Endurance does not always equal strength

QOTW – 31052021

Tired of the notion

I want to challenge the notion that is particularly prevalent in the black/African community that endurance equals strength. In my view it is pushed as the almighty rule and yardstick for a successful marriage, however many who parrot it do so for one of the following reasons:

  1. To keep abused partners (especially females) oppressed and accepting of the faulty and harmful status quo of their horrible marriages;
  2. To hold on to a false and faulty premise (based on cultural, religious or societal grounds) of what defines a successful marriage.

In essence, I don’t find that those who preach this very loudly, and as gospel regardless of situation, do so from a place of genuine care or concern for those they are preaching it to. If after reading this post you don’t agree with my views on this, please tell me why.

Stop stifling her voice

Many women don’t find their voice, until it is too late (are too entangled or weak to break free, have been driven mad by the toxic state of their relationship, or are dead – killed by their spouse or illness brought on by constant heightened state of trauma in their relationship). A woman who is struggling in her marriage who voices it out to her family, friends or church brothers, sisters or elders is exhibiting strength. We are largely conditioned to keep quiet, be ashamed of relaying our “family business (issues) outside”, and also to “cover” for our husbands. So when a woman starts to speak at all, especially if she is a reasonable woman, please know that it is pinching her beyond what she can bear and is not for frivolous, adhoc or dismissable issues.

Samples of “endurance is strength” speech

Often times sadly she is met with the “endurance is strength” type talk. You know those ones where she is reminded, admonished and strongly persuaded that “every marriage is difficult, you just have to try harder”. The “harder” she are advised to try is in the form of praying, fasting, being more of a Proverbs 31 virtuous wife & submissive wife. It doesn’t matter what her complaint is. Most times she is only relaying a quarter of what is really happening behind closed doors, (because of the conditioning). If she is overwhelmed, hurt and confused to the point of even admitting half of how bad the abuse is, even in the face of physical abuse that “outsiders” (anyone other than herself and her husband) have witnessed, aside from a handful (if she is lucky), the message is still the same.


“Be more mindful about how and when you approach or address him. It’s not everything you should take offence at, calm down.”

“Just apologise to him. You know he’s a man. Men are like children. Just stroke his ego and he will calm down.”

“Just focus on yourself and your children, and ignore his excesses. As long as he is …..” {insert your pacifier of choice} (e.g. he’s providing and paying the bills, he is paying some of the bills, he splashes out on you to show he is sorry, he’s not cheating, he’s coming home to you at the end of the day, he doesn’t beat you, he only slapped you once, he only slaps you when you disrespect him, he still lets you work etc.)

“What about your children? No matter what, a two parent home is better than a broken home. For your children’s sake you have to stay”.

“Marriage is for better or worse, do or die. God hates divorce.” Then you are bombarded with the Sarah called Abraham “Lord” stories, Proverbs 31 woman stories, Ephesians 5:22 verse, “go and watch War Room” advice.

“In our family we don’t do divorce. What will people say.” Then you are treated to a roll call of grandfathers, grandmothers, uncles and aunties who have been together for umpteen years and decades. Most of them by your recollection don’t even act like they like each other or are either so indifferent or sour about life in general.

A lot of women in abusive marriages and relationships don’t speak out because no matter how bad it is, our community tells her to suck it up and get on with it. For any reason she gives to save herself, she’s given ten to stay and endure, without any addressing or proffering real solutions to fix the root cause of her reason for wanting to free herself from the pain and bondage she is feeling. The, “she chose her bed so she has to lie in it” spirit is very strong, when it comes to this issue. Sadly the husband’s willingness to engage to do better is conveniently excused or not considered a key factor to success, whilst the mandate imposed on the woman to sacrifice herself on the altar of marriage is promoted as the only cure and saviour of the union. Can anyone make this make sense?

Endurance does not automatically equal strength

Where mutual respect, decency, love, care, appreciation, and value of each other, to build each other up are traits which are present and practiced as a general premise and foundation of a union, then endurance is admirable and praiseworthy. Life happens, challenges arise, mistakes are made but with that foundation they both work to correct them, learn the lessons, be gracious and grace filled towards each other and partner together. It is however very unfair and a stupid solution to champion endurance where the aforementioned traits are deliberately absent and witheld primarily by the abusive spouse/partner. Instead they deliberately bring to the table a dysfunctional and false entitlement of control, manipulation and abuse exercised over their spouse. And this is the norm we are happy to keep championing?

Endurance in such a sustained environment of abuse is not strength. It is enablement for the abusive behaviour to continue. We need to stop sugar coating this thing because sweeping it under the carpet, burying our heads in the sand, wishing, hoping, praying or fasting it away instead of addressing and tackling the root issue head on does not work. The increased rate of divorce, especially in the African community is not because women are becoming too Westernized and not standing strong to endure like their mothers before them. It is because endurance of abusive behaviour, and enablement of it instead of accountability, has created a cesspool of dysfunctional individuals who are exhibiting the dysfunction that was modelled for them in their marriages. The difference now is that there are those willing to stand up and be “bloodline breakers”, say “enough is enough” to the madness, and are willing to or felt like they had no choice (at high cost to themselves) walk away. Then some ignorant, deluded or abusive individual wants to shame, silence or guilt trip that incredibly brave and strong woman to feel like she is stupid, weak or wrong? Check yourself. If you are not supporting, encouraging or applauding her, then shut up and leave her be, because obviously you don’t know the meaning of strength.

I have approached this from the female standpoint because the prevalence of this affects the woman. I am not in any way dismissing or denying that there are men who are on the receiving end of abuse in their marriages because there are. However, the overwhelming proportion of those who are subjected to the narrative I have described, are women.

Thanks for reading. What did you think? Leave a comment.