You made it to the happily ever after! You're married to the love of your life and things are going great! Except everyone and their cousin suddenly has an opinion or advice about how you should be behaving, dressing, cooking and breathing in your new marriage now that you are a wife. In fact, we have an opinion too, which you can find in our Marriage 101 blog post! When this happened to me, I put IMMENSE pressure on myself to fit into this mould that is an African wife. I battled to keep up and failed spectacularly at trying to become that woman. The woman who cooks, cleans, takes care of her kids, makes money, has sex constantly and looks like a bombshell through it all.
After 2 years of marriage I've given up on forcing standards on myself that don't fit my lifestyle, marriage and personality. Here's a list of things I'm NOT doing as a wife in 2020 :
1. I don't define "respect" for my husband based on other peoples opinions.
From a young age, it was drilled into my mind what respect for your husband means. My African women know what I'm talking about. The kneeling, bowing, rolling over for 4 days before considering opening your mouth (Okay maybe not that last part but sometimes it does feel that way!). I spent my entire life practicing it and was ready for the application! Then I got married to a man who didn't believe in ANY of that. He was raised to be independent and was taught self service. Every time I tried to apply my brilliant training it would creep him out and he hated it! This forced me to go back to the drawing board and redefine what respect for my husband actually meant. For me this means minding my tone of voice, speaking to his love language (acts of service), being kind to him and knowing when to hold my sharp tongue.
This also meant whenever I would go to family gatherings with him, sometimes family members would mutter about my lack of "respect" because he would get up and dish his own potato salad instead of sending me. Don't get me wrong, I don't mind doing it and I don't judge anyone who does that. If that's what respect means to you then power on my sister! I'm happy for you. Truly, I am. There's no judgement here. I am happy to serve him and wait on him hand and foot, but it will be on my terms not because society expects it of me.
2. I don't feel guilt about my husband serving me.
Again, with the hardcore training I received, there was never a time where a man serving his wife was ever brought up. Men were to be treated like children. "Your husband is your first born" is what I was told. All I could hear was that husbands were people who were incapable of doing things for themselves and I must be prepared to do everything for that man. I spent so many years CONVINCED I didn't want to get married because of this very issue. Then I met a man who not only didn't mind doing things himself, but wanted to do things for me and serve me. It blew my mind! I would reject simple offers because of the complex I had about being served by a man. No matter how thirsty I was, I would refuse an offer from him to get me some water because I couldn't wrap my head around my husband doing that for me. I could almost hear my mom shaming me in the back of my head because of it. After a while I realized it's really not as serious as I had built it up in my head. There's nothing wrong with him doing things for me. It makes me even more eager to reciprocate because it makes me feel like his equal. I fall over myself trying to outdo the nice things he does for me. This is a competition in marriage I'm delighted to take part in!
3. I don't change myself to fit in with his side of the family.
Let's be real here, how long will you be able to fake it?? Me putting on a meek and quiet persona wouldn't last 10mins even if I tried. I'm naturally a very loud and chatty person! i want people to get to know the REAL me. Of course like with anyone, treat them with kindness and respect and be good to them, but don't try to be what you're not. In my opinion, whether you hate me or love me, at least I'm being honest! Here's to the new generation of wives who CAN do it all, just on OUR terms and no one else's!
Kelly Mataure is a lifestyle content creator based in Zimbabwe. She enjoys discussing lifestyle, motherhood, marriage and wellness! You can check out her YouTube channel to find out more!