What you need to know:
- She had an office of her own with junior staff who reported to her. I was still jobless.
- Her busy schedule meant that I had to look after our three-year-old child.
- I officially became a house husband.
My culture taught me that the husband is the provider while the wife is the caregiver. In my village, men leave their wives at home to look after their children while they venture into cities to fend for their families. In these scenarios, women become housewives.
I have grown up believing in such an arrangement until I experienced culture shock firsthand.
I met my wife in my third year of undergraduate studies. She was in her second year. We fell in love and swore to get married. True to our promise, we started life as a couple soon after we graduated. I was lucky to secure some casual jobs to keep us going as we looked for more stable employment. Meanwhile, my wife opened a banana kiosk where she could make at least Sh 150 per day. After a while, she got employed by a Christian Charity Organisation.
This really boosted our economic status. Soon after, my casual contract expired. I became jobless. Meanwhile, my wife secured a lucrative government job. She had an office of her own with junior staff who reported to her. I was still jobless.
Her busy schedule meant that I had to look after our three-year-old child. I officially became a house husband.
The new position weighed heavily on me. According to my culture, it’s the man who leaves for work in the morning. But alas, this was different. I felt threatened though I don’t know by what.
I was stressed for a while but decided to adjust. Today, I have no regrets. I wrote this article to share my experience other couples who may be going through a similar experience. I believe that my experience will help save a brother somewhere. This is how I went about the issue:
Accept the situation
I came to accept the reality that I was jobless and broke while my wife was a boss and with a good salary. This acceptance allowed me to strategise on how best to utilise my time since I had to balance between taking care of our child and job hunting. I drew a list of things I needed to do and I allocated them timelines.
This enabled me to have something to look forward to, thus helping me avoid stress.
Help in household chores
I took over some household tasks such as cleaning our child, cleaning the house and washing utensils. I also prepared lunch and at times prepared supper whenever my wife came late. I also took our child out for nature walks and shopping. In addition, I ensured that our compound was clean. There was no need for a house help. I didn’t wash clothes because I was never taught by my mother as I grew up between sisters. My wife did the washing over the weekend.
Manage available finances properly
My wife was so good that she left me with her bank ATM. I know many women will never do this but, yes, my wife left her finances in my hands. However, one thing I told myself was that this was not my money. It was hers.
First, we always agreed on the shopping list before I went for shopping. Secondly I did not spend any money outside what we had agreed. However in the case of an emergency, I always consulted her before I spend and in a situation where I could not reach her for consultation I always informed her in the evening.
I realised that hanging out with friends would lead me to unnecessary expenditure. Secondly, some friends were not healthy for me given my situation at the time. While I did not cut off contact with my friends, I gave them very limited time as we met only when it was necessary.
During this period, I realised that it’s human nature to change in behaviour when one rises in status. Our marriage was not as rosy as this article may depict. We had bumpy times. Being the boss in her office, she at times thought I was one of her juniors. However, I learned to be patient as I waited for my time. Once we enrolled our child to baby class, I enrolled for part time Master’s classes. This kept me busy and the free internet access at the university enabled me to apply for numerous jobs online. The only interview I was invited for gave me the job that I am holding today.
While it is important to uphold our cultural beliefs, it’s equally important to acknowledge that the world in which we live is very different where men and women enjoy equal opportunities. In this regard therefore, it is imperative for us to change our mindset and embrace changes as they come.