On her wedding day, a woman is deliriously dreamy, absolutely trusting that her groom means every word he utters as he slides that ring on her finger, “I will honour, love, cherish, protect, desert all others, for better or worse, only to focus on you.”
After the wedding, a woman is bombarded with information and teachings from all angles about marriage, how to be a good wife, mother, and a woman of impact in society. There are few avenues for the husband unless he is one of those gems, the type that go out of their way and take the road less trodden.
Such a husband quickly learns that there are many competing agendas, and some do not add to the growth of the relationship. *Jimmy is one such husband. *Martha chatted to me about him. “He is a transformed man, nine months after going through the Man Enough programme.”
I searched online about the programme and came across both an international and a local one, both of whom described the transformation of Jimmy to a tee. While I have no affiliations to the organisations, I was intrigued that they focus – finally -- on teaching men how to be better husbands, fathers, brothers, and men of impact.
‘Man Enough enables men to discover the true definition of manhood, while providing a safe space for them to have authentic conversations on the challenges they face in their masculinity with a band of brothers.’ – Excerpt from the Transform Nations website.
I was about to ask Martha whether I could hear from Jimmy when she said, “Please give him a call. He’s become an advocate for husbands’ involvement in making marriages work.”
“That sermon on the wedding day about leadership of the home had nothing to do with rulership.” Jimmy said, as I laughed. He caught on. “I was expecting her to treat me like a king bwana. It hit me that I am to lead in service.” He had a lot of unlearning to do, including addressing his own unconscious biases against women. “We are a patriarchal society. Our views towards women border on misogyny, which I didn’t know I was extending towards my wife.”
The teachings that are readily available and offered in abundance for men about marriage include such messaging as ‘a man is a bull, you need more than one cow’ and if you want to reign in your wife, bring in competition, occasionally, raise your voice.’ “I had an uncle advise me to slap my wife if I wanted her to respect me, as a man,” Jimmy admits that he still has a lot of unlearning and learning to do. “What I know for sure is that I want to be a different kind of husband. One that is trustworthy.” After a pause, Jimmy added, “Respect is not commanded. It is earned. I must work at keeping my word to earn my wife and anyone else’s respect.”
The other crop of husbands is the one who takes the well-trodden and proven path. He comes in with a set mind about his expectations, his duties, and those of his wife. He knows that a man’s presence must be felt, his word is final, and he must be respected, as a man of the house.
Mt Kilimanjaro has nothing on the height of his pride. He is never wrong and please do correct him at your peril. This is not even the worst part of him. It becomes dangerous for the wife during conflicts. Reason? It is his way or the highway, whichever way. Conflict is inevitable in a healthy relationship, but with this kind of husband, every difference results in toxicity.
No woman leaves a marriage without having put in blood, sweat, and rivers of tears. Women leave the second type of husbands. Which are you?
Karimi is a wife and mother who believes marriage is worth it.