I wish women would stop taking relationship advice from ‘men’. And by this I mean men who are unqualified. These men are not Counsellors, Psychotherapists’ or Psychologists. They don’t know JACK about you or your partner. But they are perambulating as relationship experts on social media and even on TV. Some of them are labeling themselves as lifestyle coaches with little qualification to show. And worst still, a lot of these men have terrible track records of being awful partners to very many women. And you know what? Some women are doing it now too, they are on Facebook live, Instagram live! Talking about how you ought to ‘do’ your man!
Don’t get me wrong we can learn so much from other people, but in my opinion the tell-tale signs of a fraud is when you hear their advice predominantly directed at the woman; cook more, serve him, kneel when you serve him, have sex whenever he wants, pray for him, fast for him, he is your father. Have you ever wondered why these advisers direct their opinions 9and that’s all they are opinions) at women. Why aren’t many more relationship advisers targeting men with these half baked advise. I’ll tell you why, because it is easier and lazier. Telling women what to do, and how to do it still fits into the traditional norms of many patriarchal society.
I am not a relationship expert either. I am just a married woman concerned about the wrong messaging and the abuse of women under the guise of marriage, and our own complicity as women and as a society in this abuse. All I am saying is that marriage should for the most part be enjoyed, being realistic and mature about its ups and downs too. And as a woman it is not your sole responsibility to keep the marriage going, it’s a joint effort. You did not stand at the altar alone, you did not marry yourself, and before anyone makes reference to that Yoruba proverb ‘Obinrin lo un di ile mu’ which translates to ‘it’s the woman’s responsibility to ‘hold’ her home. We are not listening to that bullshit anymore. It has always and will always take two to make a relationship work and any advise that predominantly shifts the responsibility on the woman is wrong and dangerous.
I have observed that in the best relationships ‘power and responsibility’ doesn’t lie in one place, it shifts. Sometimes the husband is in the driving seat, and sometimes the wife is in the driving seat. I know that this idea of shifting ‘power and responsibility’ goes against the grain of how we as women have been raised especially in Nigeria. But it’s what I have observed in my own personal interpretation of healthy relationships. In those relationships, the man is the head sometimes, and sometimes the woman is the head. No one sits on the throne forever! And no, healthy couples rarely sit down to carve out when the man will be the head, or when the woman would be the head, it’s probably more organic, falling naturally to where the couple’s strengths lie. I am always adamant that in the healthiest of relationships a woman cannot always be in that submissive lane, nor can the man always lead. I warn you, if you stay in that submission lane for too long you will become redundant, a doormat. And if you think you can constantly be the leader, you will morph into a tyrant, and in time lose your captor.
People often challenge me by saying their parents have been married for 50 years and did it the ‘traditional way’ – and some would list barmy things like (no lie I’ve heard all of these):
- My father didn’t eat yesterday’s stew so whatever my mom was up to she had to cook fresh everyday
- My father can’t eat pounded yam with lumps so my mum would have to remake it
- My father didn’t let my mum work
- My father had affairs but told my mother she was number 1
Often, children from these backgrounds appear to accept that their home traditions is the natural and right order. Never have I heard them question the physical or emotional damage these imbalances might have had on their mother and even them. In fact they will argue that their mothers were happy, because she always looked happy or rarely voiced her discontent. But how many mothers burden their children with their deepest unhappiness? And one cannot judge happiness by the length of a marriage in a society where there is little support for those who leave their marriages, even under cruel and dire conditions; little support from the state, little support from the church, little support from the family). To point to length of marriage alone would be TOO simplistic. Being married for 50 years is not a goal. Being happy, feeling fulfilled and feeling accomplished whilst in the marriage ought to be the goal?.