We cannot throw away our men. Even when they make a terrible, unforgivable mistake. People who are casting stones at Ray Rice and who are celebrating him losing his lifelong dream don’t understand that taking away does not “teach.” This is a teaching moment for our men. Ray, get help my brother: 1.) Anger Management 2.) Seek the mentorship of a man. A man that won’t hesitate to punch you in the mouth. 3.) Couples Counseling. Janay, if you want to stay, stay. People who are saying that Janay Rice should leave her husband, especially when she has repeatedly publicly professed her love for her husband need to mind their business. Janay, I encourage you to seek counseling as well.
In the past couple of months I have talked to a number of men who have committed abuse against their wives. It was extremely difficult for me to talk to these men because I really just wanted to challenge them to a fight. I considered the possibility of me helping a man save his marriage only to have that man abuse his wife again or worse, take her life. I did not want to talk to them. I did not want to help them. But then it dawned on me that I had not considered their families. The wives had not filed for divorce. God has blessed me with the ability to help save marriages. I am not to judge or to be angered, I am to help. My charge is to help. So I had to challenge myself to help because I wanted their wives to be safe and I wanted their children to know that this behavior from men is unacceptable. I decided that my first step was just to listen and understand what would drive a man to hit a woman. I allowed the men to vent and confess. All of the men claim to love their wives and have expressed to me that they want to save their marriages. I listened to the men. I took notes. As I compared notes about what was common about the conversations a few statements kept jumping out at me:
“I just lost it.”
“I apologized and she won’t get over it.”
“I will never do it again.”
I reached out to their wives and one called me back. I listened to her explain to me how embarrassed she was to walk around with a black eye that her husband gave her. She said that she still loves her husband and that she wants her marriage to work but she is afraid that he will hit her again. She motivated me even more to help. I promised her that I was going to help save her marriage. I asked her to give me the opportunity to help change her husband. She said that she would. I called her husband and this is what I said to him:
“The first responsibility of a man is to protect his family and keep them safe from harm. You know that and she knows that. When you put your hands on her what you did is take away her protection. She is no longer under your protection. She has to protect herself now. She has to protect herself from you. She is no longer safe when she is with you. She is no longer safe in her own home. You have become the biggest threat to her safety. In order for love to have a chance, a person must first feel safe. So the question is, “”What can you do to make her feel comfortable in your presence again?””
I left him with that to think about until our next session. I encouraged all of the men to seek professional anger management counseling. (One started today!) I figured out that my role in this is to have the men clearly understand what they have done. For the record, physical, verbal, emotional or mental abuse is all the same to me: abuse. No one should be subject to abuse. No one deserves that. Our only chance at saving our families and marriages is teaching our men right from wrong. I had to put things in perspective for these men. I presented each of them with this scenario:
It is 2 o’clock in the morning. You are awakened to the tapping of cold metal on your incisors. She has a gun in your mouth. Now you don’t have any protection. Now you are not safe. She lets you live. She asks for your forgiveness.
“She just lost it.”
“She apologized and expects you to just get over it.”
“She claims that she will never do it again.”
I can kill a woman with my bear hands. I am 225 pounds, I workout regularly. I have been punched in the face on three different occasions by two different women. (The title of my first book is called “Men Don’t Heal, We Ho.” You do the math!) It never crossed my mind to hit one of the women back. Immediately after the altercation I spent more time pontificating on my slowed reaction time than considering hitting the woman back. My old football coach use to say to me, “Are you hurt or just injured?” I was just injured so there is no reason for me to hurt the woman who injured me. But if I chose to, I could have ended her life in the time it takes for an elevator to go from the 5th floor to the 1st. Ray could have ended Janay’s life in that elevator. When dealing with women, men have to understand and accept our hands as lethal weapons. So the question that Ray must ask himself is, “If Janay put a gun in my mouth, what would it take for me to forgive her?”
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