Who’s The Head, Husband or Wife?

Okay so I’ve asked a series of questions concerning the role of men and women in our society. I’ve read messages on my timeline about how a woman should behave and act (inspired by the Otiko Djaba incident during the vetting). I’ve received private messages and have had stories shared about women who find themselves in unbearable situations, especially marriages, but are told to remain silent because that is what women should do.

In an ideal world, women should be courteous, affable, virtuous etc., men should be honourable, responsible, honest, among other virtues. But we don’t live in an ideal world. We live in a world where women, due to unfavourable economic contraints, have to use unsavoury means to survive; where men can impregnate women and not take responsibility for their offspring etc.

Governance and Family

I asked the question about Family and Governance in our society to buttress a few points. I’m sure that many of you have had some strange family experiences and childhoods due to the decisions made by your parents. Some of these decisions may have affected some negatively, e.g. The case of single parent households, mothers and fathers who have not been good examples; whether it’s through the challenges of an addiction (sexual, drugs, alcohol) or sheer domestic violence, etc. have all contributed to the breakdown of our family units.

I wish that we would be less judgemental of women like Otiko Djaba; who may or may not have had a colourful past. We fail to identify the root cause of these issues.

Men, do you know that women are naturally accommodating, affable etc? That a woman does not just wake up one day and choose to be arrogant, or argumentative? My mantra is, we teach other people how to treat us. If men would not pose condescending questions to each other, or make any such inferences about their kind, why should they do so to women? I ask men; if wives behaved in the manner some of you do in your marriages, would you be comfortable and happy?

Are men and women Equal in a marriage?

On the matter of whether men and women are equal partners, the answer is yes, equal in the sense that we are both human beings, we both have blood running through our veins. What is hurtful or painful to men is equally hurtful and painful to women. Partnership by its definition implies that what’s good for you will be good for me. What you deserve I also deserve. When we are told that men and women are not equal, that the man is the head of the family; what usually results is that the feelings and the needs of the wife are suppressed and that of the man becomes sacrosanct and primary. Equality means that the needs of a wife is just as important as that of the husband. The concerns of a wife is just as important as that of the husband.

Who leads in a Marriage?

The head of the family should be reserved for the husband, that I agree. Too many chiefs can never make a happy tribe (even in an equal partnership company a CEO has to be appointed) however, that does not diminish the equal partnership of the wife, it only means that when key decisions need to be taken, both partners discuss and upon consultation of wife and husband, a decision is reached. Men, being a leader does not mean that you are a dictator or an authoritarian and that what you say is final. As a man and leader of the family, your general disposition and how you distinguish yourself should make it natural or easy for your wife and children to defer that leadership role to you. Humans by nature will look up to the more superior personality in a group. Do not be under the impression that you can live anyhow, espousing no values, and still insist on having the final say in the family; by reason of the sheer accident of your gender.

Leadership(especially servant leadership which is what the bible describes (‘loving your wife as Christ loved the church’) is so much more than that, and I would hope that our married men would read up on it to help them on this marriage journey.

Marriage and Governance

Lastly, the family is the basic unit of Governance and state. It is in our family units that we learn about morality and other values; and that’s where our behaviour is shaped. If a man and woman cannot live peacefully together and manage their household, children, finances, etc, the aggregate of such broken homes translates into a broken nation. Men, it means that when you go out you should come home in time to spend time with your wife and children. If you have a drinking problem or are a womaniser, etc. it’d be helpful, not only to your family but the larger society as well, that you put an end to such behaviour. Your family is and should be your paramount concern and focus. That way, you’re strengthening the building block of our nation. The values and energy from your family will interact with other families and be carried on through the generations.

Women, feminism in my view, is not about sexual freedom etc. in my opinion, sexuality without morality is one of the reasons we have such a broken society. Feminism should be about restoring the strength and power of African women. It should never mean that you can sleep with as many men as you want or the freedom to have as many abortions as you wish; all these behaviours only destroys and at times harms you physically and emotionally. Don’t put yourself in such situations, the consequences leave you lonely, empty and in pain.

Our role as women, mothers wives and sisters is to restore social morality. Our role is to speak up when our men are ‘misbehaving’. For those who are spiritual, our role is to be prayerful in support of our men and children. When women stop focusing on the real substance of our lives and start to pay excessive attention to fleeting things like appearance, fashion, and trying to get money from men, the society suffers. When men begin to treat their wives (You can’t have a side chick or a bae, Your wife should be your bae) with the dignity and respect they deserve, I’m almost certain that the social problems in our country will diminish. When women understand and begin to truly appreciate our worth in our society, when we begin to see that our role is; the very backbone in which our society functions, then we can prosper.

I hope that 2017 is a year that we get our family lives in order. So here’s a challenge to all the married couples on my friends list and those who are about to tie the knot; Can we pledge to do things differently? It’s never too late.

Kate Tutu

Social Entrepreneur,Business Consultant, Editor of Feint & Margin, a young woman who's passionate about Africa's people and development.