petty.
Most times, the real truth of who people are emerges eventually after getting married and that is when people see traits and attitudes of their partners.
“Yes, it is true that a sane man cannot be an abuser, but because of the woman’s cruel or harsh behaviour towards him, he is likely to be turned into an abusive partner,” she said
Ms Chongwe said some women complain about their partner’s failure to make enough money for their family and this attitude can be worrying and manipulative.
“Commonly today, every time you are called by some couples to discuss marital problems that are created by a woman, it is about the financial pressure that they put their partners in because some women can be exorbitant in their spending. In addition, women must realise that each man is unique and so they should not carry what they experienced in their past failed relationships if we are to see healthy couples,” she said
The woman might not even be doing her responsibilities and she might also not be making any contributions to the relationship to supplement some of the needs that she might have.
Ms Chongwe said it still remains most issues are still shrouded in a culture of silence when it comes to men in relationships and because of that, many victims of abuse, especially the men, fail to talk about it with friends and families because society would label them and pay little attention to their plight.
Ms Chongwe said it is a result of years and years of not being heard and living with that pain for a long time that some husbands find themselves spending more time at work or with friends.
She said the other challenge is women who are in marriage to ensure that their partners are always adapting their behaviour to what they want even without discussing the matter at hand, which creates misunderstandings.
Some women do it to control their partners, get their own way and prevent the husband from leaving the relationship.
In certain instances, women too have been aggressive and fail to manage their anger and other negative emotions.
And so the abused man is always adapting his behaviour to do what his partner wants in the hope of preventing further abuse.
It is important to know that abuse happens over time, and typically, if abuse is allowed to continue, it becomes more frequent and more severe.
This creates the monster in a partner.
It is these undesirable signs we are seeing in some relationships that have left some men feeling like they have purposely been pushed to limits, causing negative repercussions.
To address Gender Based Violence (GBV) and related issues, it is important that we address behaviour and attitudes that are also intentionally leading to partners becoming abusive as a result of being manipulated.
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