If I had to explain to my daughter what marriage is, I will start by stating point blank that for me the word that best describe it is: hell!
My daughter sometimes asks me: Mom, did we make you go through hell? Well, you gave me my fair share of sleepless nights, for sure, but I must say that motherhood didn’t give me half the stress that married life did!
For me being a wife has been tougher than being a mother. For multiple reasons, but mainly because of the domestic expectations attached to it.
I blame it on the fact that I was not raised to become a wife e.g. a maid: growing up, I hardly made my own bed, I didn’t cook, I didn’t wash dishes because from age six, I was at one boarding school or another in Europe and when I came back home, in my country in Africa, for the summer holidays, my mother didn’t want to put pressure on me with any of those chores.
So, when I got married, I was like: give me a good reason why I am the one between the two of us that have to take care of the house chores: laundry, cooking, ironing, etc.
I understand, that before, there was a divide of labour: men will go outside and bring the money home to take care of the family. The wife being at home all day, I can see why she would be the one making sure to turn her house into a sweet home.
But nowadays, what is the reasoning behind you working, me working and us coming back home late together, and I should be the one warming the soup, boiling the rice while you are quietly relaxing reading some yeye* blogs on your computer?
When I want a glass of water, I just stand up, go to the kitchen, open the fridge and pour the beverage for myself. When my husband wants a glass of water, I am the one standing up. Is there any logic to it? None that I can see.
Well, the first ten years of my marriage, we will be fighting over this back and forth with my husband. What kind of a woman are you? Well, I am not a woman, I don’t want to be a woman, I want to be a human being!
After a while, however, I realized that I would have to choose between fighting for gender equality at home and remaining a married woman! So, now I am done with feminism. I fought that battle and I lost it.
I enjoy being married to my husband. If it involves warming the dishes, so be it. And my husband has made his own concessions: I am not the one cooking the food!
My young cousin’s wife wakes up at five every morning to prepare fresh food for her husband to carry with him at work because she doesn’t want him to be eating outside during the day. And he doesn’t even bring home enough money, plus he has a poor sperm count so she has not been able to conceive after 5 years of marriage. But still, she is a dutiful wife.
Some years ago, I would have thought, why would you do that for a man? But now, I am not judging anybody anymore. Choose what makes you happy.
But again, if you are not a domestic type of woman, marriage is going to be very tough on you.
*yeye: useless and senseless: of a person or a thing (Definition retrieved from Naijalingo.com, Nigerian Pidgin English Dictionary)