My wife’s junior sister came to live with us right after national service. She was already a woman when she came to live with us. Today, she’s twenty-nine. When our second baby arrived, we were looking for someone to help around and my wife suggested that we bring her. I didn’t shake my head. While she was in school, she was coming around during vacations and the relationship between us was very good. I told my wife to bring her; “She’s at a good age where she can help with the baby and things of the house. Also, she can get a job more easily around here than staying with your parents.”
She came to live with us and right from the word go, I started having issues with her laziness. My wife would be busy working on something. The baby would cry and this lady would run to my wife and tell her that her baby is crying. At first, my wife used to complain but when she realized that nothing was changing, she stopped complaining and decided to do it all alone. I wasn’t happy. I called her on the side to advise her, “Your sister has a lot on her hand already. Why don’t you help with the baby when you clearly know that she’s busy?” She told me, “I’m not good with babies. I’m scared to hold them when they are this tiny.”
I didn’t argue with her. If she’s scared, you can’t force her to do it right? For the sake of the baby’s own safety, I decided not to get her involved. My wife would be cooking and I would be carrying the baby around. When it was time to breastfeed, I will send the baby to her. We would be doing all that while Erica would be in her room, pressing her phone and watching TV. When it was time for my wife to resume work, we brought in her mother to take care of the baby. I’ve never seen an amazing woman like my mother-in-law. She came to the house and took over everything. She worked as if she had four hands.
Because of her, my wife had the rest she needed. At dawn when the baby cries, this woman would come over and carry her outside while we try to get the needed rest after work. Erica didn’t do anything in the house, except eat, watch tv and sleep. We felt she had too much time on her hand so I and my wife started putting in the effort to get her a job. My mother-in-law said, “When she gets a job and has to wake up at dawn and go to work, she’ll get a sense and change her lazy attitude.” She got a job through a recommendation of a good friend of mine. I told her about Erica and she decided to give her something to do.
Our kids are now old enough to help themselves with so many things. Erica is still living with us after working for four years. I don’t have a problem with it. Sometimes we are able to go out without the kids because she’s around. It helps to have her around. She doesn’t scrub, cook, or do anything that benefits all of us in the house. If you talk about it and she decided to do it, the end result wouldn’t be appealing so we don’t talk about it. Sometimes it feels like we are the ones living in her house.
Then comes her relationship issues. She desperately wants to get married and leave home so anything that comes her way she holds on to it. She doesn’t talk to me about her relationship issues but sometimes I get to know about them through my wife. In a spate of six months, she dated three guys.
She would go out and not come again. I will ask my wife and she will tell me, “Oh she has a new boyfriend so you can imagine.” She’s twenty-nine. We can’t dictate how she should live her life, especially when it comes to the matter of the heart. Sometimes I feel she gives herself too easily to men but who am I to complain? I’ve kept mute as she goes around looking for what makes her happy.
In December, a good friend of mine, Joe returned from the Netherland and came to visit us. After the initial visit, he came around very often. At some point, I realized he was getting closer to Erica. Anytime he came around, he spoke to her longer than necessary. When he was about to leave the country, he brought her a gift and even asked her to see him off when he was leaving. I’m a man. I saw what was coming but I kept mute about it. I was only waiting to hear it from Joe but he didn’t tell me anything until he left. Somewhere around the corner, my wife told me, “It looks like something is brewing between Erica and Joe. Erica asked me about him and asked if he was a good man.”
Even at that point, I had no reason to speak about it. I respect Joe a lot due to the relationship between us. I didn’t want to jump into something he himself hasn’t told me about. Then in April this year, his senior brother died in an accident. The Funeral was in May so Joe came back to Ghanan. When he was coming, he brought a lot of gifts to Erica. Wherever he went, Erica followed. There were things about the funeral I got to know through Erica and not Joe. It was during the funeral that joe opened up to me, “I’ve been talking to your sister-in-law. I think I like her. I haven’t been bold to talk to you about it because I wanted to be sure first before I bring you in.”
I nodded my head and smiled along. He asked, ”Why are you smiling?” I answered, “Abi you’re telling me happy news. You want me to cry?” He answered, “I’m very serious. If she’s truly the kind of woman I need, I won’t waste time marrying her because of you.” I told him, “You don’t have to marry anyone because of me. If you want her, then you go for her. It’s as simple as that.” And then he threw a question at me, “How is she like? You’ve been married to her sister for this long so I believe she comes from a good home.” I nodded my head. “She comes from a very good home. Her mother is an angel. Her father is a father you’ll love to have.” He asked me, “What about her? Is she that good?”.
Joe is not the kind of person you lie to. We’ve been like brothers and wherever we go, we find our way back to each other. If I give him a bad thing, he would call and complain to me about it so I asked him, “What kind of woman do you want as a wife?” He answered, “Someone like your wife. You two have been awesome together. I want that same kind of woman. A helper, someone who can keep a home and run a family. You know what I mean.”
I told him, “Erica is different so you have to know her for yourself and decide if you want her.” He said, “I’m not here in Ghana so how can I know her better than you? Make it easy for me, bro. I trust your judgment. If she’s good, I know you won’t lie about it so go ahead and tell me what you think about her.” So I said, “She’s not any of the things you said you want in a woman so if you think those things are very important to you, then you’ll make a mistake with her.” He was shocked. He said, “Are you serious?” I answered, “You can find out for yourself, maybe I’m lying.”
Somehow Erica got to know what I told Joe and she also told my wife about it. For some time Erica was giving me attitude and I didn’t know why until my wife confronted me about it; “What did you tell your friend about Erica that he’s breaking away from her?” I repeated exactly what I said and my wife got angry. For days she was fighting with me because according to her, I should have allowed Joe to find out for himself, “Are you the one to tell him what’s good and bad? Can’t he decide for himself what’s good? Do you hate my sister that much?”.
“It’s not hatred. Joe wanted to know specific things about her and I told him. I didn’t lie. What he’s looking for from a woman, if he marries Erica, Erica would be the one to suffer because she’s not that kind of woman. I’m even helping Erica if you look at it critically.”
We fought about it as married couples would fight about issues but now we are fine. It’s Erica who doesn’t talk to me. She’s now looking for a new place to rent so she’ll move away from our place. Her parents know about it and somehow they think I didn’t help the issues. According to Joe, Erica had been calling him every day, crying and asking him to disregard what I said and that she’ll come to the marriage and prove me wrong. I told Joe, “Forget about what I told you and give her a chance. Maybe I’m wrong.” He didn’t mind me. It looks like his mind is already made up.
I’m now the devil in the eyes of my wife’s family and this has been eating into my conscience. I’m sure I did the right thing but the way they are treating me makes me feel like the devil himself. I wish there was a way I can make things right so no one would be hurt but that ship had sailed long ago, leaving me stranded and thinking about my sins. What can I do to salvage the situation?