April 18, 2011 – As I was growing up I would often hear Baba Njeri (my neighbour) honking his horn loudly on Sunday mornings, for his wife to quickly come out the house so they could go to church.
Apparently she was ‘slow’ in getting ready and always made them late for church.
What I discovered however is that the poor lady had a hundred and one chores to attend to in the morning as the gentleman enjoyed extended sleep.
Fast forward 20 years later in my compound and the scene is replayed. A couple in our building often fights on Sunday mornings, since the wife Angela always ‘makes them late for church.’
Last Sunday, I overheard the argument and the scenario is similar to that of Baba Njeri’s. Angela woke up early and went about doing household duties that needed to be done before church, as all good and responsible wives do. She hurriedly got down to cleaning the house, ironing their outfits and making breakfast.
What I gathered from their argument is that Fred was asleep all along (as he always is). When he woke up, Fred went straight to the bathroom (didn’t even bother to make the bed), took a shower and dressed in the clothes his wife had ironed for him. After being served breakfast by his dedicated wife he stood up and headed to the car and started honking (just like Baba Njeri did two decades ago).
The argument got me thinking of the way men behave after marriage. I am lucky to have a caring husband who gets out of bed with me (at times earlier) and helps me with chores around the house, but around me there are many women enduring marriage. I thought of the men who are going about their lives completely oblivious of what their women are going through everyday as a result of such behaviour.
I often listen to my friends talk about their ‘once upon a time’ caring men. Men who used to be considerate of their girlfriends when they were dating but now care less. Then they would help clear the table after a meal and at least serve themselves a glass of water.
After getting married they leave utensils at every corner of the house and their hands are rarely get a glass of water from the kitchen. There are men who would iron clothes then but now that they are married they won’t touch a thing.
I once visited a couple and could not believe when the man demanded water from the wife who was struggling to feed the child. Truth be told, you do not become less of a man when you take your cup to the kitchen after your wife has graciously served you tea or make the bed since you were the last to wake up.
How about putting your dirty socks in the dirty clothes basket instead of dropping them on the floor, or leaving them stuffed inside your shoes? I wonder what is so feminine in clearing dishes from the table after a meal and polishing shoes.
It feels so nice when my husband wakes up early with me and helps around the house so that we are not late for church. When he does these small almost effortless acts, I feel appreciated, cared for and understood.
The woman you dated is still the same woman you married. She did not become super woman on the wedding day! Helping her makes her feel re-energised.
She still has the same strength only that now she has an extra duty of taking care of you, the children and the house and she needs to feel your support. You can be sure when she was marring you she thought she could count on you to give a hand like you used to when you were dating.
When you cannot even put the toilet seat down or help the kids with their homework as she makes dinner, you are slowly setting yourself up for disaster.
The bubbly woman you married gradually gets burned out, the zest she had for life fades and resentment sets in. She starts feeling overworked, unappreciated and unloved. She puts walls around her and before you know it she becomes the stranger in your bed. Some of the divorce cases we see today probably started this way.
The next time you think she is making you later for work or church, consider how she has to make breakfast for the family, prepare the kids, pack their lunches and at the same time help you find your tie.
Why not help deal with the tantrum-throwing kid as she prepares herself and you won’t have to hoot and honk the car.
Save the energy you use issuing threats to leave by giving her a helping hand. Believe you me, you will have made her day…