A few weeks ago someone told me how she finished serving an elaborate meal to a couple who visited her home, only for the husband to say to the wife, “Why don’t you do these things for me?” right there in front of their hostess and her husband. Oh how she wanted to help the wife pinch his mouth. That kind of behaviour is why a wife who wanted to “do these things” for him will not do again! *insert Niger-Delta tongue-cluck here*
Who remembers the Destiny’s Child song, “Cater to You”? In that song, Beyonce and her group (that’s what it was, I’m not shading Kelly and Michelle) were singing about wanting to run bath water for man, take off his shoes, bring his slippers, prepare his favourite meal, etc.
I don’t know whether Beyonce was a feminist at the time she sang this song sha, but I’ve noticed that many Nigerian women, including those who believe in and fight for equal rights for the genders, enjoy traditionally feminine roles from time to time. Unfortunately, many are put off because you start cooking up a storm, cleaning, doing his laundry and generally “catering to him” and before you know it you’re straddling a master-slave relationship, which is not what marriage is designed to be. It may now become “by force” because instead of appreciating it, some men will likely start considering it their “right” and insisting on it.
I’m the kind of woman who derives pleasure from pampering my husband o, so I’m not even here to judge anybody. I understand it totally. This does not mean I’m unaware of the dangers that can arise simply because of the kind of person you’re married to. Moreover, I do it because I like it, not because I’m under any illusions that this is how to ensure a husband stays. I know many women – some related to me by blood – who were born with the seemingly innate ability to cater to and pamper a man, and yet their marriages crashed.
We often want to look at how other people run their marriages and then try to do the same with ours, forgetting that Peter is not Paul, and who Peter is with Prisca is not even who he is in church, neither is the Paul you see at the office the same as the Paul whose head is resting on Pamela’s lap. Different reactions are produced in a marriage relationship, and one woman can thrive where another would wilt. Most importantly, so much goes into nurturing a marriage that you don’t see as an outsider, no matter how close you think you are to a couple. This is why Njideka’s coleslaw is sweeter than yours.
If you’re married to “Lion of the Tribe of my house” or a man with “oga na master” tendencies, the truth is that you’re going to have to be a good wife, not a nice wife. Let she who has an ear hear.
On the other hand, there are husbands who wash their wives’ underwear and see nothing wrong with it. Some husbands are at home scrubbing back of pot right now, and they may never tell you, because it’s their business. People are different, and every marriage is unique. You’re better off knowing yourself, studying the person you’re with, and doing what is best for your marriage, not what suits one partner. A marriage is meant to meet the needs of BOTH partners.
Am I saying you shouldn’t honour your husband? No. I am saying, zeal without knowledge will land you in a mess. Urhobo people say, and I translate, “na sense dem dey take paddle canoe”. There are general guidelines when it comes to marriage, but there are no hard and fast rules. Find what works for your marriage and do it. As long as you have freedom of choice, you can decide on what you want to do, how you want to do it, when to do it, and when to refrain from doing it. Make your marriage your own and not a copy of anyone else’s. And remember to paddle your canoe with sense.