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Lives of the married but ‘single’

Mr. Ode Agbese is on transfer to the federal secretariat, Abuja from Benin and he considers it a hazard. “It is boring and gives you…

Mr. Ode Agbese is on transfer to the federal secretariat, Abuja from Benin and he considers it a hazard. “It is boring and gives you absolutely nothing to look forward to at the close of work. I was on posting for two whole years and I didn’t enjoy it one bit. Once I was identified as a ‘single’ man, the offers to clean my house, cook my meals, do my laundry came faster than bullet speed.

“It was so overwhelming. If I wanted somebody to help me chew my food and digest it, I would have got.” First of all, I enjoy doing things myself and I am satisfied that they are properly done. Not even my wife washes my undergarments. I do them myself,” he added.  “Sadly, also, “I am almost a stranger to my kids. Their mum is all the friend and support they have emotionally and otherwise. I am just financial and more of her husband than their father.,” he said.

For Mr Ajayi Adekunle, “Being married and not having your wife or family with you is tough. Any weekend I can’t see them in Lagos is a problem. She starts thinking that there is something fishy in Abuja. Accommodation and fees here are so expensive, I can’t relocate them.” To save cost and avoid eating out, he comes back after every trip with a variety of soup to last him for some period before his next trip.

Mr. Robert Mito, another married bachelor has a completely different appreciation.  “The distance has really helped my marriage so much so that I do not consider any of the chores I am subjected to as extra hassle. My transfer came just in time at a period when I was considering disappearing from the relationship because of the pressure my wife was putting me under.  I can tolerate it now because I get to travel fortnightly and for only two nights. She rarely comes and sends the children here when I can’t visit. This is an absolutely perfect arrangement by me and I don’t look forward to the end of it which is in another two years.”

Mrs. Grace Christopher who finds the situation convenient said, “I look forward to when my husband and I visit each other every last weekend of the month.  It is nice to have him around for just those few days. Anything more than that would be like encroaching on my privacy and already stable comfort zone,” she said, laughing.

Hamza Idris is a year old in the employment of the NNPC and resides in Abuja. He said, “It is not for want of being mischievous or any such thing, but I think the break from family has helped me to appreciate what they are to me. Periods when we visit give me a good tonic and something to look forward to at the start of a new week.”

He also said, “It is no big deal for me to do housework. It is what I have done all my life growing up with four sisters and the only boy in their midst. I have been married for eight years and in all that time, there is not one time I have left the chores to my wife alone to handle. We didn’t have a house help until I moved to Lagos because there was no need for it. We did everything together including nursing our two kids. The only thing I miss is their presence and the ambiance of having your family around you all the time.”

Mrs. Busola Ayeni whose husband is in Lagos, said, “I don’t like it at all that my husband is away and only comes home at weekends. He loses out on a lot of things that concern the family and the lives of the children. It may be a convenient situation for him to have his way, but if he were smart and bothered about being a part of his kids’ lives, he would see that they are growing up with a stranger for a father.”

Mr. Umechukwu Umego, a civil servant said, “I miss my children a lot. Even though they are under my mother’s care when we are both away, I still don’t think they have the best without the touch of their mum who works in Kaduna at the moment. I am doing all I can to see that I am transferred back to Port Harcourt. I’ll be more at rest if I as one of the parents am there to see to their day-to-day affairs.”

Balarabe Giwa, a youth corps member with a mischievous grin said, “It is all part of the experiences of doing the youth corps service. After all, I am not the only married man here. I have to make the most of the one year; get what I want and return home achieving all my set goals.”

Rabiu Garba, a civil servant said, “I feel very lonely every time I resume work in Abuja. And because of the loneliness, I don’t leave my office until 9pm everyday. When I was first posted here, I used to close early to avoid traffic hold-up, but I discovered that even when I get home, I don’t do anything and I am not the type who sleeps early, . Because of this, I call home frequently, maybe after every hour.

“To avoid the loneliness on weekends, I hardly spend my weekends in Abuja. If I don’t have anything to do during the weekend, like when we have work in the office that must be completed on time, I move out of Abuja to freshen up for another week’s job,” he added.

“Going for weekends became important because anytime you go, there are problems you will solve and anytime you refuse to go, the problem will be more. So, it is better to go for weekends, freshen up, solve the problems you can solve and when you come back to Abuja, you are okay.

“Staying away from the family is very disturbing especially when something happens at home and it could be better managed if you are around. For instance, there was a time my boy was sick to the point of convulsion, but there was nothing I could do than to make several calls: calling the doctor, speaking to the nurse and everybody who could help. That can be demoralising, you know,” he said.

Apart from the loneliness, staying away from one’s family is expensive. It means you have to manage two homes, and also travel every weekend. And if you are staying in a house that you have to share bills and you are not lucky to have good neighbours, you may not enjoy many of the utility services because they may not bring their money on time. So you may be cut off from electricity supply for days or weeks because others refused to contribute.

A contractor, Ahmed Zubairu, said, “It is not easy staying alone after you have been married not only in Abuja. You will be so lonely and the loneliness could bring about so many temptations. Once a woman is not in your house, there will be a vacuum and if you are the type who is sociable, you could likely make female friends and before you know, you will begin to skip spending weekends with your family. This could be very dangerous to the happy family you once had. If you are not careful, it could break your home.”  

As for me, I don’t cook, I eat outside though it is very expensive. But it is convenient for me. I don’t have to wash dishes. The only thing I do is to clean my room which is occasional. Often times, I find it difficult to do because I am always in a hurry to leave home. And that is where I miss my wife very much. Everything is always not organised in my single room here in Abuja compared to where my family live; where the woman of the house will keep everything intact.”

For yet another civil servant, Fidelis Agbo, “One important thing I miss being with my family about is the monitoring of my children. The three days I spend with them when I go for the weekend I feel are not enough because children need monitoring everytime which the women may not be able to do as you want.”

“We have to live apart,” he added, “from our families because of the cost, because taking a house here is more expensive than Minna where my family lives. Some people think that bringing the family here is less expensive when you look at the cost effectiveness, but the money does not come in bulk that you may make use of it to take the expensive houses here.”

“Another reason why some of us refuse to bring our family here,” he said, “is because we have created a pattern of living in another place and we are not willing to change that pattern. For instance, I have built a house in Minna where my family is and my children are already attending schools there, so it will be difficult to think of bringing all of them here without affecting their education.”

Concluding, he said, “But this life alone has affected the relationship between me and my family as it has not given me enough time to really study them. Everytime I come back for weekends, I am always faced with problems. I will be in a hurry to solve these problems and get back on Sunday. There are instances that I have to overreact because I am tensed. So, the kind of bachelor life in Abuja is not the best, but we don’t have a choice.”

Abdullahi Mohammed Runka who sells tea and bread and popularly called Mai shai also has a problem living apart from his family.

“Life in Abuja without one’s wife is frustrating. But because we don’t have any choice, we have to manage.  The main problem I am facing has to do with communicating with my family in Kaduna. Another issue is getting good and less expensive food. I cook only foods like Indomie and macaroni. If I want to eat tuwo, I have to go outside, and it is expensive.”

Because I live with other people in the same room, the room is always not well kept. People keep their things anywhere and you can’t complain. These are the things I miss being away from my family.

“Staying away from my family also disturbs my job, since there are things they will need that I have to get and send to them immediately. For instance, my baby fell out of the bed and because of how it was reported to me I had to travel to Kaduna immediately. This really affects my work.”

It is a similar story in the Plateau State axis. Pam Dung Gyang, a civil servant working in Mangu Local Government Area says his wife was working in Jos with the Nigeria Police Force before she was transferred to Maiduguri, Borno State and that it has been very difficult trying to cope without her.

“The experience I am passing through is terrible. Some of the children are here while the younger ones are there with her and despite the fact that she is earning a salary, I still have to send money to them and at the same time take care of the home front. You know women!”

“It is a bad experience that I wish is not happening. It’s like I am learning something new in my more than ten years of marriage. My wife is a strict disciplinarian and knows how to handle the kids especially the older ones because I am not the sit-at-home man and she handles any complaints perfectly in my absence but I can assure her absence has left a big challenge to handle.

“Let me tell you that before she left, I didn’t know where the matches are kept and nobody was coming to ask me about food and all those tiny things, but now, it is a different experience altogether. Do you know that most times I have to call my wife to ask for how to go about some things in the house? I don’t think this transfer has done most families any good.”

He added that the cost of communicating with her on a daily basis is also another problem. “You have to keep calling everyday and most times, not even once and you know when you are talking with a woman especially your spouse, she determines when the conversation will end. Even when she flashes, you have to call or its another thing and you can imagine the money involved.

So you spend a lot of money on that alone and my wife sometimes insists she wants to talk to the older children in the house and you know what it means. Any you are calling, you know you have to fully recharge your call credit.”

On whether the separation can create mutual suspicion, he says it depends on the family’s foundation which the two of you have built over the years but that that cannot be ruled out especially if you were always close to your wife and you have to stay apart that long. Another lady, Naomi Timothy Aakubo, who is a resident in Bukuru said her husband has been on transfer to Ebonyi State for some years now.

She said life has not been easy as she has become lonely again.

She said she does not suspect if her husband is having an affair because she trusts him.

“Well, I don’t know because I am not there but as for me, I am his wife with his child and how can you even start anything in this kind of place that we are living?”

Lagos is not left out of it as our reporters also found out.

It is widely believed that two good heads are better than one. This can be traced to the story of a husband and wife who were ordained to live together for the rest of their lives having been joined legally or otherwise.

Though the husband is regarded as the head of the family with the responsibility to provide for his immediate home as required as well as live together in order to monitor the home as is being run by his wife but certain factors can arise for the sudden movement of either of the couples from his or her family while men are mostly affected in this scenario.

Weekly Trust preliminary interview about the situation whereby a man who is supposed to be at home with his family after a hard day’s job is being posted away due to the nature of his work. The economic situation has forced some families to stay apart.

According to Mrs Afolashade Oyewunmi, a trader at Bolade, Oshodi market in lagos, her ordeal as follows. “The nature of my husband’s job does not allow him to stay at home with the family. He is a driver working with a multinational company and he is always on the move. He has just been posted to Bayelsa State from Port-Harcourt where he was since 2007 and imagine what it means to be moving all around in order to make ends meet.

“As for me, I am used to it having come from Ondo township to Lagos courtesy of his job and now that we are in Lagos not more than five years, they moved him again. That is why we decided to stay behind in Lagos rather than moving the whole family from one state to another. Though he phones the family daily, it is not enough but we do not have a choice as the family must be sustained, she concluded.

 Similarly, Seargent Abiola Abogunde who identified himself as an Air Force officer, lamented that the situation on ground concerning the movement of her husband whom she claimed to be a military officer as well, is becoming worrisome as she has not set eyes on him in the past four months but only speak with him on phone.

She has this to say “My husband is a military officer but posted out of Lagos since 2007 to Enugu then. But now he is in Jos and it is worrisome having served in Enugu for more than two years now and I do not know when he will be back in Lagos. Formerly we were together in Kaduna and it was there that we met and married in 1997 and to God be the glory, we have four children comprising two boys and two girls. The movement that landed two of us in Lagos was miraculous and we were staying together until when they transferred him from one place to another. That incident affected our children’s education seriously as we have to change schools whenever we are posted away from the state.

“But for almost three years that he has been posted out, I decided to stay in Lagos with my children having experienced such ugly movement in the past. Though it is not easy at all, I have no option than to take care of the family while he keeps sending money for their education and upkeep.”

While responding on how she copes with the Lagos weather in the aftermath of her husband’s transfer, she said “I have resorted to faith in God who has always been at my side and I have disciplined myself till he comes home any time”.

In the same vein, Hajia Halimat Abubakar who is blessed with five children explained her own predicament which has become a pertinent issue and is no longer news to her considering that she has been taking care of the family in the last three years that they have transferred her husband out of Lagos.

She said, “I decided to stay in Lagos because of my children’s education as three of them are presently in secondary schools while the other two are in universities in the Northern part of the country. If not for the children, I would have move back to Kano where I come from. My husband works with an oil company and he was transferred to Bayelsa State early last year but just of recent, they moved him to Warri and I cannot afford to move with him due to the crisis rocking the town not to talk of Warri now. Had it been I followed him to Bayelsa and they now moved him to Warri, what I will do is just to pack my load back to the village.”

Hajia Khadiijah Adeoyo longed to get married and settle down for a fruitful and uninterrupted marital life. But she got the shock of her life when her husband, Al-hassan, travelled out to Pakistan for a ‘dawah’ purpose, three weeks after their ‘Nikkah’. Khadiijah, who is in her early twenties, “cried for almost a day on hearing that he would leave me for four months. Then I could not understand how I would be able to cope without him for four months. But thanks to God that my parents quickly came to my rescue and I’m now with them pending the time my husband will return.”

Khadiijah who now lives in her parents’ house at Egbeda, an outskirt of Lagos, told our correspondent that if her husband had informed her that he would do such a thing, she would not have accepted to marry him as she had always prayed for an uninterrupted marital life.

Mr. Bassey David, who works in Lagos, narrated a more pathetic story to our correspondent. He said his wife who works for a new generation bank was transferred to Ibadan and left him in Lagos with their three kids. He said he “wakes up around 4.30am every week days to bathe the children and prepare them for school. This almost cost me my job as I was given a query by my boss three times because of lateness which has become part of me since I have to do household chores before leaving for my office.” He said he has told his wife either to come back to Lagos or have the marriage dissolved.

Gbenga Ibikunle’s experience is not quite different from others. While his wife who works with the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) in Lagos was transferred to Abuja in 2007, he did not know what befell him until one of his three children fell ill and was admitted into a general hospital in Lagos.

“In fact, it was a sad experience. I did not know what to do. Should I ask my wife to resign and come back to Lagos?” However, he was able to survive the problem with the help of his younger sister who had just finished her secondary school certificate examination.

“That was even one of the problems. I have to be the one taking care of the children aged 10, 7 and 5 years. I did not find the first one week easy. I would cook, wash their clothes and dress them. What helped me most was that I am also a school teacher and all my children attend my school”. He said anytime his wife visited home, it usually was another honeymoon as both of them cherished the few hours spent together.

Bosede Adenuga, a businesswoman who lives in Akute, Ogun State said she got married four years ago while her husband resides in Abuja. She told Weekly Trust that it is not an easy task for her and her children due to the fact that her husband is very caring and whenever he is not around, she feels very lonely and cold but she always manages to get along since he has gone for what will put food on the table for her and the children. She said he has no choice than to adapt to the situation and support him with prayers to come back and meet her and the children safely.

Asked if she trusts her husband, Adenuga said every rational woman must trust her spouse in all situations. She said when her husband was in Lagos, he was honest and she still holds that belief that he’s the same man she married four years ago.