Aunty Bella is our agony aunt column on BellaNaija.We launched this column in the early days of BN and periodically feature issues sent in by BN readers.
We hope the BN family can offer insightful advice.
I am from one of the neighbouring countries of Nigeria. I am married to a Yoruba guy who is barely 37 years old… but without mincing words, a typical African man. We have been married for close to 5 years now and we have a child together. But from the time we got married till now, I am still struggling to understand him and be the kind of wife he wants: respectful, submissive and loving according to his dictionary.
We met online, were first friends and after quite a while decided to take our relationship to the next level. At the start, we had more of a long-distance relationship – we lived in separate locations and met just a few times in months and never really stayed together longer than one or two months max. Our means of communication were calls, chats, and texts which worked well for us until situations changed and we had to live together. I thought this would be a perfect time for us to bond, make up on lost times and plan our future together. But I guess I was wrong. My husband is erratic, he nags at every little thing, he complains literally about everything, his mood swings are worse than those of a pregnant woman. I can’t seem to figure out how to make him happy, because one thing that is acceptable today might not be acceptable tomorrow. When there is a problem I am the one to apologize or try to make peace even when I am not at fault. After all, he is the man, all-knowing and always right. So it is my place to beg him and tell him sorry even if I didn’t do anything wrong.
Now, I am not in any way saying I am the perfect wife… No…not at all. I have my own shortcomings that I am aware of and I am trying to work on them, but how do I even know if it’s worth trying to save a union with someone whom you aren’t sure if he has the same perspective about the union? I know I might sound stupid but I love this guy. Sincerely, that’s the reason I endure and bear all the crap he dishes out to me. But for how long? How long will I continue to be in a relationship with someone who belittles me at every given opportunity? How long will I stay quiet to all the mean despicable things he says to me? How long will I continue to caress/massage his ego? For how long will I stay with someone who doesn’t value or appreciate me and tells me whenever he gets angry that I am a mistake, a disappointment, an unfortunate lady to be with and promises me hard times ahead? How about my happiness? Don’t I deserve to be happy? Talking about it now… I literally don’t know what it means to be happy.
We got married legally (and in church too), so from a Christian perspective divorce has never really been my option. I am currently contemplating it now regardless of the vows I took because my husband says I should be ready for whatever comes. In my mind, I can’t rule out the possibility of it happening and even though the thought is scary, I try to put myself in that position whereby if it comes to it, I have to brace up and face it. But before I get there, I am trying to save my marriage.
The reason I am here is to find out if there is something I am missing. Is the definition of love, respect and submission when it comes to husband and wife relationship different in the Yoruba culture? Is it okay in the Nigerian culture for a man to say and do demeaning things to his wife just so to prove he is in charge? Is it normal for a man to be verbally abusive and sometimes even physically abusive just to show he is the authority? The last incident that made me come running here to seek advice is, my husband got angry recently over something very insignificant and for over a week refused to talk to me or eat. However, he chooses to eat at late nights during which I have to prepare him freshly cooked meals; not just a quick fix like spaghetti but Nigerian stew, making me leave the kitchen in the early hours of the morning past midnight to about 1:30am. Also, as punishment, I have to suck him and then he will have rough sex with me. Or I will have to shower for him to watch and then play with myself. On a good day, I don’t mind giving him a bj or taking a shower while he watches but when he says it …the way he does and makes it as punishment, I can’t help but feel I am being objectified. I fear having daughters because I don’t want them to see what I go through and feel that is a woman’s path. So please ladies out there or even the typical African/Nigerian men, I would like to know what it takes to love, respect and honour a man as a husband according to the Nigerian/Yoruba way. Please advice.
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