Is it possible to force someone to change?

No one is perfect and trying to make someone into something they are not is not going to lead to a happy future for either of you. PHOTO/RACHEL MABALA

What you need to know:

The change she wanted was not just going to happen

Not so long ago, my friend Jerry met a girl. Well, he was meeting Samantha again after about five years. The two had met during Cell in one of the girls hostels in Kikoni, Makerere.

Cell (those born again prayer gatherings), were the ultimate meeting point for most university students seeking to meet new people or catch up with old friends.  Some cells were fun to attend, such as the one Jerry, a third year Development Studies student often fluked, especially for the bites shared. He was also fascinated by the stories told and some of the Bible verses discussed.

But bites were not the only thing Jerry looked forward to at this particular cell every Wednesday evening. There was Samantha, a petite, light skinned fresher who gave him goosebumps every time she breathed. “The way she broke down Bible verses, I knew I would make it to heaven by just breathing the same air as Sam,” Jerry would say.

And so he kept attending Cell, eyeing her from afar, and was very afraid of approaching her. On the other hand, she often saw him around the hostel room as the guy who was quick to pass around the plates when time for bites approached. He graduated, left her at university, and only bumped into her after almost five years at Centenary Park in Kampala.

He was the bad boy; with 17 tattoos and rode a Kawasaki Supermoto bike.  She was the staunch Born Again Christian (mulokole) still living with her parents at 30. But she would give him a chance to impress her. He tried.

Jerry even quit his favourite alcoholic drink and stopped smoking cigarettes, much to our chagrin. This Sam was the queen of manipulation. She made him believe he was only good if he was changed. And he believed it. Dude was dumping us for a girl who had told him he could only kiss her if he put a ring on it.

He agreed. He was a changed man, he told us. That silly fella put us under pressure to contribute towards his kukyala. We placed bets on how much longer this nonsense would last. ‘Less than a month’, we as his friends all agreed. We told him he cannot force change because humans are not wired that way. We did not have to wait for long.  She invited him for a meeting at the church cafeteria and broke the news.

She was pregnant and it was not his. He needed to move on because she was ready to do so.  He cried and cursed. He was heartbroken.

He demanded to know who the father was, hoping that it was not one of his buddies. Later that night, after almost three years of sobriety, Jerry opened his first bottle of beer. Relief was written all over his face. What has happened since?

He has fallen in and out of love countless times. Almost all the women he meets demand that he changes something about himself. Ramulah even asked that he stops listening to music immediately after he proposed to her. He laughed. The change she wanted, he reminded her, was quite hard and was not going to happen by snapping her fingers.

The memories of what Sam put him through are somehow still fresh. This was not going to work. It never works with most humans.


Strive to treat your spouse with love and respect, enjoying them for who they are now, not who they could be someday.

For better or worse, you married your spouse and all the little foibles that come with them. Do not change your partner, change your outlook.


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