Why anger should not control you

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.

alex.taremwa@yahoo.co.uk

Tribulations of a Police Officer’s husband

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By Fosca Tumushabe

About nine out of ten people I have met feel intimidated by police officers, and about seven out of ten men I have talked to are intimidated by policewomen, even traffic officers. This is not because they are always on the wrong side of the law, but because of the fact that the police seem to have certain powers that they wield. I was, therefore, curious to know what it is like to be married to a police officer, from any department.

Paul Asaasira (not real names), who is married to a traffic officer, shared his story with me. Asaasira is a young man of only 29 and is married to Sarah Ninsiima (not real names), just one year younger than him. The two met at high school in 2003. After senior six, Asaasira went to the Islamic University in Uganda where he pursued a bachelor’s in business administration.

However, due to some twist of misfortune, Ninsiima could not pursue her studies further. According to Asaasira, during Ninsiima’s vacations, her stepmother accidentally stumbled upon photographs of Asaasira and Ninsiima at the beach. For many parents this is quite disheartening.

When the photographs were shown to Ninsiima’s father he threw up a feat and told her in no uncertain terms that she would not have any school fees for her higher education.

“You seem to be passing your time at the beach with a lot of men instead of focusing on your studies. I will not spend another penny on your academics,” Ninsiima’s father told her. There wasn’t much Ninsiima could do. She tried to get odd jobs to sustain herself, but it was all in vain.

With Asaasira being at university and all, he couldn’t help much either. They, however, kept in close touch and supported each other in every way they could. Then Ninsiima got advice from her cousin to try joining the police. As recruitment was already underway, Ninsiima applied in 2006, took the interviews and was accepted. However, before she could head off for training, she sought counsel from her boyfriend.

“Paul, there is something I have to tell you, but first, you must promise me you will not be upset with me,” Ninsiima said as she introduced the subject to her boyfriend over the phone. After he had made the promise, she broke the news of her acceptance into the police training school.

PRESSURES FROM THE FORCE:

“I remember being so terrified. I could tell from her voice that she was equally terrified,” Asaasira recalls. He says he was not upset with Ninsiima, and that there was nothing to be upset about. “I looked at this opportunity as the only way she was going to become a professional. Since her parents were not supporting her for higher education, and I was not in a position to help either, I was glad she was taking this bold step,” Asaasira adds.

Ninsiima, on the other hand, was afraid that Asaasira would start seeing other girls from the university. She expressed this concern and Asaasira made her a promise not to ever do that. Their communication was not so smooth while she was at the training school. Asaasira faced financial constraints, but Ninsiima did her best to continue keeping in touch.

Ninsiima’s training programme ended faster than they had expected and she was immediately deployed and started working. She was able to support herself and help Asaasira whenever and wherever she could. They visited each other often and were very happy together. However, this situation turned out to be a thin veneer that actually covered one that was not all rosy.

“Ninsiima had friends in the force. These friends kept on advising her to give me up because, they pointed out to her, that we had different academic levels. This was a very trying time for both of us. Her friends advised her to get somebody in the force instead,” Asaasira narrates.

This was not the only hurdle in their relationship. Like other professions and workplaces, Ninsiima’s superiors in the force were very demanding. As a young female officer, she was pressured by her bosses, who like her friends, seemed to be against her relationship with Asaasira.

“As a traffic officer, Ninsiima had to work at odd hours and this was hard on me. We didn’t live together; so, I missed her very much. It sometimes took us weeks before we met,” Asaasira goes on to add. Eventually, they worked out a way of overcoming the hurdles. To start with, Asaasira stood his ground and showed Ninsiima that he was going nowhere, no matter what.

LATE-NIGHT CALLS:

In 2012, Asaasira was officially introduced to Ninsiima’s family and this strengthened their relationship even more. After the introduction ceremony, the two lived in the same house. But whenever they had a fight, Ninsiima wouldn’t go back to their house, in order to avoid escalating the problems.

She would instead go to the house she lived in before moving in with Asaasira, which she maintained. This helped them solve the problems that came with Ninsiima’s work much faster and made their relationship stronger. However, some problems just couldn’t go away.

“Ninsiima sometimes came home with over Shs50,000 worth of airtime. This made me quite uneasy,” says Asaasira. “Worse still, she would get late-night calls from her workmates, some of whom would profess their love for her, and so on. As we were a young couple, this turned out to be a very frustrating thing. I very well understood that she would continue receiving such advances for a very long time, but the most important issue was how we, or rather she, would handle them.”

As a man, Asaasira made his concerns known to her, and they agreed that social calls had to end early in the evenings, if they were to build a healthy relationship and a strong family. Of course Ninsiima continued receiving such calls, but her response thereafter was much more firm, as she politely informed her admirers that she was a married woman, and avoided getting drawn into flirting. But although they did manage to surmount most of the problems, inconveniences that come with her duty calling still manifest between the two. “When it comes to her duty, this is something I have to live with. We now have a child whom I often have to explain to as to why mummy is sometimes not at home,” Asaasira laments. Asaasira also adds:

“People in Ninsiima’s profession can be difficult. They seem to think they have the best knowledge of the law. This means that arguments on the law with Ninsiima are something we cannot have.” This reminded me how difficult it is to get the better of a police officer, more especially when it comes to the ordinary folk. This is the power alluded to earlier. However, although they are perceived to wield this power, at the end of the day, they remain human beings, which explains Ninsiima’s fears that Asaasira would leave her for a ‘campus’ girl.

“We mostly get single trainees. In the case of a relationship gone bad, we have counsellors that are there to help such people,” observes Commissioner Moses Kafeero, the commandant of Kabalye police training school.

“We have not had trainees leaving the school because of boyfriends or girlfriends. However, when trainees feel that they need to leave, they follow a certain procedure and give good reasons. When the procedure is complete, we let them go,” adds Kafeero.

This conversation, I had with a smoking legend.

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So tell me about yourself.
Well…I have deep seated issues with smoking, but you already know that. Delusion is a false belief held with absolute conviction despite superior evidence. So is smoking. The reason i did what i did was quite simple, smoking wasn’t invented yesterday, I mean it’s not like I was going to die the following day, we have genes that compel us, could be ancestral, reason too. I did it not for fun but because i wanted to get to a certain height, or do something way out of purpose, this weed talk is stuck in my head. And why does your arm look like mine?

He just noticed we had similar watches. Having answers doesn’t make it any easier, i said. But with time it can. All I was doing was blow up a few blunts and somehow that’s my fault? He didn’t care what they did to him, he couldn’t die twice, but he believed in being part of the solution and not the problem. Then i ask him, you had way too much potential to be screwing up that way, realize who you punished when you did the things you did? Life got a little boring? You had got a lot of anger, misdirected it could have landed you in the wrong place. He replied, ‘I have a rough experience you guy, basically I didn’t care, and that’s why’ I then asked about his love life. Long time ago, but she’s lost now. She killed the wrong guy in me.

It’s too emotional for me to talk about. So i asked him why he had quit. He said, you are making me feel funny, well i tried to justify my smoking to myself, but i couldn’t. It sure felt good and i never questioned it, not for once, but when i finally did, it never made sense. So what advice do you give to those struggling to quit? I asked. Well it’s not easy you know, there were times when I smoked for the last time, I would be like this is the last time am doing this. We need not to justify our actions but the reason that prompts these actions.

For my case, it was the feeling of being unwanted, I was lonely and I smoked to be social. Yes i was shy too. But when i took care of that, quitting came easy.
He asked that if i was to publish this story, I was to make special dedication to bright eyes, thanking her for she will forever value. Well I believe I just did. chat with me at