Do you have a partner?

In the past 4 years, writing/blogging has had to take the considerable back seat in my chaotic life. I had to prioritize finishing a hectic training program and exams designed to destroy the faint-at-heart. Failing was a luxury I could not afford because I have 2 young children. It would have meant prolonging the program and getting double the torture.

In my local residency group of about 30, only a few of us did the program full time. I was the only married person who finished the program full time. To achieve this, it meant the home front made a great deal of sacrifices. I was not known in the children’s school. I did not pack school lunches and I hardly attended any school meetings. I was out of the house first and arrived last.

Today my emphasis is on having a partner that understands your dreams, and partners with you to get to your destination. Partners who give you a boost. Partners who tell you to spread your wings and soar!

My husband is a Nigerian man who comes from a fairly comfortable background and the privileges that come with it. He grew up the youngest son, with servants around. He was not taught to lift a finger or have designated chores. When I arrived in Canada, his mum was still doing his laundry and coming over to clean his flat.

In the years of my residency training, he stepped up in a manner his upbringing did not prepare him for. He played a predominant role in childcare and parenting. We paid for a cleaner but he mostly took care of school runs, football matches and other clubs as well as school meetings.

We were lucky because his job as a software engineer means his career was more flexible than mine. We were lucky because he focused on the bigger picture. A progressive thinking man. Not some man who thinks his destiny is tied to eating fresh stew everyday. Not some fragile-ego’d man who believes it’s beneath him to put his own dish in the sink after eating.

While I might make jokes about being the one who actually raised him, I am aware that I struck luck. I can brag about being uncompromising about the need for us to both participate in house chores (which I was), but I am equally aware of how much harder life would have been for us both and for our children if he had proven unreasonable. Weekends found us- and continues to find us- dividing and conquering tasks.

Since finishing, I now work part time. We are in a much better place financially as a result of those sacrifices. We had a weekly cleaner during my training which we have kept. I am able to do school runs twice a week. I know our teachers. I am more actively involved in activities.

So do you have a partner? Are you a partner? A partner focuses on the bigger picture. A partner understands that the end justifies the means. A partner is a destiny builder. A partner focuses on what will get the family to a better place. Not what people think. Sacrifices can be physical or financial.

Your testicles won’t vanish if you bathe your own kids, feed them or put them to bed. You won’t become a woman because you cook or wash dishes. If you are a wife and you are privileged to be able to provide financial support to help your husband, do so. Pay no mind to what family or society thinks as long as you have a partner who isn’t trying to take advantage of you.

So do you have a dream? Ask yourself, do you have a partner? That’s half the job done.

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Underneath it all…

I lay awake at night. My heart raced. My sheets drenched in sweat. Sleep deserted me. When I slept, I awoke with pressure and tightness around my heart so fierce I thought I was going to die. Even during the day, I constantly felt like I was going crazy.

This had been my state since the day my husband informed me of his decision to take a second wife. He had very little reason to give me. He didn’t really need any. Our religion permitted it. While actually hearing him say it was a shock, the truth is I had always somehow known this moment would come. I had dreaded it for many years.

In the days that would follow, I walked about like one in a trance. I lay alone in the bed we were supposed to share while he went to be with another woman. I felt as if the home I had spent many years building was collapsing around me. Thankfully, I had good friends. And they told me to keep my head up. They were right. I needed to. My in-laws were watching. Sneering behind my back. Trying to evaluate the damage this situation would do to me. For a reason I never understood, it gave them joy to catch glimpses of any perceived fracture in our marriage. They thrived on it. When we presented a united front, it made them unhappy.

I braced myself when the day arrived and even drove one of the groups of people who went to ask for the new wife’s hand in marriage. I put on a strong front and got through the ceremony. At night, I crumbled. No longer was this man exclusively mine. I shared him now. Openly. My heart ached. Terribly.

Looking back, that day presented a new chapter in our marriage. I matured in a new way. Learned more about myself. Learned to pray for myself and my children first. Learned to watch out for myself. To be more independent. I refused to get sucked into the competitive lifestyle I had often despised polygamous families for. So I defined standards I believed in and avoided pettiness.

Difficult as it was, I soared. I made financial decisions and breakthroughs I could never have imagined. I became a better mum. I discovered new things about myself. The ache got better. Maybe I loved less…a little numbly. I kept my sanity and these days, it doesn’t hurt as much. I found strength I didn’t know I have.

(Courtesy I.H.O).

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