By Muhammad Ajah
I enjoy so much discussing with my wife on every matter of life. I sometimes discuss with reservations when her female emotions try to undo her reasoning. Sometimes, we recall the past and review our shortcomings to each other. But I must confess that she often accuses me of “keeping off” even when she wants my attention. That only happens when I need solitude or when composing any write-up, being it poetry or prosaic compositions.
When we talk about our past, we connect it with our present and project it to the future. In such times, I do think that doing so will guarantee against anything called separation. Doing that has made me conclude that nothing, God’s willing, will make me divorce my wife. To me, it should be a taboo for any man to divorce the wife on mere accounts of human shortcomings. In my hometown, it is a general belief that any home where no quarrel is heard between the husband and wife, then the forbearance from the wife is great. It can occasionally be otherwise.
Wives are precious entities and gifts from God to man. I must advise my male folks to be thankful to God for having a wife, especially a faithful one. There are women around every corner of every place. There are young girls scattered across. But it is hard to get a wife from this multitude. That is why most young men prefer to go to their villages to take a wife after cruising round the towns and observing the loose or sophisticated life of the young females and ladies. That is why it is often said that husbands are difficult to get. I do not totally accept this notion. Rather, I believe that it is also the case that wives are scarce. I should be understood that my reference to wives is the good ones who make homes, not those who come into a man’s home and destroy. Not all wives are mothers and vice versa. But both are precious, indeed.
It is an accepted assertion that behind every successful man, there is a woman. The woman here preferably refers to a wife. Proof of this is that hardly can a woman feel satisfied to push a man to success, a man who is not or ready to be her husband. What is it that gives marriageable women pride and joy than belonging to a powerful and successful man – to be identified and called Mrs. This or That? If any case otherwise is recorded – that is for a woman to push a man to success without expecting any favour – it must be quite exceptional. But generally, it is wives that push their husbands to success. In most cases, it is a wife that makes a man. On the other hand, it is women that mar a man; many men had experienced the cruelest lives because of women. In the simplest term, the downfall of great men is, most times, linked to women.
From the divine angle, the position of the woman is high. God, who created man first, has a purpose for creating the female counterpart. How would have life been with all men without women or vice versa! There would have surely been chaos, as such habits are recently being introduced into some societies. In divine texts, God created woman to be a wife in whom the husband should dwell. This is a marvelous expression and ordination. “That he may dwell in or by her”. The successful man, thus, finds tranquility, love, support, confidence and even divinity in his wife. That is why in some orthodox beliefs, the position of a wife-mother is three times higher than that of the husband-father. In the Islamic belief, for instance, it is said that the admittance of any person into the Paradise is subject to the approval of the mother. And every man is born of a mother. If men do find these to be true, what then can make them divorce their wives. They should rather take them full life-partners, for good and for worse.
However, every man has a special characteristic upon which the choice of a girl or lady for a wife is based. It is also applicable to the female in accepting the man as a husband. It can be religion; that is to say that the girl looks sacred or proves religiosity. It can be beauty. It can be wealth. It can even be parental background which may include good character, intelligence and other life fulfilments. That should be the mirror or the flashpoint for the two knitted lovers whenever the human weaknesses arise. It should never be divorce.
A wife is a great homemaker. She is a mother to the husband even before the child. She is a caring sister. She is the warmth of a home. Further, she is a nation. That is why it is said that training a girl is like training a nation. That is because once she becomes a wife, she will be closer to the children. She teaches and influences them more than the husband. That is why there are always differences in children taught in schools by female teachers, especially the married ones who are able to make their homes comfortable. Assuredly, they impact more on the school children than the males or unmarried females. That is also why there are differences between children who grow up under the watchful eyes of their mothers than those who grow up under any other guardian.
Despite the fact that in our societies men are given some preferences over women, they are actually involved in keeping the house more than men. For instance, some men think that their only responsibility is to provide the three essentialities of life for their families: shelter, food and clothing. Some men believe that theirs is to provide food and shelter. But actually in most cases in the rural areas, men are mostly concerned about provision of shelter. They, unfortunately, leave all other responsibilities to their wives.
Narrowing the experiences to many African countries, wives in many villages take all the responsibilities of keeping a home. A man marries a girl after fulfilling some traditional requirements which include provision of clothes and ornaments, kitchen utensils and maybe some home appliances. Maintenance or replacement of these things becomes the responsibility of the wife. Some men who inflict poverty on themselves by adopting lazy lives gradually narrow their responsibilities to only “making love” to the wives, that is impregnating the wives to produce children. Sexual satisfaction is even immaterial to them.
The wife does farming, sometimes by renting lands from landlords. She involves in petty trades in most cases by borrowing money from money lenders. But such often ends up because both the capital and little gains are consumed by family maintenance which includes feeding and clothing the children and maybe training them in schools. She engages in different menial jobs to keep the home, including the husband. In the actual sense, wives struggle more than their husbands. The worse scenario happens when a man marries more than one wife. The wives do competition to cater for the man who may actually have nothing of pride or inheritance than being a “husband”. Despite that, the wives compete to outsmart each other in the number of children. But some of men do suffer the consequences at old age especially at sickbed. He will be abandoned to die disgracefully except if any of the wives is touched by divine inspiration.
In cities, the situation is not different except for the rich and middle class both of who make life easier for the wives. The poor families take to the village style or even worse in the sense that village life is cheaper than the advanced places. The wife struggles much more as the husband to keep the house. Some women and wives, in their hard chase to keep their homes or compete with their neighbours, engage in sex work. It is traumatizing the fact that married women go after young or married men, not for mere sexual satisfaction, but for cash to keep up fictitious societal status. In some rural societies, including that of the writer’s, it is a belief that such relationship brings severe repercussion on the husband which may include “untimely” death.
However, some women often try to adopt overbearing influence over their husbands. That is why I took special interest in the definition of the President of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari, of the status of a wife. In that definition that kept the national and international media busy for many months, Buhari was quoted to have proclaimed that: “…my wife belongs to my kitchen and my living room and the other room,”. No definition can be more apt. Despite the controversies some journalists created from the expression, it stands to be the perfect especially to reality and orthodox beliefs. Women are very special creatures of God. Despite the allusion of a byword that “whatever a man can do, a woman can do it better”, the status of a man is distinguished from that of a woman.
The main purpose of a wife is service to the husband. What I mean by a wife is a mature female human legally bound to a man by marital relation consummated in accordance with an orthodox belief or norm. It is not all females living with males that are wives, just as not all wives are mothers. From this point, the three main duties of a wife which emanate from the singular obligation of husband-care are bound in the kitchen and two main rooms of the husband: the living room popularly called “parlour” and the bedroom for the key marital activities. And without these three duties, there is no marriage in the actual sense.
Although the honouring of our wives-mothers should be a daily affair, there are days recognized internationally to appreciate them. One of the days is “Mother’s Day” which is on May 13. The celebration was invented by Anna Jarvis in 1908 and it became an official holiday in 1914 in the United States of America. Like every other holidays, the day was later highly commercialized to the consternation of the inventor. Mother’s Day, to Americans and later followers, requires offering flowers, cards and other gifts to mothers. There is also “Wife Appreciation Day”, observed annually on the third Sunday in September. The day is celebrated with the presenting of gift of flowers, perfume, jewelry or clothing to one’s wife. The day is believed to be a make-up for Mother’s Day when there are no children in the marriage.
Men must learn to love their wives boundlessly and reduce the risk of divorce. Divorce causes more harm than “managing life together”. Domestic violence against our wives is bad and against divine injunctions. Let my male folks take these clues on how to keep their wives and make them happy even amidst daily tight schedules and hard chase for survival. Our wives need attention, give it to them as much as possible. Do something spectacular once a week for them. You may propose to her again and again from time to time to remind her of the first proposal. Use that word “I love you” as a common home sentence. Talk with her, talk about her positively, hug her, kiss her, buy her gifts and call her with beautiful nicks. Do not contemplate divorce. It is an abhorred lawful option. Let us make our wives and mothers key parts of our heart desires and honour them every day.
Muhammad Ajah is an advocate of humanity, peace and good governance in Abuja. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.