On our first day at counseling, the pastor asked us, “You two believe that you know each other so well that you want to marry?” He said, “Yes, I believe so. We’ve dated for one and half years. That’s long enough to know someone.” When it got to my turn, I said, “Yes I know him. He’s been a friend and a boyfriend. Through it all, he’s been a man I can trust.” The pastor nodded. He said, “You don’t know a person until you live under the same roof with them. Keep this in mind so you don’t get shocked along the way.”
What I said in my head was, “People grow. It’s automatic that we’ll change somehow but I don’t think a man I’ve known for this long can change so completely that I wouldn’t recognize him.”
Months ago, I remembered the pastor’s words for the first time in five years. I told myself, “You’re right, pastor. I don’t know this man. I don’t think I ever knew him. The image he sold me was a facade—a mask on top of the real person he was.” I wish I could go back and make changes. I wish I would sit in front of y pastor again for him to ask the same question so I can give the right answer. “I don’t know him.”
Weeks after our wedding, he made a statement I didn’t think deeply about. He said, “We are going to be stringent with our resources so we don’t misuse what we have.” It sounded good. After all, we didn’t have so much so we had no point in throwing the little we have away. I told him, “That’s alright. We need a plan for our finances. We need to know what goes out and how much comes in. That way, we can have control over our money.” Not knowing his definition for “stringent” was different from my definition.
It started from housekeeping money. He said, “Bring a receipt for everything you buy.” I asked, “Receipt from the market?” He said, “Not the petty ones but the major ones.” I went to the market on several occasions without bringing in any receipt. One day he said, “We are going to the market together. You need help.” It wasn’t help he was offering me. He was there with me to monitor things for himself. You know these market women, they see you with your husband and all of a sudden they want to add extra to the things you buy. That day, they were all kind. Some called us beautiful. They said, “That’s what all loving husbands should do. You’re a good man.” They sang praises for him but they didn’t know the real intention.
He won’t buy anything for me but whenever he sees anything new on me, he’ll ask, “When did you buy this? How come I’m not aware? You’re overspending our money right?” Even common dross, this man had a reason to question it.
A year and a half after marriage we gave birth to twins—adorable set of twins. A boy and a girl. I must admit, things became a little tough but it wasn’t too tough for him to do the things that he did. One month or so after I gave birth, I went into my bag looking for the clothes he bought for me during our marriage ceremony. I didn’t see any of them. I called him, “Dear, my clothes. Did you put them somewhere else?” He asked, “What cloth?” I said, “The ones you bought as part of my dowry.” He said, “Oh those ones? I thought you didn’t like them.” I asked, “Why? Did I say anything to that effect?” He said, “But all these years they were still in the wrappers, untouched. So I thought you didn’t like them.:” I asked, “So where are they?” He said, “I’ve sold them.”
I screamed, ”What? you sold something you bought for me? How could you? Why didn’t you inform me?” He said, “Why should I ask permission before taking something I bought with my own money?” I was shocked. Angry. Perturbed. I wanted to hit something or destroy something. I told him, “You married me with those things. You’ve sold them so where’s the marriage?” I’m giving you one month, I want to see those things in my bag.” He said, “I’ve sold them. Do your worse.” He didn’t buy it.
To forgive is to remain married so I forgave him. But then I stopped contributing money into our joint account. Anytime he asked me I told him, “I’m using the money to buy back what you sold.” Because of that, he also stopped contributing money to the account. That was the death of that account.
When we had to buy baby’s cot he said, “I’m buying one so you too buy one.” When we had to buy dresses for the kids, he said, “I’m buying for one. You too buy for one.” Everything was split through the middle. The kids struggled to sleep at night so it wasn’t feasible to keep them in the cot. They slept with us every day so the cot became a place where we kept their food. Our twins were a year and a half when I returned home one day to meet a room without the cots. I said, “What happened to the cot? He said, “They were occupying space for nothing so I sold them. “Why do you take pleasure in selling personal effects? And why do you do that without consulting me? He said, “I’m the man of the house. I take the decision, you follow.”
I said, “I bought one of them so why didn’t you leave that one?” He said, “If it’s for my wife, then it’s for me. You can’t ask that question.” His words did nothing but make the pain worse. I told him, “This should be your last time. If you sell anything that’s mine, we have a big house but we won’t fit in here.” I was tired and frustrated. A man I married who doesn’t give me anything yet sells the things I’ve bought.
Recently, what has come over him is that before he gives me housekeeping money on weekends, he’ll go to the kitchen and check every food item there, do the maths and do deductions. Instead of say GH100, he’ll give me GHc80 and tell me, “We still have food. Just buy what we don’t have. If something remains after buying everything, don’t forget to return it.”
We’ve been married for five years but I’m already tired. What I’m in doesn’t look like marriage. It looks like a battlefield where the commander is seated on a throne and shouting orders 24/7. I’ve reported his attitude to his parents. They’ve called him on several occasions but each time he comes back, he comes back with a worse character. The pastor who counseled us had been transferred so recently, I went to the new one and told him my worries. He called both of us and asked us to start one-week counseling.
He was angry about the situation. He screamed at me; “How dare you hang our dirty linen in the public? Who raise you? Who taught you that it’s alright to do such a thing?” Long and short of it all, he had stopped going to church because of that.”
Last year, I was adjudged the best worker in the organization that I work. They gave me money and a two-decker fridge. The fridge has been in the room since December. I was thinking of sending it to my parents this Christmas. I came from work early one afternoon and there were two guys in our hall inspecting the fridge. Immediately he saw me, he called them aside, told them something and they left. I asked him, “Who are they and why were they hovering around the fridge?” He said, “It’s nothing. They are friends I recently met.” I told him, “If you dare sell this fridge, I swear I will show you a side you’ve never seen.”
I know I wouldn’t do anything if he sells it so one Saturday morning, I hired a car and sent the fridge to my parents. He doesn’t talk to me now because of what I did. Is there any hope in this marriage? I fast for him while he goes around eating his favorite food. I pray for him while he lay sleeping but wakes up and do worse things. If you were in my shoes, what will you do to turn things around? I’m already tired.