In marriages and relationships, anger is usually a major wave. To some, anger is a worse enemy than lust. But as ALEX TAREMWA writes, anger can be kept at bay before it can do harm.
It is 1:45am on a chilly Saturday night and Ronald Agaba is seated in a secluded corner of Chills bar and restaurant in Mukono town. He is sipping the last pint of his seventh bottle of Guinness beer.
With this last swallow, Agaba is hoping to forget his nightmare – the sight of his girlfriend Cynthia making out with another man. In Mbarara town is Herbert Akampwera, a 27-year-old studio photographer, who recently realised the girl he was about to wed is already a mother of two children from two men.
Due to depression, stress and anger, Akampwera has lost at least 10kg already, according to his close friends. Although he is not resigned to the bottle like Agaba, Akampwera’s breaking point was even more extreme as he contemplated suicide twice.
“I would be living in denial if I told you that I have not thought about taking my own life. I didn’t see the point of life anymore,” Akampwera intimates to TTM.
Third is death row convict Thomas Nkulungira alias Tonku who was found guilty of killing his girlfriend Brenda Karamuzi for reasons best known to him. Tonku, together with his former houseboy Fred Ssempijja, went ahead and dumped the body of the former NTV Uganda receptionist in a septic tank behind their house in Kampala. Karamuzi was also a Uganda Christian University (UCU) alumna.
Cited above are some of the cases of how men deal with anger in relationships. Anger, according to psychologists, has been the biggest stimulant of domestic violence in most families.
In 2013, the Uganda Bureau of Statistics reported that close to 70 per cent of married women aged 15 to 49 had experienced some form of violence at the hands of their partner.
Statistics also showed that there were 2,461 victims and 1,339 cases of domestic violence reported by April 2013. Joshua Kafuko, a psychotherapist at Ruharo Mission hospital in Mbarara, acknowledges that anger is one of the most difficult and often frightening emotions to manage in any relationship.
“At one end of the anger spectrum, couples are shouting, name calling, frequent bickering, wanting to have the last word, blaming, criticising and eventually physical abuse.”
“These behaviours are the more obvious expressions of anger and can be highly- destructive in a relationship. If prolonged, they can be difficult to recover from,” he says.
HOW SHOULD A REAL MAN EXPRESS ANGER?
Women can be provocative. They don’t let anything slide without a fight or at least a word. If anger is an intrinsic problem that is only a product of an individual’s ability to control his/her emotions, how then should a man react in face of such provocation?
Growing up, Ronald Awany, a radio announcer at the Namanve-based Juice FM, remembers his father returning home one evening with a set of kitchen glasses.
These glasses were never meant for serving water or soft drink as the case normally is. As it turned out, they were for defence mechanism of sorts.
“Whenever Mum raised her voice above what Dad could take in, he would send one glass through to the wall and break it into countless pieces. After that, Mum wouldn’t say another word,” Awany narrates in retrospect.
However animated their marriage may seem, Awany’s parents have been legally married for over 40 years. As he confesses, they have never fought.
According to counselling psychologist Joseph Musaalo, couples ought to avoid physical confrontation and endeavour to listen to one another than interject and raise voices.
Musaalo explains that in relationship, some parties either fear expressing anger or don’t know how to do so constructively. This anger then goes underground and leaks out as sarcasm, undermining comments, sulking, silent standoffs and avoiding each other. All this, Musaalo explains, leads to a highly-tense atmosphere as the issues are not talked through and resolved.
“Men these days live life in a big hurry. They don’t have the patience to listen and resolve problems in their relationships/marriages. When their wives/girlfriends share their problems with a third-party, they [men] go up in arms,” – Musaalo.
Esther Ahurira relates with Musaalo’s argument. The TV West presenter notes that managing anger is a product of effective communication between the two affected parties.
“If my partner is doing things that I don’t like, talking about them together would help a lot,” she says, adding that it is important to express hurt, anger, or sadness in a direct but non-violent manner.
However, Victor Twine, a Makerere University student, sees things differently. He argues that sometimes a man’s reaction depends on the gravity of the situation at hand.
“There are things that I would not lose sleep over,” he says, referring to the ‘Busia man’ who made headlines for sending his wife and six children out of the house after allegedly eating his piece of chicken.
For serious situations, however, Twine says he would rather cut communications with his spouse for some time as he clams himself down.
PLAYING THE SILENT CARD
Silent treatment is a common response to conflict in relationships, but it is also one of the most destructive, according to a 2015 article published in the Communication Monographs journal.
The author, Professor Paul Schrodt of Texas Christian University, argues: “One thing that couples tend to do is blame the other person for the situation, which will in no way help resolve the conflict.”
The person giving the silent treatment, he adds, and the person receiving it should both take some responsibility.
Schrodt’s analysis encompassed studies on over 14,000 participants. He found, women were usually (though not always) the demanders while men were the ones who tended to withdraw from their partner’s demands, or responded with silence.
WHEN AND HOW DOES A WOMAN COME IN?
To bring a house back to order, Comfort Nantongo, a mother of three, advises women to be careful how they approach an angry man. Men, she argues, have to be given time to be angry before they can calm down to amicably discuss the matter at hand.
“Give his anger as much respect as you do with your own. His anger is often just as real as yours. It may not always be valid but it is still his feeling. And I believe feelings deserve space and respect,” she says.
In many relationships, Nantongo maintains, the woman’s feelings naturally take precedent because women can be overpowering with emotions. But it is imperative that men’s emotions be treated with the same courtesy and respect for mutual benefit.
“If you are so angry and hurt that you can’t put up with his feelings, you won’t be the first woman,” she says.
As the Bible says, be quick to hear; slow to speak and slow to anger for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God. Therefore, one of the greatest battles in marriage should be to stay away anger and not just to control its expressions.