Controlling behaviour among partners is the worst form of suffocation. It is even worse when both partners want to control each other. I thought I was rather immune but I have had my share more times than I care to. With Joseph, I was literally pushed to the wall.
So, on his first visit Joseph thought I was a typical Muganda. On arrival, he wanted me to remove his shoes and jacket so I could find where to place them. I did not want to act disobedient and did just that—removed the bag off his back, his shoes, jacket and placed them away.
We had agreed he was going to come along with dinner so we would catch a movie without worrying about supper. Instead, he told me to cook and gave me his menu. At that unholy hour, Joseph wanted to have spaghetti, beef, rice and Irish. This was ready by 1am.
Exhausted, I placed it on the table and called him to serve himself. He drowsily ordered me to place it on his plate, saying he was comfortable on the couch. I piled his plate with the food and placed the mountain before him. He then asked for serviettes and dug in his fork in the food to get to business.
I thought that was normal and decided to find rest. After a while he tapped me asking me to take the plates. “Hey, that is so much work for the day,” I retorted. At that point I at least expected him to thank me for the meal and may be commend me for it. Disappointed, I curled up in the couch and didn’t move a finger.
He irately stood up and in no time I could hear plates rolling on the kitchen floor, accompanied by tantrums, accusing me of being insubordinate. According to him, Ugandan women are meant to be extremely loyal. First, he did not see me kneel and was disappointed.
Sometimes, he made me believe I was always to blame and he was certain I had to be grateful he was only putting up with me. That is exactly how I felt. I thought I was the one woman who never met his expectations of the good women we are.
I did not break up with him for this. I only thought it was utter misconception. The months that followed were brutal. First, he complained about how often I talked to my family, and constantly said I had to learn to be independent because they are not meant to influence my living.
I was ready to put up with this unconditional love thing as long as he loved me. He made threats of leaving me or finding another, saying there were just so many women out there (trust me at that point I wasn’t even aware I thought he was the only male). Every bit of him was manipulative, emotionally.
I always felt guilty of this or that and he tried his best to ensure I felt guilty of anything as small as picking my boss’s call to take an assignment or gaining extra pounds of flesh, or losing a few (I still cannot figure out whether he wanted me big or slender).
Like that wasn’t enough torment. Joseph thought he had the right to everything. I would get him struggling to insert several passwords so he could access my phone, to perhaps snoop into my Facebook account. When he failed, he always blackmailed me into thinking I was doing something wrong.
He was scaringly possessive to the extent that these things that women call “alone time” were only but a myth, not withholding the fact that he was constantly not letting me explain or speak out my mind.
Then I recalled Dr Myles Munroe’s quote about controlling men. He said God did not create woman from man’s head, that he should command her, nor from his feet, that she should be his slave, but rather from his side that she should be near his heart.
After we broke up (not for his controlling behaviour by the way), I was forced to shoot back: “Hey let me ask you. Out of all the girlfriends you have had before, how many of them thought you were trying to control them, at a borderline psychological level? Or perhaps it’s just me who thinks that you are addicted to melodrama and random displays of tantrums laced with affection”.
Now I know better; a postmortem of a relationship doesn’t always help. The coward in me could only shoot back after the break up, after I had already been wounded. But you, while you still can, should put an end to emotional abuse. Emotionally controlling spouses are not good for your mental health.