“Go ask your mother for the money, after all she has a job ehn!!!”
My heart tighten in my chest as I hear my husband snap at our daughter, in reply to her request for the money to buy the book they were asked to get at school. I’m sure even a stranger overhearing his words would not only hear but feel the contempt dripping from his words. It is alarming how fast people can change that you can hardly find a trace of the person you thought you knew. It is hard to believe I fell in love and married this insensitive man. Whatever was I thinking? Well, in my defense, the man I married was caring, loving and supporting and it is hard to reconcile him with this hard man snapping at his daughter just for reminding him of his responsibilities.
I married Luke despite protests from my parents that he wasn’t right for me. Men from his town are negligent husbands and lazy fathers. But I hadn’t listened. My Luke was not like that. He was kind, attentive and loving. So with love coloring the glasses with which I viewed him, I insisted on marrying him. Eventually, my parents caved and gave their consents. The union was blessed and we were joined as husband and wife in a moderate ceremony that I hadn’t minded funding. “My Luke is a good man, he doesn’t have much now but I’m sure when he eventually does, he’ll take extra care of me” I said to myself.
The first few years as a couple were pure bliss and I overlooked all of his flaws. I gave him all that he wanted and obeyed all of his wishes without questions. And so I missed important details such as his insecurity, lack of ambition and pride until it was too late. He would subtly dissuade me from doing things that I wanted to do to improve myself. I wanted to get a degree, schooling part time as I was only a diploma holder. “Who would take care of your kids?” He asked. I got the opportunity to buy a shop in a developing shopping complex that now sells for millions of naira. “That place is too far from home, how would you manage two shops and the kids?” was his reply. He didn’t even try to be supportive nor find a common ground or compromise. Eventually, obedient wife that I was, I bow to his wishes. I was too blinded to see he was in a success competition with me.
He was scared of my success surpassing his and tried as much as he could to impede it. He had a low self-esteem and despised change. Then he started shirking his responsibilities. “I don’t have money to pay the fees. In my time, I went to a public school and I turned out perfectly well” he’ll say. So I stepped up to the plate and paid the children’s school fees. Within a short time, majority of his responsibilities permanently became mine but I didn’t mind at all. I had a thriving supermarket that was sustaining me and my kids. I could have left him then, since his presence was of no use but I didn’t because I loved him and believed he really was going through a patch and there would be a light at the end of the tunnel for him soon.
Then fate decided to deal a cruel joke, my supermarket began to run down and I went broke. Only then did I begin to take notice of all that I had neglected. Luke could not pay his children’s fees nor provide for them a 3 square meal, but he could afford to spray the highest amount of money in the naming ceremonies and weddings we attend, wearing his brand new lace babariga and designer shoe, probably bought with the last of his money. He would readily lend a helping hand to an acquaintance with financial problems, even if he couldn’t afford to. All in the bid to be seen as a Big Man. Afterwards, he would sulk around the house and complain about how business was bad as a result of the nation’s crippling economy. I agree with him, but then life would have been a little better if he planned out the future properly and carefully and stopped being a show off.
Alas, it was too late for me to complain, so I accepted my faith but started to make a few changes. The supermarket was now a liability, making me to rack up debts. So first, I went searching for a job. My Diploma certificate was not really an advantage, with degree holders a mile a dozen but nevertheless, I dusted it up and went seeking for help from the few people I know could render it. Eventually I was offered a job at a prestigious company as a secretary. And all Luke could say when I told him about it was “No, I don’t like you working there. All these big companies that the bosses take advantage of their secretaries. No way”. I stared at him for a few minutes, then quietly left his presence.
The next day, I woke up earlier than usual, dressed up and told him I’m off to my new job. The look on his face was priceless. I expected some yelling and threatening when I got back, but none of that happened. I guess he was still in shock that I would go against his will. Instead, he ignored me and nurtured a grudge. Then he began to lash out with his tongues as he usually does on the rare times that I go against him. And because he forgives but never forgets, dredges misunderstandings from years before.
It’s been almost a year since I accepted the secretary job and although things are not as good as they used to be but at least I can take care of my children a little better now. Luke though is worse, hurling humiliating and degrading words at me and the kids ruthlessly and carelessly, blaming me for everything and anything that has ever gone wrong. His words cuts into the soul leaving me hopeless and helpless. I am tired of being with this man, who although is not physically abusive, has a degree in mental abuse. Although, I have learnt to ignore his words, I fear for my mental health and the psychological impact on my children. I want to leave him, but I fear the unknown, would I really survive out there, alone with the kids? And what will people say, that I left my husband because he was going through a rough patch?