When love ceases

By Dr Selwyn R. Cudjoe
March 15, 2021

Dr. Selwyn R. CudjoeIt must have been in the early 1940s. My father slapped my mother.

She took him to court. Six months later the trial took place. The magistrate asked what had happened. My mother told him.

‘Have you made back up now?’ the magistrate asked.

‘Yes,’ my mother answered.

‘So is alright if I threw this case out?’ ‘No,’ my mother responded.

‘Why not?’ the magistrate asked. ‘Fine him so he won’t hit me again.’ I suspect they went back home reconciled and rejoicing, but my mother never let her children forget that incident.

Things did not end there. At nights, he would cuss the living daylights out of her, telling her how much man she had taken and many other degrading things. I also remember my neighbour (call him Mohammed) horsewhipping his wife from the standpipe to their home. Presumably, she had gone to the communal standpipe to fetch water but remained too long chatting with her friends. I thought ‘how can a man whip his wife as though he were whipping an animal?’ The feminist movement had not yet arrived, but my mother wasn’t going to let my father put his hand on her again. Somehow she put up with the cussing in the best way she could. Fortunately or not, he died at the relatively young age of 54 so she didn’t have to endure such abuse for the rest of her life. She died at the age of 93.

Years later I repeated the similar behaviour. I slapped my wife once because she may have transgressed some macho law that we, as men, had established. In retrospect, I had repeated that action because of what I had learned on the block from my friends. As a teenager I did not know much about man-woman relationships but had internalised the reactionary macho stuff about being in charge of the relationship and keeping ‘my woman’ in line.

My wife and I divorced several years after a turbulent marriage. She brought up my despicable behaviour during the divorce hearings. I owned up to it. After that dreadful incident I vowed never to raise my hand against another woman, and I never did.

To stop our brutality to women (domestic violence or even the ruthless killing of women) we must confront the centuries of socialisation we have internalised about the worthlessness or even inferiority of women. We may protest that we love them (and we do love our mothers, our wives, and our girl children), but sometimes our actions contradict this genuine feeling.

Margaret Nakhid-Chatoor, in an insightful article, argued that ‘many perpetrators of violence against women truly hate women-including their mothers and sisters-and there will be no proper redress to the issue unless domestic violence is treated as a hate crime… Why do men and boys hate women and girls so that they resort to barbaric, ritualistic, learned behaviours?’ ( Express, March 18.) Human relations are too complicated and nuanced to reduce what men feel towards women as naked hatred. Nadia La Mar, one of my students at Wellesley College, wrote: ‘Heterosexual, cisgender black and white men both upheld the ideals of patriarchy. While black men were under the oppression that comes from being black, they held immense societal power that came with being men… Black men relied on their sex and gender to extend power over the people they could abuse-black women… They held immense pride in being able to hit their wives anytime they wanted. Racism gives a false sense of superiority to white people as patriarchy gives a false superiority to men.’ (‘Race, Nature & Self in Their Eyes Were Watching God’)

It may be true, as the T&T Association of Psychologists suggests, that the psychological behaviour of abusive men may result from ‘depression, anxiety-related disorders, hypertension, stress and complicated grief’ and men and boys may (as Chatoor asserts) hate women and girls. I am not sure that reducing our behaviours to hatred explains the problem completely. If this is true, then one half of our population hates the other half, which means men and women are at constant war with one another. Or, it might be that many of us do not possess any love, be it filial (love for friends and equals), erotic (passionate love for another), or agape (love of mankind) for one another. We, as men, must examine our behaviour towards women, ask their forgiveness, resolve to change our behaviours and teach our younger brothers the supreme value of love in its largest embracing sense.

Wives and girlfriends must also resolve to expose and confront the misogynistic behaviour of men. If we do not examine the deep source of domestic violence, take it seriously and deal with it expeditiously, we will continue to perpetrate the same violence that we have always inflicted upon our women.

Unless there is a serious re-education of men and an examination of the psychological damage that patriarchy (a system in which men hold the power and women are largely excluded from it) has done to us, we will continue along the psychological death spiral into which we are taking our society. Few men are exempt from this patriarchal poison.

James Baldwin observed that ‘when men can no longer love women they also cease to love or respect or trust each other, which makes their isolation complete. Nothing is more dangerous than this isolation, for men will commit any crimes whatever rather than endure it’ (Nobody Knows My Name). The great challenge, he says, is to be a man in ‘the best sense of that kaleidoscopic word’. Such a man, let us hope, would never raise his hand to hit a woman.

8 thoughts on “When love ceases”

  1. Thanks for sharing a very personal story. These candid revelations from prominent persons are very impactful and sometimes have a greater effect for change than any number of public protests.

  2. The first 5 years of any relationship is tough, as well as it could be the best 5 years. I draw a number 5 because that is generally the length of time it takes to build a foundation for a marital relationship. Why? Because there is a power struggle where young couples fight over things like the remote control. Eventually one will become subservient and the other domineering. Usually if the man learns to agree with her, then happy wife, happy life.

    During my earlier married years, yes there were fights and some was physical. My wife knew how to push my “buttons” and bring out the worst in me. It was like the Incredible Hulk, stop please stop, then when the verbal abuse continued boom the green man appeared. And it was a case of temporary insanity. After Our life will assume the normal pace and three months later boom, the green man appeared again. I came from a quiet family, she from a fighting family so much so that making enemies was the norm due to their strong passion. They were always fighting with someone.

    Finally the day came after watching how Ike treated Tina, I decided that was it, no hitting. She tried all the trick in the book to enrage me, talking down about my mother but I held my peace. I maintained that discipline so far. However I am human and I know my triggers so I disengage from an argument quickly. It is a discipline you need as a man only because you are the stronger of the two, but a woman mouth can quickly excite your muscles as the neighbour verbally attacking you. A woman can turn a man into a violent creature unless he refuses to be such.

    My friend was married but his wife was one of those women who excited his muscle. He hit her the police came and he was charged. He made up with her, had the charges dropped, then ended the relationship to protect himself from going to prison. She never forgave him, even though he gave her the house and paid child support for the next 20 years. She going on vacation every year, enjoying her good fortune. He blame her and witchcraft for causing him much pain of not having another relationship.

    A lot of marriages today is sheer torture and a lot of youths are staying away from it. The next generation will have the highest amount of single adults due to the pain of dealing with another. Added to that we have a generation that is deeply involved in technology and have no time to build a relationship. They are mentally stunted when it comes to relationships. I am speaking of western culture. In India the mother goes online and find a bride anywhere in the world “Shaddi ki bat”.

  3. “James Baldwin observed that ‘when men can no longer love women they also cease to love or respect or trust each other, which makes their isolation complete…”
    This statement works both ways. Verbal abuse and constant I am better than you behaviour has created emotionless, sexless marriages. The biggest thing that is happening today is sexless marriages. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mFNm_N1clqs

    The Scripture teaches 1 Corinthians 7:3-5
    3 Let the husband render unto the wife due benevolence: and likewise also the wife unto the husband.

    4 The wife hath not power of her own body, but the husband: and likewise also the husband hath not power of his own body, but the wife.

    5 Defraud ye not one the other, except it be with consent for a time, that ye may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again, that Satan tempt you not for your incontinency.

    The man does not have power over his own body… is it any surprise that pornography is a $19 billion industry in the United States. The female body was created not for herself but for her man.

    The best marriages are those where both partners are virgins. Then there is no template to measure your spouses level of sexuality. Regret only come when you could have chosen someone else…. and usually that someone maybe the person whom you had your first sexual experience with….

  4. Mr Cudjoe thanks very much for a very insightful article. I think there are multiple aspects to this topic.
    1. the attitude and personality of the man.
    2. the attitude and personality of the woman
    3. the family background of both.

    Many years back I read one sentence In the Laws of Manu which entirely changed my attitude and behaviour towards women. It goes something like this “Women should be treated with affection. In a home where the women are happy, there is always singing and laughter. In a home where the women are unhappy it is like fire passing thru grass”. I reflected on this. We men always have a choice, singing and laughter or fire passing through grass. Anyone who has planted rice will appreciate what the meaning of fire passing through grass.

    Some women have difficulty keeping their lips zipped at the appropriate time and are easily incited by friends and relatives. This could be dangerous in a relationship. A personal example, my sister in law, who is a very attractive woman and comes from a fairly wealthy family early in her marriage had an argument with my brother, packed her things and returned to her father’s home. Her father, a very principled man , asked her what happened. When she was finished with her story he said to her. you pick up your things and return back to your home and do not ever come back here without your husband. Lesson learned, they lived happily ever after and have five children.

    I was not so lucky, newly married, my wife and I had running disagreement about my working full-time and taking night classes. One night after my night class, I came home around 11 pm and the entire apartment was cleaned out. My wife had conspired behind my back with her relatives to move out Two families different outcomes.

    1. …so full of crap! before i mentioned the laws of manu, tariqandalus denied it existed in the indian caribbean culture!Now, the lecherous liar is professing to have read “the laws of manu” and offers up a flowery supposed quote that sounds politically correct. Firstly, no indian would grow up hearing the title “laws of manu” at home village or temple, much less read it…if anything they would hear about dharmashastra and manusmirti, and these laws are ENCODED in indian culture, their outlook on life, people society and their behaviours…Only pundits and scholars would likely read them in a book!…THAT’s how i KNOW you’re lying!Secondly, manusmirti is universally rcognized by objective women’s groups and feminists IN INDIA as regressive and oppressive to women. Tariqandalus, the proven brahman-ist/”Hindu” apologist, should have been more honest and chosen a more apt screen name on this forum like “ramkrishna”

      Let Mrs. Tiwari educate tariqandalus:

      Understanding Manusmriti And Why Its Text Is Problematic And Anti-Women

  5. Signs that your marriage is heading in the wrong direction.(1) she is not talking to you. (2) she is always angry with you. (3) she finds fault with everything you do, and openly and shamelessly rebuke you. (4) she is on the phone talking to others about you. (5) she has emotionally checked out of the relationship.

    Today many marriages are on the rock. Your wife goes to work, there is single “gym shape” Larry who is very funny. He starts checking her out, she starts flirting. Gym shape Larry takes her out to lunch, tells her she is beautiful, and he likes the way she smiles. Her emotions are stirred, they start taking about everything, laughing, crying and before long gym shape Larry is giving your wife a work out in bed that makes her entire body shakes with excitement for a long time. She comes home sits on the couch in a trance for the rest of the evening. Gym shape Larry has whipped you without you even realizing it. Happens all the time.

    The leading cause of domestic violence is the stirring of emotions and forbidden relationships. Children are the victims of such stirred passions that lay in the loins of every woman and man. The same level of passion a man has for a woman, it is the same level of hate he would have for her. Hence, we have seen some of the most regretful bizarre criminal acts in domestics violence. The chopping up of the body like someone cutting pork, or the beating that is the most vicious.

    If someone is going through a tumultuous relationship, with stirred passions, it is important if you are their friend to talk to them and talk them out of any violent acts. People like them need to process their thoughts, their emotions and most of all a spouse less future that they did not plan for, especially if children are involved. That level of support when it is not there can result in violent, suicidal actions.

    Married woman having an affair with her boss. Her husband called her, found out about it, he threatens her, she calls the police. He comes home the police is there waiting for him. He has to leave and sleep elsewhere. She took the matter to court and get the house. She put the house up for sale, he finds out about it, came and purchased his own house, without her knowing. The girl ask the boss to leave his wife and marry her. The boss said he not leaving his wife. Duh..She like a dog calls her husband tears streaming down her cheeks begging him to take her back. In case you wondering, true story. What kept him was a neighbour who knew him talk to him everyday and prayed for him…thank God for that neighbour.

  6. The lover versus the romantic.
    Two world views that identify our inner frame and to some extend determines our ability to build and stay in a long term relationship. Today’s western culture is built on short intense relationship. I attended the funeral of two brothers both look alike and both taxi drivers. Of course at different times, they died within the space of about 3 years apart. These two funerals I attended were the most bizarre ever. They both had a line up of women for want of a better word, they “serviced” on a weekly basis. These women genuinely loved these men. One said she knew her day was Thursday, so she will prepare herself for that day. The other said Saturday he would come over and sometimes meet her family, the eldest son would ask “when are you going to marry my mom”…he would laugh a hearty laugh. These men I would define as lovers, they were in it for the momentary pleasure and basically took advantage of the needs of these women. Of course over time they just did not think about it. If you marry a lover your relationship is dead in the water. More than likely that person slept with several people and will stop for awhile but when temptation comes they are seeking a new experience. Like eating food they are onto their next meal.

    If you marry a romantic long after you are gone they will celebrate the love that you both had. Romantics are genuine lovers who exist to please that one Pearl, which when the find it does not seek another. They enjoy the intensity of their relationship and the joy it brings to them.

    If a lover marries a romantic the marriage is likely to last because of the romantic who will endure the promiscuous lover because they believe in long term relationship. They know their spouse is unfaithful but still stays.

    If you want a real relationship find a romantic. Too many times lovers know the art of seduction but romantics know the art of true love.

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