When Lois accepted Nduka’s marriage proposal, she had no idea she would be anything but blissfully happy with him. After all, he had wanted her in his life so badly, expressing his desire to date and marry her several times over the years since they first met.
From their first meeting at a school alumni event, Nduka had declared Lois his wife. He took to addressing her as nwuye’m, my wife, every time he saw her. Lois hadn’t been interested. Nduka was drop dead gorgeous, but she was in a relationship at the time; one she believed would lead to marriage.
Two years later, she ran into Nduka at an old schoolmate’s birthday party shortly after her relationship had ended. Again, he asked her to be his girlfriend. This time, she let herself get lost in his beautiful eyes, allowed herself to be drawn in by his poise and charm, and said yes. Less than a year later, they were married.
When you ask Lois how she came to be trapped in an abusive marriage, she hesitates. Accepting Nduka’s treatment of her from the weeks leading up to their marriage, until now, as abuse, has been difficult for her.
Initially it was tiny actions that pierced her heart like barbs – interrupting her at will, cutting her off without letting her finish, implying that she wasn’t as smart as he had thought, saying uncomplimentary things about her facial features, and even her family, then accusing her of not being able to take a joke – but she chided herself for being too sensitive.
When he started berating her over every little thing not perfectly done, and calling her names whenever she didn’t agree with him, she put it down to wedding planning pressure.
Sadly, after the wedding, it only got worse. If she suggested something, he called her idea stupid. If she forgot to do something, he said she had butter for brains. When she expressed an opinion in public, he countered it and then castigated her when they got home for disgracing him in public with her uninformed opinions.
She quit her job to please him, and she barely has any friends because he complains about them all and accuses her of talking to “3rd parties” about their marriage.
In bed, he makes snide remarks about her past experience and “whoever she learnt that from” even when he enjoyed said “that”, and some other days he complains about her lack of skill. “We’ve been married over a year and you still don’t know how to please me.”
Yet he is never pleased, even outside the bedroom. He is only “managing” her food, he says. And she should be grateful to his mum for raising him to value fidelity: no man could be married to her without a side chick to keep him sane. He complains about everything she does, from the way she takes care of their son and daughter, to the way she drives. Whenever she complains, he either defends his statements, denies them, or accuses her of being an ungrateful wife. After all I’ve done for you, he says, never mind that she was happier and more fulfilled before she married him.
Under the weight of Nduka’s verbal abuse, Lois goes about with round shoulders, head bowed, her self-esteem so low these days that she somehow believes the things Nduka says about her. She can’t leave him, she says. She doesn’t think she has the competence to be a good single mother. I think she’s an amazing mother, but Nduka tells her otherwise every other day so she doesn’t believe me.
She is trapped in a prison out of which she sees no way out. A young, vibrant girl full of life and dreams is now a shadow of herself, her reservoir of peace spent, her shredded joy floating away like paper.
Of course Nduka can proudly say with many other men, “I have never touched my wife.” There are no welts on her body, no scars on her face, yet, verbal abuse is every bit as terrible as physical abuse and too many women are suffering in silence.
There’s no reasoning with an abusive man. No matter how much you try to change yourself to make the abuse go away, it will never be enough. It’s a terrible way to live.
Can you see the signs in your relationship? If he’s insulting you, judging you, threatening you, criticizing you or blaming you for everything that goes wrong, you’re dating a verbally abusive man.
If you see yourself in Lois in any measure, please end that relationship immediately, I beg you. Do. Not. Marry. Him!