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Love or respect

~The SUN, Nigeria. Sunday, July 10, 2016

SHOW me a woman who does not believe in love and I will show you a liar. Every woman wants to be loved. We all long for that indescribable feeling that keeps our heads in the cloud. That feeling that makes you feel that you and your man are the only ones on the surface of the earth and when he touches you, you feel this tingling sensation running down your spine. His voice does things to your system, etcetera etcetera.

It is a feeling that makes a woman see life through rose-tinted glasses. It is a delicious feeling. It leads you into temptation. It makes you do things that you may later in life wonder how you ever contemplated at all. Sometimes it puts a smile on your face in a crowd of serious people doing serious business when your mind wanders to those loving moments. They all look at you like you are losing it but you are glorying in something you hold or once held so dear.

Sometimes a love experience does not end in marriage and till death do you part but it does not take away from the solid fact that for the rest of your life, you will never forget it. Remember that song:

Everybody, think back

To your very first time

Oh, not when you lost your virginity this time. That could be memorable too but we will talk about that sometime soon.

Love. It makes you defy reason, logic, sound advice. Anything that wants to come between you and your Romeo would simply have to step aside or go to blazes, whichever they prefer.

Did you ever defy your parents for the lover boy? Did you steal your mother's jewelry to sell so your Romeo could buy a ticket to Britain? The things we have all done for love... the things women are still doing for love, in the name of love...Ah. They scare me but what is life without love? It is a feeling every man, every woman must experience. And because the cupid's arrow does not strike often, for some people it is a once in a lifetime thing, it must be savoured.

But is love enough to make a marriage work? Is it all the ingredient that makes a relationship work and worth it? Which is more valuable in marriage, any serious relationship, love or respect? Tendency is everyone will scream love. Or am I mistaken? I'm not prescribing anything here. Let us just all look at the two emotions as dispassionately as possible.

A man loves his wife. His wife loves him. In fact, they married for love. They have two kids, both girls, both delivered through caesarian section. The last almost cost the woman her life. The doctor ad­vised that because of the peculiar complications that surface in the theatre (doctors always have a name for everything even when we think an ailment is the handiwork of witches and wizards), Madam should stop at two. For a few years, the man lived with this harsh fact that he'd never have a son from his wife. Then he started dropping hints about alternative medicine and the wonders of local herbs. And how God is a miracle worker.

All the sweet talks to get Madam to get pregnant again. She also wanted a boy and fell for it because she was also afraid of the alternatives open to her husband, a second wife for instance. By the time she was 10 weeks gone, it became obvious that she was on a suicide mission. She could no longer move about without sudden dizzying spells. The doctor recommended abortion. The man said he would fly her out of the country for better care. She wept, scared she would die trying to find a son. Who would be the mother to her pretty daughters? The doctors did their best but everything came loose at 11 weeks. She was distraught and relieved at the same time. Hubby was angry and accused her of conniving with the doctor to abort the baby. Crazy, isn't it?

Was that love? Would respect have made the situ­ation easier to handle? He went to on to get a second wife and he luckily got a son.

If a woman respects a man, do you think she would let her own brothers disrespect him? If she treats him like a king, her siblings would do the same but if she rains abuses on him in their presence, chances that they would look down on the 'fool their sister married' would be high. How many men can stand disrespect from their in-laws? How long does it take for love to take flight when a man feels like he's less than a man in his own house?

In the same vein, there are men who allow their sisters, brothers and mothers to ride roughshod over their wives. Have we not heard of women who have been beaten up by their sisters-in-law? A younger friend of mine who got married in 2006 was looking like a bad replica of herself when I saw her two weeks ago. She used to be very attractive with a beautiful spring in her steps.

Today her skin looks dry, lips chapped and she generally looks 10 years older. I locked my office door and asked her to spill it, all of it. She started crying.

"I have been through a lot, auntie. If I had known this is what marriage is like I would not have bothered. My in-laws are mean. Because I could not conceive, within one year they started persecuting me. They have called me everything from a male dog to a man.

Because my business is doing fine, my mother-in-law told my husband, in my presence that I have done money rituals with my womb and that is why I can buy a new car when I'm supposed to be looking for a child. I have done all the tests the doctors pre­scribed but I'm still not pregnant. My sisters-in-law are even worse than their mother."

What did her dear husband have to say about this domestic violence against his wife?

"He tells me to ignore them. I don't think he is the problem..."

If you ask me, Joy, that's her name, is living in denial. Her problem is largely her man. I think the guy is actually less than a man if you take away what is in between his legs. How can you tell a woman being harassed by your mother and sisters to ignore her assailants? Do you treat headache by ignoring it? When a mosquito perches on your skin, does ignoring it reduce its bite or stop it from passing malaria parasites into your bloodstream? A man who respects his wife will protect her. That is why he is the crown, the head of his home. But a man who watches his mother torment his wife is a fake crown. His home is headless. How long will it take love to fly away from such a relationship?

An old schoolmate of mine simply moved out of Lagos to the East when his mother came armed to his house everyday to torment and taunt his wife. The poor woman's sin was not even barrenness. They had kids. It was just that my friend made a few bad business decisions in his bid to leave paid employment and his fortunes took a nose dive. Trust Yoruba people. In such situations, the wife bears the brunt. She is the one with two left legs. She is the harbinger of failure.

The poor girl was miserable and being an old school introvert, she refused to report her mother-in-law who always chose the time her son was not around to unleash her special brand of terror. She would cry and cry. She was losing weight because it was getting too much for her. Until one day, mama was found out in her iniquity by her son. He simply asked for transfer to the East. They were there for five years before they made contact with the old woman. The rest is history.

So what do you think, which is a bigger ingredi­ent, love or respect?

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