It took me only a weekend to decide that I want to marry him. We had dated for eight months and he had proposed marriage twice within the eight-month period. Both times I told him, “Please give me some time to talk it over with my parents. For some reason, they think I’m not ready for marriage so I will need a little time to convince them that I’m ready.” He said, “At twenty-seven they think you’re not ready?” I said, “It’s not about age. You know readiness has nothing to do with age. Some are ready at twenty-two. They are early developers. Some of us take time to develop. Kindly give me some time.”
I was only buying myself some time to know him better. He was a perfect man during those months. I visited his home twice and saw how everything was in order. I told myself, “This is a man who knows how to put things in order. No wonder our relationship had been in order since we met.” Whenever I was in his house, he didn’t let me do anything. If it’s water I wanted, he would walk to the fridge, pick bottled water and hand it over to me. If I used the washroom, he will go there after I’d left and check if everything was alright.
He was so careful about his space that he didn’t want me to mess up the sanctity of his arrangement. I love his sense of orderliness but there was always something I felt wasn’t there. I tried so hard to figure it out but I couldn’t.
We were a year old when he asked my friend to talk to me about marriage. Adjoa said, “You are lucky to have a man who wants to marry you as soon as possible. How many women get this opportunity? I’ve dated Alex for four good years. He’s good and all but he has never made mention of marriage. You’re barely a year into it and he’s talking about marriage? Girl, don’t waste his time.” I said, “I’m not wasting his time. I only want to be sure.” She said, “Sure about what again Bibi? Don’t you know him enough?” I said, “I know him. I trust him. But there’s something off somewhere. I don’t know what that is but it’s there.”
She said, “That’s the voice of your hometown witches speaking. They know you’re getting something good so they are trying hard for you to see the bad in him so you lose. Don’t listen to them. I’m rooting for you. I’m shouting in the stands. Don’t make me lose my voice for nothing. Marry him. He’s the one.”
One Friday, I went to his place unannounced. He was surprised to see me. “Bibi, you didn’t tell me you were coming. Look at the time. Who would have thought you of all people would be here this time?” I said, “Then I’m here. I’m spending the weekend with you. It’s the only thing we’ve never done since we dated.” He looked at me suspiciously; “Tell me. What are you up to?” I said, “I’m not up to anything. Just trying something new with you. That’s all.” It took him a while to come to terms with my decision to spend the weekend with him. It was too sudden for him I could understand but I was happy about it.
I woke up the next morning and he was already in the kitchen preparing breakfast. I got out of bed, went straight to the kitchen to help out. Immediately he saw me he said, “No no no…you’re not wanted here. I’m in charge. Sit let me serve you.” The light in my head started glowing. I side to myself, “This is it. My question is answered. He will be a helper. No other evidence is needed.”
When I got home, I called Adjoa. I told her, “I think I’ve found what I’m looking for. You’re right. He’s the one.” She asked, “What were you looking for and what have you found?” I answered, “I didn’t know what I was looking for but spending the weekend with him brought the answer I didn’t know I was searching for. He’s a helper. That’s all I want in a man.” She said, “Then go ahead and tell him.” I said, “I’ll wait until he brings it up again.”
He asked, “So your parents. They are still not convinced that you’re ready?” I said, “Oh they are convinced now. I thought I told you.” He asked, “So we can go ahead with it?” I said, “Sure. I’m ready.”
Months before our wedding, he said something I should have probed further. I didn’t because I thought I understood him. He said, “It’s a big house I live in, and looking at my job, it becomes very hard to take care of the house in addition to my work. I’m glad I’ve finally found someone capable.” This is how I understood his statement; “I live in a big house. I needed someone to share it with so we equally share the responsibility of caring for our living space.” Not knowing his definition was different.
We got married and moved in together. Just two weeks after marriage, the cracks began to show.
I went in with the mentality to keep everything just as it was before I walked in. I walked carefully so I don’t destroy anything. If I saw an object where it wasn’t supposed to be, I blamed myself for bringing it there because I knew my husband wouldn’t. Even when I didn’t do it, I took the blame for it because my husband was too perfect to leave things lying around.
I opened my eyes one day and realized that I’ve been cleaning after him since we got married. He will walk into the hall and start undressing right at the center of the hall. Shoes here. Sox there. Shirts resting on the shoulder of the sofa. It happened every day so I had to pick them up and put them at their right places. He no longer visits the kitchen. He’ll wake up in the morning and ask me, “What are we eating?” If I say we have food in the fridge, he will go like, “I want something fresh.”
New wife. I had to impress my husband so I will leave everything I was doing, go to the kitchen and cook him something fresh. The funny thing was, I realized the change in his attitude but I continued making excuses for him; “We just got married. Maybe he wants to know if I can clean the house well.” “He doesn’t go to the kitchen again because he wants to know if his new wife can cook as he does.” “He doesn’t wash again because he wants to know if his new wife can.”
I made excuses for all the change I saw in him until one day it all came tumbling down. I said, “Ever since I’ve been here, you’ve never touched anything. I need help with the chores. I’m not asking you to do everything but at least pick one or two things you can do to help.” He said, “I get tired at work. I’m sorry but I can’t add housework to it.” I said, “You were living here alone. How did you manage?” He answered, “It’s different. Now I have you here so you don’t expect me to do all the things I was doing while I was alone.” I said, “Yes, I don’t expect you to do that. How about helping out?” He didn’t say anything. In my head, I’d won the argument.
It got worse. Every day came with different complaints of pain in his body. If it wasn’t his waist, it was his chest. Those pains only appeared when there was something to be done. I started doing what needed to be done urgently. The ones that were not urgent, I left them there. I stopped cooking fresh food as he wanted. When he complained I said, “There is laundry to be done. If you’ll accept to do it for me, I will go to the kitchen and get you fresh food.” He will say, “I can wait for a while. Finish washing and get it done for me.” I will finish washing and go to sleep. He’ll run to the room and pull me up, “Won’t you cook?” “I will when I wake up.”
His rants wouldn’t push me. His screams won’t get me off the bed. He tagged me as lazy. I accepted it. You go to work, I go to work. Why should I have another work while you rest?” One day he screamed at me, “I didn’t bring you here to come and jump over my shoulders. Be the wife I married.” I said, “I’m still your wife. Your wife needs help and you won’t give it to her?”
I continued doing what ought to be done urgently, leaving him to take care of his personal needs. When he realized I wasn’t going to fall for his rants and threats, he started coming around. I woke up one morning and he was in the kitchen cooking. I joined him. Fetching water for him and chatting with him. Soon he was done. I said, “Next time call me, I will come and fetch water for you.” He chuckled and walked away. He got the message. That I wasn’t going to be pushed around. Slowly he came around.
We are good now. When we had a child, the first thing I taught him was how to change diapers. When the baby cried and it wasn’t about breastfeeding, he was the first to get there. We’ve been married for three years now. All is not perfect but I’m happy about the progress we’ve made so far. I’m happy I didn’t bow to his demands. And I’m happy he finally came around.