Personal Finance

Men, in marriage roles are not straight jackets

You married or choose to be with your partner for companionship. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

If you are the breed of woman who personally ensures that your hubby's drawer only contains socks that are in good repair, I’m happy for you if that serves you. Dear gentlemen, such women are bordering extinction. If you're married to one, you'll be well-advised to immensely savour every moment, massively appreciate and stick to her like superglue.

To the other breed of woman who works outside the home to bring the bacon and run your household with the help of a maid or two and a cell phone, this is specially for you. Breathe in … exhale x2. Repeat after me; "I am a wonderful, valuable and special partner … and my spouse is privileged to be invited to share my life."

I take the liberty of assuming that you attended formal or informal school to enjoy a great life. You add value at an organisation and are rewarded for it. You bring home a paycheck. If your spouse works and brings home bacon too, that's great. You're empowered by your ability to financially take care of your family. You married or choose to be with your partner for companionship. Hold this thought.

Let's go back 60 to 100 years ago. Most of our mothers were uneducated. They worked in the home and solely kept house while our fathers went out to work in various companies or for the government. Fathers took care of all the bills. It worked well for many families at that point in time. We are, however, growth-oriented creatures without exception. We continually seek to do, have and become more. As life moved along, fathers wanted more for themselves as well as for their families. Mothers too wanted greater independence in running their homes and caring for their families. Many money squabbles down the line, mothers staying home ceased to be a viable arrangement so off they went to work while those who didn't got involved in micro-enterprises from small-scale mandazi-selling to farming and everything in-between.

Our parents knew then what we refuse to acknowledge today; that marriage is a partnership in which roles are not straight jackets. They also knew that if they were to enjoy financially improved lives and secure greater economic empowerment, something had to give. Mothers had to go out and join in the bacon-bringing, meaning that their duties within the home would be compromised. Something else had to give — sacrifices had to be made for the family’s greater future good. And thus we grew up more empowered than our mothers.


We have and continue to tinker with and tweak this new and improved family life. With better education and exposure to more efficient ways of spending time, we are not wives in the traditional sense. We are partners in life. That means that we share the responsibility of the family's ever-improving livelihood, and future security.

This simply is great thinking for progressive guardians of any family. As it was with our parents, something's gotta give. Some realignments have to be made. Only long-sighted discerning individuals have the presence of mind to appreciate this. It means your partner is not always going to open doors or pull out seats for you like in the movies no matter what Steve Harvey says, ma’am. It also means that your food will not always be prepared from scratch and lovingly served by your beautiful wife like in the Stepford Wives movie, sir. She is spending lots of time helping build a greater family and an even greater future.

While this greatness is in the works, the very least you could do is to take the basic responsibility of ensuring you're properly dressed. With respect to what you and your partner are working towards, wearing torn socks because your partner did not ensure your socks are in good repair is not an occurrence that should be recorded anywhere in your life.

To begin with, you were your mother's child and responsibility many years ago. Your partner has her own children. You're not one of them. You should be a partner in the responsibility of caring for the children you have with her, not behaving like one of them. If you, as the traditional head of the family appreciate help in bringing home the bacon you cannot dis-appreciate the fact that it means that the least you can do is take responsibility for your socks and actively participating in the home chores and tasks. No matter how subservient, submissive and "sub-everything" your partner is, she is no superwoman.

No matter how well you think she handles her career, motherhood and being a wife, your home, your family and especially your bedroom life will be greatly enhanced by your participation in home-care. Your partner cannot take the responsibility of dressing you up like she or your maid probably does your 4-year-old and perceive you as respectable, loving, exciting and even sexy man. Every time she feels obliged to sort your socks drawer, your underwear drawer and lord-knows what else you expect because your mother did so for your father, you lose more brownie points than I care to enumerate.

If you're going to marry or live with any forward-thinking woman today, you must decide what you would rather have; her respect, love, excitement and a bedroom excitingly alight or a perfunctory copy of the ideal wife that lives in your unhelpful belief-system. You won't find both in one woman.