I’ve been separated for a while now, and before that married for a little over nine years. I’ll tell you for sure that one of the biggest mental conflicts in marriage is the decision to speak up and say what you feel, or stay quiet and keep the peace.
Growing up in a typical Ugandan family, I saw how the women in my life never stood up for what they believed. Those who dared to were branded “rebellious”, “bad mannered” or “unsubmissive”. Unfortunately, these women as a result sought to express themselves through crude means like spreading gossip and even witchcraft. I think it gave them a certain feeling of control that they craved so badly.
The one man in my life, on the other hand, seemed to have his way with words. He knew just what to say and when to say it. Sometimes, I wondered if he ever considered anyone’s feelings before he spoke? He seemed to have it all together. I admired that about him. As I grew older though, I realised he didn’t have it all together. And he didn’t always speak his mind. He only spoke what he wanted you to hear.
This was messed up! I wanted to be able to speak my mind and say exactly what I feel whenever I wanted to. Whether it was right or wrong; whether you agreed with me or not. I wanted that at least. I prayed that the man I would marry would give me the freedom to express myself freely. Isn’t that what love is about? I knew I deserved that much at least.
I remember, sadly, one of the pieces of advice I was given by one of the women in my life just before I got married was (loosely translated), “If the man shouts at you, just keep quiet. Whatever he says to you, you just keep quiet.” I remember feeling so sorry for her, thinking, “this is probably what she was told before she got married! That is NOT me! I would never be that woman who just keeps quiet while the man has his way. I have a voice, and I intend to use it.” And then, I got married.
If you ask me, marriage is made in heaven and lived on earth. That is why the idea of marriage is so beautiful until you realise you are married to an earthly being and not an angel. We had our good times, our very good times, and our not-so-good times. As much as we loved each other, I quickly realised that speaking my mind whenever I wanted to was not a good idea. But why? Why do we have to suppress our voice when we are married? Why would God give each one of us a voice if we are to use it only when it is convenient to?
The tragedy of this is that both men and women suffer in this area. For fear of hurting the other person, you think it’s best to suppress your opinion in favour of the other person’s. Unfortunately, this doesn’t make things right. Suppressed opinions pile up and create duo personalities within the same person.
You’ll have the people-pleaser personality that wants to do right by everyone, even if it means you suppress your own feelings. As a result, you become numb to your own pain because everyone else comes first. And then you’ll have the disgruntled, dissatisfied personality that could turn you into a bitter person because it seems like everyone but you, is allowed to have their way.
I say tell your truth no matter what. Speak up and say exactly how you feel. And learn to let the other person do the same. In Jaqueline Carlyle’s words, It is better than “spending the rest of your life with someone who doesn’t open up to you; someone who lets their resentment build up over years until one day it breaks the bond.” (The Bold Type, S4 E10)
What are your thoughts? To speak up, or keep the peace? Does being quiet even bring any peace at all, or does it just start a civil war in your mind? Please share what you think in the comments section below.