My dear Jil, I do understand what you’re going through. Better than most. I have a heart seasoned understanding of life that is tempered by experience. It still boils down to you, the decisions you have to make. This is your life, no one else’s. When you find yourself confronted with an unresolvable situation what you need is a decision. An unresolvable situation is something beyond you, something you can’t alter or do anything about; it’s something that lies in the purview of another person. We delude ourselves imagining we can solve humans. Yes, we can solve human problems but no one has yet been able to solve a human.
There are capacities beyond you in life. Wisdom demands you acknowledge that simple fact. You can’t solve another person. And the reason is obvious. Man is a complex being. Even God struggles with man. A man is the product of upbringing, environment, cultural conditioning, education or lack of it, information garnered and assimilated, etc. To solve a human you’ll have to edit all those realities. And so when you have a husband who is underwhelming in every sense of the word, who cannot live up to the responsibilities of marriage even if he tried, you’re confronted with a reality you either accept or resolve. Life insists you have to take a decision in that kind of situation. There’s no other way around it. It’s either you accept the reality and opt out, or you accept the reality and stay. Either way there are consequences.
The problem comes when you now seek to reconfigure the man using your willpower. You’re going to run into trouble. If you insist on resolving an unresolvable situation with your willpower you’ll break your will. Trying to grapple with a situation in marriage you can’t even understand can send you into depression. That’s because you can’t find a way out. You feel trapped. And that’s a one way ticket into depression. It will be like you and your husband are in different channels that cannot meet. You’re apart and there can be no resolution of geographic spaces. When a marriage is breaking your mind, threatening to send you to a mental asylum you better reappraise your options. It’s hard to repair a broken mind. Doctors hardly understand the mind. You shouldn’t break your mind because of marriage. When your mind is broken doctors work hard to return you to “normal.” They try to make you function in society; make you relatable, able to converse. They seek to make you calm. But ask anyone who’s been through depression or mental illness… They’ll tell you the side effect of some of those drugs is that you can’t be “yourself.” You’ll feel something is not right. You’re functioning synthetically. So any situation that will send you to the edge, make you lose your “self” you must avoid. Marriage was not designed to send you to the asylum. Trying to rationalise the irrational will only leave you in a stupor. Try as you may you can’t make sense of it.
Upbringing matters greatly in the making of a man. When there’s a major deficiency in that department it shows up in marriage. And it’s worse when the template is an irresponsible father. An irresponsible father cannot teach responsibility. He doesn’t understand it. There are men whose fathers lived off their mother. Seeing a role model in their dad they follow suit. They’re thus psychologically conditioned to live off women. And they have strong proof of concept. It will be expecting too much of one of such men to live up to his responsibilities in marriage. He can’t understand why things should be otherwise, after all his mother took care of his dad. Such men will borrow shamelessly from their girlfriend during courtship. They’re good with promises and women fall for them because of their sincerity. The reason they’re sincere is because they genuinely believe a man should live off his woman. They sincerely believe that’s the way it’s supposed to be.
And there are those men who believe God is going to prosper their wife so they can live off her. The woman invariably becomes the sponsor of hare-brained ideas. They bank on one idea, devote immeasurable effort and attention to it in the false hope of the efficacy of one orphan idea to transform a man’s life. They calculate the earnings from that idea in advance, even before the launch of the idea… They make promises to the spouse based on those calculations. Because the wife is desperate for hope she half believes it’s going to work, prays it does work, though at the back of her mind she knows it’ll never work. But hope energises faith. The sad thing is, the attention span of such a man is that of a gnat. He soon moves on to another idea to be sponsored by the same woman. She’s thus his incubator. And so from one hare-brained scheme to another the family lurches through hope avenue, burning resources that would otherwise have been deployed to more reasonable and pragmatic ends. Such a man is a man-child. He never really grew up, never learnt to have a sense of responsibility. The wife has to take care of him and the kids. If he’s refused a request by the wife he resorts to tantrums and then emotional blackmail. And things can turn horrific. He becomes Darth Vader. He’ll seek to destroy the very woman who’s his only source of help.
If you married with a belief in the lead responsibility of a man in marriage but find yourself with such a man you’re going to be frustrated. You’re going to feel trapped. That feeling of entrapment can lead to acute depression. That’s what happens when you can’t see a way out and the years are long. When you find yourself in such a situation you have to reappraise the marriage. You’ll have to take a decision. Or life will take a decision for you. You will land in hospital, age prematurely. Your brows will furrow. That’s how classmates end up looking like old women though young in age. The hair turns massively grey with strands of differentiation to remind the onlooker of how it used to be. And you can tell the greyness is sudden. Such greyness makes sure it conveys the speed of evolution, somehow. When you look at the faces of such women you know something is wrong. But you can’t ask what’s wrong so you keep quiet and keep wondering. It will seem they’re carrying the world on their back and the weight is pressing down their spirit. You will see regret written all over. And that is how an irresponsible man can waste a young woman’s life and drain life resources from her. He turns her into life’s skeleton. She can hardly continue life. Some of those women have attempted suicide. That’s because they see no way out. Society constrains them. The really sad thing is that no one can really know what you’re going through or understand it. You’re locked up in your own understanding.
There are bad marriages and there are sad marriages. A sad marriage is one full of promise that goes through tragic transformation. It ends in a pile of disappointment. I’m saying you’ll have to take your decision for you, not for anyone. It’s not about pleasing your pastor, or pleasing your family, or keeping up appearances. That course of life can kill you. If you decide to stay know you will bear the full responsibility for the family. He’s never displayed capacity to bear those responsibilities. It won’t change. If you decide to stay you have to stop complaining and bear your lot with equanimity. If you do decide to stay then you must make extra effort to teach your son responsibility lest he turns out like his dad and the whole thing becomes generational. You must also find a coping mechanism if you decide to stay. You must have friends you can bond with and go out with to relieve stress.
It’s terrible to be alive yet dead. It’s a horrible thing to be a walking cadaver. When hope is gone life is sapped from us. It is important to be able to see possibilities of tomorrow. What hope does is that it gives us titillations of tomorrow. Because we can see it we go after it. Even when the day is disappointing we go after tomorrow. Being able to take a decision is one of the critical capacities of man. When you take a decision you have direction.
What do you want to do? In asking that question I am not unsympathetic to your situation. It’s just that it’s not sympathy you need. Sympathy won’t solve your problem. I believe you wrote me because you wanted someone who’ll tell you as it is, someone who won’t put a religious enamel on dangerous issues. By the way, your husband will see himself as the victim. He will accuse you of being uncaring and unfeeling. Remember he’s conditioned to see things that way. Don’t take on the guilt. If you worry about what society will say you’ll never do what’s right for your life. And anyway society is like a chatter box. In those days there were radios that never stopped talking. They were tuned to one channel. They were called Rediffusion. That’s the nature of society. Whatever you do society will talk. So do what you need to do.
It’s a difficult situation you’re in but a decision will deliver you. What you need is a qualitative decision. Then you can follow through.