Wifespeak: Break rules that no longer serve your marriage


When you both work hard, smart and with diligence, you bring a bounty harvest on the family table.

Photo credit: Shutterstock

“Learn the rules like a prof, so you can break them like an artist.” Pablo Picasso, the gifted Spanish painter, and sculptor is credited for this quote. Rules remind me of way back in primary school when, if you are the shy type, you would sit with a bladder so full that the mere thought of a toilet would let the floodgates open.

“Excuse me teacher, may I please go to the toilet!” Your squeaky voice would, out of desperation, interrupt the teacher’s drawling voice. If the teacher was the narcissistic type, which often was the case, he would berate your distressed self in front of your cackling classmates, who, silly them, forgot that soon, they would be the ones on the receiving end. “Is your stomach running? Didn’t you just go to the toilet during the first lesson?”

Rules are meant to create order no doubt, but they are mostly meant to rein in those who cannot govern themselves. Would the City Council for example need to put such a rule as, ‘Do not Urinate Here’ at the street corner if we did not have deviants amongst us? When you and I see a little tree bush working so hard to grow into an adult tree to provide shade to our children in the future, some other people see the tree as a toilet or a dumping site. We should empower the tree to fight back by shooting stinging nettle.

Married life comes with a whole encyclopaedia of rules. A week to my wedding, an aunt who knew my love of dancing (I am terrible at it but that’s not the point) warned me, “Now you are moving from your father’s rules to your husband’s.” Say what again? She continued, “You must ask your husband permission before going out.” When I had stopped the fake coughing I mumbled, “Might as well need to ask permission to breath.” Hubby would need someone to pick his jaw from the floor if I one day up and asked permission to do something. It is one thing to inform your spouse that you would be going out. That is a respectful and mature thing for an adult to do.

Unless it is to shave off his eyebrows, I cannot see how it can be a healthy practice for me to ask my husband permission about doing something with my time or life. Asking permission from a spouse implies a one-way communication and is a whole ball game of an unhealthy relationship. It feeds the ego and creates narcissistic behaviours, such as control issues. Just as it took away the dignity of a child asking permission to obey the call of nature, it does the same to an adult. A healthy communication involves everyone tabling their idea and inviting a discussion on the same, including agreeing to disagree on it.

A husband is the provider is another marriage rule that not only has led to a troop of moody, hyper stressed men with scarcity mentality but has also driven families deep into debt traps and speeding towards poverty. A husband who lives by this rule will break his back, not realising that a wife is a whole adult whose contribution would half the family’s financial burden and the couple would have time together to enjoy their relationship. God is the ultimate provider.

Your creator blesses the work of your hands. Both of you. None should play small or downplay their earning potential because they believe they should be ‘kept well’ by the sweat of another. You are both gifted enough to explore your potentials and earn a decent living for the family. When you both work hard, smart and with diligence, you bring a bounty harvest on the family table. Two are better than one is both a Biblical principle and a sound financial motto. Break that disabling rule, forget your ego, call your wife to a family meeting and decide how you both can pool resources for the benefit of your family.

Do you know some wives earn double what their husbands earn but downplay their earnings, not for the sake of family because they fear that their husband will feel less of a man, a provider? This rule gave birth to the tuma transport culture. There are a zillion other rules of marriage that no longer serve the purpose of a meaningful companionship and should just be scrapped off the marriage rule book.

Karimi is a wife who believes in marriage. [email protected]


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