By Yetunde Arebi
Up until a few weeks ago, I never thought I could ever find myself advising a married woman on the need to keep certain information to herself, if indeed she desired peace in her marriage. The understanding in relationship and marriage counselling has always been that adequate communication between partners is the key to a successful co-existence. So, partners are always advised to be up straight with each other in everything they do. To see themselves as co-pilots of the aircraft which represents their union or relationship, thus, cooperation is key if they don’t want it to crash. Withholding information on their dreams and aspirations, desires, finances, needs, friends and even movements at anytime, is believed to be capable of sparking off an argument which could lead to disaffection and distrust. In fact, there will be no harmony if each partner were to be doing their own thing different from the other. I have however been forced to join others to give a contrary advise to a young lady recently. I still feel sad about it.
You see, I have always believed that a man is responsible for about 80 percent of what a marriage needs to be successful. Women are potty and usually mouldable if given the right treatment. It is a man that will determine how his wife will treat him. If he treats her like a queen, he will become a king. It is the behaviour of a husband that will determine the way his wife relates with him. Most of the time, when you see a man who is chauvinistic, then you should know that he would dominate and manipulate his wife, if allowed. A man who sees nothing else in a woman except her womanly roles, is likely to be secretive about his activities and will also want to monitor the wife’s every movement. Many mistake this for love, but it is usually borne out of a complex behavioural pattern, low self esteem and ego. To cover up for these inadequacies, he may want to dominate his targets.
Such is the story of the young lady that took me out of Lagos recently.
Her mother, a dear friend had been sharing the developments in her daughter’s young marriage with me for a while. She was worried that the Mr. Husband was trying to stifle her daughter up and turn her into a conquered woman. She had many reasons to think so, but we would always shrug it off until he dropped his last bombshell. His wife must resign from her job to sit at home. Unbelievable! Who does that now, especially in this harsh economic situation where anyone would be elated to have every extra cash they can get? What in the world informed such a decision?
My friend’s daughter and her husband, met while at the university. A typical local boy whose background was still visibly written over him. Both his parents still lived in the village but he’d come to Lagos courtesy of an uncle in search of education and the golden fleece. But he was her choice, so her parents had to accept for the sake of her happiness. She got a good job at the bank while he got a teaching job with the state government. Nobody suspected that the boy did not like the little successes of his wife until after their wedding which took place about three years ago. They have one child, a boy who is still very young, so they got a house help. The fear that he might be maltreated if left alone in her care, our girl arranged that the both spend the day at a nearby crèche owned by a sweet elderly woman in their neighbourhood.
According to the financial arrangement between them, she feeds the family and this she does very well, at least, as attested to by the boy’s parents too when the whole matter blew open. She also paid for the house help and the creche. It was hubby’s duty to pay the house rent, water and energy bills. Each took care of their own phone bills and other personal bills. It was during the scuffle that we found out that the girl owned most of the things in the house and all these she was doing without even letting her parents into the some of the secrets between herself and her husband.
Anyways, the bubbles bust a few months ago, when the girl bought a new car. Though the guy has a car, but it is now old and not as exotic as his wife’s. He did not like the idea and even refused to drive it, despite her even offering to take his old one.
According to the poor girl, her husband thereafter began torturing her. He complained about her coming home late from work and whenever anything went wrong in the house, it was because she was not devoted enough as a wife or mother. The girl became troubled but kept quiet.
Then one day, she came back as usual from work to meet the doors locked. All entreaties that he should at least hear her out, fell on deaf ears and she had to go and spend the night with her parents where she was forced to tell them everything. When her mother informed me, I assured her that things were still at a manageable level. You see, the joy of every parent who has laboured to give a child a good education is to see the child succeed in whatever he/she does. So, a man she met along the journey must not be given the freedom to ruin that dream for her parents under the guise of being married. The matter was settled and she returned home.
But a few days later, she ran back to inform my friend that her husband had ordered her to resign from her job because it is not giving her enough time to attend to other things. As her parents, we decided to take action. We would pay his parents a visit in the village to discuss the development. My friend was convinced that talking to him would not yield any positive result, but even make things worse. To be honest, the parents were shocked. They apologised on behalf of the boy and subsequently called a family meeting where the matter was discussed.
They told the boy that he ought to be grateful to have a wife who is ready to assist him with the house keep, adding that a thousand and one men out there are looking for women who will do just half of what the girl was doing. What if she has the money and was keeping it to herself and her parents, what would he do about it? I want to believe that this matter has been resolved as his wife says he has not raised any tantrums yet.
On our part, we have concluded that Mr. husband may not be totally reliable to go the long haul eventually. It is possible that with more children and more responsibility, he might begin to appreciate his wife’s contribution and support better. It is also possible that this might just help him reaffirm his position that trading and taking care of the home is his wife’s calling. Our little girl deserves better, her mother insists. So, she needs to be wise in her dealings with Mr. husband. If she has N20,00, it might be wise to only declare N10,00 for the sake of peace and the possibility of a very bleak future. My friend insists it is obvious that the boy does not wish her daughter well and might be forced to solve the matter her own way with plan B. Please don’t ask me how, or what ‘plan B is as I don’t know yet too!
Many years back, an elderly friend told me how her husband used to get angry whenever she tried to improve on her finances. According to her, when she first got married, she worked in the Civil Service. It was not a stressful job, so she decided to engage in some petty businesses on the side. She had some money which she got from a monthly contribution at the office. With the assistance of a neighbour, she got a deep freezer. She had already informed her husband about the money and her plans. But when she brought home the freezer, he was not happy. He kept quiet all through the night and the next morning, he told her to get rid of it before his return from work. He accused her of trying to turn him into a fool, demanding to know where she even got the money to engage in the purported monthly contributions at the office, when she was always taking money from him for everything. He accused me of saving her own money while spending his. She said she was shocked as she never suspected he could be so mean and uncompromising. So, she decided to report him to his best who helped to speak to him. After that, she bought a grinding machine and the same thing happened, he refused to even touch it. Then, she said she had to force him down for a serious discussion.
For a couple to be successful in their different lives as well as marriage, they need the blessing and cooperation of each other. They need to work and plan together in harmony if they want to achieve their dreams and purpose in life. Marriage is not about sex, children and provision of food. It is a walk, together, holding hands to help pull each other up from falling and to assist each other where necessary. Whatever each has is for the other and their children, so there should be no quarrel about who is doing what. It is not a competition where there are winners and losers, it is a joint ticket, so no need to be jealous and angery.
When men are performing well and bringing home the goodies, hardly would you hear a woman condemn him.
So, why change the story when the shoe is on the other leg? I hope Mr. Husband will open his eyes and think without his balls from now on. Lest my friend applies the Plan B on him