Social media has given everyone a voice, and that is an awesome thing. This often means that you will find people dishing out tons of “frank” advice and opinions on issues. If you especially want advice on relationships and marriage, that is available by the bucketful on social media. From how to get into a relationship, though how to handle one and its many issues, to how to get out of an abusive one, users are inundated with what to do and how to do it.
Many times, a lot of people with great ideals in their heads and little or no experience of the realities of life dish out what they believe to be great advice. “If he hits you the first time, he will hit you again: leave!” is an example of such popular advice. But such blanket advice is not rooted in reality. If we all gave up on our dreams and involvements because we hit a wall or the wall hits us once, no-one would accomplish anything in life. We would all simply quit.
I have had the privilege of counselling married people and will share two scenarios. The first one had to do with a man who had hit his wife a number of times in the past. Several years ago, she came to church one Sunday morning in tears and asked to see me. She was tired and wanted to leave, though they had three children. If my memory serves me right, their first child was approaching his teens around then. I sent for the husband and asked him if it was true that he had been hitting her. He admitted to having done so and apologised. Because he had a record or pattern of hitting her, in my opinion, an apology alone wasn’t going to do. In his presence, I asked her what she wanted to do, and she repeated to me that she wanted to leave. So, I said to her to go pack her things and leave.
The man was shocked. He had expected me to prevail on her to stay. I was the single most influential person in her life and he knew the implications of what I had done in giving her the nod. Apparently, that was the wake-up call that he needed. Needless to say, he pleaded with her to stay and never hit her again. It has been close to ten years now since that incidence, and he has never hit her again. She still called me some weeks ago to thank me for all the influence I have been in her life and on her home.
The second incident had to do with another husband – a gentleman actually – who in a very rare moment of provoked anger – hit his wife. She called to report the incident to me. I had an emergency meeting with both husband and wife – and though the husband was a dear soul to me, I expressed how badly I felt about a man hitting his wife. He was mortified, apologised that it was a moment of regret for him (I know he shares my conviction on domestic abuse), and committed that it would not happen again. I prevailed on the wife to not act in a rash manner, so she stayed. He has not hit her once since then. Again, this incident happened almost ten years ago. I am still very close to the family in question.
If you go by modern popular relationship advice, both marriages should have ended so many years ago, because the assumption is that these men would keep hitting their wives. However, the advice is a blanket one given by naive people. Life is not a straight line, and life is in shades of grey many times. Sometimes, some people just need a wake-up call. If you are young and inexperienced, remember that rashness can hurt you. It can hurt you a lot and for a long time. So your husband has hit you. Horrible. Unacceptable. But, before you pack your bags and get out of your marriage, at least talk to an older (and likely wiser person) who can intervene between you two. Preferably, make it a professional counsellor. Maybe a family member who has a lot of clout with both of you e.g. a father. Whatever you then decide to do after talking to and listening to this older, wiser person is your call. Sometimes, leaving is the right thing to do, and sometimes, it isn’t.
There is no way to be absolutely sure that if a man has hit you, he won’t do it again. No; there are no ways to be sure of how things will pan out, but please do not be rash in handling the issues that you encounter in your relationships. Sometimes, you need to give you and your partner another chance. At other times, it might just be the right thing to let go and walk. But don’t let go and walk because you are rash. Trust me, it has a way of haunting you long after the deed is done.
Take generic advice that people dish out with a pinch of salt. Each situation and/or circumstance has its merits and deserves specific, contextual review. Plus, to be honest with you (and a lot of people won’t like me for saying this), many people who want to tell you how to handle a situation often do not take their own advice to the letter. Even worse, in many situations, they are green horns and do not know any better themselves.