Mo & Phindi are relationship strategists, radio contributors and co-authors of the book: Love Isn’t For Cowards. Today they tackle the ongoing issue of a relationship where the woman bends over backwards to try to keep the man.
Our advice: Don’t grovel!
Most of our consultations, and almost everyone who either calls our radio show or ask questions on our social media platforms, as well as through this column, are initiated by women.
We deal with a countless number of relationships where women bend over backwards and literally grovel in order to try get things working in their relationship again, even with uncaring and disrespectful men.
Until you actually see this unfolding, you will never easily appreciate how utterly heart-breaking it is.
Often we’re approached by ladies who’ve let their men get away with disrespectful behaviour way too much than normal, to the point that the guy has a sense of entitlement.
She forgave his cheating ways, for instance, more than two times, and he has now become a serial cheater.
She had dropped her standard so low that she has become numb to his behaviour – and she is no longer even bothered.
Her grovelling is as if she owes him something.
She so longs for a normal relationship with her husband that she’ll take it any way he gives it to her, and often, he’d see himself as being in the driver’s seat.
What a nerve!
Tragically, he would also act “unhappy” in the marriage, and generally blame her for almost everything wrong with the marriage, but is himself unwilling to do anything to grow the relationship.
All forms of creativity to keep the attraction to one another is dead.
He won’t even tell his wife what the real issue actually is, because he simply can’t. Instead, he’ll act miserable and constantly threaten to leave.
She will then be so terrified that he will leave her, that she starts grovelling to try and persuade him to stay. She had long accepted and settled for his disrespectful behaviour, and had developed coping mechanisms just to create some sort of normalcy.
She’d rather have that, than be left alone, as though being alone is similar to being lonely. In the end, all that grovelling does nothing but kill her self-respect, ego and self-esteem.
And therein lies our point.
When you bend over backwards and try so hard to become what your husband wants, you cease being yourself. And that is a terrible circumstance to live with – until death do you part.
Self-respect is when you respect and believe in yourself.
And your ego helps you realise just how important and special you are. If you show no sign of respect for yourself in front of your partner, you can’t have an ego or a sense of self-worth around him.
And you definitely won’t feel like an equal to him. This is because deep inside, your heart tells you, you’re worthless and undeserving of his respect.
Your partner needs to know what it will be like if he follows through, for instance, with the threat of leaving you, by actually freeing him to do so. Gladly open the door for him and tell him close it on his way out. If he indeed has made up his mind to leave you, let him do so, and never beg him to stay for any reason.
Like you, your husband is not a prisoner.
If the marriage vows and the pledge of commitment to you is unable to keep him faithful, then anything else is an imprisonment.
Set him free. He shouldn’t have to feel like he is stuck with you – even against his will. You ought to freely want to be with each other guided by your values, common purpose and sheer love for one another.
Not even the kids should be reason for you to stay in a toxic and abusive relationship.
Because in order for love to be love, it must not only grant you the right to say yes, it must also grant you the right to say no.
If your partner has already made up his mind to leave for whatever reason, never beg him to stay – no matter what’s at stake.
Never even shed a tear in front of him or plead with him in order to win him over again.
Maintain your dignity and self-respect. When you do the “humiliating dance of ‘pick me – pick me’,” you’re feeding his twisted sense of ego and you are giving him your power. It may be very hard, but you’ll have a lot of time to grieve the act and the relationship after he is gone.
You’ll also have the time to practise detachment. Take care of yourself, pray, see a counsellor, write a book, vent to a trusted friend, see a lawyer and get support from family.
If there are kids, it’s important to maintain composure, and do all you can not to break down in front of them. They would be suffering enough already, and are in dire need of security.
But never give him the satisfaction of grovelling. Set aside your grief and make room for righteous anger. Let it fuel you forward.
By your self-respecting actions, you would be communicating that you are not anyone’s consolation prize and you will beg for no one’s second place.
If he can’t prioritise you, you can’t settle for just being an option.