I’m a housewife. It has taken me several years to accept this as a role. I didn’t choose it for myself. Things happened. Situations changed without any notice. I went home to deliver our first baby and then Covid happen. I was home when I received a letter that my contract had been terminated. I wasn’t given a chance to prove myself. I wasn’t even given a hearing. The company was going through hard times and had to downsize. Unfortunately, I was part of the weight they had to shed off. I was devastated. My boy was only one month old. It even affected my production of milk. I was hurting and crying every day until my husband wrapped his hands around me and assured me that everything was going to be alright.
He has a good job and he’s at the management level of the corporation he works with. His allowances are good and his bonuses are something the average Ghanian would love to have as a monthly salary. When he said everything was going to be fine, I trusted him. I knew he could steady the ship with what he had until I found something new for myself. He catered for me and the kid without fail. He even gave me allowances to take care of the things I would have naturally gone to him to ask for money for; things like fixing my hair and nails, buying a sanitary pad and data I would use on my phone. He was that helpful and kind and to repay his kindness to me, I started thinking of things I could do to also bring in income.
I started looking for a job immediately after our boy was six months old. The idea was to get a job and bring my mother to live with us so she could take care of the baby in our absence. I tried. He even put in word for me in various places where he wielded authority but nothing happened. Just around that time, I got pregnant again. I couldn’t even be happy about the pregnancy because it came at the time when I felt I was very close to getting a job. That job fell through the cracks eventually and my husband told me, “You’ll have to wait until you deliver. No company would like to hire someone who would go on maternity leave three months after being employed.”
He made sense so I stopped searching. Along the line, he brought the idea of me staying home to take care of the kids and the house while he goes around working to bring in the money. I didn’t agree with him, “You mean I should remain like this forever? Always home while you go out there and work? Dear, that can’t be possible. I would be bored. I would be too rusty I wouldn’t even enjoy life. I will give birth, I will raise these kids with you while I work to also bring in income.” His response was, ”I’ve told you what I think would be better for your health. If you listen to me, both of us would thrive and our kids would be better off in the end.”
I didn’t even think about the possibility of what he put on the table. I was determined to give birth and later step out to look for a job but life happened. The second one really pushed me to the wall. At some point, I thought I was going to die. I remained in a coma for over twelve hours after delivery. It affected my mental health, the fact that I nearly died during delivery. I became depressed and again, I couldn’t produce milk for over a long period. During those trying times my husband kept hammering in the need for me to stay home. It was no longer about the kid but also about my own health. He paid for therapy for me and it was working. It was the therapist who finally convinced me to stop thinking about everything and give myself some time. “Don’t think about getting a job. Don’t think about tomorrow. Don’t think about the future of your life. Just concentrate on the beauty you have now and the rest would take fall in place.”
Slowly, I resigned to the idea of staying home with my kids. “Is not a bad idea after all. I have the kids around, they’ll keep me company.”
That’s how I became a housewife. My husband has been everything he promised he would be. He brings money home, he pays the bills, pays for our health and recently when the first kid started school, he started paying fees. Life should have been good except that my husband had been on my neck for some time now. “You’re now a housewife so you have no excuse for not getting things done in the house. I go to work and hustle. You’re home so you have to hustle and keep the home in order. I don’t want excuses because I don’t give you excuses. I want to come home to a good meal. It shouldn’t be late and it shouldn’t be cold. I have to return to a clean house where I can have the peace of mind I need after a full day’s work.”
To me, that isn’t a problem. I do my best to see things in order but my husband doesn’t do anything in the house. When I say anything, I mean virtually every work in the house is under my care. I would serve his food hot no matter how late he comes home. He’ll eat, get up and go and sit in the hall. I have to stop whatever I’m doing to clean up after him. Sometimes the kids come in the way so I’ll leave the dishes in the sink and wash them early the next morning. My husband would have a problem with that; “Why would you leave dishes overnight? What’s your use in the house anyway? A simple thing as washing dishes have to take a day to complete?”
“Darling, I was tired last night. The kids needed my attention. I had to put them to sleep and by the time they did, I was too tired to do anything.” He won’t accept that as an excuse. He would go like, “Just imagine I tell you I was too tired to pay the light bill because I couldn’t go to the bank to withdraw money or I didn’t work for a day so they’ve deducted the light bill from my salary. Just imagine. Is it something you’ll accept as an excuse?”
It kills me every time he does that. Every house chore belongs to me and I will do it but if something happens and I’m not able to do it to his satisfaction, he’ll scream at me like the way superiors shout at factory floor workers. It has been hurting me so I tried to have a conversation with him. I wasn’t trying to convince him that it was alright for me not to do certain things. I was saying, “Please help around sometimes, especially when it comes to the kids. You’re their father so you have to play a part in bringing them up. There’s nothing wrong if you pet them when they cry. What’s wrong if you give them food while I’m busy? It helps with bonding. They are boys, very soon you’ll be the hero in their eyes so you have to do something for them.”
Instead of addressing the sense in what I said, he rather decided to be sarcastic; “So you mean paying their fees and paying their feeding aren’t enough? Those don’t form part of fatherly roles until I feed them, change their diapers and bath them? What do you do with your life when I’m away that you can’t take care of little things like that? I’m always tired from work. I need rest when I come home and it’s your job to give me rest. What’s difficult about that? If it’s easy providing for a family, you would have been the one to do it. Don’t come and lecture me about heroes. The only hero in this house is me.”
Tell me that’s not hurting. I’m supposed to keep the home but whatever I do isn’t considered worthy because it doesn’t bring home money. I had to make a plan and the plan was to go out there and look for a job for myself. But the problem now is who would take care of the kids while I’m away looking for a job? Or if I had a call and had to attend an interview, who would be home to take care of the kids? I told him one evening, “I want my mom to come around.” He asked, “For what?” I answered, “I need help around here, especially with the kids. I’m also thinking about getting a job so my essence wouldn’t be limited to the ability to wash dishes.”
He burst out laughing. “You want your mom around so you can go and look for a job? Since when did we change the agreement? Your mom is not coming around here. You’re not getting a job. Final! If you don’t want this marriage too, then fine. You can tell me so we dissolve it.”
My husband is twelve years older than me. At first, I didn’t like the age difference so when he proposed to me I said no. But he kept coming around and I started loving some things about him. He looked way older but had the mentality of a young man. He spoke to me like he was my mate and I loved that about him. I said yes to him and a few months later he said we should get married. I didn’t want him to be my husband. That wasn’t the idea. I was dating him for a while and later look for a man my age to marry. I even told him this that very day; “Marrying wasn’t part of the plan when I said yes to you. The age difference still bothers me.”
He used my parents to get at me. My mom said, “Would you even get a mature man to marry you? What in life don’t they know? You better mellow yourself for him to do you honour. My dad sided with my mom so I eventually accepted to marry him. Now, he’s making me believe that I was right—I was right from the beginning. He has his own and thinks he can use that to bully me into submission. A man my age wouldn’t think of keeping his wife in the house the way this man wants to do. I can’t talk to my parents about it because they support everything he does. I’m left alone in this battle. It’s the reason I’m here sharing my story.
What are the alternatives for me? I want to have a job so he would appreciate my essence and not talk down on me. Currently, I rely on him for everything so he has this power over me. He can safely talk about divorce because he knows I can’t opt for that. I have nothing so why would I want a divorce? The odds are stacked against me now but I know there’s something out there I can do. Please help.