What to do when marriage turns into ‘dictatorship’

Recently, a woman wrote to a marriage counselor on her instagram in a segment known as “Ask the counselor,” explaining how her marriage is at the verge of breaking, reason being, what she thought her husband was, is just the opposite of who he is.

He is a dictator whose true colours revealed after a year in marriage.


“Dear counsellor, my husband and I have been married for a year now, but for the last three months, he has been acting weirdly. I never have a say at home any more.


He is the boss of the house as he makes all the decisions. He stopped me from wearing makeup, hanging out with my friends, and stipulated the time I should be home, which is before 7:00 pm, daily.


“I am losing my mind. I am becoming a stranger and prisoner in my own house, worst of all, I am to wear clothes above my knees but when we had just started dating, he never minded I wore,” she wrote.

She added,whenever she wants them to discuss about some issues, he turns a deaf ear. His complaints didn’t stop at just giving orders but also forced her to change the ringtone of her phone, asserting that it doesn’t sound appropriate.

This anonymous lady also noted that she is so sick and tired of the marriage and wants to end it. She is ready to ask her husband for a divorce regardless of how her relatives and church members would think of her decision.

That is why she asked the counsellor for advice.

A dictatorship relationship or marriage is never balanced and is characterised of only one person bossing around,setting rules and controlling the relationship. One person seems superior to the other which in most cases, distresses the marriage.

Ian Mutabazi, who has been married for five years and the father of two explains that marriages are about balance, however, the moment you feel demeaned, insignificant or your voice not heard,then that is the time to pack your bags and say goodbye.

He says, the relationship is never romantic or even healthy if one partner doesn’t have the liberty to air out his or her own views.This at times, leads to low self-esteem and feeling valueless on the side of the partner bullied.

Mutabazi notes that there is no way a one-sided relationship can grow because it is always one person to dictate without the other advising yet in marriage, every partner is supposed to give 50 per cent support for it to balance.

That is why even the bible says that the two have become one, which implies that when a couple is married, they ought to share their ideas, suggestions, situations, finances, and much more, he adds.

Causes of dictatorship

Adrian Niyomugisha, an entrepreneur, says when someone starts dictating in a relationship, the cause could be insecurity. If a woman is more educated, richer and the bread winner, a man can feel like he is losing his position in the home as the head of the family, thus imposing repression on his wife.

“Familiarity breeds contempt, each time people stay together, there are things that are taken for granted, that is to say, even the value they held while still courting no longer stands. It is that contempt that revolutionarises into despotism,” he explains.

Stella Keza, a mother of one says, “Fear is one of the major causes of dictatorship in marriage. We fear being controlled, and so we become controllers ourselves.

Niyomugisha further says that marriage is about women being submissive to their husbands, not because they are a weaker vessel but because even the bible encourages them to be obedient to their husbands.

However, gender equality can lead to dictatorship when a woman thinks she can be the head of the family especially if she earns a higher salary than her husband.

Keza states that sometimes it is about a person’s upbringing adding that a person raised in an opinionated home will of course carry that to their marriage.

“Dictatorship can also come about due to religious beliefs, as each partner would want the other to what their religion says. If you get married to a Moslem man, however much you are a Christian, you would have to wear as a Moslem women,” Niyomugisha states.

He notes,it is better to iron out some differences while still dating, not to affect the marriage.

For Niyomugisha, sometimes it is the different professions that result into dictating, for instance; if a woman is a doctor and her husband is a farmer, the doctor because of being highly educated can impose rules in a home.

He states that marriage is not political, or cultural. It was started by God and it has to be valued in the spiritual aspect first then in the physical.

“Social positions also cause a lot of dictatorship, some people completely change if they are elected as members of parliament forgetting that such positions don’t work in a home,” Niyomugisha says.

Keza also adds that bitterness and unforgiveness can create dictatorship in a relationship. For instance, if someone is hurt in the past by their ex-lovers, it is very important that such people learn how to forgive and move on, if they don’t, chances are that their past pain can be reflected in their present relationship, which in the end causes pain to the current partner.

“If the husband is the bossy type, be a wife that doesn’t die in silence. Every partner should be willing to speak about what they feel is affecting their relationship. If their partner is not ready to change, they should try to talk to a marriage counsellor for advice,” Keza states.

Jacqueline Iribagizi, a counsellor based in Remera stresses that any marriage should be built on love because love over powers all mistakes and leads to reconciliation.

She recommends marriage partners to follow Jesus’ example while quoting the book of Ephesians 5:1: “Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.”

“When marriage is starting, it is always rosy  but this doesn’t mean some funny behavior won’t prevail, however, couples should put Christ as the center of their marriage because he will save them from seeking a divorce even when situations turn from bad to worse,” Iribagizi says.

In her view, the government should make the divorce process hard for one to get, so that couples can be able to solve such small issues they face in their marriage. For the church leaders, she says, it is illegal to remarry a divorced person unless their partner is dead.


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