Helping You Build A Relationship You Can All Be Proud Of

Tuesday, 1 April 2014


After three years into her marriage, Ama had had enough of it; everything that could simulate choking and drowning. It’s a burden that seemed, every single day, like the last straw that was to finally, permanently and irreparably break the iron back of the rugged camel. 

Ama had had enough; enough of the sedentary marriage, mundane routines, interrogative conversations, lifeless crispy dry interactions. At first, she found solace in their bi-weekly sexual bouts. Good or bad, she did not really care, as long as it was a place deep and dark enough to bury her frustration and drown her boredom. 

First, it was just bits and pieces of stones; scattered and far apart. It was their inability to agree on scattered issues; choice of friends, time to go to bed, chatting on the phone while they were together. Stuff like that. Then a pattern emerged; a consistent and visible pattern. 

She thought it was about discovering themselves and with time she would adjust to the whole situation. So she decided to endure. Enduring she had, and in enduring she had seen the stones gather and formed a formidable hedge held together by the mortar of pain, disappointment, frustration, anger, and boredom. A hedge that has efficiently kept her in a place far from the reach of her husband. A place where she could brood, scheme and allow the negative emotions lurking in the dark alleys of her to fester and become a putrid blighting canker.

Paakow has been married for just three years. But it feels like he got divorced seven months into his marriage. That is how he feels - his feeling; opinion and conviction. He has only been married for just about seven months in the truest sense of the concept of marriage. For the rest of it, it has been a typical case of two captains manning a small ship. It has been comments like, “this is my view and I am sticking to it.” It had been talking to his wife on a serious family issue and realizing she is chatting with someone else on the phone. The rest of time has been asking his wife a simple question and realizing that the question is being avoided and until he stands firm and assumes an interrogative posture, the question would not be answered.

He grew up in a home where parents lived together and spent weekends with their kids, doing home chores together and having fun at home, with little or no interruption from the chaos outside. For that, he has been enduring the silence screams of his wife who sees their marriage as boring, a trudging routine and a constricting prison camp. As a phlegmatic, he has no typical boisterous swagger that turns heads and awe people off their feet with wonderment. His wife calls that mundane. 

The only time he feels a connection with his wife is during the hugely anticipated shard of bi-weekly coitus. To him, it was a flicker of light that burned weakly but gave him a glimmer of hope that all was not lost. Until he realized she was using him. He could not explain why, but he realized she just did it to please herself. It was not about them, it was about her. That was when he became aware of himself, and with that awareness, came anxiety and weak erection and disastrous encounters. One minute man. 

By the eighteenth month of marriage, he could feel the palpable wall that separated their lives; walls built by both of them as they sought solace elsewhere.

Paul has always had a special thing for Ama; nothing sexual, nothing sinister. On the contrary, it is that kind of respect you develop for those around you as you interact with them over time. And it is not only Paul; all the guys in her life feel she is a gem and the man whose bed she warms is a blessed one. She seems to say all the right things at the right time, she seems to get it right every time with everything about her. She appears like a real family lady; even the way she handles her little sister and her rather turbulent lifestyle. You do not get a pretty lady with God in her right hand and excellence in her left. She was the ultimate hybrid woman; succeeding in her role as a married woman and as an emancipated woman, rubbing shoulders with the best of men in an existence so unfairly tagged a ‘Man’s world’. 

The first time Paul had a glimpse through an unconcealed crack in the beautiful façade of Ama’s life, his shock was nothing less than galactic. After insisting she could trust him, the password used to unlock the flood gate was not “open sesame”, as we all would have thought, no. The password was something everyone has used at one time or the other at that crucial moment when all you needed was an assurance. “Can I trust you?” 

Paul’s aversion toward Paakow, in the end, was like an inferno. Everything Ama had said did not make sense. No man thinks like that. Paakow maybe…just maybe was the most insecure man ever to marry. And beyond his insecurity was his lack of bounds with his possessiveness. 

What is wrong with a woman being regular at church, keeping in touch with her family and her brothers who are older and well established? What is wrong if she bounces ideas off them to solicit their opinions? Isn’t it what a wise person does…I mean to learn from the best? What is wrong with a woman having her opinion, her voice and her own bonafide perspective of the world around her? I thought yes-sire women were out of fashion lately. What kind of man wants a woman who does a drab job and spends all her time home doing nothing except watching boring TV programmes? Life is fun and meant to be enjoyed. How come a man has a problem with that? Women hide their male friends and exes and pretend they are saintly, yet, only God knows what goes on in the silence of their lives. Which dumb man has a problem with a woman who brings her men home, and as a sign of respect introduces them to her husband for him to know them for who they truly are? What kind of man is opposed to a woman furthering their education to aid her rise in life and bring in more to the table so she does not become a liability?!!!! And all these men are married!

What?! Akweley shouted her disgust! So if, as a woman, you spend all your daytime at work and in the evening you continue to church all week, what time to do you have to take care of your homely responsibilities? This was exactly how you lived before you married, why don’t you now see yourself through the lens of your new role and live up to the responsibility that comes with that establishment? Why must you always have to confirm things your husband tells you from your siblings? If you can’t reason with him why did you marry him? What happened to privacy? We all have opinions, but there is a nice word called compromise and middle ground; that is what has kept this world in balance…from the bedroom to the boardroom! Compromise rules. Why stick to your grounds all the time and not budge! From Monday to Friday, you spend your life out of the house, if you cannot make time to be home during weekends so you can spend time with your family then what is the purpose of that family? To be a paper talk or an idea? Must we always be on the road?

Your ex is your ex. Respect your marital home and keep them out. Respect your husband and manage your male friends. Clearly, I wouldn’t be amused to see my husband bringing in his exes and girlfriends. What happened to boundaries? It is a different thing if we are mutual friends, but then you cannot force friends on anyone. If your husband is not comfortable with this, try and respect it and manage it. I know it can be very uncomfortable with men when we insist we don’t like that lady they talked to or smiled with, yet we force them to cut them loose. How on earth can we expect them to accept it is ok for us to mingle with all these wolverine men out there!

My husband would have divorced me by now if after three years of marriage I did not have a child because I insisted on getting a PhD first. That was not what he signed up for. If I had let him know that was my intention, he wouldn’t have settled down with me. He needed his kids like yesterday! 

Akweley was beside herself with rage and disappointment. She really respected Ama, but this was an all-time low. 

For Ama, Paul had become the only man to have a feel of the world she lives in; the life she beautifully covers in a swaddle cloth and hides from the glare of the public, like a new-born baby. And the more they talked, the more she was sure Paul was a better option, that Paul’s wife, who divorced him after five years of war of attrition, was the feminine version of her husband. She was convinced that like Paul, the only inheritance for her in her marriage will be dark tears and haunting emotional scars.

Paakow never saw Akweley in any light other than who she truly was, WORSE OFF THAN AMA; the reason why he opted for Ama and not her. He was not going to be fooled; what Akweley says is always different from what she does. Take comfort in her word; anything beyond that would be a bed of barbed wires. 

What Ama did not know about Paul was what Paakow knew about Akweley. She would walk into a trap and soon realized Paul was worse off. 

In the end, the lessons are stark; life most often is full of jokes interspersed with a weird sense of humour. People judge from afar, having heard just one side of the story; the edited, carefully choreographed well-chosen story. People respond to what they hear based on how they understand it, based on their own prejudices and sometimes in the folly of their minds. People encourage others when they can’t encourage themselves the same way people judge others when their own life is in a disillusioned mess. People say nice things to cool off others, sometimes just to get them to stop talking or when they find an avenue to exploit them for their own selfish interests.  People pretend they understand, they pretend they are empathizing, they pretend they will die for others. In the end, we fall for these pretenses and cast our trust on these hollow grounds. 

We forget that when people are telling us about their hurts, they operate in the realms of emotions and whenever someone is in that realm, they are at their best, prejudiced and bias. We again forget that when people we are close to try to help us go through a situation, most often, their words are just to make us feel better and are not a true reflection of what they truly wish to tell us. Some may be honest but prejudiced in our favour. Not all the sympathies we may receive from people indicate we are right. The other party in the story also has their side of the story to tell. 

At the work place, in our social clubs, everything is controlled. You do not get to see people be themselves and not fear repercussions. That is what is reserved for the home. At work, everyone’s behavior is measured; every thought is calculated before it is given a voice. Everyone is keeping up appearance in order not to fall out with anyone. Everyone understands that it is just 8 hours of milking, so why not milk the most of it with your hands and leave your head and heart out. So people are fake most often. Views are swallowed when these views are supposed to be championed. If the boss says it, it is final, regardless. Attitudes are condoned so we can all have our peace of mind and not rock the boat. 

In the home, however, there are no pretenses, people don’t make the effort to please anyone and hence it is easier to hurt and be hurt. And because of the freestyle home experience, it is easier for us to fall for those in our workplaces or social circles…those we do not see sleep at night, see in their lazy fits or see extremely angry  It is easy to fall for those outside because we do not hear them arguing with their partners; hear the painful words they utter - words in the worst of days your partner may never use against you. It is easier to fall for the calculated response, the calculated comments, and the generic words spoken to a thousand more people before you. It is easier to fall for the lie.

Like Ama, many of us tell our side of the story, ensuring that it fits into the modern narrative of spouses trying to control their partners. In the end, they elicit sympathy from the likes of Paul, who only know just one side of the story. The likes of Paul, though worse off than the spouse being complained about, pretend to understand and is willing to help. So the Amas, end up feeling justified and emboldened to take drastic steps...which may include infidelity or divorce.... 

Until you fall for it, hurt yourself and hear someone whisper in the most surreal voice…It is all the same everywhere…nothing is perfect. This is the “April fool” of your life. 

PG Sebastian 
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