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Onyinyechi Nwanna-Iwuoha: Much Ado About The ‘Matrimonial Bed’

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So, a fortnight ago, I was watching a movie on Africa Magic Igbo (it’s my favourite pastime), and as usual the wife and her mother in-law were fighting over the couple’s childlessness. As the poor husband was trying to settle issues, the wife turned to him and said (in Igbo), “My anger is not that you brought her (mother in-law) from the village without telling me. I’m angry because you not only gave her my food, but you allowed her to sleep on our matrimonial bed?! How could you? We have so many rooms in this house, but you chose our matrimonial bed for her to sleep on.”

Maybe it’s just me but I found it totally ridiculous!

Funny enough, this lady in the movie is not alone. I’ve seen and heard so many stories about this “matrimonial bed” issue that you begin to wonder if we are not elevating it to a god of some sort. I even had to ask some of my friends what their views were on this subject and suffice it to say that I was amused by their response.

A lot of them said that nobody, apart from them, their spouse and their kids, would be allowed to sleep or even sit on the bed. When I asked why, all I got was “Onyinye, what are you saying? Which kind of question is that? It is my MATRIMONIAL BED! Just for me and my husband”. Wawu!

In writing this post, I suddenly realized that so many of us, subconsciously, have this “respect” for the matrimonial bed. I remember when we were little, my siblings and I would dare not enter our parents’ room without permission talk less of lying on their bed. If you sit or lie on the bed, you must make sure that the sheets are as straight as you met it. No smudges or wrinkle! And a lot of people have said same.

To show how silly this issue is, a friend of mine said that if she goes to someone’s house and the only space available for sitting or sleeping is the matrimonial bed, she’ll choose to sleep on the floor. Even if it’s a face-me-I-face-you apartment. Lol! When I asked her why, she narrated how her mum and her elder sister finished her with abuse all because she slept on her sister’s matrimonial bed.

She said they were having a huge family party at her sister’s place. Her sister and her husband were kind enough to host the annual party. However, due to the large turn-out (all her cousins, family friends, uncles, aunts, you name it, came for the party), they had problems finding where to sleep.

Her sister and her husband were in the living room with her parents, aunts and uncles having the normal long boring family discussion, so she decided to sleep in her sister’s room cos that was the only room available.

Maybe because she didn’t ask first before sleeping there, she said that not only did her mum wake her up with a slap, her sister had only harsh words for her and it took the intervention of her dad and her sister’s husband before the matter was settled. Her sister didn’t talk to her for days. She said she received the insult of her life, with some nosy aunts pouring fuel inside fire.

I know this sounds really extreme. I had a hard time believing her. I mean, is it possible for you get dragged by family members all because you went to sleep in your sister’s bed?

Yes, the Bible talks about keeping the marriage bed pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral. But my question is, why can’t someone outside of the couple and kids sleep on the matrimonial bed? Why is it such a huge deal for us? Is there more to it than a piece of wood supporting a mattress? Or is it just a Nigerian thing?

I personally don’t think that when the Bible says keep the marriage bed pure, it means that the only people that can use the bed are the husband and wife. Or does it?

I would really love to understand where we got this concept of “it’s my matrimonial bed, so don’t you dare sleep on it!”

Photo Credit: Photographerlondon | 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.

29 Comments

  1. A.J

    February 7, 2017 at 4:03 pm

    Hmmmmm, that your friend’s story na wa oh, did they have to put her through all that? Anyways I’m married and there was this time my sister and a friend came visiting and hubby left the room for us to sleep in the living room cause he (hubby) had a guest (male) in the other room and didn’t want to share the room with his guest. I didn’t see anything wrong with that, it was for one night, not forever and this has happened more than once. Now when the Bible talks about “keeping the marriage bed pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral.”, I do not think it was referring to an actual bed (vitafoam, lol) so please they should chill abeg…………….*my two cents*

    1
  2. Olayemi

    February 7, 2017 at 4:07 pm

    When you get married, bring your villagers to come and be sleeping on your matrimonial bed.

    I feel this article is just written to get comments. Take the comments, it makes a writer happy. Smh

  3. PEN

    February 7, 2017 at 4:08 pm

    Eagerly waiting for the comments on the issue. I am not Nigerian, albeit African, but the “matrimonial bed” is also “sacred” in my culture.

  4. Ankara

    February 7, 2017 at 4:09 pm

    For me keeping this bed pure is not having to commit adultery on it. This bed stands like a symbol of the instimate bond you share with your spouse. And God always blesses the matrimonial bed. Others can sleep on or sit on but not beyond that.

  5. Chu

    February 7, 2017 at 4:11 pm

    My husband has left the room for my friend when she came, cos my mum was in the guest room. And also for some of his family members when we were hosting a party. He does not see it as a big deal, so I roll with the flow.
    I on the other hand refused to let my friend’s hubby leave their room for me when I went visiting, I stayed in the parlour. So I guess it depends on the couple.

  6. Mama Saffron

    February 7, 2017 at 4:15 pm

    It’s only such things that Africans or should i say Nigerian’s take seriously, that amuses the heck out of me. Issues that concern the nation, health, power, politics, governance and all that jazz don’t get our gore going, but when it gets to marriage and its attending idiosyncrasies, the pitch forks start coming out. Thankful to have had very enlightened parents and family who placed emphasis on what really matters in marriage and not physical objects. Same way people put coals on their heads about wearing wedding rings. Many men and women cheat, have rings on, so a physical reminder of his/her marital status is not keeping him/her faithful, what does that say about physical objects?

    It also makes me reel with laughter when i read or hear the word “home” used in the context of dysfunctional marriages. Keep your home, don’t leave your home, yadi yadi yada. Bikonu, you no longer have a home when your husband is cheating with everything in skirt including your neighbour’s maid, or if there’s abuse, violence, abuse and deep seated unhappiness. The harmony and unity, love, respect, sanctuary, teamwork, faith, hope, joy, memories and as many adjectives you should use to describe a home in the real sense, in many cases are absent, but the word “home” has been used as prison bars for so many women, when ordinarily if seen as it should be, women won’t feel so trapped or scorned or guilt-ed about leaving their “home”, or not being able to keep a “home”, neither would they be celebrated for living in hell because they kept their “home. When the “home” ceased to exist a long time ago, but rather it’s now a four walled house with people residing in it that probably shouldn’t have. A happily single man or woman or single parent or divorced person can have as much a home as a married couple. Marriage doesn’t have the monopoly of “home”. You can create a home outside your marriage, if you are happy and your children are out of a toxic environment.

    The term “home” in the nigerian context of a married couple needs to be re-understood, same with the “matrimonial bed”. It’s a cultural construct that has been giving idol status. So, when you move house, your matrimonial bed what happens to it? Or when you change mattresses, or go on holiday, or you are in a hotel, or spending the weekend with your in-laws, or family or friends. See why the importance placed on the actual bed itself is a mirage? In my opinion, the matrimonial bed, like home can be wherever a couple are together in harmony, love, mutual respect, dedication, devotion and fidelity. Where you can settle your problems privately, pray together (if they are people of faith) and be a united front. Not the actual bed or actual room. If the room where you both sleep is full of strife, anger, resentment, worrying, crying, fighting, disharmony, infidelity, discord, disrespect, that bed is no longer “matrimonial”, just a physical bed y’all sleep in every night. If your husband or wife is giving their body to every sola, tolu, Chris, Dele and janet and coming “home”, or should i say coming to a house where he or she resides and sleeps on the same bed as you. Sisters and Brothers, that bed is as matrimonial as Trump appointing Michelle Obama as Secretary of state.

    • Nakoms

      February 7, 2017 at 5:09 pm

      So much wisdom here. How can I like this a million times?

  7. Gtyh

    February 7, 2017 at 4:15 pm

    Abeg, a bed is a bed.. while there should be a reasonable level of exclusivity to it( just like my personal bed when I was single), there’s nothing that says my brother or sister cannot sleep in my matrimonial bed if they come visiting. As long as the spouse does not mind , it’s all good.
    Defilement of the marriage bed in the biblical context refers to adultery. QED ..

  8. I love my husband

    February 7, 2017 at 4:20 pm

    I think its just common plain unnecessary….why do you have to sleep on the couples bed, sleep on another bed or better still visit and leave the same day. Personally, I wouldn’t want anyone sleeping on our bed because I think my bedroom is just private, sometimes I have used condom packets on the floor, I have underwears flying around n hubbys also…and sometimes the place is just extrememly neat and tidy, so I really wouldn’t want an external person get in there and sleep. My kids come in and go in anytime except if we are on Jerusalem mountain..lol. SO I see some sense in people who do not want others sleeping on their matrimonial beds..however, its a matter of choice, if you are comfortable with your mum or dad or mum-inlaw sleeping on your bed and your spouse is also comfortable, go ahead. My mum would rather not even suggest such, my mum is very cultured and proper, she believes when you are married, you need some sort of privacy. When she visits, she wlll knock if she needs to enter our room or request for something except the door is wide open. I really don’t see why a mum in law wants to sleep on the matrimonial bed actually, so where will the wife sleep. If the apartment is too small, she should just visit and go or they buy a separate mattress and throw on the floor. I would link the scripture of a man leaving and cleaving to his wife, the man should leave not just physically but also leave all those unnecessary attachments

  9. Newme

    February 7, 2017 at 4:22 pm

    I take it all these people condemning the girl who slept on her sister’s bed have never slept in hotels and never will. Much ado about nothing. I agree with AJ above that bible verse does not refer to an actual bed or mattress but rather the act between husband and wife do not defile it with adultery. If you like come and have sleepover on my matrimonial bed I could care less

  10. jess

    February 7, 2017 at 4:23 pm

    Personally, i see no big deal in having someone else other than my husband and I , sleep in our “matrimonial bed”. However there are exceptions to this rule
    if you are a questionable character, you know those visitors that prompt you to sprinkle holy water round the guest room when they are gone, you are not sleeping in my bed. Not because it’s the matrimonial bed but because I dread any type of proximity with such people.

    Secondly if i don’t like you or you are a trouble maker guest, you are not entitled to our comfy bed. I want you to sleep somewhere uncomfortable so you can do and go.

    Third, those guests that feel entitled to sleeping in matrimonial bed i.e troublesome MIL, you will not just because ……. even if I have to pull the ridiculous “this is my matrimonial bed card” you will not.

  11. o

    February 7, 2017 at 4:31 pm

    Different strokes different folks.. a friend once lost it when she saw her hubby and his brother sitting on their bed discussing. To me it was no big deal. If you commit adultery in a hotel or another state or country, your marriage bed has been defiled.

    Some ppl are particular, I fall into the other category. I have had my niece (2yrs) sleep on our bed because her parents were away n her mum didn’t want her sleeping on the same bed as my help cos she always sleeps with her parents. My daughter sleeps in a single bed and is always tossing and turning, I couldn’t have her kicking the poor girl. If I have to give up my bed for a close family or parent to sleep, why not?

  12. buttercuP

    February 7, 2017 at 4:31 pm

    This mama. Safron’s epistle sef,I kept scrolling down down down,health, power, politics, Donald trump on top matrimonial bed. Hain!!
    Well, anytime I’m in my sisters ‘matrimonial room’ and she asks me to lie on the bed so we can chat..i’d just be there hoping I’m not laying down on sheet stained cum!!!
    For me, that’s enough reason not to want to sit or lay there. lol
    I feel my matrimonial bed is special, and is a spot that holds sooo many memories, love making, our fights, family matters discussed,secrets shared on in. Etc…ionno there’s just this sentimental attachment to it and there’s nothing wrong with that.

  13. Anonnn

    February 7, 2017 at 4:38 pm

    I don’t like the idea joor though that has to do with my up bringing. I have parents who wouldn’t even let three year olds who are not their kids enter their room. You would think they hid something there. It’s odd for me going to other homes and be allowed into the couple’s room. I don’t even find it comfortable entering someone’s bedroom not to talk of sitting on the bed. I honestly don’t see the point in it. It is just a room and a bed for heaven’s sake. I’d love it for my friends and I to be able to sleep on my bed and gist even when I’m married. So I’ve conditioned my mind to have a personal room away from hubby’s just in case he’s also pro “matrimonial bed”. If you’re a Christian and cannot leave your bed for a visitor when you have no spare just because it is the “matrimonial bed” and would rather the visitor sleeps on the couch, you’re not practising the true hospitality Christ preached.

  14. True Talk

    February 7, 2017 at 5:43 pm

    The same thing always comes to mind when i hear someone say ‘I caught him with another woman on my matrimonial bed!’ And i’m thinking, ‘what exactly is the problem here? the fact that you found your husband cheating with another woman or that it was done on your matrimonial bed?’ Would it have been any easier if it were on your ‘communal couch? or general kitchen counter?’

  15. Single Shalewa, Bitter Bintu!

    February 7, 2017 at 5:57 pm

    Different strokes for different folks. Like someone said, there are times the room is extra neat and sometimes, you see boxers on the floor, bra hanging on the TV’s antenna (just joking) but basically, it’s our private space. I consider our bedroom very private (not sacred like a god or something) so I won’t feel comfortable having folks come in anyhow and yes my bed is private as well. In as much as we like to say “Nigerians are too attached’ every time, people living in obodo oyinbo, enlighten me please. Your (married) Caucasian friends, do they allow you sleep in their matrimonial beds or allow you into their rooms like that? I’m geniunely asking.

    #Random My eldest sister is very nosey (I love her to death by the way) so she came visiting one time. She had this funny way of strutting around my house, opening every door, picking, shuffling things and i find it absolutely annoying but she’s 9yrs older than i am so hey!

    On this fine day, she was ‘inspecting’ as usual and she asked “where’s XYZ (hubby)”, i replied that he was sleeping, she just said “ehn ehn, let me see”. I knew hubby was sleeping naked but i was dead tired of her antics so i didn’t even restrain her. She didn’t knock and bam she opened the door and saw oga looking like Adam in the Garden of Eden. She was so embarassed. She shut the door and wanted to blame me for not telling her. I said “shebi you’ve seen what you’re dying to see, is this your house? Don’t be prancing about in my house like that, I don’t like it”.

    That was the last time she tried her Inspector Bediako runs in my house.

    • Mama Saffron

      February 7, 2017 at 6:20 pm

      To your question. Yes and yes. One of my husband’s besties from college lives in a remote area in a one bed cabin. When le hubs gets the i want to bond with nature bug, we go up there for a few days because its really lovely and quiet. We sleep on their bed while they make a bed for themselves in the living room. Despite many attempts to reverse the sleeping arrangements, they won’t hear of it. We are the guests, so we take priority. That’s one example. Another example with visiting married friends out of state, the husband leaves the room for us and crashes on the couch while we have girly time and talk into the night. I have offered to pay for a hotel and they won’t hear of it especially when i’m with my little girl in tow i sleep in their room. When my sister visits, if it’s a short trip the first few nights she’s in bed with me and Saffron gisting into the night and Le Boo sleeps in the spare room. She will be the one saying she doesn’t want to interrupt the making of her future nephew so she’ll relocate to the spare room, but my husband doesn’t mind really. Vice versa when we visit her, it’s one big slumber party with her children, my daughter and I on their super king size “matrimonial bed” and my bro-in law crashes in the guest room. Her husband is Nigerian, mine isn’t and both don’t mind. So, it’s not an “oyinbo” thing only.

    • nammy

      February 8, 2017 at 9:39 am

      Love, love, love your comment. I Had a childhood friend who always entered my room without knocking, I constantly reminded him that it wasn’t right but he adamantly refused, I even wrote knock before entering and pasted on the door but he still kept up with his ways. One day I had just gotten out of the bathroom and i heard his voice in the sitting room. My sister even rushed in to announce his arrival but I continued towelling my body, he came in and was embarrassed and he never entered my room without knocking again.

  16. Ayaba

    February 7, 2017 at 6:10 pm

    Anytime I go to my sisters house I sleep on their matrimonial bed and we also sleep on our parents bed.Nigerian’s are just highly sentimental people who attach importance to frivolous things.

  17. tyra

    February 7, 2017 at 6:52 pm

    I love in Aberdeen, and when ever we visit our caucausian friends or have anyone over or more people than our spare rooms can cater for- we/them tends to rent a room in B&B very close to our house or home of our host. Such that we can gist or party till will or however late and then stroll up to our B&B to crash. Just a few of my friends that can visit me and I won’t mind them sitting on my bed while we gist,but it’s a No,No for some, you won’t even enter .

  18. True Talk

    February 7, 2017 at 7:49 pm

    It’s not just Nigeria. When Tiger Woods was cheating on his Swedish wife all the women with whom he had an affair with, and brought to his house, said everywhere in the house was up for grabs but not the bedroom he shared with his wife. They all said independently that it was a no go area.

    • Demilade

      February 7, 2017 at 8:48 pm

      This is what they call shoro niyen. He respected a room but not his wife. And that’s supposed to lean towards the matrimonial bed argument. I swear Nigerians have a warped sense of marriage. Which is the greater disrespect? Cheating on your wife, having the audacity to bring them to your house (I agree with Mama saffron about the home definition because a man that can bring his girlfriends to his house no longer has a home) or treated a bedroom, common bedroom as sacred or no go area. The fact that you think this means the matrimonial bed is sacred or can be used as an example, ignoring the greater sin makes me shake my head for you. So a woman or man who allows someone else sleep on their so called matrimonial bed isles honourable than man whore tiger wood who brought his hoes to his house. I raise Beyoncé hand for you. Receive sense

    • o

      February 7, 2017 at 10:43 pm

      Na real shoro.niyen??? Better to respect the wife and disrespect the room. The example ehn??

  19. Please marriage or not no one is sleeping on my bed

    February 7, 2017 at 10:09 pm

    Seriously! Unless it is someone I’m extremely close to and if I don’t have a bed for them to sleep on. I will not be giving up my bedroom for anyone. I’ll put a spare mattress out for guests to use. Who knows who’s got bedbugs and such. Also, having a couple have sex on my bed is a no no.

  20. W.A.

    February 8, 2017 at 12:56 am

    Well my husband slept with his girlfriend on our ‘matrimonial bed’. His excuse is that he thought we were over, after an argument we had (initiated by him) some days before I traveled (4 days after the argument) and also he had asked me to leave his house and I was staying somewhere else hoping we would sort it out. I do not condone affairs but it wouldn’t have hurt much if he had done it outside but to bring it to the house, on our bed is something I still cannot get over even though now I despise him so much….*sigh* So this article really hurts me. Couldn’t even finish reading it. The title alone is like a blow in mu tummy. I saw the title and it all came back to me… Oh well…..

    • "changing moniker"

      February 8, 2017 at 10:16 am

      Awwww!!!

  21. Usnu

    February 8, 2017 at 10:32 am

    We were told at our marriage class that the matrimonial bed is an altar on which the sacrament of matrimony is consumated. It’s kinda sacred. Guess that’s why some couples don’t like any other person apart from their kids sleeping on it.

  22. Obi

    February 8, 2017 at 12:39 pm

    Common sense should tell you that you should not be going close to a couples room for any reason whatsoever, let alone sleep over on their bed. A place where couples bond and have reckless sex and stuff, like have you no sense at all?? Doesn’t just make any sense to me and yes its more respectable that a man doesn’t cheat on his wife in his house or on the same bed he shares with his wife. Doesn’t justify cheating but only a stupid and insensitive man would do that kind of stuff. Y’all with your fake woke antics irritate me.

    • To Obi

      February 8, 2017 at 1:33 pm

      i’m sure, you are a man. So, cheating can be respectable, if done outside the home. Odiegwu. Tell me something. the man cheating outside his house, is not stupid and insensitive. Wow, your moral compass antics irritates the shit out of me. Those who are woke are sure better than you who groups cheating into respectable and insensitive. If your wife cheats on you outside your house, i hope you will consider it respectable, since she didn’t bring the man to your bed.

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