A few days before I got married, my Uncle drew me aside and dropped some ‘jewels’ for peaceful and harmonious marital co-existence with my chosen: “Diokpa, marriage is a very important stage in the life of a man, so listen very carefully to what I am about to tell you. Put off that ya handset…”
First of all, let me give you a bit of background about my said Uncle. He is a very burly and gruff traditional-minded man – someone who would not look out of place on the set of a Things Fall Apart production. He had the girth of a palm-wine tapper, the short temper of a buka (local diner) madame and the sharp tongue of tsetse fly. Here was a man who, though he had lived in Lagos since before the FESTAC festivities in the late 70s, had never missed his weekly township meeting in Lagos come rain or sunshine; one who treated technology with contempt (he never sent a text or an email; and spoke with a loud “Okonkwo” like baritone voice on the phone) answering mobile phone calls with an inquisitive “Are you from where” and always travelled to the East for Christmas and New Year celebrations without fail (yes, even during the height of the kidnapping madness). Despite the fact that his water heater dispensed hot water from the faucets, he still made his wife boil water on the stove for his bath every day. Now you get the picture of who I was dealing with.
Now such character of a man was about to school me on how to conduct my relationship and affairs with my beloved, and I had no choice but to listen, as he had cornered me when I went to drop the wine and wedding invitation at his house, as is the custom.
I made a mental note to sieve those bits of advice which made sense from the ones which were “immoral, repugnant and contrary to good conscience” Just like Abakiliki rice from stones.
Permit me to use his exact words as the headings below:
Never allow your wife see you cry
Not even when you are bereaved. Remember that song from the 80s – Silent Morning/ They say a man is not supposed to cry/
In my uncle’s words, “enter your chambers and sob quietly, away from your wife.” In other words, hide your tears from the woman who sees you naked every day, and has to put up with your morning breath and your nasty habit of leaving skids marks in the commode.
So Nigerian men should cry in public – we hold our tears even if it makes us bed wet later. The rationale for this gem is that – if you cried, what was your wife supposed to do herself about the situation? I would have thought this rule was old-fashioned and obsolete as the current affairs and socio-political climate in this land of ours should be enough to make everyone cry. Apparently we live in a country where most people are still uncomfortable to see men shed tears publicly.
I was at a wedding two years ago where the groom broke into an emotional sob during the vow-taking ceremony. He was so overcome with tears that he even deviated slightly from the bishop’s lines. It was like the scene from The Best Man where Morris Chestnut weept while saying his vows.
“Pascaline, sobs*, my head, my love, my pretty damsel, isi m, my heart, sobs*, I take you as my lovely wedded wife of life…..I love you so much my darling…sobs…no man can curse this union….sobs”
The congregation in the church looked slightly embarrassed as they watched. Even the best man handed the groom a Kleenex as he cajoled him “Ol’ boy cool down na, e don do” (Dude, get a grip on yourself – you are weirding everybody out right now).
The bride’s father looked at his watch as he shuffled his feet uneasily. Even the bride looked a tad bit embarrassed for the groom. Like please this man, leave that thing, and hurry up and put this ring on my finger, before something happens. The bishop had not yet asked if there was anyone in the audience who opposed the matrimony.
This rule is unfair and archaic as I cry during epic films, so I discarded it like Nigerian maintenance culture.
Always win your wife in bed whenever you “meet” her
I can rock with this one, though I don’t really like how he uses the word “meet” whenever he is referring to act of sexing. You don’t actually have to physically “meet” your better half to have sex with her. Technologies like Skype, Face-time, Snap Chat and the mobile phone itself have changed everything – but I dare not mention this to Uncle.
The literal interpretation of this tip (no pun intended) is that you should always finish last, but not carry last when you have intercourse with your spouse. In other words, satisfy your wife as it is an Igbo man’s due. This is actually a surprising piece of advice coming from a local champion like my Uncle of whose likes you would expect to get his pleasure and leave his wife hanging for more like PDP. Ego can be a superb fuel, sha. The male ego is more powerful than the most potent dogonyaro (aphrodisiac/ native Viagra).
Real men take charge of the home
Let your wife know who is who, and what is what. If you are a scary cat who can never take responsibility in any tough situation, then don’t get married – you don’t deserve the sex on tap, if you are not able to tap into your inner manhood to resolve issues. When you put that ring on your wife’s finger, you swore an oath of eternal allegiance stronger than any bond a university confra (confraternity/ frat/ cult / cabal) can muster. For better for worse, for marriage or manage.
If armed robbers invade your crib and pound furiously on your front gate shouting the threat “Oya, open this door now before I blow it open with my shakabula (cannon/ Awka-made rifle / howitzer), we are on operation in your area!!!”. Guess what? It is your obligation to hide your wife somewhere safe, and then approach the gate to meet them with your torchlight and Bible. Don’t forget your sack of valuables.
If you are angry with your wife, punish her by not eating her food
In other words, after a fight with Mrs. You, if you are not man enough to control your anger and still fuel your stomach, when your wife places a plate of ofe owerri (spinach casserole) and akpu (starch mash) in front of you… slide it back at her. Turn down her food. Turn down for what?
This rule I could sit on the fence for. I have never been known to turn down a good free meal. I was one of those kids who would always tug the waiter’s shirt at the birthday party while developing a stiff neck and blind eye to my mother’s daggers from across the room “Aunty I haven’t eaten o.”
There are some wives who will not indulge your craze if you did that. Refuse to eat the correct orishirishi (a la carte) she had taken pains to steam up for you, and she would just say “no problem”. And you know what happens when a woman says “no problem”. Wahala dey.
But really what do ladies recommend men do if we are upset? Driving off doesn’t always work if there is fuel scarcity or if it is late at night in Lagos – you may just find yourself driving into the arms of men of the night – bloodthirsty armed robbers, or 100 naira bribe-wanting trigger happy olopas (coppers/ sheriffs/ law enforcement agents). Besides you cannot have make-up sex if you happen to get your head blown off by these evil forces.
So do you stick or twist. Best to master what Bruce Lee called “the art of fighting without fighting.” It is the antithesis of female emotional blackmail. I will be translating it from Mandarin into Mbano Igbo quite soon. Buy my memoirs when it is up for sale.
Mind over muscle usually works. Except when it is counter-productive to certain muscles when you overthink it. Real fellas know what I am talking about.
Never let your mother into your wife’s kitchen as that is your wife’s office area
Please people – what is it about the combination of mother-in-law, wife and kitchen that ignites sensibilities and causes mayhem in a homestead. Apparently the husband’s mum should never operate or go into the wife’s kitchen unless the wife pre-approves it. Not even for a sachet of pure water. That is mean. Apparently, blood (wife) and water (mother-in-law) don’t mix like Pastors and Boko Haram, or Chika Ike’s publicist and a phone without a camera.
I don’t know who comes up with these things sef – wife’s kitchen, matrimonial bed, marital home. Are they that sacred? I prefer marital concepts like daddy’s couch, watching soccer day, sex night, breakfast in bed, zero bill month, ofada rice Sunday.
My Uncle had a smug smile as he finished his rant. I had managed to stay half-awake like those delegates at the National Pre Confab Conference which held in Abuja early these year. His last sentence was “Follow these rules, and you will have my kind of marriage.”
What would you advise a male friend or protege of yours who was about to jump the broom?
“Mummy bye-bye, Daddy bye-bye/
In 9 months’ time, we shall come visiting… with a boy and girl/
Flavour, Ada Ada (2012)
Photo Credit: Dreamstime | Orangeline