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An Open Letter to the Mothers of Our Future Husbands.

“A man doesn’t become a king when he marries. He doesn’t become a king either. He can make his own tea and for goodness sake, he can make his own goddamn sandwich!”

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Dear mamas present and future,

Please stop raising your boys to look at marriage as an escape to chores. This attitude not only belittles the marital arrangement but also creates impossible expectations which lead to disappointment. Teach your sons that your daughters are not maids; that their gender does not render them kings, that marriage is team work and putting your feet up infront of the tv while expecting your wife to be slaving away in the kitchen for you is barbaric and has no place in a modern home.
Teach your sons that there’s nothing wrong with getting their hands dirty once in a while; that their wives are weaker than they are and need twice the care and support they do. Teach them to be considerate, and to say no to chauvinism. Teach them that it is only through teamwork, not tyranny, that a family can progress.

Teach them to treat their women like treasures, and they will enjoy all the treasures this life has to offer. The good book said that a man who finds a wife finds a good thing. We do not use our good clothes as rags, we do not use our good perfumes as air freshener, we do not use our good cars as wheelbarrows. Why then do we use our good wives as maids?

A wise man once said that when speaking to your mate, especially when angry, speak to them as you would to your boss or your very good friend. Think about it. When you disagree with your boss, or they do something you do not like and make you angry, the first thing you do is consider whether or not it’s worth mentioning. If not, we let it pass. But if we really have to bring it up, we’ll find the most diplomatic way to bring it up. A lot of the time, we’ll spend days pondering over how to address the issue. We might even consult different people on how best to go about it. Yet when it comes to our wives, we are as rude and careless with our words as can be. Do you see how this is a problem?

A man doesn’t become a king when he marries. He doesn’t become handicapped either. He can make his own tea and for goodness sake, he can make his own goddamn sandwich! And it is our role as tomorrow’s wives and mothers to remind our boys of this. Even maids get days off. So if your wife cooks 5 days out of 7, why can’t you step in the other two? Where is it written that a married couple cannot have sandwiches for dinner? Or that it’s the woman who must do all the cooking all the time? Stop encouraging them when they say things like “I havent eaten all day because my wife didn’t cook”. What kind of rubbish is that? Send them to the fridge! Send them to the cooker. Do not encourage this wife blaming and shaming. Are they lame? Have they forgotten where the fridge is? Let it end with you. And let it end now. Lets save the next generation of married women from this rubbish. You did not spend so much money raising and educating your daughters for them to serve and wait on another humanbeing just because he happened to put a ring on their fingers. Marriage should not be a punishment. Let’s not turn it into one.

Teach your sons how to speak to a woman, how to treat her, how to love and cherish her, and everything else will fall in place.

Sincerely,
Married African Female, present and future.

Jose Chameleone and Daniela divorce

I read something that broke my heart today. Prominent singer (and old kinda sorta friend) and his gorgeous wife Daniela are getting divorced. But that’s not the bad part. Why they are getting divorced is the part that broke my heart. Abuse, of the verbal, emotional and physical nature (allegedly).

I want to start by saying that if this is all true, then I’m extremely proud of Daniela (and every other woman out there going through the same) for making such a brave move. Being both African, female and married, believe me when I say I know how hard it is to get up and say you have had enough and actually walk out of a marriage. Too many of us stay trapped in marital prisons in the name of societal ideals, status, religion, financial security and a host of other reasons. My question today is, though, when is it all too much? At what point is it okay to say, “I will not be doing this anymore. I wasn’t born to suffer and I do not deserve this,” then pack your bags and move on? And will we, as a culture, ever be ready to accept this reality? That contrary to popular belief, women are not punching bags?

I saw someone comment on the story saying that barttery, torture and emotional abuse were not grounds for divorce and that Danielle should go back and cook for Chameleon. My heart broke into tiny little pieces because so many people think like this. I thought of all the women out there whose relatives and friends share this person’s view and I silently wept on their behalf. Are our feelings, our emotional well-being that unimportant? Are we really only good for cooking and cleaning?

In that moment, my heart went out to Daniela (and I don’t even know her) and I silently thanked God that she was brave enough to rise above all the bullshit advice and make a move in the direction of better living and better mental health. Because absolutely no one should ever have to tolerate what she [says she] did. Not for financial security and certainly not for children. I know for a fact that I’d die first before I let my children be part of a situation like that.

I pray for a day/life when we’ll stop minimizing and trivializing women’s issues.

I also pray for a day when men who do things like this will seek help. We can blame the alcohol all we want but there are underlying issues here that need to be addressed. By the time a grown man chooses to beat on a defenceless woman, instead of defending said man’s actions and encouraging the woman to stay, we should try to understand and get to the bottom of why it is happening. And then get said man some help.

Let’s stop this trend of woman shaming and instead put our heads together to end things like this.

November blues.

Hi friends,

November has been a little topsy turvy. For starters, it’s exactly a year since I broke up with my childhood sweetheart, an event Facebook has spent days remining me about, after buttering me up with all the sweet nothings we said to eachother and about eachother infront of the world in the months before said break up.  There was a time when I was the poster child for love and happy endings. People actually prayed for love like mine/ours.

Fast forward a few years, and here I am, married to someone I do not love and hoping that someday someone will love me and understand me and appreciate me the way my childhood love did. It’s been 6 years and the man still looks at me like I’ve got diamonds in my eyes. Who can say that’s not for real?

So many of you have been asking, and no he did not sign the papers. He wouldn’t even hear of it. How can he let me go when that’s what I desperately want? Who will be his toy? His emotional punching bag? His cook? I think of all the reasons that got me into this mess and i laugh. Back then,  it really seemed like the only thing I could have done. If only someone had told me that you can’t fix one problem by creating another. So here I am, confused and in a state of denial and low-key self loathing. I’m really not sure how I got here and  I feel like I’ve been dying a little bit everyday since that dreaded day almost two years ago.

So November has been a month of mourning. So many goodbyes have been said in this month over the years. And for some reason, this particular one feels a bit like all the goodbyes I’ve ever said are coming back to me. Why did we grow up? Today I saw a little girl with a t-shirt saying, “Don’t grow up, it’s a real!” And I thought, “ain’t that the truth?”

In two weeks, I’ll be on a month long break from work. To say I’m excited would be the understatement of the year. I’m beyond excited to unwind and spend some time doing the things I love. The good news is, even with all that I’ve been struggling with these last few months, I’m emotionally better than I have been in a long, long time. I’ve been falling in love with myself, learning to turn my back on bullshit , even when it might offend someone and I basically have far less time for people who are trying to waste my time. It feels good to take back your power.

So go ahead, love yourself.

The end of the road.

The hardest thing about being married is that there are rules and guidelines. You are supposed to act a certain way, feel a certain way. And because of this, it’s so hard to get help when things arent going well. The general “you’ll be alright” and “give it time” is said so many times that if I have to hear it ever again, I just might hurt someone.

So this is my dilemma. I’ve finally gathered the strength and courage to leave. But like one would expect, the finality of it all is very scary. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not having second thoughts or anything. This marriage has taken more from me than all the bad things that have happened to me in the last 25 years combined. And if it goes on any longer, I’ll never be anything, achieve anything. The little energy I have left after even the briefest of interactions with the man I married is just enough to get through the day. Sleep is such a relief, only to wake up and do it again the next day. I’ve done my best not to go numb, because I don’t think anyone should have the power to change another like that. I certainly won’t be giving out that power any time soon. I have sooooo much love in my heart, and I do pray that I will be able to share it with someone for the rest of my life.

That being said, my family seems to think that if I close this door, I’ll be alone for the rest of my life. I can’t lie and say I do not fear this. I do, more than anything else in the world. But fear of being alone is what got me into this mess in the first place. There’s not a single day that I have not woken up and thought that I should have waited. I should have said no when he asked. I should have listened to the voice inside my head when it said “cancel the wedding”.  But I was afraid of ending up alone, of what everyone would say, of eventually going astray. And yet here I am again at the exact same crossroad.

I’ve never needed support white as much as I do now. And yet it feels like my loved ones say and hear what they think they should say and hear. I do not feel heard, understood or empathised with. On more than one occassion, I’ve been made to feel like a deserter. Funny how I used to think the exact same thing about people who got divorced. But the thing is, we never really know people’s circumstances. Some situations should not be endured by anyone. And it’s terribly unfair of anyone of us to expect that of anyone. You know there’s a problem when death starts to feel like an attractive option or way out.

I’ve decided to make an appointment with a therapist. I think the unbiased ear and expert advice will help, both in terms of unburdening my heavy heart and perhaps making me feel a bit less disdained.

I need prayers and hugs and support and wine and all the patience and kindness in the world. I’m not a horrible person. I’m far perfect but I’m not horrible. As a matter of fact, I’d like to think that I’m a nice person with a good heart. And I just want to love and be loved in equal measure.  Is that too much to ask?

Anyway I’ve decided to trust the process.  This too shall come to pass.

And to everyone out there going through the same thing, I hope the words on this blog give you courage in knowing you are not alone.

Do you have a similar story to tell? I’d love to hear from you.

Thank you for stopping by!

Yours,
Married African woman.

Sanity in the face of Emotional Toxicity.

“You can forget the things people do to and for you, but you never quite forget the way they made you feel.” -some wise person.

It’s official, my husband is a professional emotional bully. I decided to start journaling as a way of staying sane. To be honest, sometimes I think I’m imagining these things. I wake up feeling like rubbish over something he did the previous evening but not quite remebering what exactly because I’ve slowly learnt to let go of the details. The feeling isn’t quite as easy to forget though. And I honestly feel like I’m losing it. I constantly think about leaving, how to do it and where to go next. It’s terrifying, and my severe anxiety doesn’t help things at all. Anyway, I regress.

Today was one of those days I normally call an off-day. My greatest achievement was getting out of bed to make breakfast and then again to make lunch. Save for a few chores here and there like doing the dishes and laundry, I spent the rest of the day watching Hostages in bed. I got out of bed at 5.30 to take a shower and start getting dinner ready. The husband came back from work earlier than usual today so dinner wasn’t ready yet and I was just out of the shower. I asked him to put the rice on for me while I dried off and got dressed. Please note that I’d already made the bean curry we were having the rice with. Anyway, he said he was tired, with all the irritation he could muster, and made a cup of tea. In another house, that would probably be okay. But in our house, tea is a weapon. Tea means you are useless at being a wife, you’ve been at home all day but my dinner isn’t ready when I come back? Tea means going to bed early, so I can deal with my uneaten meal and perhaps think twice before not having his supper ready in time tomorrow. And today was the tea kind of evening.

The rice was ready 10 minutes after I put it on. And as soon as I took it off the stove, hubby dearest announced that he was going to bed. “Won’t you eat?” I asked, not really caring. He didn’t bother to respond. Usually, I’d be worked up. We’ve been living in a foreign country for almost a year now. I’m only just starting to make friends here so for the longest time, he’s been my only source of human communication, a fact that was quickly turned into a weapon. You didn’t do what I want?  I wont talk to you. It’s sad and pathetic but it doesn’t hurt anymore.

So tonight,  when he climbed into bed and served me his usual cold treatment, I poured myself a glass of rose and pressed play on the tv series I’d been watching earlier. I’m honestly well out of rat’s behinds to give. Eventually, even the weakest become firm.

And so today, like every day for the past few months, I thought of leaving him. And then I thought of the love I deserve. A man who actually wants me, not as his servant but as his woman; his partner,  his better half.  I thought of a man who thinks I’m beautiful, who makes love to me like the world is ending.  And as usual, anxiety took over. Is that man real? Does he exist? Or is he a figment of our imaginations?

How do you deal with an emotionally abusive spouse?

He might not hit you…

A few days ago, I came across this video on facebook. It’s a portrait of what other forms abuse in a relationship can take, even when it might not be physical. After watching this video, I was directed to a twitter topic #hemightnothityou that trended not too long ago. Reading those tweets had me crying and nodding in agreement because emotional abuse is so real! I read this particular tweet that said “#hemightnothityou but you wish he would just so you know its not just in your mind”. Emotional abuse will do that to you. It messes with your psyche so much that sometimes you might think that that kind of treatment is normal or that you are over reacting. It’s not so bad. He’s just mad. The excuses are endless. You make excuses for him to yourself, you lie to your loved ones, you cover it up and let him use you as a punching bag to make himself better. And over time, you might find that you no longer recognise yourself. An emotionally abusive person will break you bit by bit until there’s nothing left. And at that point, you might even feel lucky that at least they tolerate you. But how much is too much? And how do you deal with it? Marriage is said to be a dignified institution and the things that go on inside are to be kept private. And so most of us are silent about our turmoil. We don’t tell our friends, our families, our inlaws. We grin and we bear it because that’s what we are supposed to do. Anything else is betrayal, disloyalty, breach of oath even. My question is, are we doing ourselves any favors? And more importantly, what lessons are we teaching our children?  Is it even worth it?

With every passing day, I’m more convinced that it is not worth it. I read somewhere that your partner should be your break from the world. If they are not, throw them back to the world and keep searching. Because the truth is, a bad marriage is worse than a jail sentence. If your partner makes you feel like it might be easier to jump off a 30th floor of a building, think very carefully about what it is you are doing with them. Is any humanbeing on the planet worth it? Easier said than done, I know. Some of us have children and depend solely on our husbands for our children’s wellbeing. And so we stay in these situations for our children. We know that if we leave, he’ll abandon the children to punish us. Some of us are bound by our religions, our families, our backgrounds, our fears, you name it. And in these situations, how do we cope? How do we stay sane?

And what would we say to a young bride who might find herself in this bad situation?