I didn’t call myself a feminist but right from the beginning I knew what I wanted from a romantic relationship and marriage.
So when I met Gordon, I looked out for signs and flags. I wanted to be sure he believed what I believed in when it comes to love and marriage. I wanted to know if he would place me where I wanted to be and wouldn’t have a problem with me being who I wanted to be.
We had our very first serious conversation the day before I said yes to him. Along the line, he made a statement like, “I can see you have a very strong feminist inclination and I love that. I believe in women and what they can achieve when the right platform is given to them.”
Honestly, I didn’t know much about what feminism is and how a feminist behaves and think but I knew I didn’t want to slave away in marriage while the man sleeps away all the time. I needed to be assured of proper teamwork and not in a situation where whatever the man says becomes the law.
My senior sister had that kind of marriage. I lived with them for only three months and I said to myself, “If that’s what marriage is about, God please count me out.” To the extent that my sister’s husband wouldn’t allow her to do her master’s degree because he thinks a woman doesn’t need that much in life to be relevant. I was hurt on my sister’s behalf because I knew how much she wanted it and how clever she was. But A man vetoed her decision because he was the man of the house and nothing should happen without his say so.
In August 2014, we got married in a church I’ve spent all my childhood in. It was a happy day for me, not because of my beautiful gown or the people present and cheering me on. I felt I’ve made the right decision with the kind of man I’d chosen and everything about him showed.
The preparation for our wedding was the confirmation period. I was watching how far he would go to impose things on me but he never made a decision without asking me, “Do you think it’s a good idea?” Whenever I decided on something and he disagreed with it, he would say, “I thought doing it this way would be good but if you believe what you are saying is the right thing, let’s test it.” I got most of them correct and a few of them wrongly. He laughed at me when things went wrong but he was there to help so we could get it correct. No judgment. He got many things wrong too.
One month after marriage, a very close friend of mine—she was the maid of honor, asked me, “How’s married life?” I answered, “I’m not sure. The only difference is that we now live together. The rest feels like the same old stuff.” She asked again, “So are you enjoying it?” The look on her face when she asked that question was that of suspicion. Maybe she was thinking something was wrong. I told her, “We just started and so far so good. He goes to work and I go to work. We both come back home and eat, watch TV, talk, have sex, and sleep. Nothing serious.”
But there was something I didn’t tell her. I don’t know why but I felt it’s better to keep it than to share. or Maybe I felt my husband was doing all that because the marriage was new and soon he would stop. I didn’t want to tell her today and tomorrow I’ll change what I said.
One thing I realized about him was how he cleaned up after himself. He didn’t leave things where they were not supposed to be. He’ll wake up, dress the bed, put the hall in order before he dresses up for work. It was his way of telling me how he wants things. I started doing the same. When he sees me doing it, he’ll ask me, “Why are you stealing my work, go find your own.”
I didn’t know how to operate a washing machine because my family didn’t have one at home. He had one so on weekends, he would be the first to wake up, feed the machine with his dirty clothes, and wash them. He’ll then ask for mine and wash them too. I told him that was my work and he said, “That’s the machine’s work, not yours.” For so many months he never taught me how to use the machine. I had to google it and learn for myself. So washing became no one’s work but the work of the one who wakes up first. His alarm goes off at 6:00am on weekends, so I set mine at 5:00am so I will be the first to wake up and wash.
One early dawn, I woke up and he wasn’t sleeping next to me. I thought maybe he was going to weewee or something so I slept again until my alarm went off. I woke up and checked the time and it was 7:00am. I went outside and he had already washed. He started laughing immediately he saw me. That’s where I got the trick. He changed my alarm time to 7:00am so he could wake before me.
My husband wasn’t a good cook but he always wanted to cook something. He’ll be with me in the kitchen and learn the way I put things together to cook but when you leave it into his hands to cook from scratch, it turns out differently. Something will have to burn or something would be omitted. Sometimes we force ourselves to eat what he cooks because we don’t want to waste food. He will say, “So far we haven’t died after eating my food, it means I’m doing well.”
People say husbands are like that. They do everything right from the beginning and stop at the point you want them the most. That saying got me worried. I didn’t want my husband to change—I was scared who he would become if he changed. We were like two siamese twins who didn’t go anywhere without the other. Because of that, I know almost all the colleagues and friends of my husband. Well, I don’t have too many friends but the little that I have, he knows them.
I know the passwords to his phones and computer; “So someday if I die impromptu, you can assess what ought to be assessed,” he said.
It doesn’t mean we haven’t had a fight before. Our first fight was about a girl I thought was encroaching on our space. I didn’t think he was cheating but I didn’t like the way the girl was all over him. It felt unsettling so I told him about it. He misinterpreted my concerns and thought I said he was cheating. He was angry about me not trusting him but I liked the fact that he gave me the opportunity to explain what I really meant. We’ve had a lot of disagreement—on food, money, what to wear, where to place a flower pot, and who was last seen with the tv remote. When we go to bed angry, the one who is angry had to initiate the cuddle.
It’s been like this for the last six years. No roles assigned, we work together to make our home better and our lives beautiful. Two kids after, the change I was told men go through had never happened. The only thing that has changed is his cooking. It got better and better each day until he can now cook a meal for the whole house. Amazingly, now that I’ve had some years under my belt, no one asks me how married life is.
But if someday someone should ask me, I’ll say married life is how you make it but it starts from who you choose as a partner. I don’t know what lies ahead of us—there might be some troubles but I believe that come what may, we have the right tools and logistics to deal with it.
— Kuukua, Ghana