The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn. Alvin Toffler, Philosopher.
“How do you fight for a marriage? Isn’t it a union of two willing partners? Don’t both have to work at it?” I asked Jane.
We were having a heated debate on what it meant when a woman is told to fight for her marriage regardless of how bad things are between her and the husband.
This is a popular and often, ill-informed advice usually dished out by women to their fellow women whose marriages could be enduring a rough patch.
The conversation was sparked when Jane shared with me the painful experience her colleague was going through. Her colleague had not only discovered that she was infected with a sexually transmitted disease, but that her good Christian husband had been playing hunky punky with another woman.
She narrated her ordeal tearfully after Jane enquired about her recent change of behaviour Jane had predictably urged the poor lady to fight for her marriage.
HE’S RESPONSIBLE FOR HIS ACTIONS
“A woman should dress sexier, lose weight, and ignore any other woman,” she said when I asked what she meant by fighting for one’s marriage.
“That is impossible! You cannot control any other person’s actions.”
“But you can make sure that you remain the best woman for him, that no one else can tempt him.”
“That would be laying the blame on the wounded person. He is responsible for his actions.”
I reasoned that even the best toned, well dressed woman can be a victim of infidelity. And that a wife is not to blame because she is married to a man with questionable morals. We did not agree on this as she felt that a wife should focus all her mind, time and resources on keeping her husband faithful. Finally, a worn-out Jane asked;
“What should I advise my colleague? My advice didn’t work for her and she is really depressed.”
“Of course your advice did not work. She can’t just take responsibility for someone else’s behaviour.”
To be honest, I had no idea what advice would work for her colleague. I suggested that the colleague begins with getting herself out of that situation as soon as possible then proceed to have a thorough medical check-up. I also mentioned empathy and boundary setting which Jane protested about. She felt that I was encouraging the breakdown of the marriage.
“Honey, that marriage is already in ICU, if not dead.”
“So you think she should just pack and leave?”
“I think your colleague must decide what she is ready to put up with, or not.”
FIGHTING FOR YOUR MARRIAGE
Coincidentally, a few days after this conversation, I was at a waiting lounge of an office block. A woman walked past us, straight to one of the lady receptionists and without a word, gave her a
resounding slap! Before any of us could react, the woman used her handbag to rain blows on the receptionist. At some point, she took off one of her shoes and continued the beating before the shocked
security guard got his bearings and came to the rescue of his poor colleague. rescue. From what we gathered, the receptionist was the mistress of the angry woman’s husband.
I have always advised women not to ever bother fighting another woman because of a man. That it is only the man in question that you should confront and deal with. But on this day, as I pondered over this drama, I imagined myself in this woman’s shoes.
What would I do? It ticked me off, just thinking about it. I realised that I would have similarly rained blows with my heels and handbag on the other woman, long before I went home to deal with the actual culprit.
That woman was angry beyond embarrassment or shame. She simply did not care. She was ready to beat up a dozen others if that’s what it took to get the anger out of her system. If only someone would warn her husband of the tornado that was on the way. I called Jane.
“Today, I saw a woman fighting for her marriage.” As I gleefully narrated the drama of that morning, she cut me short;
“That’s not what I meant by fighting for your marriage.”
As we went back to arguing about what fighting for a marriage entails, I realised that I had unlearned and learned something new. If you have never walked in another person’s shoes, especially in those of a scorned woman, hold your judgement.