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Onyinyechi Nwanna-Iwuoha: My Daughter, You Talk Too Much…

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I’ve heard this statement time and time again. A mother talking to her daughter; an aunt; grandmother; sister; even friends. In one form or the other, women, from time immemorial, have been told and taught to be silent.

“A woman must be seen not heard”; “Why must you tell her what your husband did to you or bought for you?”; “Keep it to yourself. If you must tell someone, then talk to God in prayer.” 

But what if I want to talk to someone? What if I believe that a problem shared is half-solved? How do I balance sharing my problems with a trusted friend and not revealing too much?

In our culture, when a woman is getting married, she and her husband are told never to let a third party know what goes on their household. I heard it; I’m sure quite a number of you did as well. Although the advent of social media has watered down this rule, it still holds true in most homes.

Hence my question, how do you, as a woman, share your problems with a friend/family without breaking this rule? I’m not talking about only when your husband abuses you. How about when you have a disagreement with your husband? He says something or does something that hurts you. Do you keep silent? Or do you talk to someone about it?

I have a friend who is what I call a “sharer“. She’s smart, funny, beautiful and opinionated. Before she got married, whenever she had any issue with anybody, she would always tell us, her close friends. Not only to get our opinion but we also act as her sounding board. She believes that in discussing a problem, it becomes clearer and she’ll be able to know whether or not she goofed.

Now, she’s married to a man who is taciturn. She has tried discussing issues, both work-related and family, and all she gets is a mumble here and a grunt there. The man is generally unresponsive. So, whenever they have problems, she discusses it with her mum. In her mind, she’s not reporting her husband. She’s just “discussing” the issue with her mum so that she can better understand how to deal with these sort of issues whenever they crop up.

Her husband got wind of it and warned her never to do so. So, she resorted to talking to herself and praying.

Whenever we hung out, you could see that she wanted to say something but was having difficulties saying it. It was as if she would choke if she said what was bothering her. As a result, she became withdrawn and depressed. Till we staged an intervention.

We ganged up on her during lunch break and pestered her till she blurted “I’m going crazy!!!” With tears in her eyes she explained that she can’t talk to her husband and she couldn’t also talk to her mum as her husband had told her not to do so.

So, she asked, “How am I supposed to know how to deal with these kind of issues if I don’t discuss it with someone who has been there? When I want to say something, I’m told talk to your husband and talk to God. Well, my husband doesn’t say anything and I can’t hear God. I deal better when I’m able to analyse my problems with someone. What do I do?”

Frankly, I don’t know.

Since there is this “don’t tell anyone outside of your husband” rule, what do you do when faced with this kind of problem?

I am totally against this gag on women. I believe that men discuss their problems with their friends, probably over a bottle of beer. So, why is it different when a woman discusses her problems with her friends?

Someone said maybe it’s because we women, in the innermost part of our heart, hate each other. That’s why we won’t keep quiet when we hear that another woman is having marital problems. Even if it’s a close friend/family.

I disagree. I believe that there is a way to strike a balance, there has to be. We can’t keep quiet and be dying. This is not to say you should run around town talking (I think I just contradicted myself.)

Maybe, you should stick to telling a trusted friend, or a sister. I don’t know in fact. You tell me. What is the best way to talk to someone about your problems without breaking the rule?

Photo Credit: Hongqi Zhang (aka Michael Zhang) | Dreamstime.com

Hi, I’m Onyinyechi, a corporate lawyer by day and a budding blogger by night. Outside of law and blogging, I love reading and daydreaming. My blog www.onyixtus.com is a lifestyle blog – light-hearted and entertaining. We talk about everything from lifestyle to practically anything that makes up life as we know it.

25 Comments

  1. Weezy

    January 31, 2017 at 10:41 pm

    I like the way you think.

  2. ButtercuP

    January 31, 2017 at 10:55 pm

    Why marry someone you can’t talk to?

    • Linda

      January 31, 2017 at 11:05 pm

      Because of the pressure to marry and the obsession with it (it’s all Nigerians talk about, even on this blog), Nigerians will keep marrying the wrong people, for all the wrong reasons. The same blog that I’ve seen many times, women were told not to confront their adulterous or homosexual husbands. It’s sad, really. But I think the culture of silence is dying slowly. Which is good and healthy

    • Iya ibeji

      February 1, 2017 at 12:58 pm

      Excuses, excuses. Anyone who marries because of pressure shouldn’t be married in the first place.

    • Gina

      February 1, 2017 at 3:59 pm

      Or maybe the person used to be a good and open talker and suddenly changed to a moody introvert with no explanation and no intention to change?

      Yes, it happens. It really does.

  3. ketchy

    January 31, 2017 at 10:57 pm

    Wisdom my dear, speak in parables. That way you are getting responses that will help.

  4. Nahum

    January 31, 2017 at 11:10 pm

    Women should never censor themselves. Men discuss their marriages in full details not just with their friends, but even with their side chicks. Women need to start making better choices when it come to friendships and not be afraid to share. I share my marriage issues with my bosom buddy and I don’t regret it.

    • Dee

      February 1, 2017 at 8:01 am

      I found out my husband was discussing EVERYTHING (including SEX!!) with his sister and sometimes his mum. I was shocked because he keeps making me feel like one who discusses our issues with 3rd party. E.g He planned to relocate to Europe with 2 kids and a pregnant wife without any concrete plan for survival.

      All attempt to discuss “his” plan FAILED, because he is head of the house. Of course I told my mama,uncle, trusted friends, his supposed reasonable uncle and anyone I felt could talk some sense into his head….and yea, I did not move an inch biko. Europe ko.

  5. tunmi

    January 31, 2017 at 11:39 pm

    That must be awful. Poor thing. I’m with @Nahum,cultivate and develop your friendships, both with your friends and your partner.

  6. A.M

    February 1, 2017 at 12:41 am

    Someone pls answer me I beg you. How do I send in a story to the aunty bella column?

    • A Real Nigerian

      February 1, 2017 at 1:35 am

      bella(at)bellanaija(dot)com
      features(at)bellanaija(dot)com

      One of those I think.

  7. Red

    February 1, 2017 at 4:33 am

    Biko, BN, in unrelated news, did you notice that Ndanitv quietly deleted traces of the GidiUp Season 3 trailer from YouTube! Any idea Why???

  8. Counsellor

    February 1, 2017 at 7:46 am

    You can talk to a Counsellor/Therapist. Good thing is you talk to them in confidence, there’s a fiduciary duty not to breach that confidence. No one deserves to burn on the inside just like that.

    • Fisayo

      February 1, 2017 at 4:01 pm

      Good thing is you can talk to them in confidence.

      Not so good thing is that they cost money.

  9. DAME

    February 1, 2017 at 8:23 am

    I support having a support system you can always share problems with but i think the real wisdom is knowing the kind of issues that are off limit. Fo example if your husband is having an erectile problem. You cannot talk to the whole world without first talking to your husband or at least a doctor.
    Above all…wisdom is profitable to direct

  10. Jay

    February 1, 2017 at 8:53 am

    Talk to a therapist…they are paid to listen to you regardless of how whiny you may sound. It’s unfortunate however, that in these parts, when you speak/suggest a therapist to a friend, they immediately think that one has problems…well let’s face it, if you were absolutely satisfied with your partner, you would have nothing to moan about.

    On a lighter note though, most times I think friends or family may sometimes be judgmental when it comes to relationship/family talk, immediately blaming the wife for bringing out the worst in her husband.

    Therapists however, are unbiased and often offer you great advice to keep your relationship going.

    Alternatively, you could speak to your marriage sponsor. People have marriage sponsors for a reason, to serve as a guide to you when you feel low in your marriage or your heart is not in a good place. In choosing one, I think one should look out for qualities you like about the couple such as long time together, respect for each other, elderly, non-judgmental and most importantly being free to express yourself around the couple and willing to accept great advice.

    I rest my case.

    • Dee

      February 1, 2017 at 10:29 am

      Our marriage sponsor is his uncle. Guess what he once said? That my husband is the one that will decide the direction of our home! Other times when I complain about his cray cray moves, he giggles and laughs making me look all shades of stupid! But if it were to be his nieces complaining about their husbands eh…..dude will fly all the way to London to call the man to order.
      P.S are there good Christian therapists in Nigeria? Those who can give balanced counsel and not just tell me to go read and practice Ephesians 21?

    • F

      February 2, 2017 at 4:48 pm

      Please try BTH . Dr Chiadi Ndu http://www.bththerapy.com/

  11. teeteeOye

    February 1, 2017 at 9:54 am

    UP Onyinyechi

  12. Iya ibeji

    February 1, 2017 at 1:02 pm

    I think talking to a neutral person like a therapist is the best. Friends, family members will always pick a side make objectivity almost impossible

  13. mz_danielz

    February 1, 2017 at 1:04 pm

    I will break up with a guy if he discusses my relationship with anyone outside of his family.

    I have never understood people’s need to discuss things with ‘friends’. Parents and siblings, fine but all these ‘friends’ mba oh except they have known you a long time.

    It’s not just marriage, it’s everything with me. You can be telling me you plan to resign and I’ll just be listening even if I have my resignation letter with me, I won’t tell you. Same with buying a car, traveling, etc. If I tell one person outside my family, then I can tell the world.

    People have called me shady, political, manipulative etc. because of this but I just believe you have to cross a threshold before I tell you stuff and really only family and friends that have become family truly care. And we can always talk to God and keep a journal right?

    I hear people say their friends betrayed them by exposing their secrets and all I’m thinking is ‘why did you tell them, are you fighting with your family?’

    • Fisayo

      February 1, 2017 at 4:04 pm

      “You can be telling me you plan to resign and I’ll just be listening even if I have my resignation letter with me, I won’t tell you.”

      I don’t like your type. I find you spooky. But you’re okay with that, so…carry go…

    • Baby Baby!

      February 1, 2017 at 4:14 pm

      Family betrays too!! Because you are fortunate to come from a good family doesn’t mean everyone is and because you have not had the blessings of having a human being who has no blood or family ties to you love you unconditionally and call you friend does not mean everyone is in the same shoes. I have a list of Friends I discuss things with, The only thing is that I don’t ask for advise from them. I just discuss what I am experiencing so that they can take note and not make the same mistake, same thing they do for me. The only family I talk to is my mum and I even have boundaries around what I can say and can’t discuss with her.

  14. ogeAdiro

    February 1, 2017 at 4:52 pm

    It’s a personality/cultural thing. Some people like to share while some people don’t. The ones that annoy me are the people who never want to share their experiences but they always want to know your own. I get distracted very easily so I generally share on a need to know basis. If you’re my family/friend and I think that sharing will benefit me, you, or us then I have an obligation to share. Sharing has a lot of upsides. If I’m afraid of sharing something important with my friend then that friendship will be reevaluated.

  15. Boo!

    February 2, 2017 at 5:49 pm

    It depends on whom you’re married to and we should also understand that marriage isn’t a one size fits all.
    In my case, 3rd party ruined a lot for me.
    My mum attends Anglican Church and she’s not very spiritual like that (so I thought), so when hubby and I went through that crazy 6months/1yr tumultuous period, I never told her. I told my mother in law and sister in law. Mother in law attends Deeper Life and she’s in the marriage department so I thought she’d know better.
    Worst mistake ever. I learnt the hard way.
    Even hubby had to ask why I went to her, that I could have spoken to my mum instead.
    But I have a best friend (lady) and we’re each other’s sounding board, sometimes, you just need to bounce an issue off someone else and get their perspective not like you need an advice per se. Like someone to just whine to. Lol

    Do you have a trusted friend? And you both sound off each other every time? Maybe that should be your 3rd party. Even at that, like someone said, you won’t tell that person about your hubby having sexual issues would you?
    Family members (yours or his) hardly make good third parties.
    But don’t go crazy bottling things up and trying to fence off people that might be able to help you.

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