Tales from the heart
Host: I feel unfulfilled in life; is my marriage the reason?
Good afternoon viewers and welcome to the show: Happily ever after. In this show, we chronicle the journey of marriage and what it truly entails.
Often, I have wondered what it feels like to be in a marriage where one partner finds themselves feeling unfulfilled in life and if it has anything to do with marriage.
Most people don’t talk about it because they probably don’t have someone to talk to. We have discovered that more times than the men, it’s the women who don’t feel fulfilled in life, and is that because of the quality of the men they got married to?
In this show, we have two bold women, wives and mothers who have come up to tell us about their marital journey and why they feel unfulfilled.
Welcome with me Mrs. Ejiro Oghenevon and Mrs. Grace Okafor
So we are going to be starting with Mrs. Ejiro Oghenevon.
Tell us ma about your journey in marriage and how it has contributed to you feeling unfulfilled in life.
Against my will
Mrs. Ejiro Oghenevon: Thank you very much. Glad to be on the show.
So I got married at a very young age. Then in the the1900s, early marriage was in vogue. I had just finished secondary school. Men had started to approach me, some of my mates were already getting married but I wanted to further my studies by attending the Teacher’s College.
A certain man went to my parents to seek my hand in marriage. I had no say in who I was going to end up with. My late parents were not exposed enough to know I had dreams which did not immediately involve marriage. When I expressed my desire to further my studies they refused and said it was a waste of time. According to them, “a woman belongs to the kitchen”, and “education was a waste”. After running the necessary background checks, my family discovered the man had a good pedigree. This heightened their desire to give me out in marriage. Three months later, I was married to Mr . Felix Oghenevon.
By the time I got married, I had come to accept my fate. Being told repeatedly to be a good wife, and be submissive. I had settled into that role mentally.
My husband ran a business. A month after our wedding. I approached my husband and told him about my dream to further my studies. He outrightly trashed the idea of further studies. He claimed that women who went to school are prostitutes. I should not forget I am married, and as a good wife, I should focus on taking care of the home and having children. I was devastated. This had me crying for some days. For the first time, I wanted to run away because the dream to become a teacher was so strong.
It didn’t help that I was in constant communication with a friend from secondary school who had gone on to further her studies at Teachers College. We had both dreamt of walking the campus and taking lectures together. Each time, I received her letter, I would end up wetting my pillow with tears. She was living my dream while I was playing wife.
It was a trying time for me because the marriage took a lot from me and made me feel unfulfilled within that space of time. Within a year, I had a child. The idea of going to school was pushed to a corner. Somehow, the desire to go back to school left because a woman is expected to be submissive to her husband. My parents kept ringing that line in my ear. I had settled fully into the role of a wife and was currently with my third child.
I still exchanged letters with my friend who had finished and had advanced to the University. Each time I read her letter, I read with indifference and when I wrote back, I wrote about my experience in marriage and how much I wish to join her there. Since I could not go to school as desired. I decided to start a business. I wanted to go into the catering business. My husband was against it with the claim that his wife would not cook for other people.
Do I love my husband?
I can’t say I do
Mostly, it was indifference.
I was married against my will. So I just played my role as a wife and mother the best way I could. He was a good father and a great provider. He played his role as the head of the family to the best of his knowledge.
Love, she laughs, love was a luxury.
I could not afford it.
My husband saw my desire to do something so he put me in charge of one of his businesses and that was what I was managing till my children had grown. I had always felt unfulfilled but I didn’t realize the full extent of it till all my children were married.
I made sure my daughters had the best they wanted. But who was going to ensure I have the best I wanted? The degree I had always desired, I went for it despite the protest of my husband. It took a toll on me. He could not do anything about it but watch. It was my children who sponsored me in school and today I am a B.Sc holder. I still feel unfulfilled in life but I am glad that I was able to achieve one or two. My friend who I exchange letters with is heading a company as a CEO, she is married with kids.
In my own view, she has it all. She is a picture of a life that I only dreamt of but never got to live. We are still friends. I am thankful for life at least. Sometimes, I look at my husband and shake my head.
Old age is here and I am running around for degrees, he is running around taking care of his business. I guess that is how we are going to be.
Host: Wow, that was quite a painful one.
Let’s have you, Mrs. Grace Okafor, what made you feel unfulfilled in life and how is it related to your marriage.
Mrs. Grace Okafor; Unlike Mrs. Ejiro here, I think I brought my problems upon myself. I had always wanted to get married early, have kids on time, and own my business. Sincerely, I believed I could have it all.
Love is blind until you are finally married
I met my husband while I was still in school. A very athletic man with a strong build. The kind that made heads turn. He proposed to me while I was still at University. I wasted no time in saying yes to him. Most times he would come to school to visit me. He would either take me out to an eatery in school or would park in front of my hostel, I would go sit in his car and we would talk.
As was the popular culture among Igbos, my husband was a businessman. He sold spare parts in the market. Naturally, I am business savvy with a flair for marketing. So normally, whatever I touched I sold.
Funny enough, while in school my circle of friends was girls from homes that were not well-to-do. So, because they had to take care of themselves without calling home, some had to start side hustles to make life easier for them. Among them was a friend that made cakes and pastries. She knew how good I was with selling and often encouraged me.
So one particular day, she made a batch of cupcakes and enlisted my help to help her sell. I agreed with her and followed her to a public tap where girls were lined up to fetch water. In thirty to forty-five minutes, I had sold almost all the cakes on the tray. While I was selling, I didn’t notice my husband had parked and was watching me.
He called me when I was done selling. I walked up to hug him with my baker friend a few feet away from me. I had gotten to him when he started shouting at me, he was saying things like, “why will his future wife be selling things like a commoner, I am a disgrace, I should not disgrace him. Shock is not enough to describe what I felt that day.
That should have been a red flag but I was blind to it. They say you can’t advise a woman in love, my husband zoomed off after causing a scene in front of the entire hostel. My baker friend tried to advise me. She said the man I was getting married to was not going to allow me to fulfill my potential but I was too deaf to listen to the voice of reason and I paid dearly for it. I had always seen myself going into business and owning chains of businesses. I had plans in place.
My husband came and apologized. A year after, I graduated and got married immediately. A mistake I made again. I was exempted from service. So I served in Lagos state. Immediately I got married, my husband wasted no time putting me in the family way. I started having kids.
Trouble in paradise
During this period I approached my husband to start a business for me. So I can have somewhere to go, he refused. To him, the wife he married with his own money will not do business under his roof. Hmmm, I thought that was the end. I asked him to allow me to stay in his shop and at least keep records for him. He said he cannot allow me to stay in his shop. I would disgrace him, I was not that smart. It was a trying time for me. I wanted to be useful. He just told me to stay at home, and take care of the kids and the home. After all, that is what he married me for. Nothing hurt more than that statement he made.
Unlike your age where people can do online business without the knowledge of their significant other. It wasn’t like that during my own time. I was in a constant state of hopelessness and this made me feel unfulfilled in life. At some point, I had an idea that could ease the process for women who wanted to make Akara(beancake) or Moi Moi.
The idea was to shell the beans, dry them, then grind the bean into fine flour and package them. Whoever wanted to eat just had to mix it with water and then boil or fry it. I started this business without the knowledge of my husband. All my thought was if he saw the progress I had made he would support me. I was able to sell the bean flour to some women in my church and they loved the product. Soon, the product spread like wildfire. It made the lives of these women easier.
My husband found out and he raised hell that day at home. He commanded me to stop the business but I refused because this was one thing I truly loved and saw potential in. I had never seen such an angry man as that. He threatened to send me back to my father’s house. I called his bluff, and a few days after, he scattered the big bowl of beans I was shelling. He threw my things out and kept the children away from me. I angrily picked up my things and went home to my parents. They advised doing as my husband had asked. They said what I was trying to achieve was not as important as being submissive to him. Pain and rage were flowing through me. I went back and apologized.
Cleans her tears
I went back and apologized for daring to dream.
I could not leave my children. So I had to stop the business. But whatever I felt for him was gone, I made love to him without feeling. He knew something was gone within me. I just could not look at him without seeing the biggest mistake of my life.
What broke the camel’s back was when I found out, two years later, that the bean flour idea had been executed to the T by a distant acquittance I knew.
With the support of her husband, she had gone on to establish a factory and produce flour out of anything that people will eat such as plantain, cocoyam, corn, you just name it. When I found this out, I started struggling with depression and frustration. My children were quite young then but I could not leave.
My four children became grown-ups after a while and were mostly not at home. I could not stand my husband and at the same time, could not leave because I had nothing to my name.
You are there, I don’t see you…
When he died, I felt nothing, it was rather a breath of relief because my last years with him were full of strife and frustration, and angry outbursts. I still struggle with depression and frustration. When my children found out what happened. They were sad and started a business for me. I am flourishing, but I am filled with deep regrets about what would have been and this makes me feel unfulfilled in life.
Just a few days ago, I remember I met a fortune teller when I was 21, about to graduate telling me God has given me the power to make wealth. I guess marrying the wrong man truncated that part. I am glad that I am salvaging what is left of my potential before I die.
Host: I am glad you are back on track ma. So we have come to the end of the show viewers. Surely from these stories, we can see that feeling unfulfilled or fulfilled in life ties back to the kind of partner that we end up with. We are not only going to be interviewing women, but we shall also interview married men too on the topic, ” I feel unfulfilled in life; is my marriage the reason?”
Thank you very much for staying with us on this interesting show. See you again next week.