Hello. It’s been aeons. Creating content for a blog on a regular basis, I have realized, is not compatible with working a full time job. I have been kept on my toes by my “real” job in the past few weeks and frankly, there were times I even forgot I had a blog, let alone think up something to post. Couple this with malaria, and….. I hope I’m forgiven.
This post was inspired by a discussion Mother had had with one of my uncles. He had had it with his wife’s loud and uncouth behaviour and Mother a while before then, had noticed traces of frustration in his demeanour, which he couldn’t hide anymore. He didn’t even know when, in a moment of heightened annoyance he blurted “I don’t even understand this woman anymore. Why can’t she just behave civilized for once”? Living in bitterness and resentment, he is. Let’s hear a bit of their history.
Uncle John(not real name), at the age of 36, is still searching for a wife. He is light brown in complexion, a secondary school certificate holder, soft spoken and about 5ft 6″ or 5ft7″. He decides to tell his mother back in the east to find him a good Christian girl who is from a good family and who must be at least 5ft 9″ or 5ft10″. His emphasis on the height of the girl is not missed because his height is one of his insecurities (a phenotypic trait which he doesn’t want to pass on to his progeny)and so they begin their hunt for the perfect wife for John. In a couple of months they succeed and introduce John to his betrothed, Aunty Jane. Aunty Jane(not real name either, duh) is ebony black, 22 years old, a secondary school certificate holder, 6ft plus, slim as a model and from a good Christian home: The perfect match, or so we thought.
Fast forward 12 years into their marriage. Uncle John is still as trim and handsome as ever, albeit with a few white strands in his hair. He is still soft spoken, and with his increase in age he stands with a quiet dignity even more pronounced than before. Here lies the problem: Aunty Jane is a complete antithesis of him. She is loud, i.e, she enters a room with her mouth first, she is now probably three times his size after having 4 kids for him, and while he is as composed as a statue, she is as disorganized as anyone can be. They both had their schooling in rural areas, but her absolute lack of modern manners is glaringly evident in her carriage, even after 12 years of big city life.
You know what my response was when Mother confided her worry about their marriage to me?
No, I wasn’t being deliberately mean. I mean, I was a kid when they got married, but I can still remember clearly how smitten he was by her glowing skin, her slim body and her height; her height was probably enough to blind him to her other err, flaws. She is as loud now as she was then. She is as disorganized now as she was then. What gives, people?
Here’s my theory. He was so obsessed about a particular quality, that he was blind to the presence of flaws big enough to make his obsession wane quickly over time. I don’t know if I made much sense just now. What I mean is, he placed undue emphasis and interest in a particular trait, without giving room for other behavioural traits that would make it work with his kind of personality. Now don’t get me wrong, we’re all allowed to have criteria in choosing our [future] spouses, but apart from the physical, many things should be considered.
As an example, lets say Me, Chibugo. Physically I do not like men with too much facial hair, and on a good day I am just unable to fancy a guy whom I am taller than. On the other hand, I value good conversation, confidence, intelligence and a broad worldview, similar values (practicing Christian, book lover, etc), and last but definitely at the top of the list, a good sense of humor. These, for me, will trump facial hair or shortness, any day. Dear Uncle should have thought in a similar line before accepting his betrothed. So what if his kids turn out the same height as him? His peace of mind first, methinks.
The thing about physical features I have discovered is that, the rate at which they fade will astonish you. I have been told by different people(married) that “inasmuch as aesthetics matter, the bond of marriage is largely dependent on a similar value system. If he is as handsome as Ramsey Nouah and she is as beautiful as Genevieve Nnaji or as endowed as Amber Rose, when the strength of a marriage is tested, none of these will hold up. Show me a couple who can agree together on most things and I’ll show you a happy family”. There is a 14 year difference between them but right now they could pass for age mates, since she does not pay as much attention to her physical fitness/appearance as he does. This may have been a very minor issue if they could actually hold a conversation for a reasonable period of time without one person zoning out. I wondered how all this could have slipped his notice at the beginning! He was glad that he would not have short children and she was pretty much eager to become a wife. It’s a trend around here, you know, being a Mrs. Somebody. The part that is most painful to him is probably the fact that his kids have inherited her loud and disorganised behaviour, except one.
I am not married but common sense is not that expensive. Never overlook the important for the unimportant. You may end up as frustrated as Dear Uncle John. Even as marriage is between two imperfect people, let yours be a compromise based on a joint action of your head and your heart. Would you be able to bear that person’s bad habits in the long run? If you’re still in a relationship, great! But have you asked yourself whether you would like to spend the rest of your life with this woman because frankly you believe she is your lost rib or will you say yes if he were to propose tomorrow? The things you have decided to overlook/tolerate, are they greater in magnitude and importance than the things you admire about him/her? If your answer is yes, I believe you have some questions to ask yourself, boo. So, tell me: what can you tolerate, and what is an absolute no-no for you? For the married, how do you deal with your partner’s bad habits? Any advice for us still single? I definitely do not know it all, so please feel free to leave your comments, educate me!
The relationship between husband and wife should be one of closest friends – B. R. Ambedkar