According to experts, trying to deal with and maintaining a relationship with a controlling man requires extra effort and understanding coupled with compromise on a daily basis. Paida Mpaso speaks with women who have had to endure the pressures of controlling spouses.
Right from the beginning of life, women or girls are told to give special attention to their husbands or at least to the man they hope to marry. As life begins to take its toll, marriage counsellors step up and advise that a man is the head of the house, that what he says is final and as wives, they just have to oblige.
The Bible gives no exception to this and advises women to be submissive. However, it further advises the men themselves to love their wives and respect them just as much.
But how much of this can be compromised?
Having grown up in a family where she was free to do what she wanted; wear trousers, make-up and the like, Margaret Phiri * found herself in a very difficult position.
Her husband, whom she dated for three years, had completely changed. The trousers he claimed to have liked were his Ã¢â‚¬ËœenemiesÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ and whenever Phiri wore them to work, he would fret.
Then came the condition that she couldnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t handle; her husband told her to quit her job, saying he would take care of the expenses. All she needed to do was to take care of the children.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I could handle not wearing make-up or slacks but to quit my job was something I wasnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t prepared to do. We fought over it and when I gave birth to my first born child, I gave in and quit my job. It was the hardest thing I did but I had to save my marriage,Ã¢â‚¬Â she explains.
Phiri says she understood why her husband put in all those measures and says that because she loved the man, she was prepared to do anything.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Though I was hesitant at first, I slowly took it in after getting help from a certain marriage counsellor who told me that men do such these for different reasons. All I had to do was compromise,Ã¢â‚¬Â she says.
With time, the situation slowly changed. Her husband is now comfortable with PhiriÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s make up. She has even found a job! She attributes this to patience and Godly guidance from the counsellor.
Another woman, Linda Muthire*, says she could put up with her boyfriendÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s demands. She says they had been together for a year when his controlling streak began to show and she told him to take a hike the minute he showed his true colours.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I grew up wearing [trousers] and if he wasnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t comfortable with them for whatever reason, that was his problem not mine. I had to let him go,Ã¢â‚¬Â she explains.
Sociologist Pierson Ntata says there are several factors why some men prohibit their wives or girlfriends from wearing make-up, trousers and the like. He says it may sometimes come from the husbandÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s upbringing.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“If the relationship has issues of trust or if the husband knows that his wife used to misbehave, then he is likely to put down rules. In addition to this,Ã‚Â a husband is likely to be okay with certain things if he grew up watching his sisters do the same.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“[But] the most important thing is to try as much as possible to understand why your husband is doing that. This way, you will know how to behave when you are with him,Ã¢â‚¬Â he advises.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“The solution to this lies in understanding one another and the expectations you both have of each other. Approach marriage counsellors for help where need be,Ã¢â‚¬Â Ntata concludes.
* Not their real names