We dated for one and a half years before we got married. We lived apart during dating. He was working in Kumasi and I was working in Accra. We met through a friend of mine and we took it up from there. When we started talking about marriage, where we would live after marriage also came up. He didn’t have any problem moving to Accra. He said, “I only have to seek transfer and it would be granted.”
So we got married and a few months later, he got a transfer to Accra. We didn’t need to rent a new place because I already had a two-bedroom house I was living with my little sister. The house was big enough to contain us especially when he didn’t come along with anything apart from bags containing his personal stuff. For a few days and weeks, he woke up, bathed, and left for work. He came home in the evening, ate, bathed, watched TV, and went to sleep. He didn’t care how our home ran. He didn’t provide housekeeping money and didn’t pay any bills. At first, I thought he had just moved in and had to put things in order before taking up those responsibilities. I waited for so long and he wasn’t talking about it so I brought the topic up one evening while watching TV.
“Dear, you know I can’t run this home all by myself. I need you and I need your support in everything. If you don’t come on board and you leave everything to me, we may crush.” He asked, “What do you want me to do exactly?” I said, “There are bills to pay—food, utilities, maintenance, and other stuff.” He asked, “You want me to be doing the cooking?” I laughed and said “Oh nooo, far from it. I’ll do the cooking but you have to provide the ingredient. I’m not saying you have to do everything by yourself. I’ll support you.”
He answered, “I’ve heard you.
One month after that response, nothing happened. I brought the topic again. It was at that point he told me that he had taken a loan from the office and they were still deducting from his salary. I asked, “Loan? for what? And why don’t I know this before today?” He said, “You know I can’t go around announcing to people that I’m owing the company I work with.” I said, “I’m not people. Even if you couldn’t tell me before marriage why didn’t you tell me after?” He said, “I didn’t think it was necessary.”
So I asked, “How much is your take-home now?” Before we got married he told me his net was around GHc3000 so I guessed even if there was a loan on his salary, he should be able to walk away with something meaningful after each month. He responded, “GHC1100.” I shouted, “From Ghc3000 to GHc1100?” How much is the loan and how long are they going to deduct?” He said, “I’m not comfortable laying all that information before you. I’m the man, I know how to work things out.”
He still didn’t pay for anything concerning the house. It turned into an argument one day and he said, “If it comes to what to eat, how much do I eat or how much electricity do I consume in this house that you want to pressure me? You live here with your sister. She’s always in the house, eating and watching TV. Sometimes she watches TV till daybreak and you want me to pay for all those excesses?” I said, “If you think my sister is the problem, why didn’t you say it right from the beginning? She lived with me when I was alone here so if you’re not comfortable with her presence, just say it. You’re the man. Learn to communicate.”
So I sent my sister away. If she was going to be the problem for my marriage then she better go away. I was doing all that to bring the marriage to a place where the two of us could reason together, put hands together and build. Three months after my sister had gone, he was still not paying for anything. One day, he came home with a foreign Dog. One huge dog like that. I’ve always been scared of dogs and I’ve never thought of owning one but here I was, living with a dog that looked like a mountain. “Sweetheart? Do we need a dog?” He answered, “Oh yeah, these dogs are very expensive. I’m going to raise it so when it litters, I can sell the puppies.” I said, “And you didn’t tell me anything?” He responded, “It looks like I can’t do anything on my own without asking for permission from you.”
This guy would buy a whole chicken pack and feed it to this dog meanwhile, he didn’t pay for his own food. He’ll buy sacks of dog feed each month. These feeds weren’t cheap. One day when the dog fell sick and he took it to the vert, I saw the receipt, GHc750 but when I fell sick, he didn’t care. When neighbors wanted to complain about the noise this dog made at night, they came to me. I told him but he didn’t care. One day, I saw a truck in front of the house. They brought something huge inside the house. I asked him, “What is that?” He said, “A treadmill. We need to keep fit?” I said, “Keep fit on an empty stomach?” He asked, “What do you mean?” I responded, “I hope that thing runs on batteries because I’m not going to be the one to pay electricity bills for that.”
At some point, a woman has to develop some sense and fight her battles strategically when communication fails. I stopped cooking in the house. When he complained I told him, “If you give me money right now, I’ll put something on the table in the next minutes.” He said, “Women…” One Sunday, I ironed all my clothes for the week. When he was busy on the treadmill sweating it out, the light went off. He asked, “What’s the problem?” I screamed, “Prepaid is finished.” He got down, went to bath, and left the house. He came in the evening asking me, “the night is still off?” I responded, “The bill is still not settled.”
For close to a week we slept in the dark. I was determined not to cave in. When he finally decided to buy prepaid, he started with rules, “When we are going to sleep, we’ll turn off everything including the fridge. No air condition. The fan is enough. No this and no that.” After all the rules, what he bought didn’t last for three days. He complained. I grinned. The dog continued feeding each morning and evening but we went to bed without food. Maybe he ate before coming home because that’s what I also did.
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Nobody stays out of character for too long. It wasn’t my style to live the way I was living so I was the one suffering. Then it came to the issue of rent. I was resolute and brute. He said, “Let’s split.” I said, “It’s either you pay or I pay. You’ve lived in this house for close to two years. I didn’t ask you for rent. If I pay the rent, I swear you’re moving out with your dog.” He thought I was joking. I was with him when the land lord’s call came in. I showed it to him and asked, “When are you paying the rent?” He asked me, when are you bringing your 50%?” True to his words, He came home with 50% of the rent the next day. I told him, “If it’s not up to the whole amount please keep it.” He went into the room with the money.
The following weekend, he was there when the carpenters came around changing the locks. He asked what they are doing. I told him, “They are changing the locks. You better go out with everything you own including the dog because you can’t come in again when you go out.” “Are you serious?” I said, “Watch me.”
At that point I was tired. At work, a colleague told me, “You’ve been talking to yourself since morning. I hope everything is alright?” Meanwhile, I was not aware I’ve been talking myself. That weekend, it was our neighbors who came to separate the fight. I pushed him out of the house so I can have peace of mind. Pastor called to resolve the issue. After listening to my story, the wife of the pastor said, “And you’ve been living with him all this while.” I said, “I thought he would change. I was believing in a miracle.” When the pastor asked the way forward, he said, “I’m ready for the 50/50 share of responsibilities.” The pastor was shocked. I simply laughed. The pastor asked me, “So what do you say?” I said, “I’m drained and need time for myself. When I decide on something, I’ll let him know.”
We’ve been separated for about seven months now. The only thing I miss about him is the scent of the dog food. Apart from that, nothing.
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