Sometimes you get the signs but you ignore them. You ignore them because you love the person. You ignore them because you think the person can’t hurt you. You ignore them because you think your partner might have made a mistake. But when the signs keep coming and keep disturbing your peace, you get up and do something about it. People call it red flags. Flags wave and they dance when the wind blows but red flags in relationships are still. Subtle. You see them and you ignore them because it’s just a flag–innocuous until one day, it flies so high that you can’t afford but to notice.
My relationship with my wife had some red flags that ignored. One day, I realized her ex-boyfriend was the next of kin on her SSNIT contribution. When I asked about it, she said, “I had this SSNIT account when I was in school and with him. I’d forgotten to make changes.” We laughed about it and made jokes about it. I said, “Eiish then this your love was really thicker than titanic love. He was even your next of kin?” She said, “But I was stupid? I was so naive and stupid. I thought my world revolved around him.”
We had been married for three years when I found that. When she changed it, she used her mother and her junior siblings’ names as her next of kin. We had a daughter together and the name of our daughter didn’t come to her mind when she was choosing her next of kin. I didn’t ask anything about it. It would have brought a huge fight that I wasn’t ready for. I had her name as my next of kin and she knew it. I mean it was the right thing to do because she would take care of our kids when I wasn’t around.
I had traveled when she found a piece of land she wanted us to buy. After checking the genuineness of ownership and going through all the process, I sent her money to pay for the land. When the land papers came, it was registered in her name. That was ok. I mean she’s my wife. “Two to become one” so whatever I own is indeed ours. It wasn’t too long afterward when I found out that she had sent money to her mother to buy a piece of land for her in their hometown. The indenture had her name and the name of her mother as the co-owners of the land. I was angry for two reasons; 1. We were supposed to be a team, raising a family together, and building our future together. How could she send money to buy land and she didn’t inform me about it. 2. When I sent money to her to buy land, she registered it in our name so why would she register hers with her mother’s name?”
That evening when she returned from work I questioned her and she said, “I didn’t buy the land. It was my mother who bought it and used her name and my name as the owners.” Then I showed her the bank receipt I picked from her purse; “Here, you sent GHC17,500 to your mother’s account last three months. What was that money for?” Then she started fumbling. She had never stutter but that moment she began to stutter. Then she said what every guilty partner will say when you find them out; “Why did you go through my purse? What were you looking for in my purse?”
From that day on I started taking things seriously. I realized how intentional the whole thing looked so I started looking around for more. Red flags. They are usually silent. Innocuous. So subtle you disregard them until one day they fly high up on your face. We bought a car together when our daughter was born. She was using the car because she needed it more than I do. I don’t remember how much we paid for that car but I remember I paid about 70% of the cost. One day I saw “For Sale” on the car. She didn’t tell me she was selling the car until I saw the ‘For Sale’ sign and asked. She went on to sell the car. I didn’t know how much she sold for. One day she came home with another car and guess what…everything was in her name.
I looked back and realized that everything we owned since our marriage had her name stamped on it. She owned everything and I owned nothing. In law, it’s for the two of us but one day, she can wake up and sell everything just like she sold the car and we would have nothing left. I started changing things around and she wasn’t comfortable. Every change I suggested turned into a huge fight. Some times for days and some times it got so heated she packed her things and went to her mom for days. If she didn’t have bad intentions, I didn’t see the reason why she couldn’t allow us to change the names?
For the past year, we’ve been fighting on these same issues and at some point, I decided to let things be. That was exactly the point she came to tell me she needed a divorce… ”The two of us can’t go on like this. That’s not what married couples do. It’s better we go our separate ways than stay fighting.” I thought she was joking until I saw her pack her things one after the other to her mother’s house. But I’ve made it very clear to her that I’m not giving her a divorce until everything I bought is reverted to my name.