Barrington H. Brennen
Question: Dear Sir: My husband is messing up. My father is messing
up. My father-in-law is messing up. My bossí husband is messing up. All my
girlfriendsí husbands are messing up. And my church pastor is messing up. What
do I mean by "messing up?" They are all having extra marital affairs
and get mad when their wives question them about it. They give the impression
that they can to what they want to do, and thatís just it. Whatís happening
to our men? I think, Sir, we really need a new breed of men in our country.
Answer: Wow! Thatís certainly a whole lot of messing up. I am
afraid to admit it, but you are right. Too many Bahamian men are messing up.
They are messing up socially, mentally, and spiritually. However, there are
scores of well-balanced, Christian, dedicated husbands who do not mess up. Many
Bahamian men refuse to be enslaved by their hormones, but prefer to be
intellectually directed by their brain and by a higher power, God. These men are
wonderful fathers, committed husbands, and dedicated professionals. They do make
mistakes, but at least they are humble enough and open-minded enough to
recognize their mistakes and make necessary changes. These are words of
encouragement for the "few good men."
I say a "few good men" because it seems that everywhere you turn
there is a complaint about a husband or male partner having sperm depository
problems. If that is not the problem, there is certainly an inappropriate show
of compassion and affection outside of the marital relationship. These men are
our teachers, pastors, doctors, lawyers, masons, carpenters, truck drivers,
politicians, electricians, managers, etc. How do these men get away with their
improprieties and responsibilities?
Bahamian men seem to get away with their irresponsible and immoral behavior
because of two reasons. 1) As a society, we have accepted (consciously or
unconsciously) immorality among men as normal, and perhaps healthy; but consider
femalesí immorality disgraceful and inappropriate. This is evident by the
different treatment men and women receive when they mess up. If a single woman
becomes sexually involved and gets pregnant, generally, her parents treat her
with disdain and great harshness. She has become a disgrace to the family.
Sometimes her father punishes her terribly. In fact, some fathers have been
known to say to their daughters: "If you ever get pregnant, I will kill
you." On the other hand, when their sons "mess up," the parentsí
first response is only disappointment and sadness, mingled with a little anger,
perhaps. But soon the son is made to believe that he has come of age and that
his behavior was not that reprehensible. Society looks upon street girls as
trouble makers, sluts, whores, and dirt bags, while street boys are considered a
"little troubled" and in need of help and rehabilitation. Since the
boys donít become pregnant, we treat them somewhat like innocent bystanders.
Unfortunately, even tourists travel to our country to "enjoy" a
piece of the immorality pie. Our country is not only known for the three
"S", Sun, Sand, and Sea, but also for Sex. In some circles, our
country is called the "Stud Farm." Many men are like vicious Bahamian
potcake dogs on heat angrily waiting for their piece of the sex pie. They are
impatient. They are impulsively running toward any female dog they see, smelling
for the sign to move ahead. Is this what we call normal behavior? Is this a part
of our pride and joy?
The sad part about all this immoral, irresponsible behavior is that children
are born from these clandestine unions. These children are left fatherless and
sometimes motherless. Parents and sometimes grandparents, of these irresponsible
citizens, gladly nurture these children while their sons go out and mess up some
more. Often the women who get pregnant are burdened with caring for the
children. Sometime these women may have children for three or more different
men, each time increasing the financial and emotional pain of child rearing.
Where are the fathers? They are in someoneís else bed not worrying about
nurture and care of new born babies and growing school children.
2) We have equated good looks, kind deeds, a pleasant personality, and
popularity with spiritual maturity, or at least with wisdom and sobriety.
This is usually the case with male community leaders or church-going men who
mess up. When a wife goes to a male pastor about her well-liked husbandís
immorality, usually he makes her believe she is the problem. When rumors of her
husbandís "alleged" immorality have circulated among friends, church
members, and gossipers, all eyes focus on the wife, not the husband. Sometimes a
well-meaning friend approaches the wife in disbelief with this astonishing
question: "What are you doing to make your husband behave that way?"
Often these immoral men are very kind. They volunteer to take the youth to
camp. They donate funds for the purchase of church volley ball equipment or are
ardent supporters of the church and community programs. If they prove to be
unfaithful, we blame the wives for their unfaithfulness. We support the
husbands, and minimize or deny the wivesí complaints.
When these wives do not get support and understanding from those in a
position to help, they feel disappointed, distraught, and discouraged. These
feelings usually lead to withdrawn behavior and often depression. Depression
depletes their emotional and physical energies and they cease church involvement
and eventually stop attending church, while the husbands remain active. The
wives are now labeled "spiritually weak," and not attending church is
proof now that they were really the problem all along. Because the Church seldom
holds men accountable for their infidelity, the wall of marital separation and
pain continues to become insurmountable until divorce becomes inevitable.
These are only two of the many reasons why Bahamian men successfully cover up
or get away with immoral behavior. We must change our attitude and approach
toward male immorality. We must hold them accountable for their behavior. This
would be the first step in creating a new breed of Bahamian men.
Barrington H. Brennen, MA, NCP, BCCP, JP, is
a marriage and family therapist and board certified clinical
psychotherapist, USA. Send your questions or comments to firstname.lastname@example.org or
write to P.O. Box CB-13019, Nassau, The Bahamas, or visit www.soencouragement.org
or call 242-327-1980 or 242-477-4002.