WHEN THE WIFE IS THE MAN OF THE HOUSE…

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Maybe if couples realized that marriage is a different ball game from dating, the mortality rate of marriages would reduce drastically. Sometimes it borders on the absurd to see couples who’ve been dating for 8 years getting a divorce within the first year of marriage. It’s worrisome. And when something worries me, I embark on a journey to seek answers – this journey had me speaking to divorce lawyers, psychologists, and law enforcement officials – and I got zip. Nadda. I was going to just call it a day on the issue, and chalk it up to another mystery we just can’t find answers to – like, why hasn’t anyone been arrested for killing 2pac? But then, a story came forth to shed light on the issue.

A young couple, Tunde and Wemimo lived and worked in England – they were happy together for eight long years as boyfriend and girlfriend. Tunde had a good job that paid well in the city of London. Wemimo had a great job – a high powered job that paid her more than she needed.

The couple co-existed harmoniously, with love and respect for one another, despite the fact that Wemimo probably made 10 times more money than Tunde made. Like my friend said, London is a “leveler” society – because two persons from very distant pay-grades can co-exist almost perfectly without the disparity in income being obvious, and or even posing a problem in their relationship. Well, as you well know the same cannot be said of the Nigerian society.

After about 8 years of dating, Wemimo and Tunde get married, and shortly afterwards they decide to return to Nigeria, majorly because Wemimo got offered an awesome job (promotion) to head her UK-based company’s operations in Nigeria – with that job came certain perks, like a mansion in Lekki, a fleet of awesome cars, and domestic staff. Tunde had already secured an apartment for the couple somewhere in a remote and not so posh neighborhood in Lagos, where the couple stayed before the perks that came with Wemimo’s new job kicked in. And with the activation of those perks came the first conflict the couple would encounter in their relationship. The conflict was simple, and would set the pace for more to come.

At first, Wemimo spent weekdays, going to and from work from her Lekki mansion, because to her, the proximity from the mansion to her office made more economic (and maybe, lifestyle) sense, but within a month, Wemimo had gradually furnished the mansion with expensive Italian furniture and interior decors, that it became impractical to live anywhere else – and soon, her relationship with her husband began to look like a long distance one despite the fact that they lived in the same city – to mitigate against this gap, she suggested that her husband moved in with her. Maybe an innocent suggestion at first – but when Tunde’s friends and family got wind of the plans, it turned into a big deal – suddenly, it was a mortal sin to move into his wife’s apartment – they even hired a conflict resolution specialist aka a-mutual-friend-who-happens-to-be-a-lawyer to talk Wemimo out of her decision, but she stuck to her guns, and for the sake of the marriage, Tunde caved in, and moved in with his wife – like we say in Nigeria, after all who no like better thing?

Having just moved from England, Tunde was yet to get a job in Lagos, so in the new scheme of things, one may be forgiven for referring to him as a house-husband. Wemimo became the obvious breadwinner – not that Tunde was a penniless, lazy, lay-about – he had investments that fetched him some good cash, but then if incomes were humans, his would be a 3feet tall dwarf in a circus, while Wemimo’s income would tower over his like a 6-foot-seven, 300-pound, point guard for the Lakers Basketball team– do the math.

Now a high-powered, successful business leader, Wemimo’s circle of friends/acquintances included ministers, governors, CEOs of Fortune-500 companies, big-shot celebrities looking for favors, etc – and the more her power and influence grew, the more alienated, uncomfortable, and paranoid, Tunde became. Tunde just couldn’t keep up with the incessant business vacations, cocktail events, and black-tie parties aboard a 100-foot yacht somewhere in Monaco – he was running out of tuxedos, like a crack addict runs out of money. So, his wife started going at it alone – well, there’d be jealousy, of course, but the suspicions didn’t hurt as much as the snide comments from the men in Wemimo’s circle – “where’s your poor husband?”

The neighbors and domestic staff at the mansion joined the chorus of snide comments; they made Tunde feel like he was his own wife’s gigolo. He could feel their stares. He could sense their disapproval. He became a fodder for bad-taste bar room jokes. But the last straw would come during one of his wife’s trips out of town, when our dear PHCN decided to pocket the electric power supply, and cast the neighborhood into darkness… well, if you know Lekki residents, you’d also know that it was only a matter of maybe 30 to 60 seconds before the diesel-powered generators would kick in, but this time the domestic staff at Tunde’s – sorry, Wemimo’s mansion did not turn on the generator, and when Tunde called the security guard who doubled as the generator-operator, and asked:

“Why haven’t you turned on the generator?”

The guard hissed, and replied glibly “madam say make we no dey on the generator unless say na she tell us to on am – and she no tell us to on am”

He couldn’t bring himself to argue with the security guard, after all, the madam who pays the piper dictates the tune. And his wife has made it clear even to the domestic staff that she was the “Oga”. It suddenly began to make sense – “madam’s house”, “madam’s cars”, “and madam’s money”. Now, Tunde could only imagine how their mutual friends really felt about him seemingly living off his wife’s wealth. It suddenly became clear to him, that perhaps his wife shared the opinion of her friends that he was indeed a leech, living off the sweat and blood of his hardworking wife.

He moved out. Wemimo did not bother to find out why, or even go looking for him – she was busy, of course. After a couple months, he filed for a divorce. Wemimo was glad to sign the papers. And that’s how a relationship that thrived lovingly for 8 years in England, crumbled in less than a year in Nigeria.

And my questions are:

a)      How different is “being in a relationship” in England from being married in Nigeria?

b)      How much does it matter who the breadwinner of the family really is?

c)       Why do things seem weird for everyone around when the woman is the one making more money in the relationship?

d)      How could they have saved their marriage?

–James Amuta [James Amuta is the author of Enigma: Beyond the Poet; a maverick publicist with expertise in television/film content and corporate publicity. He’s also a filmmaker with a few documentaries and TV commercials to his credit. Find more of his notes on www.facebook.com/jamesamuta or follow him on Twitter: www.twitter.com/jamesamuta

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7 comments

  1. First off…,wether its d “leveler” society in england or its the “non-leveler”society in Nigeria or some place else,a couple that’s passionately out to make things work would sure find a way to love and respect eachother irrespective of the dichotomy in their incomes

    Does it matter who the bread winner is…?,Hell yeah it does…,if not to the couple,to the nosy neighbours,friends & family.
    In my family,for instance,my dad got involved in an auto accident some years back and had 2 go through bouts of physiotherapy that lasted for months.In the course of his physiotherapy the private company where he worked said his long absence at the office was costing them a lot,so they paid him off and dismissed him
    couple of months later he got outta physio & by then my mum was the sole bread-winner of the family & since my dad was out of a job,she floated a supermarket for my dad where he sells things irrespective of criticisms sarcastic remarks from friends and even family…,now i’m only bold enough to bring that on here because I saw in my parents the zeal to make things work,even amidst the claptrap people were dishing out

    My mum culda been jumping at every opportunity to attend every black tie event organized by her company,but she moderated the rate at which she attended those events…,plus at the end of each month she had a habit of giving her husband her entire salary and asking him to share it out into proportions according to the family’s needs,un-arguably giving him the impression that he’s still the man of the house irrespective of their difference in income…,thats just one of the ways the couple above wulda saved their marriage…

  2. He should have been more matured about it and cared at least a bit about the relationship. All fingers are not equal and it is bound to happen that lady of the house might be richer than the man but she should always put family first rather than career or mony

  3. Well, you know what they say…if its †ђξ man’s money, its our money but if its †ђξ woman’s money, its one person’s money.
    “He moved out. Wemimo did not bother to find out why, or even go looking for him – she was busy, of course. After a couple months, he filed for a divorce. Wemimo was glad to sign the papers”…this is as a result of being fed up and desperately wanting it to end as easily as possible.

  4. hisssssssssss. foolish story about foolish people. both parties were immature and obviously didnt understand the dynamics of marriage. neither did they have smart people around to advice and guide them. how can you as a woman train your staff to disrespect your husband?!!?!?!?!?!?! they are indirectly disrespecting you! and how can you as a man allow your woman to be the head, torso and tail of the relationship?!?!? she’s one person and even if she brings home pure gold everyday as income, you both have to carry your weight in the relationship!
    its’ not a naija vs jand issue…the woman simply did not carry her husband along as she became more successful. and please, ladies, as hard as it is…and i know it’s hard, i am a woman, please try not to SHIT on your man.
    and no, it is not his wife’s house, it is their marital home. calling it his wife’s apartment was the beginning of the end. i don tire to type….rubbish and nonsense. God save us!

  5. You really cannot make an unbiased judgement by reading this article alone, each party would have a reason for how they handle the situation and you cannot find that out by merely reading this. In addition, people have their own opinions about female roles, behaviours, attitudes etc many people will believe as a wife she must have to submit (in every sense of the word) to her husband. I doubt they ever had a thorough conversation together, aired out their grievances, at all – each one just believes the other should see and acknowledge what he/she is feeling and thats not possible….except every human is a psychic.
    It was probably easier in jand to live as they did because there are less people in your business, analyzing and trying to give you advice that is not the best, as opposed to naij where those who are ‘looking out for you’ are really not doing so. Dont get me wrong in both countries both types of people exist, but in naij you really have to understand and know the people you call friends to be honest.
    It’s weird when the woman is the breadwinner and the man is still officially around because, as a patriarchal men are supposed to be in charge, its not specific to nigeria, its something the whole world has to deal with. A woman in charge is threatening in many ways, to a man’s dignity, to his ego, to him it is demeaning. This patriarchal notion can account for the manner in which the staff and friends treated him as well.

    To the person above who thinks this is a stupid story it is not, it happens and its not just people who relocate to nigeria from else where, people who have lived in nigeria there whole lives once the husband has to take a back sit no matter how temporary in most cases it leads to issues in the marriage. His ego is hurt, he feels like he has lost authority and does not take a sit to think about how his wife feels either.

  6. Really can’t judge on d write as far as marriage issue is concerned.but d fact is this-d guy was feeling less a man which shouldn’t be the case.Wemimo didn’t handle her own end goood neither..

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