Women, we do all kinds of things, for love, for men. Some of those things are smart, many are stupid. One of the stupidest ones, or should I call it strangest, is women killing themselves because their men are mean cheating, lying sons of Adam. Why should a woman die because she is in a bad relationship? Why will a woman commit suicide because her husband’s ‘dangling modifier’ knows no boundaries? Why should a wife who has stomached her husband’s indiscretions for years suddenly sum up her life and decide the only logical way to reward her own resilience is to jump off a bridge? Excuse me, she wasn’t the bad partner, her husband was. So, why is he not chewing cyanide and his wife is the one offing herself? I have tried, over the years to understand why women kill themselves because their men are bad to them and I am yet to find any reason good enough. I mean, if a man is bad, he should die for his sins, not his wife, not his girlfriend. The soul that sinneth shall die, so says the Bible.
Visit any psychiatric hospital and see the number of women in padded wards because they found themselves in abusive relationships. Each time I hear a story about a woman taking her own life or ending up in a psychiatric ward because of a bad marriage, I ask myself: is it that women are weak, weaker than men or what? You rarely hear of men going into depression because their women cheated or even left them. Do we have poor or no coping skills at all? Do the women who do the extreme stuff think it through or they are simply too far sunk in the miry hole of depression to bother with the day after the tragedy and the tears and sorrow they leave behind?
Take the case of Hajara (not real name). She was young and beautiful. At 30, she was already a doctoral student in one of the first generation universities. She loved her husband to bits and believed he loved her too. Usually she spends extra days on campus, outside Lagos, to be able to undertake assignments and research. On one of those days, she retuned unannounced to surprise her husband with a nice dinner. Well, it was also the day her husband brought home his side chic for the night. Hajara found her cooking in her kitchen, her darling husband in his boxers with a raring-to-go third leg threatening the fabric of his undergarment.
Don’t shout ‘okokobioko’. Hajara didn’t find it funny. Anger, disappointment, shame, betrayal must all have played a role in what she did next. She swallowed a handful of sleeping pills. She was found unconscious, almost gone-too-soon unconscious, in the guest room which door they had to break down to rescue her from herself.
Pray, what was Hajara’s death supposed to accomplish apart from creating room for the girlfriend to become a wife? I even reliably learnt that Muslim widowers are not required to mourn for five months or 41 days. So, Hajara’s husband would have mourned for as long or as short as he wanted and promptly resumed duties in between the legs of another female. And Hajara would have died for nothing?
I’m a strong believer in the sacredness of the marriage institution. I am also the first to preach that marriage is a combination of the good and the bad. Roses have thorns and no marriage is a marriage if it does not have ups and downs. Just celebrate the good days and when the bad days arrive, let the fond memories of the good times be the bridge you use to cross into another season of sunshine. But never let a marriage kill you. Never die for a man. No. live and love your man. Find ways to enjoy the man in your life even on days you feel like smothering him with a pillow. Just rewind to the days he pampered and petted you. Remember those months he put you first and gave you attention. One day soon, we’ll all share notes on how to cope when your marriage becomes painful.
If push gets to shove, take break from him. If it becomes life-threatening, take a detour to safety and sanity. It’s your life, after all.
A friend just left her husband of 23 years, leaving all of us members of the Old Girls Club, worrying about her sanity.
‘Teni, are you crazy? Who packs up a 23-year-old marriage just like that?’
‘Me.’ Teni said with a satisfying grin that left us almost convinced that our fried had lost her marbles.
‘You are leaving Otunba, for what? You want to start all over again, rent an apartment, become a tenant, pay for your own vacation, school fees, everything? Just when we were all getting ready for the 25th wedding anniversary? Are you mad or something?’ Trust Titi to say it the way it is.
Me, I was wondering why she waited that long to leave the marriage if it was hurting so bad.
‘Babe, it is better this way. I married late, at 33, thinking I had it all figured out but the emotional abuse I endured was enough to kill five women. He gave me gonorrhea twice and now he sweeps in and announces a second wife who already had three children for him. And I didn’t know? I was just tired of pretending to be married. I wasn’t. I just had a housemate or at best, a friend-with-benefits situation. Well, I had the option of continuing to hang in there or poisoning his food.
If I poison him and he dies, he would have won both the war and the battle. I’d be left holding the short end of the stick. Sure, I might get away with killing him but what if I don’t? What if I get caught and get sentenced to death? What if I get a life sentence? Just think about it. He would have succeeded in ruining my life while he was alive and still ruin me even in death. No way.’
Now, that is a saner deal, a better exit plan. If your marriage has become an albatross and the reasons for holding on to your vows have thinned close to nothing, jump out into safety, not into a lake. Don’t drink ‘sniper’ because you are tired of him. That would mean you lost totally, altogether.
If for instance he is starving you of sex because he’s getting plenty outside, is it reason enough to drink poison? If he was getting side service when you were alive, if you kill yourself, he will deregulate his cheating and service as many waists as he wants. If you end up in a psychiatric ward because he doesn’t come home at weekends, he will become lonely and need a woman to take care of your children. So, he’ll get a step mother for your children and a younger woman who will take him on many missionary journeys while you stare at the padded walls of your ward. Why should he get all the pleasures and you suffer all the losses and pain?
You, my darling, are a treasure, a fountain he drinks from. He needs you. After his 90-minute away match, he’ll bring the balls home and he must deliver when he is summoned for duty. Don’t get fixated on what he did or is doing off-shore. You are the Chairman and Chief Executive of his goods, the total package. You must live long and well to enjoy everything.
For today, my advice is don’t let a man’s unfaithfulness push you into an early grave. No man, no marriage is worth turning your children into motherless babies. They need you. They’ll always need you. Before you down a glass of poison or jump into a fast-flowing river, consider your old mum, your doting father and what would become of them if you get delivered to them in a coffin. What kind of thank you would that be for your parents’ years of love and sacrifice? Why should another woman’s son kill your parents’ daughter? He is the owner of his third leg and he can swing it up and down, any which way he likes. He should just wear boots while he’s at his swinging spree.
Then he must bring the thing back home in good condition, for the real home service, for which you, his wife has the Certificate of Occupancy. Whenever he plays more away matches than you can stomach, remind yourself that his mother didn’t specifically circumcise him just for your exclusive pleasure alone. Harsh truth, but truth all the same.
Funke Egbemode can be reached through..