Originally published on naijahusband.com
“Men are NOT children.”
“My spouse is a fully grown man. NOT an infant.”
“Husband NOT child!”
Everywhere I look it’s the same theme. Whether it’s the television commercial that shows the inept father that somehow manages to wrap his baby in a diaper made of moin moin leaves, or the 50th article entitled “How to train your man” in the numerous magazines my wife likes to buy on the weekend, the message that your spouse is nothing but an overgrown toddler in need of your guidance never changes.
I know they’ve taught you these things from a very young age. Those laughter filled conversations between your aunties as they sat around a meal to discuss the latest wrongs their husbands had committed. No matter the problem that “Baba Risikat” had caused that day, it was always met with this advice, “Just leave him jo. Don’t you know men are like children?” or “You have to treat him like a baby! Pet him! Cook his favorite dish and make sure it is properly digested before you approach any topic with him! Don’t you know all men are looking for is a wife who will mother them?”
I’ve overheard these conversations before and I usually just shake my head at the idea that men need to be pampered, cosseted, bribed with sweets and manipulated in order to accomplish anything. But I didn’t realize that my wife must have been regularly hiding underneath the table as a child and listening in on those well meaning aunties and taking notes until the following conversation ensued.
NW: “NH, have you brushed your teeth?”
NW: “Okay. Good boy.”
Me: “What did you just call me?!?”
A “good boy”??!! I think if she’d been closer to me at the time she might even have patted me on the head as a reward…and if I hadn’t brushed my teeth I might have gotten a spanking.
It didn’t stop there. Whenever we traveled together, NaijaWife would make it a point to have the following conversation with me, within hearing of every other passenger on the plane.
NW: “Have you gone to pee?”
NW: “Why not?”
Me: “I don’t need to.”
NW: “But you should do it now. Don’t disturb me later that you need to go to the bathroom.”
Me: “Why would that disturb you?! Are you the one following me to the toilet?!”
NW: “There’s no need to snap oh. I’m just looking out for you!”
I was amused really. Who did she think was managing my urination and teeth brushing schedule before she came along? But then it started bordering on the bizarre…especially when she began insisting that she had to be the one to apply lotion to my body in the mornings because I couldn’t be trusted to do it myself.
Now, every morning, as I come out of the bathroom, she gazes at me expectantly. Her eyes are pinned to me, not because she’s excited to see what’s underneath the towel, but because she’s excited to see if I’ll dutifully apply lotion to my (admittedly) ashy limbs. If I fail to impress her she will, inevitably, speak her mind.
NW: “NH Come back here.”
NW: “You didn’t put any cream on your back. Do you want to start scratching yourself in the office?”
Me: “I’m in a rush dear, just leave it…”
But before I can protest, she will have grabbed the bottle from my hands and started rubbing.
I’ll confess that sometimes I do it deliberately. Who wouldn’t want a rub down from his beautiful wife in the mornings? But soon I began to wonder…what did she see when she looked at me?
But what really amuses me about this treatment is that my wife will not find it funny if I try something similar with her. One Sunday, while headed to church…
NW: “Wait for me please, I have to run to the bathroom.”
Me: “Ok.” I said…and then I realized my chance had come (I just couldn’t miss this opportunity) “Darling wait…”
Me: “Make sure you wipe yourself carefully.”
Me: “Yes. Front to back. Don’t come and complain to me later if the thing starts scratching you.”
Luckily she saw the humour in it and since then has promised to do better in replacing her maternal instincts with more spousal instincts.
I know that there are indeed some men who behave like children, just as there are women who behave like children. But your ex-boyfriend who struggled to understand why exactly you couldn’t provide extravagant meals 3 times a day “just like his mother did”, and your 40 year old cousin who still sucks his thumb are not representatives of the entire male gender.
While I’m on the topic of “Husband Not Child” let me throw another one in there. Husband Not Father.
This is very important. Please understand that, along with those stereotypes about your husband being a child, are the ones about your husband being “a father” to you.
Well if you say you do, then at least you are honest. Incestuous…but honest.
However, the way I see it, that desire to find a man who treats you like a daughter might stem from the same group of lies these meddling “aunties” liked to tell you, such as: “Older men are more mature. That’s why you should marry an older man” (They forgot to tell you that “maturity” is often just a code word for “more money”), “Older men can protect you better” (Protect you with what exactly? Their walking stick?), “Older men are more confident.” (They’re not more confident. They’re just nonchalant because they have bigger things to worry about e.g. their declining bladder, their retirement plan, the 10 different pills they have to take every morning, afternoon and night etc.)
But even I must concede that the most valid reason I’ve heard is “Older men are more financially secure.” Yes…I certainly have to agree with that. Pensions are very regular. Hence the feeling of security.
I could go on and on about the stereotypes and misconceptions that our society encourages us to believe about men (and very soon I’ll address another popular myth such as “All men cheat“) but I’ll stop here for now. Especially because my wife wants me to spend some time writing a “Wife Not Mother” post (though I can’t imagine why she thinks that’s necessary).
Gentlemen, it’s time we took a stand for our own dignity. Husband not child. Husband not father.
Husband is Husband.