The article written last week on the mental health perspective to domestic violence generated so much feedback that necessitates the addressing of some of the key issues raised.
Marriage is about the most important ceremony celebrated the world over. The reason is simply that no one is aware of one’s birthday and the day one would die, hence the justification for the resources and attention devoted to this ceremony.
Marriage is important for the establishment of the family, which is the most basic unit of the society. It guarantees the continuity of the Homo sapiens.
Beyond companionship, marriage also offers a social template for procreation. It provides an avenue for couples to build a family as a demonstration of maturity and self-actualisation.
As a consequence of globalisation of values, modern marriages are essentially more challenged than those of the older generations hence the increased incidence of domestic violence, divorce, separation or single parenthood.
Polygamy, which has lingered more in patriarchal African societies and practiced by some religions, is gradually disappearing as monogamous marriages take the centre stage. This form of marriage, however, comes with certain challenges for cooperation, commitment and accountability, which could be threatened by many factors such as temperamental incompatibility, disharmony in values, ideological orientations, social class and religious differences, which may also be aggravated by undue interference by parents.
The setting of the modern marriage is no longer that of the husband having a dominant, unquestionable role over his wife. The modern wives are gainfully engaged with life and are no longer financially dependent on their husbands.
Expectations are more challenging than they used to be as wives register their protests more vehemently when husbands fail in their roles. When there is obstruction in communication channels and intimacy suffers, this can lead to further alienation and estrangement.
Spouses employ defence mechanisms to assert their independence, especially men who feel threatened with fractured egos by the wives. The man may keep his frustration to himself until he has a cardiac arrest or diagnosed of hypertension capable of destroying his kidneys.
Some men escape into alcoholism that can damage their livers while others take to addictive drugs as they nurse their bruised egos in a relationship they feel that they have put in their ultimate.
For them, sexual escapades are common (if they do not have erectile dysfunction), which may complicate an already threatened marital relationship, especially with an illegitimate child. The woman in this setting may also suffer from poor self-esteem which may snowball into full blown depression:
She may also come up with maladaptive coping mechanisms as she escapes into over religiosity where the husband in labelled as being demonic who must be avoided. This can as well threaten sexual intimacy with growing population of sexless but dutiful marriages.
The model of a successful modern marriage is that of a team where the husband gives leadership that must be sacrificial and understanding, just as his wife responds by complimenting his efforts. This can only work out over time with emphasis on selflessness and compromise.
Relationships cannot be taken for granted by leveraging on parochial, religious and cultural prescriptions, as most of us hardly ever perceive the marital relationship in the context of deposit or withdrawal to the emotional bank account of the spouses since we are in a society where our cultural software stifles emotional intelligence.
If I make deposits into the emotional back account of my spouse through courtesy, kindness, intelligent sensitivity and honesty; I build a reserve. The trust level rises that I can call on such that the emotional reserve automatically compensates for. Communication becomes easy, instant and effective, as partners feel very safe with their emotions. However when an individual in the marital relationship is in the habit of discourtesy, disrespect, cutting off, overreacting, becoming arbitrary and rude; the emotional bank account becomes over drain and disconnection ensures.
This then becomes the breeding ground for domestic violence. It appears our cultural and religious orientations have no practical respect for the concept of emotional bank account, which is fundamental for emotional connectedness as antidote to domestic violence.
We may have varied background issues, different temperaments and varied levels of self-development but we can choose to form a synergy where certain sacrosanct principles govern interpersonal behaviour. We need to develop skills of listening, communication and cooperation, which are fundamental rudiments of emotional intelligence.
Modernity is not about the development of intelligence