Posted in Relationships

Love Language

During courtship, my now husband and I took the love language quiz out of curiosity. I had completely forgotten about it until recently. As I reflect now, I realise just how significant that test was and the impact it may have had on my marriage if I had taken it a little more seriously. At the time of the test, my strongest love language was Words of Affirmation. Although, Acts of Service was a close second. Since going back to work and becoming a mum, Acts of service is now my strongest . Again, this may change in the future when I have more time on my hands. However, working full time with a baby makes you really appreciate someone doing something tangible to support you.

Through the course of our marriage, I expressed ‘love’ to my husband the way I thought was best; the way I would have liked to be shown love. My husband’s job requires him to work long hours. He spends most of his week and weekends working. This meant that he had little time to help out around the house. In trying to support him and convey my love for him, I took it upon myself to do everything around the home. I overworked myself with chores around the house to show that I cared about him. As far as I was concerned, I was being considerate of his workload and I was expressing that to him.

This worked for a while. However, I began to feel frustrated because I was constantly working and felt I was doing everything (read more about that here). I was trying to express my love for this man by doing everything that I could possibly do to ease his workload and I was getting nothing in return. I found it very difficult to understand why my message wasn’t getting across. After several arguments and discussions, I realised that although I was going above and beyond, he was not responding to these acts of ‘love’ because he didn’t see them as an expression of love. Acts of service was not his love language; he just saw them as things I did because I wanted to do them or because I could do them. 

It took a while, a really long time to actually understand this. I really had to stop thinking about what I wanted from him and focus on what he needed from me. I focused on my responsibilities rather than what I felt were my rights. I pretty much had to get off my high horse and began to actually listen to what my husband was telling me. In his complaints, I discovered what he wanted from me as a wife; his love language. 

This revelation had and has continued to have a positive impact on my marriage. I started to speak to him in the language that he responded to and consequently he began to speak my language. We began to understand each other a lot more than we did because we were communicating in a language that allowed the other person to hear us and understand us. This immediately decreased our arguments and allowed us to hear each other in a way that we hadn’t before. 

Till next time,

-A

Posted in Culture, Motherhood, Relationships

GUILT!!!

I have come to believe caring for myself is not self indulgent. Caring for myself is an act of survival.”

– Audre Lorde

There is a certain guilt I feel when I force myself to take a break or rest up a little. As I lay down to relax, I can’t help but feel less of a woman/wife/mother because I chose to take care of myself rather than clean the house or spread the clothes. Often, I get so overwhelmed with that guilt that I end up putting a stop to my relaxation and getting up to do whatever needs to be done. Whilst trying to figure out where this guilt was coming from, I realised this is something that is embedded in our society and culture in different ways. 

Growing up, I watched my mother and the women around me do EVERYTHING in the household. Our mothers took care of everyone but themselves. Although my mother never specifically advised me to do the same in my marital home, the expectation was set. I followed in her footsteps and tried as much as I could to be a good daughter and help out in any way possible around the house. Whenever I showed any intentions to relax or have fun, a series of questions such as “have you tidied up the house?” or “have you cooked the stew?” followed. Only if I answered ‘Yes’ to these questions, was it then acceptable for me to ‘relax’. There was a constant feeling of ‘the home needs to be in perfect order before I can relax’. 

Going into my marital home, I subconsciously carried the same pressure with me. I wanted to be a superwoman – the perfect wife and mother. I wanted to do everything like the great women that came before me. So I did. I cooked. I cleaned. I took care of the baby and everything else in between. There was a sense of fulfilment and empowerment that came from looking at the spotless house, coupled with the smell of food from the kitchen that made me feel like a good wife. I had done everything on my own. My worth as a wife was very much linked to the chores I did around the house. So much so, when I couldn’t do ALL of those things, I felt I was failing in my role as a wife. I was not enough. As you can imagine, this mindset coupled with a full time job and a baby left me feeling drained with no time to myself. I was constantly tired and cranky.

…I recognise it, I am working on it, because self care isn’t selfish…”

As a human being, I painfully recognised that I needed a break to recharge; I tried to take the time out. This meant allowing my spouse to carry some of the household responsibilities. I struggled. Watching him do more around the home went against everything that I had observed or had been taught by women in the society. I questioned my ability as a wife and a mother and instead of feeling relaxed, I felt selfish and incapable. I felt guilty for taking a break. I felt guilty for not meeting the expectations that I had set for myself. 

Having acknowledged that I was trying to live up to the expectations that I had set for myself in my own marital home, I am now personally trying to unlearn this ‘superwoman’ behaviour and allow myself space and time to take care of myself without feeling guilty about it. In doing this, I have also realised that it is okay to let someone else take the reins. I am slowly learning to take a step back and not feel the need to do everything. I’m not there yet, but I recognise it, I am working on it, because self care isn’t selfish. You cannot pour from an empty cup. 

Do you feel guilt when you make time for yourself? If so, know that you’re not on your own. Do you feel the need to overcome this feeling and how do you do so?

Till next time

-A

Posted in Culture

DO BETTER NIGERIA!

ANGER. RAGE. DISGUST. HURT. PAIN. HEAVY. BETRAYAL. LET DOWN. SHAME.

These words don’t even come close to describing the turmoil in my chest right now. There is so much awareness being brought to issues that have been going on for so long ‘behind closed doors’, I’m struggling to cope. I have refrained from saying anything because I don’t feel I have the right words. Instead, I have spent the past few days sharing links, posts, tweets, campaigns, petitions etc in solidarity with our fight. However, tonight I struggled to stay quiet. 

As a black woman, I’ve always been aware of the racial injustice that we as black people face. I am not blind to it. I am lucky to not have overtly experienced it but it’s there. It’s in the way people look at me when I laugh too loud or in the way they ask me why I’m so well-spoken. It is in the way they tell me to ‘calm down’ when I am trying to speak up for myself. So, I am aware that we will be judged firstly by the colour of our skin before anything else. I am aware that the mere colour of our skin is a threat to several out there. And like so many of us, the images and videos that I have seen over the past few days have enraged me. The more information I get, the angrier I get at the systemic racism that has been put in place to keep us from changing our narratives. The more information I get, the angrier I get at myself for not being quick to realise the impact of these malicious behaviours on my people. The more information I get, the angrier I get at the people who care more about power than they care about our lives. The more information I get, the angrier I get at the people who have chosen to oppress us to make their lives easier. The point is, I AM ANGRY. WE ARE ANGRY. WE ARE TIRED. We are at war and we’re ready to stand up to our enemies. 

In standing up to injustice, we need to call out the injustice within our own communities. Recently, the rape culture in Nigeria has been all over social media. Rape happens everywhere. It’s sad but true. There are sick men everywhere*. Sick men who think the way a woman dresses, walks, speaks, where she visits etc is a reason to rape her. Sick men who force themselves on women just for being women. We know these men exist. We know these men are sick. These men sicken me. But what sickens me more than these men are the communities who have raised these men to believe that they have the right to a woman’s body without her consent. Men AND women bashing other women/girls for ‘putting themselves in situations’ that have caused them to be raped. What situation gives another person the right to violate you? I won’t get into it but when you look at the stats, it is very clear that nothing stops anyone from being raped. It could have been YOU. WE need to do better. 

Rape is one of the most terrible crimes on earth and it happens every few minutes. The problem with groups who deal with rape is that they try to educate women about how to defend themselves. What really needs to be done is teaching men not to rape. Go to the source and start there.

– Kurt Cobain

The pressure that is put on women in our community is ridiculous. We are blamed for everything including being abused by our male counterparts. From birth, we are groomed for the sake of our male counterparts; dress responsibly so that the boys won’t look at you, learn to cook so that you can be a good wife, educate yourself because no man wants a liability etc. YOU raise us girls to be strong, independent, educated, responsible etc. On the other hand, YOU raise irresponsible men who are unworthy of the women that YOU have raised. Men that choose to satisfy their sexual urges without a care for the impact it has on us because YOUR ACTIONS have taught them that we exist solely for their sake. And in turn, YOU are telling the strong girls that YOU have raised, that no matter what they do, what they achieve, what they wear, these men will ALWAYS come before them. I AM ASHAMED. Nigeria, we need to do better. 

I plan to do better and you should too. We need to raise men that are worthy of the women that we are raising. We need to raise men that understand our struggles as women. We need to raise men that will fight for our struggles as women. We need to raise men that will hear our cries. We need to raise RESPONSIBLE men. So, start in your homes. Give your sons responsibilities; let them make dinner, let them do the dishes. Teach them respect. Teach them that they are the only ones responsible for their actions and those actions have consequences. Hold them accountable. Teach them just like you teach your daughters. 

To my sisters who have suffered and continue to suffer from the hands of the irresponsible men in our community. The community that should fight for you has let you down. I see YOU. I hurt for YOU. I support YOU. You are worthy!

DO BETTER NIGERIA!!!

Till next time

-A

*There are sick men everywhere. Obviously it’s important to recognise that this role can be fulfilled by a woman also, however this is a minute minority and generally not the case in most occurrences. Therefore with relevance to my point, I am going to discuss said sick men.