By Anayo Nwosu.
Many married couples live in denial, some choose to tag on to their failing marriages to impress friends and relations while others see marriage as a cross yoked upon them by the church and culture.
The shackle holding me has been broken and I have decided to speak out to see if I could get help otherwise I shall obey my natural instinct. Don’t ask me, which instinct?
My problem started the night after my traditional wedding when my wife told me, “Annie let’s go and bath, the hot water would get cold under the harmattan weather”. I was miffed by such audacious boldness. What would my mum and siblings think of me entering into the same bathroom with a woman? That was strange!
I never saw my parents bath together nor my uncles and their spouses. I had no such reports of any in Nnewi in our peer review stories either in the primary and secondary schools. Not even my elder brother and his wife were seen in the same bathroom even after 19 years of marriage.
So, all of my extended family members (i.e. my mum, my elder brother and his wife, my three elder sisters) would watch me do this? Mbanu!
The nature of my family house even made it so difficult.
Ours was a bungalow built during Nigeria-Biafra civil war. My brother had carved out an extra room to make the house a four-room and one living room apartment. The bathroom and the pit toilet were built and are about ten yards away from the house. So, one traveled to and fro the bathroom when compared to today’s modern building designs.
As a result of the house design, everybody in the room must go through the parlour to an open compound space, then to the bathroom. Everybody knew when everybody went out of anybody’s room just as it was easy to see and tell who was using the bathroom. It was an open environment.
Of course, I didn’t oblige my wife’s request of starting our public show of togetherness that way. I thought that by so doing, I would have breached an unwritten moral code.
I was raised to believe that man and woman matters were better imagined than displayed. But, my wife didn’t understand hence it was a big culture shock for her.
In a bid to dilute my local content, I had married a lady with higher foreign content. I have only myself to blame.
My wife was more westernized than me. I was to learn that she grew up seeing her parents bath together and as such could only read naivety from my refusal to go bath with her. I couldn’t blame her. Her parents were graduates while mine were not.
We wedded and settled for marital life as well educated adults, each with different ideas on how another should play his or her marital roles. Our different backgrounds were to shape our opinions as per how things should be.
Coming from a village setting where men were men, I had a formed view of how a husband should behave in marriage.
I didn’t know of any other examples of how to husband a woman other than those of my parents’, uncles’ and close relations’.
Even though I’m an expert on copulation matters, I was not taught about marriage in school. Even if I read some books, they were not better than experience I had garnered by observing the practitioners around me.
I was amazed to see my Marriage Course tutor reeling out what he never practised. His brother-in-law, who happened to be my friend, told me that the guy’s marriage was a disaster. The assisting priest who periodically gave us a talk was not talking from experience. Nothing bespoke was offered during the entire 6 months once-a-week class.
I was left with my entrenched biblical accounts of marriage supported by my traditional views of same. The ways my parents and married older relatives lived were my guiding examples though I expected to twick some aspects as needs arose.
I drew inspiration from the way Abraham, Isaac, David, Joseph, Zachariah lived with their wives. I wanted my wife to treat me the way Sarah, Rebecca, Abigail, Ruth, Elizabeth and Mary treated and adored their husbands.
My conviction was not misplaced as we were practicing christians and should follow the Bible precepts; the same precepts my mum followed to nearly adore my dad.
My other uncles were also lords and were addressed as such (i.e. Nnam Ukwu) by their wives. My mom never called my dad by his given name, Francis. They lived in peace and peace I desired.
I met a different scenario in my new marriage because, my wife was not created in mold of the biblical or yesteryears women. She had read Mills and Booms, Shakespeare, Silhouettes etc. She also watched Romeo & Juliet, Indian movies and other western love portraying films and was shaped as such.
My wife believed she married a modern man or would groom me into one. Her marital dream was a western setting and I was alarmed.
With each passing months, I noticed I was becoming disillusioned as I was being “groomed”. My friends were envious of what a dapper and modern or new creation I had become.
My situation was complicated by the fact that my wife also worked and earned as much more as I did. She could buy whatever I could buy for her. She never asked me for money before buying things for the house.
The river, from my point of view, was flowing back as I watched my “manhood” shrinking.
The sign that portended how deep a problem I had acquired for myself was when I returned from work one day and saw my wife eating gizzards with her female colleagues in my house. Alu! (i.e. Abomination!)
Women were not allowed to eat gizzards and the down-below of chicken as well as brokus of a goat in my town.
When I protested, they laughed it off and reminded me of my high education and the need for me to embrace civilization.
It’s been a struggle as I strive to wonder in this foreign marriage land.
Many a times I had to subdue my pride to ask my wife for financial assistance which sometimes comes with a muted insult. I had compromised. I shouldn’t have asked my wife for money. It’s not done in my place. A man gives not the other way round.
How could I then utilize financial needs denial as a tool of control of my wife?
She had not even done anything to warrant a correctional beating except the one that brought forth a protruding stomach. Therefore, I had become powerless.
I was slowly becoming a partner of co-ordinate powers with my wife.
I never saw my dad or relations call an economic conference with their wives or call a meeting on how to share financial responsibilities with them. Men bore all the heavy burden while women minded children tendering and home management.
In fact, in that world I knew, the conduct of a wife determined how much financial allowance or shopping money she got. The husbands were in charge intoto.
My greatest challenge is that, after over 15 years of marriage, I don’t know the system I’m practicing currently. My manliness indices keep nosediving on a daily basis.
I neither have the sufficient financial muscles to totally take control as my father and his brothers did nor the boldness to dictate to an equally educated wife who many a times have a better idea on how things should be done.
I beg to ask, where is the template for today’s marriage that will meet the evolving tendencies of today’s couple; the one that preserves the man’s ego?
Many marriages of men and women from multicultural and economic backgrounds are in turmoil today.
Lack of humility and readiness to give and take remain the impervious walls making consensus difficult amongst modern-day couples. Their inability to devise a workable plan is chiefly responsible for the increased spate of divorces and separations.
The Bible and our traditional precepts for marriages are no longer working despite the preachments of culture and religious practitioners. The changing world and financial empowerment of our wives have rendered them mundane. There is a need for an update.
On my part, I have decided to fight for the enthronement of my traditional marriage precepts notwithstanding the changing times. Were my fathers not happier under those regimes? They surely were; much happier than I’m now.
In fact, the struggle begins today. I will never answer that name “Baby”! I’m not a child. I’m a titled chief. I must stand up to preserve my traditional beliefs and practices as it regards marriage from extinction. It’s a duty!
But wait a minute, if I strive and achieve my desired goal of ancient happiness by journeying into yesteryears, wouldn’t I risk losing my support base in a modern wife?