So I made a comment on a post about a woman who was married but lonely, in a private group which I wouldn’t mention because the group is private, and this comment garnered over 100 likes within a 12-hour window. 100+ likes, I think the last I just checked, it was already over 120 and it really touched me because I’ve always had this in mind, I always knew this was a situation but I didn’t realize that some people were just waiting for someone to see it say so that they could agree, they could say yeah, so someone is actually feeling this way!
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So I’m going to read out the comment to you and we’re going to elaborate on it.
I said “This situation is mostly because most married women in Nigeria don’t have nor keep friends. The men always keep the ‘guys’. They go watch football, they go drink at the bar but the women, they’re either at work or at home. Women are discouraged to keep friends because friends would ‘lead them astray’. So if the husband is not paying her quality attention, she’s miserable and this is a bad lifestyle”.
I ended it with saying “May more women find happiness engaging in activities away from their husbands”.
And it didn’t get upto 12 hours I had over 100 likes on this comment. Do you know what this signifies? It means that so many women are going through this, so many women can relate, so many married women, are lonely.
This comment was on a post that by a woman who actually talked about how lonely she got during her marriage before she took the reins and engaged in activities away her husband and gradually she came around, and then with time the man eventually came around as well. Which is great for her that the man eventually came around because sometimes the man wouldn’t come around and the rift has been created and you can only make yourself happy and think of what to do with your life because continuing depending on him for happiness will just lead you into depression; and this woman was depressed for years before she actually took that decision to move away from expecting happiness from this man and create her own happiness.
So here’s what bothers me. Why is it that in Nigeria, married women are not encouraged to keep friends? In fact, the moment your friends get married, you notice that there would be this distance and you would hardly call them, talk to them regularly. Seeing them becomes like the blue moon you get to see once in a while, sometimes you don’t even get to see them. So you end up married and lonely.
Our cultural and societal expectations limits women from networking with people, from seeing people, from getting close to people outside. They expect that your entire life now becomes about your husband and your children, you get to do nothing of your own. You’re either working or you’re at home or you’re in the market. And this is because we grew up in a society that pits women against women so it’s as if every woman is competing for a husband and once the man picks you, the other person is supposed to cut all of you out. Because if she keeps her gates open to you guys are going to snatch her husband from her.
It’s as if you live your life trying to mark your boundaries all the time; protecting your boundaries while the man you’re even protecting is out there doing stuff that you don’t even know about. And then eventually, you realize that you were probably marrying yourself and your entire expectations are burdened on this man who is supposed to make you happy. When you have to depend on someone else for happiness, it’s a risk that you shouldn’t take because you’re going to have your happiness hanging by a thread. He’s human he’s not God, and he’s bound to fail at some points.
So then, they already telling you Single Ladies shouldn’t be friends with you. Like it’s a crime to be single, whereas you’re only on your way to being married but lonely. Your e friends going to snatch your husband, they’re going to lead you astray, they’re going to make you start seeing men, and also by time you go out to hang with them there will be guys in their midst and you could fall into temptation and start cheating on your husband and stuff like that.
These are all those prescriptions, all the pressure that keep married women in their home, confined in a space where they’re expecting happiness from only one person who is the husband, without engaging in hobbies for self-care.
And when you look at it this way, does it mean that this is why men cheat?
Because if you’re saying that if a woman starts to go out she’ll start to cheat, that means men are cheating because they’re allowed to go out. So does it mean that we should lock men up as well so they stop cheating? Is that what it means? Because that’s why cheating has become very mainstream for men and then when we hear of a married woman cheating, it’s like news, like “Ah! How can she be cheating?” There is still this shock reaction that comes with it but if it is a man, that’s regular, nothing you know. So is it because they are always out that they get to take a pass for cheating?
Because if you can insist that a married woman keeping friends is a reason for her to cheat, that means men are cheating cos they always have the guys around, they’re always going out, they’re always the ones to call home with “Darling I can’t come back early this night”. Should a woman do that, a community meeting will likely emerge. So society prefers she’s rather married but lonely if the husband decides to keep his distance.
If your schedules are so tight, your life is so busy you’re at work and you’re really thinking of what the family is going to eat at night and then you’re rushing from work to the market you’re buying stuff, you’re rushing from the market to home to go start cooking and then your refrigerating everything you’re cleaning up after the kids and then go serving dinner for the man who after seeing the guys come home right? and then you get some short sleep at night that is if you don’t get to you know have sex with your husband and then you get to wake up early and continue the routine, what time would you actually have to even reconsider your marriage?
So this seems to me like all the cultural societal prescriptions are strategically placed to keep women so busy in marriage that they can’t think of their own life, even when they’re married but lonely. Yet there’s no prescription to keep men married.
So when I went through that post and I left that comment, then I saw the reactions, it really got to me and the replies that followed also... Oh my God.
I’m here thinking, if women can relate so much to this situation, why do y’all still keep yourself friendless in marriage?
I think women need to start making time for themselves. Women need to start engaging in activities that is just for their own happiness, for their own relaxation away from their husbands. Give these men some space. They’re already giving you space by being away all the time and yet you’re home all the time waiting on them.
That kind of lifestyle gets you obsessed with the children and then you realize that when your children are getting older and they’re living home, you suddenly feel alone, suddenly have this empty void in the house. You come home and you don’t see anybody. And then it glares at you just how married but lonely you are. Next thing your kids are getting married and you’re already planning to go visit; and not just visit, but to go live with them, because you’re so used to living with them you don’t have anything else you’ve been engaging yourself with over the years.
So I think women should actually start building their own activities away from their husband. And don’t buy into the societal perception that women with house helps or nannies are lazy.
It’s weird that this kind of perception exists when it’s already obvious everything a woman is burdened, which goes forward to buttress the point I’m making that the whole idea is to just keep women so occupied that they don’t think of anything else apart from what’s happening in their home.
House help and nanny positions are job creations for the unskilled labour market, and it’s unfortunate that in our country we don’t have organized service structures or government agencies that oversee these employments to maintain prestige and good welfare for both the workers and the employing families.
In the absence of these helps, it’s paradoxical that women are still judged as they’re carrying this burden all by themselves, while further discouraging men from giving the much needed domestic help because…gender roles! Wife materialism!
You notice that when there’s a school reunion or friend’s birthday party or even another friend is getting married, the already married ones cannot attend. They tell you there’s nobody stay with the kids. Ah! That statement gets to me. It’s really unfair. If a man has reunion or any important event he wants to attend, he will go. Sometimes, they travel across states for even less serious events. But not the wives because…kids. Does it mean that you cannot ask your husband to stay with the kids so you go for your school reunion? So you travel for your friends wedding? And these are friends that even attended your own wedding. You see that if you had a group of friends, as each one gets married, the presence at the parties are reducing. By the time the last is getting married, she will probably not see any of you present.
It’s really not fair that you just assume that this is this is normal. “You know I’m married now, nobody to stay with the childre” sounds like prestige until few years down the line you realize that you are all alone because you already distanced yourself from friends, and you thought it was OK! You’re married but sis, you’re lonely!
And because you’ve lived like that for so long, you no longer know how to tell your husband that you don’t want to live like this again. “I feel uncomfortable, I feel lonely, I feel depressed, I feel like I’ve not got anybody”. He’s going to look at you like “Where’s this coming from?” because you’ve already accepted such pattern and because you’ve accepted it, you get to live it out and that’s really not cool.
And then you start ageing while your husband is still looking sweet and young.
So I always believe that marriage should be a team work and each person should be cut some slack. If you’ve got an event coming up and you need to go, the other person can stay with the kids and you, when it’s the other persons turn, you stay with the kids let her go. It shouldn’t just be one sided. you can’t be the one allowed to live life while the other person is just existing and I think it’s very uncool and it’s very unfair and if over 100 people, 120 people and counting voice out this way, relating to my comment in the way they did then this is a really big problem and women should take it up.
Women should grow out of that place where it’s only about the husband and start thinking of their own lives, start engaging in activities, join organisations, join dance clubs, play tennis, go swimming. swimming clubs, book clubs, piano classes, and even female football if you’re the football type. If you can get a group of friends in at least three different or four different clubs or related activities, why will you be married lonely and depressed when your husband doesn’t want to give you attention?
If you have activities going on at least he would know you have a schedule. You two discuss your daily and know how to help out each other. I think these are a lot of elements that build life and also encourage relationship to be happy, quality over quantity. And I believe that where the quality is high, the quantity automatically increases. So if your marriage is happy, there is no reason it’s going to end in divorce. Therefore, work towards your happiness and work towards being a team! So you don’t end up married but lonely.
What do you think about this? And do you have any contributions? Do you think it’s over the top or do you think it’s just on point and do you have instances to cite for us? I’d really love to have it in the comment section so reply me with your opinions and let’s see what you got.
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