The reality is staring at us in the face about complicated marital issues bedeviling many homes these days. In the ages gone by, divorce was nearly a taboo. It was like a stigma which was considered a dent on the family name and as an aberration against the conjugal institution. Beyond sexual immorality as a ground for divorce, today, the reality is that other issues like physical and verbal assaults, domestic violence, neglect, nagging, hot jealousy, bitterness, infidelity and acts of irresponsibility as well as frustrating one’s purpose or vision are recurring factors that engender increasing cases of divorce. Society and religion unknowingly are fertilizing grounds for spousal murders because when warring couples ought to have given themselves a space for peace and later reconciliation, ‘forcing’ them to live together for religious and societal correctness could lead to death of either of them. Again, sentiment about children is not helpful either. It takes a living parent to take care of children but when the parent dies prematurely in marital crisis who will then care for the children? To avoid another spousal tragedy triggered by bitterness and bottled up anger is the reason an avowed reader of this column, Mrs. Iyanuoluwa Anthony from Surulere, Lagos, sent in her story which I publish with her consent. Read on:
“Dear Sir, please permit me to vent. Recently, the elegant stallion, Onyeka Onwenu came to the open about the circumstances that led to her divorce and I saw myself clearly in her story.
“I have been married for more than 20 years. I met my husband in the university where we both graduated same year. I had always made it known that I would further my studies and I did encourage him to do same and he agreed. I probably chose him out of sheer innocence and naivety because with the benefit of hindsight, the telltale signs of the man he later became were all there ab initio. When we started our family life, I gave my husband all the support I thought was right including paying the house rent and giving him my first car while I went to work by public transport. I did that because from day one, I had always earned higher than him. I did all these in the belief that I had to submit all to him as a Christian wife and I also believed that a better future awaited us. I have always been a stern believer in delayed gratification.
“Well, time came and I went back to school and I earned three Master’s degrees in addition to my first degree. I encouraged my husband to also acquire more education because the future belongs to the educated. Of course, my husband didn’t budge. At some point, an uncle of mine even obtained a scratch card of a foremost university for him in order to go for a Master’s degree, the card expired eventually because he didn’t even bother to go to the school to apply for admission. I worked with a bank and the fact that I had those degrees facilitated my rapid promotion at work. I kept progressing and even moved across the banking industry rapidly, each time with higher remunerations.
“By this time, it had become normal for me to pay our children’s fees and pick virtually all the bills at home. I also bought a land in our names and built the house while my husband looked on. If I tell the story of the building, some details would make it appear like scenes in a fictional movie. He knows how much I earn and so the complacency became heightened. At some point, depression set in despite maintaining a stoic silence about my woes in the burdensome marriage. Then, I began to talk and nag. Well, this cast me in a bad light among my people who thought I had become arrogant because they said I was “luckier than him.” I would weep at the drop of a hat, lay awake all night (even till this moment that I’m writing). They thought I was disrespecting him because up until I began to talk, people saw us as a perfect couple.
“About two years ago, he got sacked at the small company where he had worked for 26 years without adding even a single diploma to his first degree. The company sent him packing because it had evolved and no longer needed dead woods! Now, he stays home permanently while I go to work and bring food to the table for him to eat. When his dresses get worn, I also make it a point of duty to buy new ones for him because I do not want him to bring shame to me and our children. I set him up in a business after he lost his job but he spent the capital on gambling, games and betting apps. Now, he stays at home all day loitering and eating food he does not provide. He occupies his time with television viewing all day without knowing how cable TV subscription is paid. Our children are now adults and they are angry because they see the difference between their dad and their friends’ daddies.
“Dear Sir, I have endured all these with equanimity for years and now I am tired, frustrated and infuriated. Anytime I come back home and meet him watching television, I weep. I’m foot dragging on filing for divorce partially because of certain considerations. However, I have asked myself time and again if this is how I intend to live the rest of my life. Anytime I attend wedding ceremonies, I wonder what ‘nonsense’ the couples are entering into because marriage has lost its value in my estimation. I find myself envying widows now because, at least, they are free from the woes of this over-hyped institution.
“The sadness I feel every time I come back home to see him glued to the television screen can sink a ship but he carries on as if we have a perfect relationship. I am so bitter because I know I am hurting myself. I am dying inside while the world thinks all is well with me. He is also fond of boasting to people about the schools our children attend and how the house was built whereas he added not a dime to anything, all he does is to tag along with whatever I do. I would have been happy if he has a job that enables him to function as a family man no matter how small. I would celebrate him if he does that and makes himself a good example to the children. I am not expecting to make a Dangote out of him, all I want is a man who recognises his roles and carries them out without leaving the rudder of his family to his wife alone! The financial, emotional and physical pressures are eating me up. His presence in the house does more harm to my psyche than good. At work, I’m usually cheerful and happy but returning home after close of work becomes a heartache. His siblings are aware and they keep begging and praying for me. Sometimes when I lose my cool with him, he begs me and tells me how much he appreciates my efforts.
“Aside his acute indolence and complacency, he is a man of prayer. He can fast for a whole year but is that what makes a responsible husband? Does the Bible not describe a man who does not take care of his household worse than an infidel? (1 Timothy 5:8). Does the Bible not say that he that does not work should not eat? (2 Thessalonians 3:10). Is this how we would remain until we grow old?
“I have long lost the sense of being married. I feel so single and lonely especially since we don’t even have sexual intimacy again. I think we have had sex only four times in the last four years – that is a generous one time per year! Sex is the last thing on my mind as it has paled significantly in the light of the burdens I bear. How can I get out of this? Please help me before I go real crazy. Thank you sir.”
Please respond to her story by suggesting the way forward for her as deem appropriate. Happy weekend.
• West wrote via firstname.lastname@example.org