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Read Letter

Matrimonial Colonialism

Dear Jil, funny that I wrote Jack last week on this very same issue. I fear you’re making the same mistake. Sometimes mistakes come in genders. There’s the masculine version and then the feminine label. Listen, your mum cannot have dominion over your matrimonial home. It’s not allowed.

You’ll create dangerous fissures in your marriage. Over time those cracks will widen and the edifice will crash. Your mum has her own home. She ought to constrain herself to her domiciliary jurisdiction. You’re undermining your husband’s authority in his own home, subjugating him to the sovereign dictates of your mum. Your mum functions as the appeal court over the proceedings in your home. Your allegiance is to her and not your husband. You’ll break your home unnecessarily.  Something tells me your mum will be glad to have you back home. Protective custody. And the selfish game your mum is playing? Her domineering patronage of your matrimonial home? You’ll pay for it.

There’s no marriage without its fair share of disagreements. Ganging up with mummy against hubby is not a solution. And you have a good man! He’s not perfect, can never be. Do you really want to lose him? Appealing to mum’s unlawful authority is a sign of immaturity on your part. What if mum weren’t alive? If you weren’t ready to leave home why did you marry? You’ve made your husband hapless, turned him into a eunuch in his own house. And soon his family will notice, and his mother will rise up to defend her son against your mother. Then what? Don’t you understand the principle of one flesh? It’s a binary equation not a trilateral equation. Excludes mum. To be sure your husband should have amity with your mother but not at the expense of his home.

Let me tell you how this plays out. I’m a student of history. I chose to be a matriculant of the school of life. There was a couple who met fifty years ago. This is a true story. The man was a good man, still is. But the woman was beholden to her family. She craved their love. That craving would produce distortions in her marriage, wreck unimaginable havoc…Will carry on and on. Every time her husband confided in her she went back to her family and disgorged her husband’s confidentialities. And if he said he didn’t like an aunt of hers she went to that very aunty and told her what he said. She sold her husband to buy the affection of her extended family. And soon her aunties constituted themselves into a privy council over proceedings in her home. They exercised the right of administrative review over the goings on in her marriage. As it pleased them they counter-manded the instructions of her husband, with malice aforedetermined.

There were now two local governments running that home- one locally domiciled, the other overseas. And then HIS family got in on it. They took sides with their son. As can be expected.  And their marriage became a playing field for the menagerie of management consultants. The couple effectively became counter-intelligence agents in their own marriage. As she told, he felt compelled to tell his family she told her family. Familial barricades were soon erected. And soon the War of the Roses. She rose, he rose, the two families rose! Of course the marriage broke down in functionality. Food is often the first casualty of such iterations. To express his anger and send a code of displeasure the man refused to eat at home. The woman retaliated in pain and anger by denying him visa for sexual congress. Sex became the second casualty. As usual.

Nature abhors a vacuum and soon the groom’s mum stepped into the gastronomical space. The man began to eat at his mum’s. In the circumstance mum’s cooking was discriminatorily exhilarating. Mum of course put in extra effort. Fresh produce. Nothing but the best for her son. And when she served him she used endearing terms that gorge a man’s head with a large flow of blood. But mum didn’t stop at culinary fulfilment. Lest he suffer from spermary incontinence she put a wife replacement plan in play.

As is often the case in an African context she began to scout for a concubine for her son. And history began to repeat itself like a looping generational curse. Mum was a victim of a similar fate she now recommends. A candidate soon emerged and before you could say Jack another family was begun outside purview. The home had been torn asunder by the wedding witnesses. All because the two parties maintained consanguineous allegiance to their families at the expense of their marriage.

No matter how well intended your mum may be, taking control of a section of your matrimony cannot end well. That is not love. It is a usurpation of authority. And if you’re wise you better thank your mum and face your home. Sort out the issues between you and your husband. Having recourse to third parties is a beginning of troubles. Let me tell you how the story ends. Of course the couple split. The home shattered. One day the man came back from work and he could hear the echo of his voice. The woman had moved out her belongings. Her family provided the truck. And you’ll have thought that was the end. But these things never end. They just employ punctuation marks.

Forty years after, after one or two attempted marriages that didn’t pan out the woman wants back. The man’s concubine who became defacto wife had died, creating a gap. She now sought to refill the space she vacated. But the man is now so bitter and angry he’ll never allow. Her aunties are dead now, his mother is dead… The wedding witnesses and advisers are dead, all gone. And all the couple have is regrets, pain, disappointment, bitterness, anger and memories of what could have been. Was it worth it? And will it be worth it for you? Think.

Your mentor,


© Leke Alder 2014


Tags : Home, Mum, Husband

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