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What do you call your spouse?

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By Yetunde Arebi


The Yoruba have a saying, alaseju tin p’oko ni baba. Literally, it means, only an overzealous woman calls her husband father. By this, it might not be wrong to assume that women ought to call their husbands by their names. You overdo things, when you start calling him your father.

Yet, a lot of women are fond of calling their husbands “daddy”. I hear this often in my conversations with women. It is always “our daddy wants this or our daddy does not like that”. And I am always tempted   to ask why. “Is he your daddy or your husband?”

One common excuse for this change of status after marriage is respect. A woman must respect her husband. Not necessarily because he is older, but because he is her benefactor, one who paid her bride price, elevated her to a position of pride in society and is taking care of her and her children. Such a man deserves to be revered.

I’m told this is one of the requirements for a peaceful home. Some men even call their wives mummy. But these are usually older couples, not younger ones. I think that should go for wives who have proved their worth in many aspects as nurturers of homes. Alongside those who call their husbands daddy are also those who call themselves endearments such as “darling”, “sweetheart”, sugerpie etc. Such names are believed to help fester love and ensure intimacy. But can one say this is true?

I decided to talk to a cross section of respondents, on the subject. What do you call your spouse and why? Should a wife call her husband daddy and why? You too may join in this discourse by sending your views to the above contact addresses. Here we go:

Felicia (37), a Teacher believes it is what a woman calls her husband that the children will call him. She supports her position:

I call my husband daddy or sweetheart. I also use our son’s name to call him. I don’t call him by his name because it will seem as if I don’t respect him. I also believe that it is whatever I call him that the children will call him too because we are the example they see and it is whatever we do that they will do as well.

Again, the Bible says that we should respect our husband, he is the head of the family and everything is under his control. Since we are married, he has now become my mother and father and therefore, I should honour him at all times like I would honour my parents.   You see, I am a good Christian who believes in whatever the Bible says. So, I don’t think I should call my husband by his name. I have a friend who used to call her husband by his name. I have often wondered why and expressed my reservations about it, but she refused to take to correction. One day, I went to their house and I was not surprised to hear their little son calling the daddy by his name. I couldn’t take it, so I cautioned him and told him to call daddy.

I also told my friend to teach him how to say daddy. I warned her that ther son’s behaviour is a reflection of what she too was doing. Fortunately, her mother-in-lw too was around and the woman said she had tried several times to caution my friend to no avail. The old woman informed me that the reason my friend gave was that because she and her husband were very close and are used to each other. The woman then declared that it is nonsense and that from that moment on, she was not going to take things lightly with my friend whenever she hears her call her son by his name again.

After the mother-in-law went out, I engaged my friend in a serious discussion, advising her to stop if she wanted to have a peaceful married life. She should at least call him a pet name like I do or better still, his son’s name. She had no choice but to give in that very day and all has been well ever since.

Wale, (30) Engineer, says his wife calls him “Brother Wale” because he is older. Below is what he said:

I can’t have her call me by any child’s name. For me it throws the reality of your responsibility in your face every time. I know I have a child and she is the mother of the child. We do not need to call each other by the child’s name like papa Segun to know that we are his parents.   I think it is outsiders that ought to be calling us that and not us calling ourselves.   My wife calls me brother Wale because I am older than she is. But when in a relaxed mood, she calls me by my name. It depends on the mood generally. If all is well and I am in a good mood, she can call me anything she wants, but otherwise, she calls me Brother. You never can tell, if I am in a foul mood, it might just be that little slip that will cause trouble and it might lead to something else.

Pa Ade, (78), retired Civil Servant and Lawyer, says only women who show respect to their husbands can prosper in life! His submission:

It is not right for a woman to call her husband by his name. Such a woman is bringing damnation unto her head. Such a woman cannot gain the favour of her husband and cannot be successful in whatever she does. Don’t you know that for a woman, the blessing of her husband is very important for herself and her children? If her husband is not happy with her, she cannot receive God’s blessings. It is a spiritual thing as well as physical, embedded in our culture and tradition. Both of the Holy Books have said a lot about the conduct of men and women.   It is a must that a woman must submit herself to her husband. He is the head of the family and must therefore be respected.

A woman cannot address her man anyhow either in public or in the privacy of their home.   It is wrong. My wife calls me daddy, my dear, or by my children’s names.   In turn, I call her the same thing and sometimes by her name. Well, I am the husband and I have every right to call her anything I feel like. I don’t see her as a lesser human being, but certainly she is not my equal. That is the way God designed it to be, it is not my doing.

It does not matter if a man is living up to his responsibility or is not. It is the duty of the wife to cover him up with the children at all times. She must not give them money and let them know that the money did not come from their father, because, she is only doing it on his behalf.   A woman who does this will make it in life and her children too will be successful in whatever they do.

Men and women are not the same. Spiritually, she is different, and culturally too. Don’t you know that in some cultures, a woman is not entitled to any inheritance from her father? Mothers who have females as their first born child are not fully accepted in some cultures. Such women have automatically lost out in the inheritance game, or the battle for the man’s heart.   If you are one of those women who call their husbands by their names, I advise that you desist from doing so immediately. (Okay sir, I muttered)

Our culture is so rich that if you follow it, you cannot go wrong. The idea of calling your in-laws by their names too cannot do you any good. What does it take to call them pet names? Don’t you know that in-laws can compel a man not to divorce his wife? It has happened in my family before. One of my brothers once brought a young lady friend whom he introduced as his next wife. Right in front of the lady, my mother got up and gave him a dirty slap across the face. She asked him what he wanted to do with the lady that she could not do with his wife. The lady quietly walked out of the house and never returned, even after my brother allegedly begged her with several things.   We did that only because we all loved my brother’s wife.

However, the funniest part is that it is not because the woman has the best of characters, but she is much loved. Even when she is abusing you, you will be forced to bring out money from your pocket. Meanwhile she is the laziest of all the wives in the family. She will hardly come on time for any family function, not to talk of coming there to assist with the work. But once she steps into the place, it would appear as if a radiance, beauty and happiness that was lacking before had landed on the place. No one would bother that she was late or would end up not doing any work.

Life is like that. A woman must be respectful, not only to her husband, but to all his friends and relatives. That is the only way to have a peaceful marital life.

Watch out for the concluding part next week and do remember to reach out to us. Do have a wonderful weekend!!

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