A post I read on Facebook a few days back reminded me of an encounter with a woman and what made this post so relatable were the words in which the message was couched: subtle but sent a huge message.
I was in a tailor’s shop with some women one day and one of the women who had come later than the rest of us appealed for us to let her have her measurements taken as she was rushing home to cook. Apparently, the tailor who already knows about this said “madam, you and this your cooking sef,” to which the woman replied, “What can I do? You know no one else cooks and serves my husband’s food and it has to be fresh soup every day as he neither eats the same soup twice in a row nor soup that has been refrigerated.”
To say I was shocked to hear that is an understatement but every opportunity is a learning opportunity, so I couldn’t let it pass without asking a question or two or more. My journalistic instinct was also at play.
How do you do it, I asked. Do you not have a job? Don’t you travel? What happens when he travels? If you’re sick, who does the cooking?
In a tone that suggested she was very cool and somewhat proud of herself and her domestic arrangement, she responded: “I’ve been doing this for 15 years now. To ensure that I’m always available to meet his need for fresh meals, when we got married, my husband insisted that I must not work so that I will always be available so I was a full-time housewife for many years but he later allowed me to do business so that I can always close the shop and return anytime. Even when I am sick, as long as I am not bedridden, I make his food. I hardly ever travel but when he does, he makes do with what is available till he returns.”
I asked her if she had an education at all and she said she had a Bsc and when I probed further, asking if she went to school just to come out and spend a good part of her life cooking fresh meals she said, “you will not understand,” while she dashed off.
So when I saw a post by Chioma Ifeanyi-Eze, greeting special husbands, I couldn’t help but remember that encounter.
In the words of Chioma, men who fall in the category of special husbands are “those whose wives are not allowed to work or do business; no house help is allowed in the house; he eats only fresh foods and nothing that has entered the fridge; he doesn’t eat out, all his meals must be made at home and only by her; she must never come close to or be seen with a man even if it is work or business.”
Other attributes of special husbands include: they decide who their wives must be friends with and visit; they alienate their wives from their family; she has no social life as she’s forever tending to his needs; she has no room for personal growth and development; the table must be set before he returns home and even when he returns late and his wife is already in bed, she must wake up, serve his food and clear the table; if he calls and you’re with someone, he demands to speak with them to confirm that you’re truly with them.
The list is endless.
But I have a question for husbands with special needs. When they were bachelors, who was meeting these special needs? When they travel, who meets their special needs? How do you feel cutting someone off from the life and people they were used to in the name of marriage? Why do you project your insecurities on someone and harm them psychologically without any qualms?
Some of you claim it is love. Would you be happy if you were loved that way?
One interesting thing with special husbands, and as confirmed by some of their wives, is that they lose their special needs once they leave the shores of the country and move abroad. They go from special to supportive husbands without prompting, once the bills stare them in the face and they realise that everyone has to work for them to be able to meet up.
Could it, therefore, be that our culture and perhaps, society, conditions men to have special needs and women obliged to attend to these needs?
While we’re in the age of everyone doing what makes them happy or putting in place whatever arrangement works for them, I cannot help but admonish that if you have a special boyfriend/fiancée, better know what you’re signing up for. Special men hardly change; if anything at all, their needs only get more special in marriage.
But if you go ahead and marry one, we will visit you if he allows us, eat the special meals you prepare and nod in sympathy if you lament your woes.
Bottom line: don’t start what you cannot finish!