It started on the very first day that we returned from our honeymoon. We had barely taken our seats when he told me that he had something to discuss with me. He sounded very excited and that made me wonder what he had to tell me. He said, “This is the beginning of our journey and we have to put things in order for us to know where we are going from here. We need to sit down and decide on our future. We don’t have a lot but if we come together, we can achieve a lot.” He sounded motivational. He sounded like he had planned to tell me this for a very long time. I sat and listened to him while he rattles his dreams and hopes for the marriage.
After everything, I asked him, “So what do you have in mind?” He said, “We need to set out rules. What we can do and what we cannot do.” I said, “Ok, so where do we start from?” He started, “First of all, about our finances, this is how I want us to manage it. We’ll have a joint account where every month we’ll deposit GHC1,500 each. It’s out of that contribution that we’ll build our future. Everything we’ll ever own together would come from that money. As time goes on, if our salaries increase, we may increase the amount.” At face value, it sounded like a good idea but I had a problem with how much we ought to contribute. My salary was only GHC2079 after tax. If I contribute GHC1500 every month, I would be left with very little for myself.
I said, “So why don’t we make it a percentage of our salaries. Say 45% of our salaries each month.”
He answered, “If we do it that way, it will be a cheat on me. It means, I’ll contribute more and that wouldn’t be fair. This is a marriage of equals and we have to go by that.” It turned into an argument. He didn’t want to side with me and I couldn’t accept his suggestion too. I remember he got angry and left the discussion. For two days he was not talking to me. When I tried to get him to calm down, he said, “It’s our first week together and you’ve started challenging me already?”
So he came back with a written document he had titled, “Agreement.” He asked me to read it. He said, “This is how we are going to run this marriage from now onwards. No negotiation!”
#1. We are both going to contribute GHC1500 each into a joint account at the beginning of each month. Whatever asset we’ll acquire as a couple would come from this money.
#2. Each of us can go ahead and acquire our personal properties and put our own names on those properties.
#3. Rent/housekeeping money would be split 50/50.
#4. When Kids come, you’ll pay for their food, clothes, and diapers while I take care of fees and healthcare.
#5. No family visit unless it’s about something important and urgent. (His parents were no longer alive so this didn’t affect him.)
#6. You can’t talk to your ex and you won’t have anything to do with them. You go against this, divorce.
#7. You’ll do the cleaning, cooking, and washing. I’ll come home with gifts once in a while.
#8. I’m still the head of this family and you’ll regard me as such. You’ll consult me on decisions that affect us and you’ll remain submissive. In return, I’ll treat you like the help that you are. Care for you and love you.
In all, the rules were fifteen. These were the salient ones.
After reading I asked him, “Why didn’t we talk about these things before marriage? Why now?” He asked, “What difference does it make?” I said, “It makes a whole lot of difference. It would have helped you and it would have helped me. Maybe this marriage wouldn’t have happened if you brought this up because there are so many things here I don’t agree with.” He said, “This is good for us. In the long run, you and I will benefit.” I said, “This is bad for me and you know it.”
So I decided not to sign and out of anger, he decided not to do his duties as a husband. For close to six months, we lived like co-tenants. He came home from work and went straight to bed. I came from work, watched some tv and later went to sleep. We hardly talked. When I cooked, I served him. Sometimes he ate and sometimes he ignored the food. I washed for him and even cleaned after him. When he wanted sex, he jumped over me and did it quickly as though he was being chased. I was hoping he could change his mind on some of the things. He didn’t. I had a bigger space before marriage so when we got married, he moved in to live with me. I thought he would begin paying rent so I know the seriousness of what he said but he never did.
One day I asked him, “What are we doing to ourselves? See who we have allowed ourselves to become.” He said, “I don’t want to bear what I can’t bear all in the name of marriage. It’s for the good of us that we agree on those things. So we can live without confusion and without ill feelings.” I said, “I can’t pay that monthly contribution and then also pay 50/50 rent and housekeeping. My salary can’t support that. It’s not realistic. Marriage is about support. Why don’t you allow me to support you where you’re weak so you also do the same?”
He asked, “So how much would you pay?” I said, “Let’s take it slowly. You know my junior sister is in school and I’m the one taking care of her. Basically, I’m the one taking care of my other two siblings and my mother. I’m not asking you to help but for now, give me some financial space.” He said, “We are married and have to think about ourselves. How do we grow if you keep investing in your family? You are married and all your attention should be on your marriage.”
“Dear, I can’t leave my mom out just because I got married. My mom invested heavily in me when my father died so I could grow up and help my other siblings. You knew this right from the start. I was taking care of them when we were dating. I remember one time you even sent me money to support my sister’s fees so why would you turn around and demand that I cut them off?”
One month later, he left home and came back two days later to pack his things. I even helped him pack. I followed him to his new place to help him arrange his things. I told him, “I’m still your wife. If you have a change of mind, call me. If you need a divorce too, let m know.”
He has told some friends that he wants a divorce but can’t do it because the marriage is still new. He’s waiting till the marriage is three years old before he calls for a divorce. Maybe there’s something he’s not telling me. There’s something he’s scared of that I don’t know. Other than that, I’ve said and done enough for him to trust me. The sad thing is, I don’t have the money to file for divorce and go through those lengthy processes so all I can do now is to wait for him to make a move first.