Building Relationships We Can All Be Proud Of

Sunday, 15 August 2010

The conversation the Day After – John’s Lot

John looked visibly upset through the entire thanksgiving service for the newly wed, Mr and Mrs Eshun-Smith

Typically Justin kept away. He has always respected people and believed in their desire to have moments alone and choke on what they don’t feel like spilling out. He maintains that as far as a friend is concerned, they should have the right to remain silent. He hardly asks thrice what is wrong with a friend. But he always assures them of a listening ear when they are ready to talk. And when you are ready to talk you better have your thoughts together. So they only talk to him when they are really ready to talk. It is not so, though, with his woman. It’s on record he fell sick when his ex went moody and won’t tell him what it was.

After the Service Justin was getting a bit worried, ‘Could John have acted funny when he went home last evening following the conversation they had had earlier in the day at the reception?’
“Sup?” He asked casually, “Can you at least tell me what is eating you up? Obviously you are in the mouth of something terrible; you only need to tell us ...who knows we can get you out.”
“Wifeness issues?” John did not respond.

So one else spoke again. His Car’s rear left tyre had flattened that morning and without a spare tyre, he had called Justin to pick him up to church. Kwame’s Range Rover was being used by Edwin and Naa Ashorkor so he had no car. The Audi A6 was being used by his wife, Aba, who is gone for another wedding – her boss’s daughter was getting married.

They all hopped into Justin’s Nissan Altima...
“Boys, I am dying.” John stated and relapsed into his self induced coma. There was silence except for the simple unfeigned passion wafting through the very fabric of the car as Krista Adams Santilli performed ‘Les Oiseaux Dans Charmille’.

Justin looked through the rear view mirror and what he saw in John’s eye was a bit disturbing. In an instant he looked demonic. Silence

“Last night,” John started, “we were at it when her phone rang. The ringtone was different. She cursed and reached out for it. I attempted to restrain her but she stiffened and told me it was important.”
“What time was it.” Kwame asked trying to get the right background before he listened further. There was a brief moment of silence

“Between 10 and 10:15pm; the Laptop had called the time earlier.”
Justin raised his eyebrow and decided against starting the car.
“She picked the call and this was her first line, Hey, why this time? Talk to me. I instantly got furious.”
“Talk to me?” Justin tossed the words in his mouth as though he wanted to internalize it.
“Talk to me Justin. Talk to me. What happened to what we were doing? What happened to the goddamn sex we were having? Just gone like that! Talk to me for heaven sake!”

“Calm down John.” Kwame stepped in.
I can’t F… he restrained himself from cursing. Damnit!! He opted for a milder and a more acceptable word rather, spitting it through gritting teeth.

I have to beg for sex! My wife that I married! The last time it happened was like five weeks ago! I had to beg to get it last night! And before I could say jack, she was telling me it was over because some fool is on the line for whatever reason that could not wait. Talk to me. It was a mild way of telling me, John, I am sorry, I was doing this out of pity for you, unfortunately I have some important call to listen to…so save the rest…we will discuss when you get this privilege again…and that discussion will be next 4 weeks!

Talk to me!
“So what did you do?” Kwame asked trying not to sound shocked.
“What did I do? What did she do? And this is what she did. She got out of the bed and went to stand by the window to be talked to! That is what she did!” “And so this is what I did, I got out of bed, and snatched the phone out of her hand and asked who ever it was on the other side what their problem was.” No one spoke. I tried to see the name, it was a private number and before I could do anything she snatched the phone out of my hand, and like in a movie, walked into the next room and locked the door behind her…Naked!”

“What?” Justin could not believe it. He is usually dramatic but this was a real shocker to him. “Your wife in the middle of sex, gets a call, walks off to another room naked to listen to it?” He summarized everything John had said paying individual attention to the words coming out of his mouth. “That must be some million dollar call; or your moment of intimacy was as meaningless as …”

“Gosh! Wow Wow Wow!” Kwame was not sure why he was shocked; was it by John’s story or his own case of a wife who picked her phone to check whatsup on facebook every free time she gets. He was not sure. “And what is with the phones?” He thought aloud eliciting a frown on Justin’s face and John’s as well. They all decided unknowingly to let that comment pass. Kwame obviously was not aware of what he had just said.

“John,” Justin started, “Much as this is crazy, I personally think the snatching of the phone was wrong. He stated gravely. Who ever it was, now has an impression of the kind of husband you are; One that cannot trust his wife and possesses her. That is not good.

“Are you kidding me?” John said knocked for six and feeling betrayed.

“Listen, granted that person on the line was a guy and if so is hitting on your wife; or has the intention of doing so, or is actually in any form of relationship – most unlikely though- with your wife, now he has a weapon to use against you. What kind of husband would listen to his wife’s telephone conversation because it is past 10pm?

Don’t forget your wife might not paint the right picture that called for your action to who ever it was that called. She may never tell the person she was having a moment of intimacy with her husband. If it is likely she would, she would not have picked the call with that kind of opening line.

You will need a strong partner to stand her ground in the face of demeaning comments about you from an interested party especially when there is the evidence that what is being said is partly true. And as far as you and Anytta are concerned, your position is not so good.

Let me tell you what I would have done, regardless of having been starved for that long. I would have simply turned away and slept or buried myself in me till she was done with the call. Obviously, if you had to beg for it in the first place, and knowing Anytta, she would not have come for a continuation. But you would have committed her to her conscience. And I am sure the night would have done some work on her.

“Justin, stop the child talk,” John was frustrated. “Who said she has any conscience? She would have slept and snored!”

“No John, listen to me, you have suppressed her conscience.”

“I can’t believe this”

Let me explain. Obviously you infuriated her by that action you took. We all know you have a temper problem, let us not deny it. And it is more of a possibility you are every now and then losing it instead of reining it. And for the kind of lady you are married to, the last thing you want to do is to pit yourself against her in anything. She will become defensive, get offended by your reaction and further react accordingly. So ultimately, her action which might have precipitated your reaction will go unresolved and your reaction becomes the new battle ground. As it continues like that, she will feel justified in her reactions to your reactions without her considering her initial actions. And that is how is has been.

John, your strength does not lie in your ability to insist on your way using every means necessary or frightening people into submission. They seldom work. The strength of a man is found in the gentleness with which he approaches and handles issues. Rage and temper tantrum is the preserve of weak men.

There are three major types of family Authorities – whether from Parents to the children or from the man to the rest of the family: Authoritative headship, Authoritarian headship and Indulging headship. All of us here know you and indulgence are like night and day. We also know you are not Authoritative...at least in it complete sense. Hard as this may come to you, you are more of an authoritarian. You are the best pal as long as someone sees in your perspective. Anything else is opposition; and you deal with it heavy handedly.

When you met Anytta we asked if you could handle such a strong and independent girl plus her bantering with men, her liberal impression of the world colliding with your jealous and conservative nature. You said you would tame her. We said it was not going to be easy. You said we should sit back and learn. Now this is where we are…and from where I sit…you are the caged one.

Diametrically opposing socialization did both of you have. She grew up in a family of long aristocratic history. She is a Fulbright recipient and a graduate of Yale, having met and interacted with the best in the world. A trained lawyer and someone extremely good at what she does. Her mother is a sitting Supreme Court judge, her father a retired diplomat. She is the only girl amongst three boys and she is the last. Need I say more?

You father was a headmaster and your mum has always been a house wife; you are the second in a family of five strong boys. Suffice that I leave it here. Let’s not talk about the fact that you did not even go to a boarding school and therefore had all your formative years under the direct influence of your father, until university. And like any teacher’s family, your upbringing was not the best, and family history is very sketchy and pretty much monochromatic; not as colourful as Anytta’s

Your thought processes are not the same. Your impression and interpretation of the world will continually differ. For you to understand her, you need to enter her mind and think like the way she thinks and see things the way she does. And the opposite is true for her. But you and I know, no one would want to enter the mind of someone who did not have the best of upbringing to study his/or her challenges.

However, you as the man, living in a time and age where standards of living have improved considerably, and the family authority and chain of command has evolved into something more participatory and horizontal in nature rather than dictatorial and vertical, stands at the best place to warm yourself into this new wind and evolve to meet the new era.

I would be a hypocrite to assume it would be feat to be accomplished by the wave of a magic wand… but it is not like rolling a stone uphill. It is attainable.

In this day and age with such a wife, you cannot replicate your past and your family of orientation. You cannot demand obedience, you cannot demand submission; you cannot demand affection and support to mention just a few. Everything has to be earned. You need to give her reasons; by actions, by the quality of your reasoning or by result-evidence why certain things must be done or go the way you think it should go and why you are due certain things.

An authoritative father figure, commands respect; his arguments regarding general issues and critical issues of life are informed. He is experienced in his area of expertise and his directions, when given and heeded, leads to the intended result in most cases. They lead their families along their thought lines and actions; they don’t drag them along. I see you dragging your wife along.

How many times do you reason and argue your points across with an open mind. Most likely you will ask, but would she even listen? Yes she won’t because you have lost your authority to be relevant and make a lot of sound arguments. Because of this, her default thought about you is that of ‘Mr. I-want-you-to-come-along.’ And in order to prove the futility of your stance, her default response to you is, ‘make me come along’. Such a person is always defensive, and always looking for ways of putting you out.

Every argument or conversation becomes, ‘who scored the most points’ and not ‘what are we doing to chart a better course for our common future.’ You live like competitors always striving to out do each other rather than help each other.

Where the two of you have reached, you don’t need to get her attention before you have a conversation with her; you will never get it. She will never sit to listen, and her mind would be switched to her default position towards you even if she sits to listen. With time, if she can predict when you are likely to come with your issues, she will find reasons to swerve them. She will always be busy with one thing or the other when you are around.


If you have something to tell her, if you have a point to get across, or an issue to discuss, you don’t have to call her to sit down in front of you like your dad did to your mum or to you and your brothers. Anytime someone sits in front of you at your summons, the person feels they are the weaker party and their position in the case prejudiced against. Such a person unconsciously builds resistance even before they hear you out.

Never sit with her face to face, sit with her facing the same direction; it shows equality, it shows the two of you are looking at one thing in the same direction. 

If you have been trying the early morning wake-up-and-lets-talk approach, maybe the time has come for you to revise it.

You don’t have to mention her name or look into her eyes before you start talking. She does not want to be summoned. That simple. She doesn’t want to feel you are ruling over her. Do not demand responses when you are telling her something. Avoid feedback probes like, ‘are you listening to me?’ or ‘did you hear me?’ They only make the pill bitter to swallow.

The time has come for you to start talking; first after a deep contemplation of what you are going to say; your tone, your choice of words, the likely implications of what you are going to say, her potential response and your counter arguments. This means you need a lot of self control when she becomes aggressively defensive. You need a lot of patience to allow her to talk.

Did you know that you are less likely to win an argument when you do not allow the other party to talk? They keep hitting at you, keep changing their story lines and appear frustrated by you. Ultimately you are seen in the bad light. Allow someone to talk, let them pour out their hearts, their points and their thoughts. Then you pick them one by one and address them. Most likely they will not have anything to say again and it won’t be easy for them to change the story nor accuse you of frustration.

Infact when you allow someone to talk, you get to know their thought processes and impressions about events; that is the only way you can understand them and address their needs.

When you start to say something, anything at all and she starts talking or arguing you out without hearing you out first, pause and let her talk; I did not say stop, I said pause. The difference is if you stop, you’ll have to start all over again; if you pause you continue from where you left off. After she finishes talking, treat it like you paused to do something else and resume without reference to what she said, unless it is relevant to the conversation and in a way that is beneficial and progressive to both of you and the topic of discussion. If it is to discourage or infuriate or rubbish what you started, disregard it. If you pick on everything she says you will never go on to say anything that is in your heart; you will be frustrated.

You are both argumentative and very petty, unfortunately she is smart, very informed and a clear thinker, you are not so informed and a fuzzy thinker who loses himself to his emotions when upset.

You also have a prejudiced position against her. You also become defensive even if she is making sense. A lady like Anytta, considering her background and success cannot be belittled whether in the thoughts or arguments she espouses. Maybe if you also had an open mind you would be more receptive to the things she says. Let her know you respect by the way you handle things coming from her. Let her see herself as an important participant of the family relationship. Be more interested in her views and opinions.

She is from a background where everyone is important and every decision or suggestion, even from the house-help, is worthy of consideration. Your background is unfortunately not so; one man holds a lot of power. She knows that and probably she is unconsciously fighting it because you are unconsciously exhibiting it.

Learn to let things go. Like last night. There are lot of things she knows you will respond to, so she comes up with her defense. Don’t strike when and where you are expected to strike, the other party will always have an upper hand. Learn to take the wind out of her sail.

Silence is golden. A man who has a rein on his spirit and his tongue is stronger than a man who takes a city

Learn to watch things pass by. Learn to let your suggestion go unheeded and temporarily learn to accept that your authority is compromised. Talk about important things when and only when you have to talk and she is around and in the mood to listen. One day you will catch her attention, then she will start listening more and more to you…it will be natural and it will be appetizing to want to listen to you. She will feel less inclined to resist and question you when you leave her without arguments or with weak arguments.

She will start thinking with you when you start to build on her ideas, or reason her out of them and in their stead give something even better. It’s even better when you are someone who comes up with brilliant, workable and achievable ideas. When your reasoning and their results are the intended/expected/desirable results you start planting a seed of respect for you in her. Women want men they can look up to not the ones they can look down on.

Do you think she doesn’t think with anyone else? She does; her family members, friends and colleagues. So you are the only person she probably doesn't think with. What it means is there is a problem with mutual-thinking equilibrium; you hardly have ‘the meeting of the minds.’ And it is frustrating when you are dealing with someone who is not thinking along.

You are particularly challenged because her father has set some serious standards for her as far as a father/husband is concerned as well as her big brothers. Even the church both of you attend now, her baptismal church, sets some standards for the father-heads in it. She wants to see you match up.

Yes it is not a fair measure since you also want to live your age, but you’ll do your self a lot of good if you aspire to act and live as a matured man and a qualified father/husband. There is an authority vacuum she wants to see you fill.

The woman in the Article, A Woman’s Self Worth said I have no problem being submissive; he must be worthy of it

Let me tell you, there are a lot of songs I listened to; some I like, some I don’t. But hardly do I struggle to like a particular artiste or genre of music. I start playing it, and after a long drive sometimes consciously listening or unconsciously doing so, they start getting my attention and building my interest to the point where anytime I hear that artiste or genre I stop to listen. Then I start looking for the CD.

I personally did not introduce you to Coldplay in a very direct way, but as you listened to them consciously and unconsciously anytime you came to my office or to my house, your unconscious mind, bought into the lyrics and the rhythm. It started playing itself in your mind until it became ok to listen to them; until all arguments to change the CD left you. Now you go looking for Coldplay to buy. You have bought into it…Let her buy into you.

You are an architect not just anything. You only need to attend to her with the same composure with which you attend to your job and you will be surprised the kind of family you will design. Try and relate with her in 3D and not in single dimension. It is not a touch-response or one-sided argument. You are dealing with a scholar so see her as such and act accordingly. Every single issue is multifaceted.

She will never be like your mum, she will always be Miss independent, sure in herself, self sufficient, self conceited, self opinionated and very voluble. You will need a lot more of tact to tame her. So far you have groomed her into a lioness, but four years is not enough to make her a lifetime lioness, you have a life time from today to revise your note, and make her something more of a pet.

It is possible; you can do it.

But as I have always admonished, the Bible says the heart of the king is in the hands of God, and as a water course He turns it the way He pleases.God can turn your heart towards your wife and her heart towards you. Regardless of your failures as a husband, God still approves of your headship, so just have a serious introspection and commit the difficult designs you are dealing with into His hands. If you persist in your current path you will wear yourself out and live an unfulfilled marital life. The last thing any of us would want to hear is you having an affair. I strongly believe she is not having any affair.

When you married her she was 26 and had lived on her own since she was 19 years. You were her first boyfriend and you said…we were not there…that you deflowered her. Her principles in life are unquestioned. So if you are not getting the best in her, then it means you just have to do something different and not because she is giving her best to someone else.

One day you will wake up and find that she has abandoned herself to you. You will realise that she trusts you so much as to commit herself entirely to you without the fear of falling under. Until you get to that place as a man, trust me she will never give you her best. We all hope you will not have this epiphany at a time that will be too late for both of you and all of us.

Finally, let me tell you why she has refused to be pregnant. She doesn’t want you to father her children the way you are. She wants the kind of upbringing she had, for her kids or something better. Money is not the problem; it is the rest in it- the human element and the qualitative aspect of the family. If you treat her like her dad treats her mum she could trust that you will treat her kids like her dad treated them. You did not have an exciting childhood and am sure you don’t want your kids to go through your lot do you?

…I guess not… John said feebly.

Ok. I rest my case. People lets go get some Omo Tuo and Nkatsenkwan (Rice Balls and Ground nut soup)…it’s Sunday.


Copyright 2010, George Sebastian; (Author)
All Rights reserved