I recently read a story two lady friends of mine told about the lot of a University of Ghana educated young woman who’s husband stopped her from continuing her studies in law after she had attended and paid fees at GIMPA to that effect.
According to my friend, her in laws started complaining that she was coming home late due to lectures and that she was not being a wife. So owing to the complaints of her in laws, her husband literally stopped her from continuing her education saying that he didn’t marry a lawyer. I was livid when I heard this story. According to my friend, her husband and her family said she can’t work and be in school at the same time because she had wife duties. So owing to whatever they meant by wife duties, her dreams have been truncated.
The absurdity of the situation is that she was already in school in her first year when they got married. So he must have known she needed to finish school if she was already in the program. But here is the issue: many men, like this poor young lady’s husband, even though well educated, don’t really believe in women empowerment. They believe in their hearts that they must be the most successful, at least financially or career wise, in the family. So even though it was logical that a caring human being will not actively seek to truncate his wife’s education and advancement, many many Ghanaian men do this all the time. These stories are around us everyday. So you see your classmates who have married and their brilliant minds are curtailed by their inconsiderate (trying not to use harsher words here) husbands and in laws. It is a mindset that needs to be tackled seriously.
But the point I’m coming at is that if you are a young woman in Ghana looking to marry someone, and you have dreams to pursue your education or a business enterprise, you MUST, secure firm commitment from your fiancé, if needs be IN WRITING, that he will not interfere with your dreams over some wife duties. But more importantly, some of these men will promise you they will support you, but when you get married, they’ll reverse course. Among my people, there’s a saying among men that you’ll use falsehood to woo her and use truth to keep her. Very ridiculous mindset but I’ve actually heard my own brother say this. This is the place where you need to pick up on all the cues nonverbal about the kind of man he is, the kind of values he has, and the way he might actually treat you after he’s put the ring on it. For many men, putting the ring on it means he’s now got ownership rights and he can decide what your future is, rather than discuss with you and support the future you both want. If you are an enterprising young woman, your choices are harder because there are deadly mindset landmines in the choice of a husband. So you must endeavor to choose wisely.
There are a couple of key issues here that you need to look out for in a guy’s value system in my estimation. I am speaking from my experience talking with other guys here so it definitely is limited in perspective so do take it with a grain of salt. What are his views on domestic work aka wife duties? Does he want or favor househelps? If he favors househelps, does he think certain wife duties are only for you? If he favors househelps, does he have the financial muscle to pay for it? Because he might tell you he favors it but after marriage, he tells you that you have to do it because there’s no money to pay for a househelp. What’s his views on women’s empowerment? Is he lukewarm or enthusiastic about it? Some people while lukewarm publicly, in private conversations tell you or hint at what their preferred domestic situation is. In your private conversations, do you notice certain socially regressive views on stringent gender roles? If he’s socially progressive, do you see in his own life him doing certain things for himself? If he’s socially progressive but cannot or will not put in the effort to do his part, after marriage, wife duties will inevitably crush your dreams.
I will like to end by acknowledging that countless men are now open minded and actively supportive of their wives’ dreams in Ghana. So this is not meant to bash all Ghanaian men. I often get comments about “not all men” when I post something like this. What I will say however is that it is also a reality that many many men, even educated ones, still pose dangers to the dreams and aspirations of their brilliant and enterprising wives. You have to be aware of these mindfields. It is a balancing act and an ostrich dance you have to do. I know people I went to school with who have tertiary education but with mindsets like this. I have seen it happen in my own neighborhood to classmates of mine to the extent that I think we need to talk about it. With the taboo that divorce is in Ghana, many women who’s husbands turn dictators cutting short their dreams suffer silently and watch their dreams evaporate in these marriages because they don’t want to divorce these dreams killer men. As a public challenge to myself, all you my friends should clip this and save it for when get married. Another response I get from people is that I don’t know what I’m talking about and I’ll reverse course when I see the realities of marriage. Clip this and publish it to show me my folly when I get married and reverse course. That will never happen of course. But still, it’s a public challenge.
Anyway, this is my Valentine’s Day gift card to all my Ghanaian lovelies! My own poor man’s gift! 😍
Disclaimer: I’m a man and I’ve no intention to be preachy to women so if it comes across that way, I ask for your understanding in advance. You’re entitled and definitely within your prerogative to make any decision or decisions you want.