We Need An Officiating Minister To Officiate The Marriage Between My Husband and His Mother
For several months, his mother wasn’t coming around and everything was fine. At some point, I thought there was a problem. I asked him if there was and he said, “No, there’s no problem. Maybe she’s tired and is resting.” One of those days I picked up the phone and called her myself. “Hello mom, I hope you’re doing good?” We talked for several minutes. She asked about the kid and I said she was fine. She said, “You guys should hurry up and add another one. I want plenty of them so you should start early and finish early.” We had a very good conversation. We laughed where we ought to laugh and shared ideas where we ought. After that conversation, I felt everything was indeed very fine.
My husband all of a sudden became the husband I married. We did things together and were happy every day. Those were the days I taught him how to change baby diapers and how to bathe a baby. He was eager to learn and I was always ready to teach him things. In the kitchen, he asked questions; ”Why do you always put the slices of onion in the oil first before everything else?” When he was operating the blender and I told him to ensure the spices were smoothly blended he asked me, “How smooth do you want it and how would I know that I’ve attained the smoothness you want? We were always around each other. The kind of marriage I always dreamed of.
One Saturday afternoon, the main gate opened and his mother entered. I was in the kitchen cooking and my husband was outside playing with the kid. I heard her voice first before I knew she was around. She asked my husband, “Where is your wife that you’re here smearing yourself with baby poop?” The baby had pooped on the floor and my husband was cleaning it. He didn’t tell me about it. It was something he felt he could handle so he was handling it. He answered, “She’s in the kitchen cooking.” I heard her asking, “So she can’t take care of a baby’s poop because she’s cooking?”
She came to the kitchen door and said, “Young woman, you can’t turn my son into a woman and you the man. Didn’t you see it when your baby pooped?” I was smiling. I said, “Oh he didn’t tell me ooo. If he did, I would have come and handled it.” She shook her head. She murmured something I didn’t hear. She left and went back to her son. They were out there for almost an hour before she left. She went to a funeral around our neighborhood and decided to pass by. When she was leaving, she didn’t say anything to me. I asked my husband, ”Is your mother gone?” He answered, “Yeah, it was just a short visit.”
But it felt strange that she would leave without saying goodbye to me. I brushed it aside. From there I started noticing changes in my husband. He’ll stay in the hall while I’m in the kitchen cooking. When the baby cries, he’ll call me to come and take care of her. Everything was hitting ground zero. I asked him, “Dear, what’s happening here? Are we fighting? You don’t come around the kitchen like you used to. You’re leaving petty things around for me to handle. Previously, you would have done it without telling me” He answered, “When it’s a man’s work, call me. When it’s a woman’s work, I will call you. Man handles a man’s work. Woman handles a woman’s work.”
I didn’t argue. I felt he’ll snap out of it at some point so I allowed him to live on his own terms.
One Thursday evening, he told me, “My mom wants to come around for the weekend. She’s attending a funeral around this place. From there, she’ll come around.”
On Saturday morning, I woke up very early and started making preparations for her visit. I cooked her favorite meal and stocked the fridge with her favorite drink. I didn’t want anything to go wrong in her presence so I put everything in place before her arrival. She got home around 6pm. I served her. She was grateful. At every moment, I asked what I should do for her. She said, “I’m not a stranger here so stop treating me like one.” When she wanted anything, she went for it herself. We were together all evening, talking and laughing until my girl was doing something I thought would hurt her. I screamed, “Hey Shantel! Stop it. Don’t go any closer.”
My in-law asked, “What did you just call her?” I smiled. Actually, we both agreed to change her name back to Shantel. My husband himself didn’t like the Comfort but he said he didn’t want any misunderstanding that day that’s why he accepted the name his mother gave her. So, we called her Shantel but tried our best not to mention it when she was around. That day, I forgot and called her Shantel. When she asked what name I called her my husband responded, “We changed her name. Shantel was her initial name so we decided to revert to the initial name.” She asked, “What’s wrong with Comfort?” My husband responded, “But Maa, what is wrong with Shantel too?” She answered, “So you allowed your wife to convince you to change a name I have given to your child? Who names a child, tell me? Do you think your father would’ve been happy if he was here?”
She went back and forth with my husband while I remain quiet in my seat. My husband was standing up for himself and I was urging him on in my head, “Tell her. You’re the man tell her.” He said, “We chose Shantel for this one. Another one will come very soon. You can name him/her whatever name you want but this one is going to be Shantel.” His mother turned and looked at my face. I was busily watching TV as if I didn’t know what was happening. She got up and went to her room. The next morning, she left without saying goodbye to any of us. My husband said, “Eiii we are in trouble. This woman is too hard.” I told him, “Just give her some time. She’ll come back around.”
But my husband got restless, especially when he called his mom on several occasions and she didn’t pick up. The following day she went to see her. When he came back he said his mother didn’t welcome him the way she used to do. I told him, “She’s angry. Leave her alone for some time, she’ll be fine.” But for a very long time, my husband wasn’t fine. He was pensive. Always quiet and looking into the empty space. His mood rubbed on me and I somehow became affected. Mothers don’t stay mad forever so at some point the anger in her heart thawed. I didn’t know what they talked about that day but my husband came back looking better than before. He said, “She’s fine. Everything is ok now.”
We went to a battle and we won. For the first time in the history of our marriage, my husband stood up for me and I was so proud of him. We kept the name and also got her mother to accept the change. Life came back to normal but not for too long.
Our rent was expiring. The landlord called to ask us if we would renew. He had increased the rent a little bit. I told him, “Let me speak to my husband and get back to you.” My husband was sitting next to me so he grabbed the phone from me and started talking to the landlord. He said, “No we are not going to renew. We would be out before the rent finally expires.” I thought he was talking out of anger because of the increment. When he cut the call I asked why he told him we won’t renew. He answered, “We are paying useless rent here when there are empty rooms in our house. I don’t have the money to renew so we’ll go back to live with my mother.” I screamed, “How?”
I spent days and weeks trying to get him to change his decision but anytime my husband takes a decision and he doesn’t change his mind, it means he’s being remotely controlled. I asked, “Is that your mother’s wish?” That got him angrier. “What are you telling me? You mean I don’t take my own decisions? Should everything come from my mother? You think I’m a kid? Wha are you trying to say?” I said, “Calm down dear. You’re asking too many questions. It’s just a yes or no question I asked. Honestly, I can’t go back to live with your mother. If you think this place is expensive, we can always get a less expensive one. There’s no need to go back there.” He said, “When the rent expires, I will go there. When you’re ready, you can come around.”
That’s exactly what he did. Two weeks before the rent expired, he packed his things and left. He told me, “Come when you’re ready.”
It was not about the rent and how expensive it was. The landlord takes only a year’s rent. I could even afford to pay for it but I didn’t do it. I didn’t want him to feel like I’d disobeyed his order so when the rent expired, I packed my things and went home to my mother. We’ve been living apart since January.
My parents have two of us—both girls. My elder sister married for four years before I got married. The only time my mother went to visit her was when she gave birth. She spent a week and came back. My dad went there during the naming ceremony and never went there again. So why is his mother different?
We talk on the phone. I beg him to change his mind. My parents have a bigger house but I haven’t asked him to come and live here with me. Around March, he told me, “I’ve started looking for a new place. When I get one, I will let you know.” To date, he hasn’t found one. I’m not fighting with his mother. I call her and we talk. She asks about Shantel and I give her updates. She acts fine on the phone each time we speak but she has never asked me why we are living apart. The last time, my mother told me, “Start thinking about the worst that could happen and what you’ll do when it happens. At this moment, anything at all can happen. Prepare your mind so you’re not taken by surprise.”
My mom means well. She was the first person to reach out to my husband’s mother, trying to resolve the issue through her. The woman pretended she didn’t know what was happening. She even promised my mother that she was going to talk to her son and bring feedback. She never did. My dad has visited my husband and his mom on two different occasions. The last time he was there, my in-law said, “My son says he doesn’t have the money to rent. Give him some time to raise money. When he’s ready, he’ll come for his wife.”
Here we are, at a crossroads we shouldn’t have been in the first place, but we are here now because my husband is afraid to be a man for himself and for his own family.