Recently, I was in the company of a friend and a younger lady.
We were talking about a mutual friend who is beginning to find her feet and whose husband is threatened by her growing self-awareness when the younger lady blurted out “What is with men and their ego, sef? Why is that they will not listen to advice until their fingers are bitten and the whole family is dragged in the mud?”
She started to give instances of how she had offered advice to her husband and how he had gone against her advice only to find out that she was right after all and then without even apologizing blame her for the steps he took!
It reminded me of the frustrations I used to have with Mr. Aisi and how until he understood me, he thought I always wanted to control and manipulate him.
Me control ke? gentle me.
Looking back, I can understand why he would have thought so. He was quiet and reserved, I am outgoing and boisterous. I am also very opinionated and speak my mind freely. I have been said to always want my way, in fact many men (his brothers and some friends) always wondered how he coped with me. I guess it must be because I had always thought we were equals and that although he was my husband and the head of the home he wasn’t superior to me and having known him since our university days also helped to demystify all that talk, that the man is always right.
Anyways, it took time for him to understand me and realize that I wasn’t interested in controlling him. I was even looking forward to being controlled sef and sometimes wanted him to curtail my actions. Yes! I admit that I can be a handful. It took me time to understand that my tone mattered, my words could be scathing and demeaning, my demeanor could be very haughty and I could do more harm than good with my “advice” if they weren’t given at the right time and in the right manner.
It is said that most men have fragile egos and I wonder why. It’s the same thing with the issue of respect. Why will a man know a thing is wrong and do it just to prove a point that he cannot be controlled?
Why will a man prefer to be corrected outside the home than listen to his wife on certain issues?
Why does a man think he is always right or that he knows more than his woman because he is her husband?
Why will a man insist on managing the family finance when it is proven that his wife is a better manager of money than he is?
Why will men not listen to their wives’ advice when it comes to their businesses especially when they warned them against certain deals, partners or employees?
We have imbibed many myths growing up, daddy is the banker, mummy the cook, daddy gives mummy money to go to the market, is a better manager of money, has a good sense of where he wants to go…
A lot of us are wiser now and we know that it is not necessarily so, that mummy may be a better manager of money than daddy, may have more knowledge or experience in certain areas than daddy but our brains keep perpetuating these myths often to the disadvantage of the whole family.
This ego and respect thing has been the death of many an otherwise thriving relationship. It has stifled spontaneity, created barriers and lessened intimacy.
Respect is reciprocal and it is earned not demanded. It is now so common to find men who don’t deserve any respect demanding it. Men who are not ashamed to live off their wives, men who allow their wives to carry most of the burden of the home, paying school fees, rent etc. Men who don’t want to do work that they deem is below them just to provide for the families whilst waiting for something better to come along.
I am aware that ego and respect are vital for men and I don’t have any problem with it at all. I have heard it said severally and even Mr. Aisi confirmed it that men would prefer to be respected than to be loved. I am told respect means different things to different men and what my father demanded as respect is not what my husband demanded. Respect is so important to men and rightly so but it is sometimes ridiculous the way they go about it. I dare say many men don’t even understand what it means to them because a lot of them can’t tell you in words what it means.
They use examples such as, ‘You don’t respect me because you don’t serve me in a particular way, you call me by name (yes o, some men are offended that their wives call them by their names because of the age difference between them.) The way you call reminds me of how my mother calls me etc.
The way you call reminds me of how my mother calls me etc.
Men don’t seem to realize that for most women once we start to sleep together we become age mates and that sometimes when the difference in age isn’t so much we chaff at all the restrictions we are given by our men who want us to be their age mates in bed but their younger ones outside the bedroom.
Please note, this is not man bashing or about not respecting men. I am focusing on the men because I believe that not many people are talking to them or telling them things from a woman’s point of view.
I speak for myself when I say that most women want their men to be leaders in the home; we want to look up to you for guidance, direction, leadership and affirmation but we don’t see much of that coming from our men, more often than not, we see men who have esteem issues, who can’t take criticism of any kind, who think disagreement with their ideas or plan is a challenge to their leadership, who are unnecessarily sensitive to our words and actions, who are jealous of our achievements, who challenge our efforts to better ourselves because they are intimidated by who we are becoming.
I therefore submit on behalf of most reasonable women that no one is interested in controlling men. It’s about mutual respect, about wanting to be heard in the relationship, wanting to be acknowledged, wanting to have a say in the matter that concern us, wanting to defer to a man who earns our respect.