My discipler and his wife had just returned from a journey. I was in their house. (Discipleship entails “being with” so as to learn how the life of Christ is lived out in the ordinary situations of life. Real life impartation cannot be effectively achieved just over the pulpit. You have to “be with” to really “learn of” in a manner that will make a permanent impression on your heart. So any opportunity to be with them, I always like to seize it.)
On this occasion, they left me in the house to travel to Lagos. Somehow the appointment was cancelled before they had traveled far. So they returned and as they came into the house, Mummy appearing tired made for the sofa to lie down. Daddy went into the kitchen, spent some minutes, picked the car key and went out. By the time he returned a few minutes later, he had with him pepper and fish and the likes. Obviously he went to the market. Less than an hour later, food was ready. He did everything all alone. He usually doesn’t permit me to assist him in the kitchen. He woke his wife from sleep and invited her to eat. I was seeing this for the first time in my life.
Before I came into a discipleship relationship with him, I believed a man should assist his wife in the kitchen occasionally as it is convenient but to imagine that this will be a frequent phenomenon was far from it for me. In his case, I noticed he was almost permanently in the kitchen. He fixed breakfast for me every single time for the past seven years that I’ve had cause to spend the night in their house including when myself and Iyebiye were there.
Once we were in his office (He’s currently Dean of a Faculty of Law and once Justice of the Court of Appeal, the Gambia) and it was 8pm. He said to me, “Eniayo, we need to go home now. I need to fix dinner for my family.” He fixed I think Semo and Melon soup for up to seven of us that night. He cooks with dexterity very sophisticated meals. On that occasion, Mum would arrive home late because she had to attend to one of the family’s investments. Why he needed to step in.
Once, I sat with him and asked what the underlining philosophy behind his full time participation in the kitchen was. He told me, “as a man every task in your home is actually primarily your task. She is only there to help you. Even her own care is your task.” He then threw in a Yoruba proverb which can be translated as follows: “someone who comes to help you carry a load must never become the owner of the load.” Gbaranmi se wa gbodo d’eleru…
He went further to tell me how that women are like clothes. It is how you use them that you’ll meet them. If you use your wife roughly and she’s looking 60 at 40, you will have to live with her like that. After this conversation my perspective shifted. I wasn’t a bad cook at this time but I had been looking forward to how I will soon not have to experience the stress of cooking after marriage. I have long jettisoned the idea.
Iyebiye would bear record that even in our courtship I am an active cook. Most times, it just makes me feel I’m a good man to have her sleeping while I slave away in the kitchen and then I behave like my discipler to wake her up to eat a sumptuous amala (derived from yam flour) and melon soup ??. She has been begging me to teach her how to cook so well. ??
Often when we are returning from church (we do Sunday services together) and we branch at the market to get soup ingredients and I realize she’s looking tired, I just leave her in the car and go buy everything from pepper to fish to locust beans. By the way it should be no big deal for us men to do this. When we were single, we did all these ourselves. Why should we suddenly lose our capacity to do these things just because we are in courtship or married?
Is it the role of the woman? It has been her role culturally (and now biblically – Titus 2:5) from time immemorial because she has been HELPING us take care of that aspect; otherwise every task in our home is our role as men. That’s what my mentor taught me and I believe it agrees with the Word and so I follow it.
With this mindset, anytime she’s done cooking or cleaning, there should be a thank you. “Thank you for helping me cook.” “Thank you for carrying those pregnancies for me.” Or are they not your seeds? She just helped incubate them. The man determines even the sex of the child. And if she’s tired or unavailable, it won’t be anything to step in and do the cooking since after all, the work is primarily yours. She was only sent to help you.
Let’s now saw you’re both tired, then go and buy food outside. I see no big deal in it. Don’t put yourself under unprofitable customary bondage. Do what works for you. Why should I get angry because I didn’t meet food when someone is visibly tired or sick? There are times as a single man when I just get tired of cooking or I just don’t feel like. I simply go and buy something to eat and that can go on for weeks. Why should that be a taboo when I’m married? The woman being a human being can be tired too or not feel like. If she can’t do it because she’s tired and I can’t step in because I’m equally tired, then we should simply go and buy food to eat. There should be no fight regarding this.
This food issue is even destroying the sex lives of couples. Ordinary food destroying something as important as sex.? You people don’t even respect sex again because it has become a common thing to you.? Someone who came back from work tired and worked throughout the night all alone in the kitchen will complain about your request for sex at 11pm. She’s so tired and wants to sleep. If you just like the night thing so much, then you have to get involved in the kitchen or create other support systems that will lift that burden off her shoulders so that she can be available for the midnight show.
This is why we men need to follow my mentor’s mindset. It will save us a lot of stress. If you realize she’ll be too tired for the midnight show if you allow her to enter that kitchen, just tell her, “Sweetheart, don’t worry I’ll fix dinner. Just go and rest because the journey is far.” If that’s not possible, then buy food and eat. It mustn’t be Mr. Biggs’ expensive food. You can buy bread and moinmoin on your street (#200 each) and everyone is fine. That sex is more important. ??
Even now when we return from Church and I want Madam to listen to one important audio message that I’ve been preparing all week and I want her to hear every word of the message without distraction before she leaves at 6pm, I simply ask her to settle down and not worry about the ingredients. That message is more important to me than food. As she’s listening, I’m peeling oranges and setting it before her so she can use it to wash down the message. When the food was ready, she was invited to eat. That’s how we will live our own life by the grace of God. You can organize your own home as you like.
If you lack culinary skills you can learn. It’s not difficult. Beyond the need to eat, it can be very romantic when both of you do the cooking together. I’ve been there. It will increase your bond. If you’re not ready to grow your culinary skills, then prepare to do a lot of eating out when necessary or hire a hand to assist. Just make it easy for her however you can.
Today as we leave, I want to give an altar call for men who want to join the cooking husband’s club.? You may want to share this article with your man. Who knows, he may like to join us.
Next week I’ll share with you how that the reason your husband will participate in the kitchen is not because he is not the sole provider. Even if he is the sole provider, he should still participate as occasion demands. And yet, there are times when despite the fact the provision is solely flowing through you as a woman, your husband cannot participate in the kitchen and yet you’re not being cheated. We will look at this next week.
Peniela Eniayo, Akintujoye.