RelationshipsComments By CHIOMA GABRIEL, EDITOR,SPECIAL FEATURES When Adam saw the woman for the first time he exclaimed, “This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called woman, because she was taken out of man.” Genesis 2 :23 In the beginning, the woman was created to add flavour to the life of the man. She is his half-meet, bone of his bones, flesh of his flesh, no longer two but one. Behind every successful man is said to be a woman who is expected to stand as a rock of Gibraltar behind him. She is perceived as a home-maker, a home-keeper, a home-builder. And when things go wrong, she is often blamed as the home-wrecker as well. In 21st relationships, men call their wives all sorts of names as terms of endearment. Some call their wives, “Babe, honey, sweetie…” and others. In the Igbo land in times past, men used to call wives ‘oriaku’, meaning the one that enjoys her husband’s wealth. But over the years, this endearment has slipped into oblivion. Then women were seen only to belong to the kitchen and the other room. But that is not exactly same nowadays. Women now also shoulder the responsibility of creating wealth. They are no longer laid back while they wait for the man to struggle alone to put food on the table. The husband, however, relatively remains the bread winner and the head of the family. It is therefore a misnomer for a wife to think that her earnings are hers alone while her husband’s income belongs to all. Man is not created to be alone and so God created Eve. Marriage is a natural necessity for every human being. It bears many good outcomes. Those who have castigated women have on occasions slipped and ended up calling woman a necessary evil, a desirable calamity and a domestic peril. Good or bad, no man is an island. Somewhere along the line, he desires this ‘evil’ by his side and therefore must take care of her and her endless desires. Through a family, one is expected to find security and peace of mind. A person who is not married resembles a bird without a nest. Marriage serves as a shelter for anyone who feels lost in the wilderness of life; one can find a partner in life who would share one’s joy and sorrow. The task of a wife is to maintain and take care of a husband. It is not an easy undertaking. Those women, who are unaware of this feature of their role, may find difficulty in fulfilling the task. It is a job for the woman who is aware that the job requires a degree of sagacity, style, and ingenuity. For a woman to be a successful wife, she should win over her husband’s heart and be a source of comfort to him. She shares with him in everything including the cost of maintaining the home. She should encourage him to do good deeds while dissuading him from bad ones. She should also provide adequate measures to maintain his health and well-being. The results of her efforts are directed towards making the man into a kind and respected husband who would be a proper guardian for his family, and a good father from whom the children would seek guidance and respect. The prosperity and happiness as well as the misery of the family are in her hands. A wise woman builds her home. She can turn the home into a lofty paradise or a burning hell. She can lead her husband to the peak of success or the dregs of misfortune. The woman who is aware of her role as a spouse, can elevate her husband to a respected man even if he had been the lowest of all men. Women possess a strange power in that they are able to acquire whatever they desire. As most people already know, the Nigerian economy is now in a mess. The economy has a grave impact on the Nigerian household. From our spending behaviour to the way we perform at our workplace, it makes everyone a bit more concerned and conscientious. It impacts other areas of our lives, too; however, these areas may not be as pronounced. The economy has a ripple effect on many areas of our lives, particularly our relationships. Is a great relationship more inclined to thrive during a great recession? Or, is it better off when we can spend, spend, spend? So should the man alone bear the brunt of house-keeping economy? “It depends” says Ihunanya. “A house-wife has nothing to contribute to financial upkeep of a home. I am a house wife and my role is running or managing the home and caring for our children. Every month or week, my husband supplies house-keeping allowance for buying,cooking and storing food for the family; I’m not employed outside the home and have no means of income. My job is to manage what my husband gives me. Sometimes, family members give me money, like my siblings and in-laws, Should I know bring the money out for house-keeping? I want to work but my husband does not want me to. So let him bear the responsibilty of bringing out money for house-keeping and everything”. For Tanya, 27, she won’t have any respect for a man who expects her to contribute to house-keeping or be giving him money. “I dont want a gbewu dani oko, (meaning mumu husband). My man should be a real man or he should forget it. Let him go and find work. Even if he’s earning N50,000 and I’m earning N500,000, let him redeem his image and be a man. I will respect him more that way. I don’t want a kept man and for me, any man who wants to jettison his responsibility is a wimp and a kept man. I don’t find such a man attractive.” But the story is different for Temi and Ebiere. According to Ebiere, “ I got married with the intent that my husband will be taking care of me. But I got a shock when I realised that the man I married lied to me. He lives a fake life, creating a false impression of wealth around him. But when I got inside, I realised to my dismay that all that glitters is not gold. “I kept quiet for long, watching him. Initially, I couldn’t say whether he was just stingy or just poor and I had to study him before I realised that apart from being stingy, he is also not as successful and he portrays. I had barely lived with him for six months when the landlord barged in one day and started demanding for the balance of the rent. And this was somebody who said he paid three years. The landlord said he paid for only one year and was still owing agreement and agency fees. I was shocked. “ Things deteriorated and got from bad to worse. It was one problem after another until things got really bad. My husband broke down one day and lamented my not contributing to the the family upkeep. I wondered and things continued like that. By the time I gave birth to our first kids, twins, things became bad that my elder brother loaned me the money with which we settled hospital bill. Since that time till date, it was always me taking care of the home.Infact, it was always my brothers, my mom and me. I didn’t envisage that before marriage.” Obele, 38, said his wife has always contributed to the upkeep of the family. She runs a small business and whenever any need arises, she uses her little income from the business to solve it. She doesn’t even wait for me. She would have solved the problem before I get home and if she uses money from another source, she asks me to give her back at a later time. My wife is not stingy at all.” For Temi who grew up in a polygamous home where her father’s many wives try to outdo each other to take care of their man, Temi knew that one day, she would thread that part. And so, when she met her husband in the bank where she served her national assignment, she naturally continued with what she saw her mother doing. “My husband knows its his responsibility as the head of the house to provide for everything and when he sees me always trying to help out, he appreciates it. What he does often is that whenever an opportunity arises, he spoils me. Every year, he sponsors a trip overseas as a way of showing appreciation. He calls me a perfect wife and I just love him.” For Kunle, his wife knows when to lend a hand in family upkeep and when to stand aside. “I don’t need to tell her. She knows when I don’t have and when things are tough with me. She perfectly fits in by running the home with her income until things improve for me. Sometimes though when I’m rolling, I do give her money to keep ‘just incase’ and she understands that very well. Now, my income is not regular because of recession. My company is owing several months. She understands and is currently bearing the financial burden. That’s why she is my half-meet and she doesn’t complain. I don’t know how much she earns but I know she is okay and she always helps out”