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It started on our wedding day.

Before the pastor said the closing prayer, he asked the whole church to give a special offering for the couple. After, the money was gathered in a sack and presented to us. It was my wife who received the money in front of the church. The pastor prayed over the money and asked us to begin life with whatever was in that sack. After the wedding and honeymoon, I asked my wife the whereabouts of that money. She said, “I gave it to my little sister to put it in my account. I was scared we might lose it or spend it during the honeymoon. I placed it in my account for safekeeping.”

“That’s no problem,” I said. “Let’s open a joint account so we put that money in there. It could be a startup capital for both of us.” She said okay but that money never made it into our joint account. To date, I don’t know how much it was and what my wife used the money for. I remember I asked her about it on two different occasions and she gave me series of pointless reasons why that money didn’t make it into a joint account.

Four years later, we have two kids who go to school. I pay their fees, pay utility bills, provide for the house, and pay rent on top. I’m not complaining. It’s a man’s job. He has to provide for his home and ensure comfort for the family so I do these things without ill feelings. But the question was, “What does my wife use her money for if I’m the one taking care of all the bills?” She’s paid very well for the work she does but hardly does she contribute a penny to the house.

I had a car I was using before I was given an official car. I wanted to sell that car to raise money for the house upkeep. She asked me not to sell it to anybody but rather sell it to her. I couldn’t look at my wife and sell my car to her so I made an agreement with her; “I will give you my car and would not collect anything from you but from now onwards, just take care of the utility bills of this house.” She was very happy about the agreement and thanked me profusely.

Some months later, I returned from a trip to see our house in darkness. Our electricity had been disconnected. I checked from the bills and we owed four months areas. How could that be? I asked her, “You were supposed to pay the bills, what happened?” She answered, “I wanted to pay but I didn’t have money. What else do you expect to do?” I went to the office of ECG and paid them so they could restore our light. The question again; “What does she use her money for if she can’t afford to pay utility bills?”

She never respected our agreement and she never contributed anything to the house. Life goes on. I’m the provider so I had to provide, whether rain nor shine.

A week before Christmas she walked up to me, and said: “Darling, what are we going to give to my parents this Xmas?” I was very frank with her because I felt overburdened. I told her, “Things are not good for me this year. I also have my parents to take care of so for this year, please sort your parents out and I will also sort mine out.” I meant no malice. Each year I buy provisions and other stuff and present them to her family. That year, I was hard up and I needed her help to pull that off. Surprisingly she did not complain. She nodded her head and left.

Some days later, she paraded all the things she had purchased to be presented to her family in the hall. I was left with nothing but envy. Bags of rice, tins of fish, yards of fabrics, money in the envelope. “All for your family alone?” I asked. She said, “Yes, or you’ll like to add something more?” I shook my head and left. From that day on, I decided to treat my own parents better than I’ve done because they too deserve good things.

After Christmas, it was life as usual. One day my official car was sent out for servicing so I decided to use my wife’s car to run a few errands on weekends. Do you remember that car? Yes, it’s now hers so I had to ask permission before using it. When I told her she said, “Don’t forget to replace the fuel you’ll use. It’s very important.”

While in town something happened so I decided to abort the errands and return home. The fuel hadn’t gone down because I drove it for only forty-five minutes. I got home and dropped the keys on her lap. She asked, “Did you fill the tank?” I said, “No I didn’t have to because I didn’t run the errand I was supposed to run.”

Listen to what she said, “Does it mean you used water as fuel to drive to town? Stingy man. You can’t even buy fuel for your own wife.”

I had a very bitter answer to give her but I exercised restraint. It’s my home. I didn’t need to put it on fire so I can turn around to quench it. I let it go but it doesn’t mean I wasn’t hurt.

One day, I sat her down and poured out all my frustrations to her; “Dear, we’ve been married for over five years but you and I don’t have anything together. You have what is yours and I have what is ours. Let’s open a joint account you said no. Wedding collection, you never returned it. Agreement to pay utilities, you never fulfilled it. So tell me, what do you use your money for. Your monthly salary, what do you use it for?”

It was supposed to be an honest discussion where the two of us put our marriage and partnership into perspective. Of all the things I said, he picked only one thing to be angry about; “Why do you still talk about the wedding collection after all these years? Don’t you know how to let go? Every day this and that. Why are you always complaining about doing your duties as a man of the house? Do you want me to do them for you? What I use my money for is my own business. Just do your duties.”

She was so angry she wasn’t ready to listen to anything I was saying. I called off the discussion and left. She had made it very plain to me that I should mind my own business while she minds her own.

I was coming home from work one evening when I heard her speaking on phone to someone. Honestly, I don’t know what made me stop and listened. I walked quietly and stood behind the window where I could hear her very clearly. She said, “Nooo don’t use my name. I don’t want this to also bring issues. Just use your name on all the papers…Then call him and ask him to change it. I don’t want my name on the indenture or anything. Just use your name.”

Just when she was about to drop the call, I walked in. I greeted her and went inside the bedroom. “Indenture? My wife has bought a land without telling me? That means she’s trying to build without my knowledge but who was she talking to?”

That night I did some digging and realised she was talking to her father. That means she had the backing of her parents to do things behind my back. I asked her about it; “You made your father buy you land and told him to use his name on the indenture? You don’t want me to know, right? Before you ask who told me, let me tell you, I heard you when you were talking to him on the phone. I was standing there listening to everything you were saying.

“So you’ve been eavesdropping on me right? What is wrong if I buy land. If it’s mine is it not yours? Or I’ve married you so I can’t use my mind and my money to do things?”

I wasn’t shocked but I was sad. I told myself “This girl is up to no good.” I called her father and told him my mind. I asked him only one question, that if he would be happy as a man if he finds out his wife is building a house without his knowledge. He didn’t answer that. He kept fumbling and later said, “I didn’t know you were not aware. You two should settle this amicably so it doesn’t generate into a fight.”

But I’m not a fool so I decided to start making plans for my future and that of my kids.

This year had been a very bad year for me. It’s the year all of my plans had to come together and bear fruit but Corona destroyed everything for me.

My senior brother in the UK came to my aid and worked things out for me. I was leaving for the UK this June with my kids without her knowledge. Everything was ready for us to move and then this pandemic happened. She’s still not aware but I believe the world would heal very soon and borders would be opened again. My kids are currently living with my parents because they’re out of school. My parents are not aware too. One day, I will go for my kids and fly out of town.

When I get the Uk, I will call and tell her our marriage is over. She should continue building her house and move in with whoever she finds worthy. And I swear she will never find the kids again. In fact, she doesn’t have kids as far as I’m concerned. She thinks she’s sneaky. She’s about to know who’s sneakier.

—Baffour, Ghana