Marriage

That Time I ‘Controlled’ My Husband

The dynamics of my marriage and household baffle my mother.

The dynamics of my friends’ marriages baffle my mother.

“You people and your London husbands,” is how she greets them when they come to my house solo, leaving her husbands at home with their children.

When my daughter was about two months old, my mother almost had a heart attack when I told her I was making a day trip to Paris for a bridal shower.

“Who will look after Pork Chop?!” she asked, like I was a single mum with no one to share the responsibility of raising my child.

I understand that my marriage and the dynamics of my household are not what she is used to. She is a sixty something year old Nigerian woman who was raised in a time where women did everything and men, nothing. Well, nothing besides being ATMs.

She pinches me if he walks into the kitchen to serve his dinner and berates me when he takes out the bin. She flies off the sofa when she hears him doing dishes and chases him out lest the water washes away his manhood.

On one occasion, she watched in quiet support while some twice removed aunt laid into him for carrying my handbag.

“What is wrong with you London people?!” the aunt asked as he helped me carry my bag into the house so I wouldn’t smudge my freshly varnished nails (you know that struggle!).

To my mother, his willingness to do household chores, serve his wife and be a hands on father are as foreign as his postcode.

She is consistent in her beliefs.

She frowned in disapproval the day I told her I was popping over to the petrol station to pump air into my car tyres.

“Shouldn’t your husband do that?”

She worried about how we would pay our bills when he was made redundant, despite my income. Yet, she managed to sleep at night when I was going on maternity leave, making him the sole/primary earner.

I am used to her lectures and pinches and I’m not mad at her because I understand that she is a product of the culture of her time just as I am a product of the culture of mine.

But one day, she stunned me.

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“Why are you controlling your husband?”

I stared at her in disbelief.

“Controlling my husband?”

“Yes, you are controlling him.”

My daughter’s name was the cause of the accusation, the straw that broke the camel’s back.

I am Benin but married to a Yoruba man. The expectation (of the general public) was that my daughter would have a Yoruba first name or perhaps an English one. No one expected her first name would be a Benin one because god forbid she be identified by her mother’s tribe.

When we came up with three names for her (Yoruba, Benin and English), my husband loved her Benin name as much as I do. As soon as I told him what it means (and its significance to us), he was sold. When he suggested we use it as her first name, I was all for it.

It didn’t occur to me that anyone would have an issue with it till my mother accused me of controlling my husband.

For a time (albeit brief), she insisted on calling my daughter by her Yoruba name because she was concerned about “what people would say.” In her mind, there was no way a Yoruba man would choose to give his daughter a Benin first name so I must have beaten him into submission.

She wasn’t alone; one of my Uncles outright stated that he would only call her by the name her father gave her. It gave me great pleasure to tell him that I was responsible for BOTH her Benin and Yoruba names. He’s a traditionalist so I knew he’d rather lose a limb than use her English name…the name her father picked. 

They didn’t take into account that my husband is a different kind of man to the one they are used to.

He takes out the bin and does dishes.

He helps me carry my handbag when I need help.

He changes our bedsheets because I’m lazy with that stuff.

His culinary skills are pretty limited (the chink in his armour) but he makes a mean corned beef stew.

He bathes our daughter every night and derives great pleasure (the man is strange) from changing her poopy nappies.

He helps me take out my weaves…even though it takes him forever and a day.

He goes to the butchers to buy meat.

He looks after our daughter when I need baby free time.

He looks after our daughter because she is HIS daughter.

He listens when I speak and values my opinions.

He says ‘my wife and I have decided’ because we make decisions as a team.

These are some of the things that make my mother think he is being controlled.

I know I am opinionated and strong willed but surely, it is possible for a man to be a willing contributor to his household in every way and for a woman to have a voice in her own home?

Not everything is voodoo. Sometimes, they are just great men.

 

 

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19 Bush Street : Part 2 of 2

For eight years we pleaded with God to bless us with a child. I prayed fervently, cried diligently and fasted religiously, starving myself until my pot belly deflated, my cheeks became hollow and my collar bone threatened to break free.

“Eat my darling, please eat!” she would cry, fearing for my life. Eat? Was food going to improve the quality of my sperm?  How could I eat, knowing I was the reason we were childless? Every night we knelt to pray, I asked God to forgive me for not telling her the truth; for not telling my wife that my non-existent sperm count was the reason we were childless.

My fast was a signal to God; I needed Him to feel my desperation, needed Him to see how much I was willing to sacrifice if He would only make a real man out of me.

“It is God that gives children,” they said, but that was no encouragement to me. Had I done something wrong, something that deserved such a severe punishment? I gave to the poor, fed the hungry and looked after widows hoping that God would see what a good person I was and have mercy on me.  I clung to hope, to the belief that the God I believed in would end my misery.

And then one day, the very thing I had been praying for, we had been praying for, finally happened.

That day, the day she told me she was pregnant, everything changed. Hope turned to the darkest form of despair, sorrow to a blinding rage. I knew then that I had surely offended God. After everything I had done for him, given up for him, how could he sit back and let this happen to me?

I saw fear in her eyes as she stood before me, silently begging for my understanding.

Shame embraced me tightly as the reality sunk in; another man had given her what I couldn’t. A better man, a real man, had stepped in and excelled where I had failed so miserably.

Shame turned to anger and I struck her across the face; twice. She stood still, tacitly urging me to carry on if it would make me feel better. It didn’t but I slapped her a third time for good measure. Still she said nothing, gave no explanation and in that moment, I knew that she never would.

There was no miracle about her pregnancy; no divine intervention or immaculate conception. Someone had impregnated my wife and neither I nor God was responsible. I knew it, God knew it and she sure as hell knew it. For months I had been unable to handle matters in the bedroom. The pressure to father a child and the guilt of the secret I was carrying had taken its toll on my libido.

Anger coursed through my veins as I imagined another man flooding her womb.

Did she love him? Did he love her? Was it a one night stand or were emotions involved? Who was he; someone I knew or a stranger she just met? Did she even know or were there a number of potential candidates?

Months went by and the bigger her belly grew, the hotter my anger burned. I wanted to tell the world she was no better than a common prostitute, selling herself for the seed of a man. I wanted the world to hate her for betraying me in the worst possible way but to do that would be to admit that I, the same man who cruised the streets of Lagos in cars ten times the size of my flowing agbadas, could not impregnate his own wife.  So I smiled when people congratulated me and sang praises to God on my behalf. And the more I had to smile the more I loathed her for making a fool of me.

I gave him my name but even before he was born, I knew I could never love him. I watched him as he grew to see if he resembled anyone I knew but he was the spitting image of his mother. I saw how her eyes would light up when she looked at him and hated him with every fibre of my being. He was a constant reminder of my inadequacy as a man and yet I had to feed and clothe him and pretend he wasn’t some faceless man’s bastard son. I prayed she would go and take her trash with her, but I should have known better. If my prayers didn’t work when I was giving away my wealth and starving myself, it certainly wouldn’t work now that I was at war with God.

I pummelled her, hoping she would pack her bags and leave, but she didn’t. I beat the crap out of him hoping the so called love of a mother would compel her to whisk her bastard to safety, and still she stayed. No matter how mean I was, how monstrously I behaved, she wouldn’t leave me.

I knew what she wanted, what she craved more than anything, but over my dead body would I give it to her. She would have to turn to God to absolve her of her guilt because I would never forgive her for defiling our marriage, for taking what was left of my pride and burning it to ashes.

Mrs Waila Calling!!!

Hello People!

I know, I know, I disappeared on you. Forgive and forget? *puppy eyes*

The last six months of my life have been manic but thankfully things are winding down. You’ll be pleased (I hope) to know that I am now married and can reclaim my life from the clutches of wedding planning and the many darts…emotional, physical, spiritual, financial….it sends flying one’s way. Do I miss wedding planning? Heck no!

For the curious, I have a couple of pictures up on my Instagram account (WailaCaan) and will be sticking a few more up over the coming days (seeing as I have hundreds of them) so feel free to nosey on down there. For the non Instagramers, two pic stitches  for you right here. Photos are the work of our super photographer Iain Gomes who you’ll hear more about soon.

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So many stories to tell and some will be revealed in due course.

Those of you who blog will understand how hard it is to keep up with it. It really is a struggle to juggle blogging with my job and other things I’ve got going on in my life but I will keep trying and I will overcome the writer’s block that has been plaguing me…so help me God.

In other news, I deserve a handwritten note of gratitude from the CEO of IKEA, no jokes. I have spent so much of my humble earnings in that store my account is flat packed. On the plus side, I am now a dab hand at hammering and screwing so if any of you need a handyman, please see me in my workshop. I’d have volunteered the hubby but what he offers in physical strength, I more than make up for with my can-do-must-do-who-cares-what-time-it-is-will-do attitude.

On the day we moved house, I was working so the poor guy was left to haul all of our belongings without my help. By the time I got home, he’d done half a day at his day job, another half day carting bags and boxes and was in the middle of putting together a bed. By the time the bed was up, it was pretty late and he looked ready to keel over. Caring wife that I am, I fed him and then swiftly handed him a hammer to begin knocking together one of my wardrobes. You should have seen his face. He who marries a wife finds a good thing…what does he have to complain about?!

Lest I ramble on, I’ll stop now. This is just a quick note to say I’m still in the business of blogging and I am now certified by law to do married people things. Pure minds people, pure minds!

Stay tuned!

xxx

Waila

Fighting For Forver: Part V (Final)

They say good things happen in three’s but bad things I tell you, happen by the dozen. I started my day rowing with Alex and it was downhill from there on in. My conversation with Nneka didn’t help matters but when I got to work to find that my MD was wanted by the EFCC for fraud, my day fell apart at the seams. Having being tipped off, he’d absconded to England with his family the previous day. The building was on security watch and operations, shut down by the commission.
How were Alex and I going to survive?!
I didn’t even get the opportunity to reclaim my personal effects. The place was ferociously guarded by frustrated policemen, hungry for opportunities to let off steam. I watched in horror, as they slapped Femi, the IT guy, senseless, for daring to attempt to bribe his way into the building. As tensions rose between angry staff and frustrated officers, I climbed back in my car and slowly made my way home. After the row we’d had earlier, I didn’t know how to break the news to Alex.
As I crawled along the streets of Victoria Island, I remembered the day he told me he’d lost his job. I suddenly understand how he must have felt. His distraught speech about needing time to get himself together suddenly made sense.
Where was I going to start from trying to find a new job?
I knew I’d been hard on him, I’d seen what happened when men got lazy and there was no way I was going to let him fall into that cycle, but for the first time, I realised I’d been unfair to him too.
I remembered when we first started dating. We were only two months into the relationship when mum had a stroke. At the time I told him I’d never forget everything he did to help her, but I lied. It’s wasn’t till I was sat in the car, dreaming up ways to avoid telling him my job had gone down the drain, that I remembered.
I’d forgotten how he’d sold his second car to help settle the hospital bills. I’d forgotten how he’d employed someone to look after her because I was away a lot with work. I remembered the sacrifices he made to ensure she had everything she needed.
I remembered the first time I tried to pay the electricity bill after we got married; he looked at me like I’d lost my mind, said it was his responsibility to provide for me and not the other way round. Up until he lost his job, he’d never asked me for a penny.
I had forgotten that.
I remembered how excited he got every time he had a new project at work. He’d bounce ideas off me and I’d dutifully listen, many times feigning interest. Many nights he’d stay at work long after his colleagues had called it a day, trying to perfect his designs. The man had loved his job.
I had forgotten that.
My fears had blinded me to the reality that the man I married is nothing like the man I accuse him of being. Slamming down on the gas, I sped home to say the words I should have said when he came home lost and hurting having just lost his job,
“We’ll get through this.”

Fighting For Forever: Part IV

“What do you mean you lost your job?” she asked, her eyebrows meeting in the centre of her forehead.

“I got fired, sacked, get it?!”

“Don’t get smart with me, you know what I mean.”

“I’m sorry babe, it’s just that today has been the worst day of my life. I don’t know how to feel, what to think.”

“You still haven’t explained what happened.”

I took her by the arm and led her to the sofa. I hated having to admit to her that I’d failed and foolishly too. I knew how proud she was of me and everything I’d achieved in the 4 years we’ve been together. I opened my mouth to explain how it had happened but the weight of my shame silenced me.

“Go on Alex, talk to me. Your silence is driving me crazy!”

“I’m sorry, I just feel like such an idiot. I made a big mistake that lost the company a multi-million dollar contract. I swear I didn’t know the guy was a conman. I didn’t know!”

“Calm down Alex and start from the beginning,” she said, clasping my hands in hers, her fingers drawing comforting strokes.”

“Remember the deal I told you about? Turns out the guy I contracted to supply the marble tiles was a fraud.”

“How’s that possible? I thought you said you were using Zania? They are the largest importers of marble in Africa!”

“Yeah they are but it turns out the guy doesn’t work for them.”

“Didn’t you check him out? But you said you said he showed you round their warehouse in Matori?”

“Honey, I don’t understand it. I even went to his office in their main building on Adeola Odeku. I don’t know how the guy did it. He gave us an invoice and we paid for the tiles but they didn’t arrive on the day he said they would. When we tried to call him to find out what was going on we got no response so I sent one of my assistants to his office. I was dumbfounded when she came back and said she was told no one by that name worked there. I went there myself and met the MD, he confirmed it. I explained what had happened and he asked to see the contracts and all the paper work. Turns out they were all fake.”

“Oh my God, Alex this is huge!”

“Like that wasn’t bad enough, the client threatened us with legal action if we didn’t produce either the tiles or their money so the company had to pay back the money. It wasn’t my fault Karen, it wasn’t but the losses were too great, someone had to pay for it.”

“I’m so sorry baby, I know it wasn’t your fault.” She cradled my head against her breasts while I sobbed my heart out. Everything I’d worked for was gone in an instant. My reputation was in shreds and I was forced to pay back the $200,000 commission I had received for landing the project. No other design firm in the country would hire me, my MD had made that much clear to me.

“Don’t worry about it baby, things will work out,” she soothed, stroking my head, “you’ll get another job and things will go back to normal soon enough.”

“To be honest Karen, I don’t even know what I want to do with myself anymore. No design firm will hire me now and to be honest, I’m not sure I want them to. I need time to get my head around this and figure out what I want to do with the rest of my life. Perhaps this is God’s way of getting me to explore other options.”

“When up say you need time, how long are we talking? A couple of days? A week?”

“A month, maybe two. I don’t know babe. I just need time to get my head round this.”

Her fingers stilled against my head and looked up into her eyes questioningly.

“And how are we supposed to survive while you’re getting your head round this?”

“I know it’s not ideal but we could live on you salary till I sort something out.”

“Ah, I see. I’m supposed to go out to work, while you laze around all day right?!”

“Karen!”

“Don’t Karen me! This is how it starts. One month turns to six and before you know it it’s been sixteen years and you’re still trying to get yourself together. If you think I’m going to work my butt off while you live a life of leisure, do yourself a favour and get that fantasy out of your head.”

“Who said anything about living a life of leisure? All I said is I need a little time to figure out where to go from here, is that too much to ask? I know what my responsibilities are as a man, as your husband, and you should know better than to think I’m trying to abdicate them!”

“Story! All I know is you need to find a job and fast too. You want to take a break from your career? Joker! The next thing I know you’ll be spending your days getting drunk in front of the TV and slamming my head against walls. If you thought you’d struck it lucky, you had better think again. I am not my mother.”

“And I Karen, am not your Father.”

Fighting For Forever: Part III

As I stormed out of the house trying not to slam doors, I could scarce contain my anger.
Where does the man get off thinking he can get away with trying to feel me up when he knows I’m mad at him?!
A voice in my head tried to tell me that perhaps I was being a little harsh but I silenced it. I know I’ve been mean to him lately but there’s nothing like tough love to cure a lazy man. I’ll drop dead before I turn into my mother!
Desperate to vent I called my best friend Nneka.
“Alex needs to get his act together because I have no intention of financing his lazy ass for much longer. This is not the life I signed up for. Who wants a man that can’t look after his family?!”
“Good morning to you too.”
“Whatever Nneka, I’m serious! I’m sick of Alex’s crap!”
“Calm down Karen, you know Alex isn’t that kind of man. He is just going through a difficult patch. He’ll be back on his feet soon enough.”
“Yeah, that’s what my mother said for 20 years while my father sat on his ass getting drunk and fat off her hard work.”
“Haba! How can you say that?! Alex is nothing like your father! He will find a job soon enough, be patient with him. You’re his wife, you should be supporting him. Cut the guy some slack. He has been good to you and deserves the same from you now that he is in a difficult place.”
“And I haven’t I been good to him too? In the last six months I’ve paid every bill that needed paying, fed him and fuelled his car so he could attend the many meetings he claimed would help get him a job. I’m done doing it. If he really wanted a job he’d have found one by now. He knows people, surely it’s not that difficult?! ”
“Wow Karen, when did you become so unfeeling? And since when is finding a job in Lagos or anywhere in the world for that matter, not that difficult?”
“You know what, you’re getting on my nerves. I will speak to you later.”
I hung up without waiting for a response. I forget how annoying Nneka can be. It’s why she gets on so well with my mum, association of door mats. I can’t stand weak women. I love Alex but I’m no fool.
Karen, don’t you think you’re being too hard on the man? You know he has been trying.
I remembered how my mum would rush home from work night after night to cook dinner for a man who had done nothing but sit in front of the TV all day. One day, she came home late and he was so mad that he wasn’t served dinner at the usual time, he beat her till she ran out of the house screaming for help. I will never forget the sight of her kneeling in the driveway begging for his forgiveness, after he locked her out of the house. The house her salary paid for. It was the moment I lost all respect for her. She is a weakling but I, Karen, am made of sterner stuff.
If Alex thought he was marrying my mother’s daughter, he thought wrong.

Fighting For Forever: Part II

I remembered the first time I took Karen to see my mother. Knowing how quick mama’s tongue is, I’d briefed her on the right things to say and do. As soon as mama came into the living room, Karen fell to her knees and greeted her like a good servant would greet his master. I was impressed. When mama went into the kitchen to serve lunch, she trailed her offering to help. Not wanting to be left on my own, I followed them into the kitchen but one sharp look from mama told me I wasn’t welcome. I groaned as I realised she intended to grill Karen. Much as I wanted to protect her from mama’s interrogation, I realised it would have to happen at some point so I conceded and left them to it.
Half an hour later when they both surfaced with smiles on their faces, I breathed a sigh of relief. All through lunch Karen wouldn’t shut up about how fantastic a cook mama was and I was certain she had passed the test when she promptly cleared the table and offered to do the dishes after lunch. I couldn’t have been more shocked when mama called me later that night and gave her verdict.
“My son, leave that girl, she is not a good woman.”
“Mama! How can you say that?! You met her today, what’s not to like?!”
“I am a woman and your mother at that. I know a good wife when I see one and I am telling that she will not make you a good wife.”
“You can’t just say that,” I groaned in frustration, “help me understand how you came to that conclusion.”
“It’s in her eyes my son, she smiles a lot but the smile doesn’t reach her eyes. She is shrewd, she is not a kind person.”
“How can you know that when you’ve only just met her? I’ve been dating her for two years and she’s never yet given me reason to agree with you.”
“Call it feminine intuition but I know what I’m saying. I’m your mother, I won’t lie to you. Oju e buru gan, her eyes are wicked.”
I was furious with the old woman. The very eyes that made me feel like a million dollars when they smiled at me, how could she call them wicked?!
“Look mama, we both know how you are. You never see the good in people, always quick to criticise. Karen is the woman I have chosen to marry. If you want to convince me otherwise, you’ll have to come up with something better than this your wicked eyes theory.”
“My son, you are not a baby. Marry whoever you want to marry but know that the day I cease to tell you the truth is the day I will join your father in the grave. I cannot sit back and watch you make a mistake without saying my piece. If you want to marry her, marry her but for your sake, I hope the blackness I see in her eyes is just her pupils.”
“I’m grateful for the advice but I think I know Karen better than you do. She is a lovely girl and I have no doubt she will make me happy. You wanted me to find a wife, I’ve found one. Please be happy for me, that’s all I ask.”

Oh mama, I wish I’d listened to you!

Karen has made my life hell the last six months. Initially I told myself I deserved her anger. I’d made a mistake and though a part of me wanted her support and understanding, on some level, I felt I deserved to be punished for being so gullible. Any fool that does business with a man that wears a white suit in this Lagos deserves to be conned! But six month of hostility from my wife was more than I deserved. I’ve begged, grovelled and worked my butt off trying to find a new job. What more does she want?
I will never forget her reaction the day I broke the news to her. It was the first time I saw what my mother saw in her eyes. Blackness.

Fighting For Forever: Part I

I sat and watched as she got ready for work. My eyes liked what they saw and judging by the increased rate of my heart beat, my body did too. For the first time in months, I felt alive. Her dress nipped and tucked in all the right places, I could never get over how tiny her waist was. It was one of the first things I noticed about her the night we first met. That and the way her smile lights up her eyes. I miss that, so much! There was a time when all I had to do was walk into a room for that smile to appear. These days, my presence has the opposite effect.
I screwed up, I know I did, but show me a person that’s never made a mistake and I’ll show you God. How was I supposed to know that the client I brokered that deal for was a con man? I followed procedure, did everything by the book. That I lost my job over it doesn’t mean I did wrong. Someone had to take the fall to pacify the board and understandably, that someone was me.
“You look beautiful baby,” I said, moving to stand behind her, eyes glued to her reflection in the mirror. Lowering my head, I planted a kiss in the cleft of her neck. She tried to hide her reaction but there was no mistaking the flinch.
“Do you have a problem with me kissing you?”
“I don’t have time for this,” she growled, “Someone needs to go to work to provide for this family and seeing as you’ve refused to get off your backside, I am that someone.”
The force of her resentment left me temporarily speechless. I knew she was mad I’d lost my job but for the first time, I realised it went a lot deeper than that.
“Move out of my way Alex, I need to get to work.”
“Tell me Karen, what are you so mad about? I’ve told you what happened at work, it wasn’t my fault! Even my boss acknowledged that but his hands were tied. Why won’t my wife show some support?”
“It’s been six months, surely that’s enough time to find another job? Or do you expect me to support you forever?!”
“Is that what this is about, the fact that I haven’t got much money to add to the pot?”
“Much? Don’t you mean any? Look Alex, I’m sick of paying all the bills in this house. Like that’s not bad enough, you expect me to line your pocket too. What kind of man doesn’t know to save for a rainy day? You don’t work, you don’t spend. That’s how it will be from now on. Let’s see if a job won’t miraculously appear.”
“Tell me, who paid all the bills in this house before I lost my job? Who bought you your car? Who took you on holidays and lined your pockets when you didn’t have two pennies to rub together?”
“And is it not your duty to provide for your wife? If you want me to wear the trousers in this relationship tell me so I know where I stand. What kind of man doesn’t feel uncomfortable having his woman feed and clothe him?”
“You talk like I haven’t been frantically looking for a job. You think I like relying on you for money? You think it doesn’t break my heart when the bills come in and there’s not a damn thing I can do about paying them? Tell me, before I lost my job did I ask you for a penny? Didn’t I handle everything that needed handling in this house?”
“Then be a man and continue handling things! I really can’t do this now, I have a job to get to. For the love of god, get out of my way!”
I stepped aside and watched her pick up her handbag and walk out of my bedroom. My mother’s warnings came flooding back and I sank against the wall as the truth of her predictions hit me. I did not marry a good woman.

Before You Say I Do: Opposite Sex Friendships

Hello People!

I don’t know what’s going on with this blog so if you do, please let me know! These days I can’t be bothered to write and I don’t even have the time to. My every waking moment is accounted for so much so that sometimes I just rebel and do nothing. My mind has been temporarily taken over by all things wedding but I refuse to blog about my wedding planning process, not unless I’ve got something particularly interesting to share with you.

The other thing also on my mind these days is marriage…and you know marriage is not the same thing as a wedding right? Lol. Marriage is the equal parts terrifying and exciting bit that comes after the wedding. In the last year, I’ve read a number of books on marriage and relationships and have also attended two pre-marital courses. One at Jesus House (JH), my home church, and the other at Holy Trinity Brompton (HTB).  I’ve consumed so much literature on the topic and listened to so many lectures, I feel ready to write my own ‘Making Marriage Work’ manual. Lol.

Given the zone I’m currently in, I thought I’d share a few of the interesting and sometimes controversial topics from the courses with you.

On the HTB course, a couple gave a talk about managing your other relationships once you’re married, particularly friendships with the opposite sex. I expected that. When I started dating the gentleman the dynamics of my relationships with my male friends changed, and understandably so. During the course of the talk, they mentioned that they had decided as a couple, that they weren’t allowed to hang out one on one with members of the opposite sex. That’s when it got interesting. I have no intention of conducting clandestine liaisons with other men (not unless they are Justin Gatlin or Mark Foster) but to ban myself from going to lunch with one of the guys in my team or an old friend from Uni?

They weren’t proposing that we all adopt the same rules, they were just giving an example of some of the rules they have in place to protect their relationship. While I completely understood the reasoning behind it, I don’t know that it’s a rule I want to impose. I have no problem with the gentleman having the odd catch up with a female friend. Odd being the key word. Once a week is not odd, once every quarter or thereabouts is. Lol.

As far as managing opposite sex friendships is concerned, I think the key things are transparency, accountability and sensitivity. If you’re having that odd catch up with a female friend, tell me about it. Tell me where you’re going, when you’ll be home and make it by decent o’clock. Make the effort to introduce me to that friend and include me in some of the catch ups so I get to know her too and get comfortable with her. Invite her over. Over time, the idea is for his friends to become my friends and vice versa seeing as two are becoming one. If for any reason I’m uncomfortable with the friendship, take me seriously and curb the interactions.

What do you think? Are you okay with your man or woman having the odd coffee or lunch with a friend of the opposite sex?

xxx
Waila

The Trust Series: Stranger In My Bed

         

                Image © Nevit Dilmen 

           Today is like yesterday and yesterday, like the day before. Time is in limbo or perhaps it’s me? I can’t make sense of anything anymore. Thinking conjures memories and memories, emotions. I can’t have that, so I lie here desperately trying to murder my ability to feel.
          It’s not working.
          Is there no respite from this pain? Ten years, Kunle, ten years of selfless love and endless sacrifices and this is how you repay me? Oh God! You have allowed my enemies to mock me. What happened to preparing a table for me in the presence of my enemies? What happened to all things working together for my good? Have I not served you faithfully? Have I not done all that you require of me?

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          Meeting Kunle Kunle ten years ago was an answer to prayer. We were both Christian and determined to do things God’s way. We prayed and got people to pray with us till we were convinced we were meant for each other.
          Our wedding night was beautiful. It happened eight years ago but I remember it like it was yesterday. It was a first for us both and unlike the many stories I’d heard, wasn’t awkward. There was no confusion; we instinctively knew what to do. I felt so much closer to him afterwards and he said he felt the same way. We were eager to start a family and didn’t use any contraceptives. Kunle was thirty-two at the time and I, twenty-eight. We had our whole lives ahead of us and stayed up many nights sharing our dreams for the future.
          The dreams started to develop a mind of their own when a year into our marriage, I hadn’t conceived. Who has sex every other night, without contraception, for a whole year and doesn’t get pregnant? We were concerned and decided to get tested. We visited the best fertility clinic in Lagos, emptying our pockets for the privilege and the news was good; there was nothing wrong with either of us. His sperm count was above average and his swimmers were Olympic quality.   My eggs were healthy and gagging for a hatching. The doctor told us not to worry, it would happen soon enough.
          Two years later, it still hadn’t happened. At this point we’d been married three years and both sets of parents were getting restless. We couldn’t bring ourselves to tell them we were trying so we lied, said we weren’t ready to start a family. They didn’t believe us. What thirty-one year old woman in Lagos didn’t want a child? Desperate, we decided to get a second opinion at a fertility clinic in London. Thankfully, on the fat salaries we both earned, we could afford to. We flew 6,218miles, coughed up thousands of pounds and endured intrusive pokes and prods only to be told the same thing; there was no medical reason why we weren’t pregnant. I broke down. Had I offended God? Why wouldn’t he bless me with a child? It was Kunle who comforted me and encouraged me to trust that God would give us a child when the time was right.
          On returning to Lagos, we came clean to our parents. My mother, true to form, broke down and started wailing about how I was bringing shame to the family. My father just looked on like I hadn’t said anything. Kunle’s dad told us not to stop praying and believing it would happen but his mother smirked and muttered something about bareness being incurable. My spirit broke as a woman that once declared me the best thing to happen to her son stared at me with venom oozing from her eyes.
          I begged Kunle to consider IVF but he refused, said it was us sending a message to God that we didn’t trust him to give us a child the natural way. Sometimes I agreed with him, other times, I didn’t. Didn’t God create science and give doctors the wisdom to come up with the whole IVF thing? Be it by IVF or other means, I wanted a child. I watched my friends children enter the world, say their first words, take their first steps and celebrate birthday after birthday with a heavy heart. Kunle on the other hand refused to be depressed about it all. His faith that God would bless us eventually was so strong that on my dark days, I drew strength from it. I thanked God for blessing me with a man of faith, a man that wasn’t swayed by his mothers repeat suggestion to take a second wife. My love for him grew in exponential proportions as I watched him protect me from his mother’s razor sharp tongue and my mother’s wails of despair. In time, I was able to match his faith and together, we prayed and patiently waited for God’s time to coincide with ours.
          It’s been eight years since we got married and still we are waiting. I am now thirty-six and truth be told, have accepted the reality that I may never have children. I have suggested adoption but Kunle says we’ll consider it in a couple of years if we still haven’t gotten pregnant. What did I do to deserve such an amazing man?

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          Kunle’s job sees him clocking plenty of air miles so when he said he had to go to Abuja for the weekend, I dropped him off at the airport as usual, kissed him goodbye and told him to hurry back. He stroked my hair, said he’d be back before I knew it and disappeared into the crowd of travellers struggling to get past the police men at the entrance to the departures terminal.
          Kunle and I typically spent Friday nights at a couple’s fellowship but that night; it was the last place I wanted to be. I missed my husband and didn’t want to be surrounded by couples making gooey eyes at each other all night. Instead, I decided to grab a take-away dinner at Marco Polo and sit in front of my TV catching up on the last series of 24.
As I walked into the restaurant, I noticed a couple tucked away in a corner. The man had his back to me but something about him was familiar. The lady was stunning, super model stunning and her laughter which was what caught my attention, had a warmth to it that was endearing. Our eyes met and the startled look in her eyes had me puzzled. Had we met before? I smiled tentatively. Startle descended to panic and I wasn’t the only one who noticed. The man she was with turned around to find out what was causing her distress and it was then, life as I knew it, ended.
          Kunle, my Kunle, whom I had personally dropped at the airport less than six hours ago, was sat at the table opposite this mamiwater of a woman. I stared straight into my husband’s eyes, down at their linked hands across the table and then back up into his eyes. The guilt in his eyes said it all. I spun around and fled from the restaurant.
          I waited three days for Kunle to come home and explain himself. Three days filled with an endless flow of gut wrenching tears. When he finally showed up, it was to tell me our marriage was over. The woman from the restaurant was the mother of his two children. Two boys he said; Kunle Jnr and Kayode. I stopped breathing, I swear it, my heart stopped. Kunle had children?! The older of his sons had recently turned five and the other was two years younger, he causally informed me as he folded his clothes into suitcases.
          “I’m sorry Kemi, I know this must be a shock for you,” he said apologetically. He would allow me time to come to terms with what was happening before beginning divorce proceedings. He was a reasonable man, he was willing to split our assets 50-50. I could keep the house; he had another where his whore and children lived.
          Was I supposed to be grateful?
          I stared at this stranger I’d dedicated the last ten years of my life to, the only man I’d given myself to; mind, body, soul and spirit. My heart had a lot to say but my lips refused to cooperate. I watched in silence as my husband packed himself out of our house.
          It’s been six months and still, my lips have refused to speak.