What you need to know:
- You see, my wife was working at the time.
- I knew she would have given me the money without a moment’s hesitation if I borrowed her the cash.
- But, the African man in me could not accept the “humiliation”.
That a husband is the ‘head of the family’ is a phrase known by all and sundry. Even the holy books stress the position of a man in the house as the provider, while the wife is a helper.
African culture has had its share in affirming the position of a man as the pillar of the family.
In this regard therefore, the man should give money to his wife for the support of her people and not the other way round....
So, what happens when the man of the house becomes jobless? I found myself in this exact position. And since when it rains it pours, my father became hospitalised for nearly two weeks.
The hospital bill wiped his savings, his cow had to be sold and yet, the money raised was still insufficient cover his treatment cost. It was agreed that my siblings and I split the outstanding bill. I was in trouble!
There was no way I could raise my portion, given I had no income.
Well, there was a way but…ah-ah, it was out of question.
You see, my wife was working at the time. I knew she would have given me the money without a moment’s hesitation if I borrowed her the cash. But, the African man in me could not accept the “humiliation”. Can you imagine borrowing money from your wife? I mean, isn’t that the very definition of taboo?
However, as the days went by I realised my taboo consciousness wasn’t doing much to help the situation. Since when did egos help pay the bills?
The situation back home was becoming more urgent. My siblings’ contribution still left a deficit and I hadn’t found a more “dignified” means to make my contribution. It was time to revisit my stand on receiving help from my dear wife.
Let us not forget, as stated earlier, that the holy books actually refer to the wife as a helper. It was time for her to step up to her ordained role as my helper.
All this time, my wife had no idea of what was happening back home or that mzee was unwell. I figured that would be an excellent place to begin. The plan was to update her on the situation then leave her to connect the dots.
Thankfully, it worked! Deeply concerned, my wife asked whether we could make a contribution to clear the bill and have mzee discharged.
I “pondered” on the question for a heartbeat and said a measured “yes”. Just like that, she gave me the money I needed and mercifully spared me the humbling task of asking for it.
I am a changed man. Before, I truly believed a man should never ask money from his wife. I thought it was culturally unacceptable especially an African man such as myself. Full disclosure: I equated such behaviour to castration. Strong views, I agree, but modern day life has made me face reality.
The dynamic nature of our world has placed men in precarious positions where the cultural doctrines enjoyed by our forefathers no longer work. There is a dire need for reorientation of the cultural beliefs passed down to us. It is possible to be a jobless man and have a wife who earns a six-digit figure and holds the fort on the financial front for the family. Being stubborn and refusing to accept help is simply ridiculous.
Your ego, my fellow men, will not meet a single financial need.
This is what I have learnt; do not ask for money from your wife. Simply state your circumstance.
These women love us, otherwise they would have left us a long time ago. If you are a man of little or no means at all, just present your situation tactfully. Jieleze, ongea usikike. Be subtle but do not understate the problem. The rest will follow, I assure you!