Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Marriage is too important to stamped, shame or bully people into (by Charles Irongesit )

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Just stepped out of my cousin's house in Benin to head back to Lagos. Honestly, people, please and please, stop telling girls to go and marry or running down people who are not married yet. Let each person marry at his/her own pace and to whatever choice of person he/she chooses. Marriage is too important to stamped, shame or bully people into.
My female cousin's marriage is in distress. To cut a lot story short: She is a certain type of person and her husband is his own type of person. However, the problem is while they were dating, the lady swore heaven and earth to understand his type of lifestyle, desires dreams etc. He also swore the same thing. However, the lady knew his own lifestyle and thoughts were quite unconventional for Nigerian men and Nigerian culture, so she made a bigger deal of swearing and convincing him of her readiness to adapt and tolerate him.
Now, eight years later. They barely talk and haven't slept in the same room for two years. She is my cousin and I will not be partial. 

She hasn't had a job for the entire time they've been married and this man has provided her with a very comfortable life without complaining. She has been unwilling to meet his sexual needs for many years now and after he initiated and sustained repeated discussions, advice, intimate support, prayers, fasting, warnings and veiled threats spanning almost 6 years, the man (my in-law) has started having girlfriends.
My cousin has found out and has used that as an excuse to worsen the shabby treatment he was already receiving from her. Her excuses range from "he has girlfriends" to " he doesn't love me".
However, I am a witness to the incredible love this man has showed and is showing to my cousin. There is no one in our family that has not felt the effects of this man's love for my cousin. Financially, materially, socially and religously. He loves her to bits. I am sure of it.
But wether because of jealousy or foolishness, this cousin of mine has refused to sit down and reason how to hold her man. She is slowly losing him and yet all she can do is pick petty fights and move around the house, mumbling to herself. Several times, I have seen and overheard them talking and my in-law would always remind her of when she acknowledged that she was a major cause to their problems and how she swore to change. He even has text messages of that. But now, she denies that. He tells her what she's doing wrong and how to right it. But she ignores his words. All she wants to do is pick fights, grumble, mumble and go through life with a victims mentality. They haven't had sex in almost 2 years.
Both lives are miserable and I haven't even spoken about the kids. There are regrets on both sides. They have kept it very private and concealed but the signs are there if you know where to look.
Recently, he confided in me that his girlfriend has tried so much by speaking and advising him on trying to make things better with his wife and the importance of keeping a happy and stable home. She has gone out of her way to shop for nice gifts for him to take to his wife (with her own money) just so she could help him and the wife in reconciliation. She has done so much to walk him back into putting things back together at home. And he has tried most of her suggestions. Yet, still to his wife (my cousin), he is not a good man and must be fought or ignored.
I am a voracious reader on social media. I see how the narrative is always generally about "holy and pristine wives", "scandalous and abusive husbands", and "devilish, home breaking side chicks". Please, please, please Nigerians. Dont be too quick to put tags on people. Everyone has a story and very few people are what they appear to be. There are devilish, home-breaking wives. But no one will ever tell you because the societaly accepted narrative is that once you have the title of a wife, you have become an angel, your shit don't smell and you can do no wrong. This is a lie. A girl is a human being. Wife or not. And a human is able to wreak and unleash evil wether as a wife or as a single girl. There are men who are serially abused and neglected. But you will never hear it. Because again, the societal narrative is that a man must be strong, tough and silent. And if indeed, he does cry out or people see the signs, the first stick to reach for is the easiest. Does he have a girlfriend? If yes, then he is a useless man who has caused whatever he is facing by his own hand, he deserves no pity or solace because he has sinned against his marriage. No mitigating factors, no redemption. But then, no one sees what pushed him into that. What pulled him into that. The complaints of the wife sound sweetest and the husband is condemned based on that. On the matter of side chicks, believe me when I tell you that some so called "side chicks" are the sweetest people you could ever meet. They are our sisters, aunties, cousines and friends. Some of us honestly dont even know if our mothers were or are side chicks. And yet we unleash hell on them without really knowing or understanding certain complicated circumstances. My in-law is very comfortable, however there was time he fell ill for almost 3 months and couldn't go out to get money. This person the world would call a side-chick chose to travel abroad (she is a US citizen) and get a job for the three months he was sick and kept sending this man about 70% of her salary. In dollars. I know because it was me he would send to receive it from Western Union. Once he got better and resumed his business, she returned to nigeria and continued with her normal business. That money she sent was a life-saver. The wife used it to buy food for the house. She paid school fees with it. She bought fuel for the gens and kept the cars on the road. Plus off-setting some of his medical bills. All without knowing where that money was coming from and this so-called side chick never said anything to the wife. She would always send me the dollars cheerfully and even with apologies, asking me how my in-law was doing. Like I said, I am educated and informed and I knew what she was likely earning in the US and how much she was sending to my in-law. And that lady was giving him most of it. Again, I have been a witness to how after a long night of drinking, my in-law overslept at a hotel with his girlfriend. She was weary, tired and hung-over herself. But she woke up at 4 am, carried him to his car, drove him to the gate of our estate and called me to come out of the house and drive him back to the house. Just so that the wife (my cousin) would not be unhappy and the children would not know that daddy hadn't slept at home. Her understanding of the situation is that life happens. She is dating someone who is a lover, a friend and a human being. It wasnt her choice. They met accidentally and randomly and fell for each other. That person is married and she knows. However she is not responsible for his challenges at home and indeed is doing as much as she can to guide him and his wife towards reconciliation. She gets incredibly lonely sometimes when my in-law is not with her and has called me sometimes to just come and drive her somewhere or fix little house problems that a man is expected to do. And you want to call that type of person a devil? Just because she has fallen into an emotional situation with someone? What is wrong with us as a people? Have we become so judgemental that we label people and hang them without a moments thought for what they are facing or going through? Jesus himself hobnobbed and did not judge even the vilest people of his day. He wrought his first miracle on alchohol. He let a "prostitute" wash his feet. He had lunch at the house of a corrupt official. He healed the wounded body of his enemy. And he chose to die between two criminals. Even the white people that gave us the western law that we all use, understand that even in murder, there are mitigating circumstances. That is why you have different punishments for murder ranging from the death penalty to a suspended sentence. That is why the worst charges for murder are called cold-blooded, pre-meditated murder. While there is such a thing as accidental and involuntary man-slaughter. But here, no husband or side chick can even be remotley excused. No. They are devils and must be burnt at the stake while the wife is an angel and can go around with a halo over her head.
She is my cousin but I am unable to overlook or cover up her tardiness and neglect towards her husband. I pray God helps them patch things up. And even more, I pray that Nigerians learn to stop bullying people into marriage. Marriage is not a cure-all or end-all. Being unmarried does not mean a girl is a slut or is deficient in any way. Any fool can get married. Just like any idiot can have a child. I pray Nigerians come to realise that there a lot of husbands out there who are hurting beyond belief. Who are suffering from emotional, physical and psychological abuse. But who have been conditioned by society to suffer in silence. I pray Nigerians come to see that not all women that are involved with married men are home breakers. That some of them (even if only a small minority) genuinely fell in love and only wish the best for themselves, the men and the families of these men. That Nigerians will see that a lot of times, wives themselves are the side devils that push these men to these women.
In summary, sorry for taking up this much time but as I left their house this morning, I just had to share.
May God bless and help us all.
Amen.

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