Some residents in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) have identified failure of most men to tender apologies to their spouses or partners as responsible for frequent friction in many homes and relationships.
A cross section of the residents who spoke with News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Tuesday in Abuja further alleged that cultural norms, pride, superiority complex and “ infallibility” were factors accounting for the African cultural beliefs that man should not apologise to their spouses even if they are wrong in a dispute.
They noted that African culture generally did not encourage men who are `heads of their families to swallow their pride’ and beg for forgiveness from their spouses lest they were branded weaklings among their peers or colleagues.
A businessman, Mr Benjamin Aigbe, said that men were by norm considered as “infallible” and they had been brought up to believe that they could hardly go wrong, adding that this kind of feeling accounts for the failure of many marriages and relationships in the society.
According to him, it takes a man a special grace to tender apologies without feeling inadequate or “less masculine” in the sight of his spouse, giving himself as an example in that regard.
He said: “apologising (to a woman) takes a lot of strength especially for men; we see women apologise all the time, except the woman decides to be unnecessarily stubborn.
“It is the African male dominating sense of entitlement and it has led to so many issues, especially in marriages; men are made to believe that they can do no wrong.
“This belief discourages them from apologising and we know that apologies need a certain level of vulnerability; women apologise more often because they are more vulnerable.
“An African man is hardly vulnerable. Hence, the reason why even if he does wrong, he is too proud to admit,” Aigbe said.
Mrs Verily Ojo, a teacher, told NAN that African values have caused men to think that admitting to wrongdoing is a mark of weakness but added that there are a few exceptions in the society who do not mind eating the humble pie to keep peace.
“Men would rather show positive attitude to indicate how sorry they are rather than give a verbal apology. They would buy gifts and start to show extra care.
“But, tendering of a verbal apology always makes them feel like life is leaving them. They hold back a lot just so they remain masculine and not to be seen as a weakling in the eyes of fellow men,” Ojo said.
She noted that culturally, the burden often lies on the women to keep the marriage or relationship going.
“Although there are some women that also find it difficult to apologise, the ratio is significantly low,” Ojo added.
A medical doctor, Dr Ikenna Okwudiri, said that there are different African views on the issue of apologies in relationship for men and women, saying pride is always at stake.
According to him, people find it hard to apologise in relationships, whether marriage or friendship because they feel that they will hurt their ego by tendering apologies.
“It is natural, cultural and psychological for men to possess bigger egos than women. However, when you look at it carefully, everything reeks of pride.
“No one wants to feel less important than any other person and it takes a lot of will to admit wrongdoing and move on in a relationship. The greater the pride, the lesser the ability to apologise,” Okwudiri said.
Also, Ms Charity Ibhagbemhien, a fahion designer, said that some people do not see the need to apologise for their wrong doing; not as a result of pride, but that they were actually clueless about how to mend fences.
She added that men often feel they are entitled to respect from their spouses or partners and the feeling fuels their arrogance to tender apologies.
“So many women these days are kicking against the cultural entitlement of most African men and are refusing to be as quiet as they used to be.
“Those days, our mothers used to do all the apologising. Now, most people feel too proud to apologise in relationships and marriages.
“The men won’t because they are not trained to; now the women are towing same line. In fact, most people do not even see the need to apologise anymore,” Ibhagbemien said.
However, psychologist Ken Obhiyan explained that apologies run deeper than the words ‘I am sorry’. The manner and immediacy with which people apologise reveals a lot.
According to him, people do not apologise because they are afraid of admitting that they have done wrong, especially if they are perfectionist or they have a habit of correcting other people.
“Some other people do not apologise because they do not want to feel guilty or open the doors for more arguments to occur.
“A lot of people, especially men, keep their guard and do not want to let vulnerable emotions in; apologies sometimes open room for these walls to come down.
“So they avoid apologising to stay on top of their emotions; however, over apologising is another problem,” Obhiyan said.