They Are Against Me Because I Married A Man Who Helps With Household Chores
They Are Against Me Because I Married A Man Who Helps With Household Chores | I was posted to this village to teach. When I first came here, it was very difficult for me to survive. Everything was new—their way of life, their language, and the way they related to each other. I told myself, “There’s no turning back. This is where I’m planted. I can only grow.”
A year later, I met another teacher from another school during the annual inter-school sports competition. He said, “Madam Joan. Are you from this village or you were posted here?” I looked at him. I asked, “How did you know my name?” He said, “Your kids have been mentioning your name since morning. It’s hard not to know your name.” I said, “I was posted here a year ago. Why do you ask?” He said, “Then you’ve adapted to the lifestyle here very well. How did you do it? I was posted here a few months ago but I’m finding it tough to adapt.” I told him, “I had the same issues from the beginning but time worked its magic. With time, you’ll adjust. Just make up your mind and make it a point that you have nowhere else to go. It helps.”
The next day I met him again. I got to know his name from his kids too. They called him Sir Jonathan. I said, “Oh you’re Jonathan? That’s my father’s name. He named me after himself. Somehow, he thought Joan is the female version of Jonathan so he gave me Joan.” He said, “Then forget about the Jonathan. Call me daddy.” I said, “If only you’ll give me pocket money every morning, then I wouldn’t mind calling you dad.” He laughed. We exchanged contacts. We became friends.
He came to my place every weekend to eat. On weekdays when he wanted to eat something he wouldn’t get from the village, he would give me money to cook so the two of us can eat. Even Before he proposed to me, everyone in the village thought we were dating. He said, “The whole village can’t be wrong. They think we are a couple. Let’s make it true.” I said, “They would call us liars. We’ve always told them that we are not couples but just friends. Think about that.” He said, “Then let the village think what they may think whiles we do what makes us happy. I will be very happy to have you as my girlfriend. Just say yes for the sake of my happiness.” I said, “How about my own happiness?” He said, “I will take care of that when you say yes to me.”
I said yes.
Nine months later, we got married. Marrying Jonathan was one of the easiest decisions I’ve had to make in life. He proved to be a capable companion throughout the period of our relationship. There was nothing he wouldn’t do. As far as my happiness was on the line, he would travel every mile to ensure things get done. He told me, “When you smile, I glow. I will do anything to have that smile.” He was in the kitchen with me all the time. I lived in a single room with a portion of the room made into a kitchen. When he was with me, he could have been in bed while I cooked but he would sit next to me and find a job for himself. What he couldn’t do, he asked me to teach him. I washed in my room. He did it with me. We will bring his things and the two of us will wash together. You see why I said it was easier to marry him? His kind of man isn’t easy to find so I made it easy for him to marry me.
When we got married, we needed a bigger place to stay so we moved a couple of blocks away and rented a place there. It is a compound house with as many as six different households living together in the same compound. Honestly, it’s the best place we could get in the whole village. It’s a single room that has a kitchen attached to it. When it comes to toilet and bath, the six households in the compound share a single toilet and a single bath. The rooms are opposite each other so you mostly see what everyone is doing in the house.
One morning, Jonathan went out to see a friend. I was in the room relaxing when I heard a knock on my door. I opened the door and saw the elderly woman whose room is directly opposite ours. She greeted and I responded. She said, “There’s something I would like to discuss with you. Can I have a chair?” I gave her a chair outside and sat next to her. She was speaking undertone. She said, “It’s about your husband and the way the two of you live. I don’t know how old your mother is but I believe I’m old enough to give birth to you. Because of that, I qualify to give advice or play a motherly role in your life. Why are you always in the kitchen with your husband? I’ve realized that you don’t cook your cassava until your husband is home. You want him to be the one to pound the fufu so you wait until he’s in before you put cassava on fire. Can’t you do it solo? You stir and pound at the same time. Can’t you?”
I was looking at her. I wanted her to finish what she had to say so I can clearly see her point. But she kept asking me questions. I said, “No I can’t. I can either pound or stir. I can’t do both at the same time.” She screamed, “That’s why you’re a woman. You have to learn. It’s a woman’s job to own the kitchen. Your husband has no place in there. You’re turning him into a man-woman and everyone around here is gossiping about it. It’s not good for his image as a man so do something about it.” I took in a deep breath and said, “I and my husband have been like this right from the beginning, even when we were not married. I don’t see anything wrong with that. We go to work together. We come home together. So we do home chores together too. What’s wrong with that?” She said, “Everything is wrong. Look around here and tell me. Have you ever seen any man in the kitchen with his wife? Change it. It’s not good.”
I went in and thought about the whole thing and started laughing. “This woman paaa what has come over her? Do I interfere in her marriage that she has the audacity to interfere in mine?” I didn’t tell my husband about it. He’s a man. If he gets to know people are gossiping about him, he may feel shy and stop helping around the house. I know Jonathan, he’s a shy person. In the house, he hardly speaks with anyone apart from exchanging greetings with them. I kept mute about the woman’s interference so we could have our peace and live the way we want to live.
On Saturday morning we were both washing. The woman was eating in front of her room. She was looking at us and chuckling. I didn’t mind. We both washed and I took them to the dryline to hang them. Later in the evening, I was in the room when Jonathan went to the drying line to remove our laundry. He came back with well-folded laundry and a smile on his lips. He said, “Guess what happened. The woman whose room is directly opposite to ours saw me removing the things and she asked me to stop. She then removed everything and folded them nicely for me.” I asked, “What did she say?” He responded, “She didn’t say anything. I only thanked her and left.”
Another day, Jonathan went out to fetch water but it was the woman who brought the water to our veranda. I went to the market with him and we were both coming home with loads in our hands. The woman sent her daughter to collect Jonathan’s load. He said, “No it’s ok, we are almost home.” She said, “My mom will be angry if I don’t take it from your hand.” She took it and sent it to our veranda.
Another morning, another knock on our door. Jonathan was out. This time it was the landlord’s wife who came to see me. She said, “The gossips around here is that you’ve used juju on your husband that’s why he does all the things you’re supposed to do. I know both of you are strangers around here. You’re educated too. Maybe where you come from, things like these are allowed but here in this village, it’s unheard of. I will urge you to do something about it. I don’t like the way the people in this house are talking about you. Four people so far had petitioned me and my husband to talk to you. I can’t sit unconcerned again, that’s why I’m here.”
I took my time to explain everything to her. “I don’t tell my husband what to do. It’s in his nature to do all the things he does to help around the house. And it makes sense because we both go to work together. We come home at the same time. We both get tired so we combine energy to finish the house chores so we can get time for ourselves before we sleep. Is that a bad thing to do?” She said, “Look around, even the jobless men around here don’t help in the kitchen. It’s never a man’s role to do that. That’s why they think you’ve bewitched your husband. If it’s not true then make him stop. If you need help, you can call any kid around here and they’ll be happy to help you.”
I thought I was strong but I was hurt the way she said it. When my husband came from town, I told him everything. He was very mad. He said, “Forget about them. If they have any issues, they should come to me. I’m the man of the house. Don’t worry about them. We do what will help us. They should also do what will help them.”
We’ve been in this house for only seven months but no one talks to me. They prefer talking behind my back. When I finish bathing and come out, nobody in the house wants to go in right after me. They think I will bewitch them. We want to move out but there’s no house in this village better than what we are living in. Again, what shows we’ll have peace in the next house we are going to rent? Because of the name-calling, I can see my husband has toned down on the kind of help he gives around the house.
What should I do? Gradually I’ll lose my husband’s output towards house chores. If he loses it entirely, it would be difficult for me to get it back and that’s my fear. We won’t live forever in this village. Someday, we’ll seek and get a transfer to a better place where we can have peace to model our marriage the way we want it. I don’t want that day to come and meet a husband who has lost his magic. What should I do to keep my husband engaged in doing household chores?
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