This post has been sitting pretty in my drafts since June 30th, I wrote it at a time I found myself writing about marriage a whole lot. I decided to shelve it until another time and I guess that time is now…
Recently, I was having a conversation with a much older man about marriage and a woman’s place in the home. If you know me well- or at least read my blog regularly, you’d know that I do not believe in having specific gender roles in a marriage.
We were talking about life skills that are important to run a home when I told him that I would not marry a man who cannot cook, he was incensed by my statement.
“How can a woman say that she cannot marry a man who cannot cook” he sputtered.
I explained that I had a right to know the qualities I wanted in the man I would have children with and cooking was a must. I think he was more outraged that I had requirements for the future husband than about the cooking proviso. When I told him some of the other things I expected from the future Mr Adaeze, he almost turned red with fury- I added some ridiculous things just to see his reaction though.
“This girl you no well o, you no be wife material at all. You for be man, I no know why you be woman sef because you dey think like man” he said in a tired voice.
“Oga if you wan buy cloth wey you go wear go work, na khaki you go buy?” I asked
“But if to say you be soldier, na khaki you go buy abi?”
“Yes” his voice betrayed his confusion.
“You see say, you and soldier no go buy the same material. Your material go dey different and him own go dey different because una dey do different work”.
“I don talk am before say you no well” he was laughing at that point.
The conversation soon segued to other matters, my job requires me to do plenty talking and I get to talk about varied topics with my customers/clients. That conversation stayed with me though, not necessarily because it’s about marriage but because our society likes to put people into boxes and leave them there.
Why should my wanting a man who can cook make me unsuitable for marriage? Shouldn’t I be able to know what I want in the man whose children I will bear? Shouldn’t l want a man who would be able to provide nourishment for the children if I am not disposed to for any reason? You see, I have a father who is a badass cook. There is nothing my father cannot cook, the man makes the second best scrambled eggs in the world- I make the best scrambled eggs in the world by tweaking his recipe. He can make fufu from cassava, garri too, can cook any soup and when we were kids, he made the funky soups like groundnut soup and his egusi soup is amazing. When my mother had to travel, she never worried that her children would not get proper nourishment or that things would fall apart just because she wasn’t home.
Who makes these rules anyway? These rules for what is wife or husband material and what is not? I’m not even “feminizing” here, just wondering why we tend to subscribe to the notion that a certain set of qualities are desirable for marriage. There’s a statement my mother says during family prayers “as our faces are different so also are our needs different”. What Mr X requires in a mate may be completely different from what Mr J wants and for Ms R and Ms D, their list of requirements will also differ by a sharp margin.
When I was in my second year in uni, I had a neighbour (I lived off-campus) who was a regular Lothario- a large section of my male neighbours were the same. I guess there’s something about being in your twenties and wanting to have sex with as many young women as you can. We were having a conversation about DBanj (he was the hottest artist then, how the mighty have fallen, innit?), we were talking about how difficult it would be for him to find love because of his fame.
“What kind of woman do you think he’ll go for?” He asked.
” She’ll be beautiful, intelligent, resourceful and would be extremely tolerant to be able to cope with the life of a big star”
“Story! If I were him, I’d marry a girl that can kill me in bed night and day” My nineteen year old jaw dropped at his words.
“see you o! Sex is the only thing my wife can give me that another person can’t- I wouldn’t cheat on my wife. I can get a cook and a housekeeper with an army of maids to keep my house running but it is only my wife who would get my juice flowing”
“What if she can’t keep up with the pace?
“I’ll test first na, to avoid stories that touch
I have never forgotten that conversation, it literally changed my perception of what made for attractive qualities in the opposite sex. Nothing is too outlandish when it comes to finding the right person. I think it’s important to know yourself and know what works for you. Conforming to societal mores and customs might only make you miserable and marriage is too long to stay miserable in.