Someone sent a private message to me yesterday asking what came over me, what changed my perception about marriage. Why I sound like a caged and weak man, he wondered where the strong Igbo man he knew me to be disappeared to. My response is that true strength lies, not in oppressing your wife, not in cajoling and forcing her to be afraid of you but in getting her to respect, submit and honour you without force or manipulation. I went further to tell him that I am still that very strong Igbo man, completely in control of my family, the difference is that I have matured over the years, I have grown both in years and experience and the perspective from which I view marriage has completely changed for the best.

I have always been good to my wife, or so I thought, I have always provided 100% for her and my kids, I do not verbally abuse her, I do not physical abuse her. We quarrel, we argue sometimes a bit too intensely every now and then Like any other couple, but then something wasn’t quite right. I was firm, I was in charge, reeling out orders like the one man supreme military council that I was back then. I didn’t allow her work for a few years and she happens to be a very brilliant lawyer, what an amazing level of ignorance on my part and hers as well. She had a curfew, I tried to choose her friends, basically I controlled almost all aspects of her life, yet to most people, I was the ideal husband simply because I had the means to throw a few bucks around.  

It took me a while to realize that marriage as practiced by most of us is very oppressive and repressive to women. No offense to anyone, different things work for different people, like I always say, there is no standard rule in marriage. Choose you spouse, choose your method, stand with God and embark on your journey, at your own pace and tactics. There is however a universal definition of an oppressive or repressive marriage, no matter you pace and tactics, no matter who your spouse is, what is wrong is wrong. Even after I realized all these things and decided to change, I was still not doing the right thing. She was now freer to criticize and lend her voice to our affairs, I listened to her wise counsel always, consulted her regularly but was still a bit skeptical about loosing control totally. I believed I was very magnanimous in my decision to relax some of my extreme views, it felt like I have given her the best gift, I felt entitled to profound gratitude from my wife, that was extremely conceited. I didn’t think it was necessary to relinquish my hold on power, so I hung on to some level of control. 

Total renaissance came as I woke up one morning, my daughter came into my room to talk to me, she was about 12, I looked at her and from no where the thoughts of her as a married woman flooded my mind. Did I really want a man like me for her, can I honestly pray that she gets into the type of marriage I had at that time. Why am I paying so much to send her to school if she will not be able to aspire to get to the top of her chosen career simply because of marriage. In as much as I wasn’t maltreating my wife in an obvious way, was there definitely room for improvement. My Lord Bishop, Rt Rev. C. C Okorocha Phd, said something to my wife and I when we went for counseling, he said “good is not an option where better is possible” I felt I was doing good, but wasn’t it possible to do better?. Right there on my bed that faithful morning, I resolved to be in a marriage I will wish for my own daughters and son. I resolved to let my wife freely pursue her dream, I decided to encourage her financially and morally wherever and whenever Gods gives me the means to do so. 

To my brothers, Be rest assured that she bears your name, she is your wife, and as long as she is not immorally advancing her career, as long as you have not had course to JUSTLY and OBJECTIVELY (not frivolous and malicious accusations) suspect infidelity, be happy and encourage her, it is your name that is being uplifted. To women, I advise that you thread carefully, avoid any thing that will embarrass you husband and your children, no amount of success is worth being defiled for, nothing is hidden forever, do things today that you can proudly defend tomorrow, things that will empower you to boldly ask your children with all moral justification that ultimate question “where did you learn this rubbish from”, this is a question we heard a thousand times during our childhood but regrettably, it is now becoming extinct. it is your responsibility to continue to assure your husband of your total respect and love regardless of how high you climb. The higher up the ladder of success you climb, the higher the level of tolerance and humility expected from you at home, that is the natural balance required for peace and tranquility for a successful union. 

It may seem that I am over emphasizing this issue, I am merely responding to the feedback I got from my last post. Let us reorganize our homes, let us restore the woman to her biblical position of a helper and soulmate, the bone of our bone and the flesh of our flesh Genesis 2:23. Let us encourage them to pursue their dreams. Everyone on earth is here for a purpose, I do not believe any woman’s purpose on earth is to simply be a successful wife and mother, that is simply ridiculous, there has to be a higher purpose and calling, help her find hers . One of our duties as the head of our families is to encourage and support every member of our household to aspire to be the best they can be, this includes our wives. We should uplift and encourage her just like we do our daughters, after all she is a another man’s daughter and I know we will not want any man to stand in the way of our own daughters’ progress. Let us all jettison the debilitating mindset that she will rise against us when she succeeds, this should be replaced with the thought that even if we don’t benefit from her success, our children will definitely do. As husbands and fathers, One of our main purposes in life is to train and equip our children for their own lives’ journey, is it not then wise that we encourage the women if their efforts will positively impact the children’s progress- Sir Stanley Ekezie