This is a redundant question in most cultures and religions in Africa, as well as other male-dominant societies around the world – called a man’s world. But it would seem the power of the woman, even outside the “other room,” is underestimated. It isn’t always the louder or stronger personality who’s exerting power. The one who’s yelling doesn’t necessarily control the relationship.
Men rule their homes, some in a master-servant relationship that does not give the woman a voice. Any contrary scenario is attributed by in-laws and friends to charms. But there is growing realisation that the power of women is not limited to any particular room, or location in the home.
God was clear about the role of wives when He made the woman and gave her special gifts for the roles. It is becoming obvious that wives, who deploy those gifts well, not just in any particular room, tend to be far more powerful than assumed.
Many people are ignorant of the power of humility and respect, on which marriage is anchored. The Holy books and common sense are eloquent about the need for a team leader or the head in any setting to be respected. Without that there will be chaos.
Many marriage counselors believe this is the first factor to examine in rocky relationships, especially where wives are stars in music, movies, business and politics. There they are adored by other men, some more powerful than the husband they expect same of at home.
“That is the case with many Nollywood or Hollywood wives,” says a counselor.
A testimony of Pastor E.A. Adeboye, leader of the Redeemed Christian Church of God, gives this observation a richer context.
Clash of PhDs
A certain sister persistently asked me to pray for her and her husband, especially for the salvation of his soul, claiming he was devilish and evil.
I said, “Alright, do you want your husband saved?”
She said, “Yes.”
“Will you take my advice? I asked.
She said, “That is why I came to you.”
Then I told her, “When you get home today, set the table, hold a bowl of water in your hand, kneel down and say, ‘My Lord, food is ready’.”
“Never! Why? He is a senior lecturer, I am a senior lecturer. He has his PhD, I have my PhD,” she said.
I said, “Ah, that is the problem, there are two masters in the home.”
”What do you mean?” she asked.
“Just try what I have told you to do. There will be no need for further prayers.”
When she got home, she did what I told her.
Her husband looked at her and said, “Did somebody give you a charm and instruct you on how to present it? This charm is not going to work.”
But then the woman continued the practice and within one week, her husband said, “Where did you learn this?”
She said, “At the fellowship.”
“I will follow you there and hear what they are teaching you,” he said.
Another week after that, he was born again and became a firebrand for the Lord. It got to the stage that the wife had to say, “This man is running faster than I am now.”
The most powerful wives
The most powerful wives at home, who have much influence on their husbands, are those who are understanding, respect and support their husbands; and make the home comfortable for him and the kids. That big, powerful man in public desires to be treated like a baby, even pampered to home by a loving wife.
Considering the workload of the woman at home, worse if he also works, this addition becomes strenuous for her, even with all her multi-tasking gifts. But those who are able to do all that, take full control of the man.
It should however be added quickly that some men are like beasts, difficult to please. But in many of such cases, it would seem that the woman did not check her man well before committing herself, or that she was blinded by money. The average man will be moved by a respectful, loving, supportive wife, and wherever he goes the home becomes his refuge.
The power of women
Despite the macho, domineering image of men at home, women are equally gifted in ways that balance the equation and therefore demand mutual respect. It is a hardware and software combination.
Women multi-task, men can’t; women are better home keepers; provide better care for kids; have better social skills; and have better intuition – such that often husbands who take the advice of their wives on risk-taking and impending danger tend to be better off. The far greater strength of the woman is that, psychologically, men want to be treated as kids away from public glare.
The problem though is that some women, as observed by some experts, tend to force their advantages on their men – “I say you don’t have to do that o,” she shouts rather the calm approach.
Some women force their opinion or advice on their men. They want to control them by force, talk down on them and shout. Well, after many failed attempts, the wife in the following example changed her strategy and it worked.
The ‘surrendered wife’
According the BBC News Magazine, Californian Kathy Murray saved her marriage by giving up trying to control her husband. Despite considering herself a feminist, she follows – and now teaches others – the approach of a controversial book called The Surrendered Wife, which tells women to stop nagging their partners and start treating them with more respect.
The first time I married I was divorced by 26. I married for the second time at 32 but soon found myself sleeping in the guest room. My husband and I fought all the time.
Much of our fighting stemmed from the fact I thought my husband was clueless when it came to raising the children (we had four children between us aged from four to nine years old).
It was awful. The more I told my husband how he should be, the less he’d try. I couldn’t figure it out so I dragged him to marriage counselling.
But that only made things worse, so we sent our children to counselling since they too bore the brunt of so much of our conflict. That didn’t work either. So I went to counselling by myself and complained about my husband for more than a year. Spending thousands of dollars, only to find myself nearer divorce than when I started.
I was about to end my marriage when I picked up a book called The Surrendered Wife by Laura Doyle. I mean, they don’t teach us how to be successful in marriage in school and the women in my life didn’t share the secrets either.
It was incredibly humbling to recognise that I had something to do with why my marriage was failing and perhaps even why my first marriage failed. But it was also empowering. I didn’t know I’d been disrespectful to my husband or even that I’d been controlling and critical.
I thought I was being helpful and logical. I just didn’t know that respect for men is like oxygen, so no wonder my husband was no longer interested in me sexually.
I’ll never forget the day I first apologised to my husband for being rude for correcting him in front of the children, or the day I said “whatever you think” when I’d previously been extremely opinionated about what he should do.
I relinquished control of my husband’s life, choices and decisions and instead I focused on my own happiness. I started acting like his lover.
We were fighting less and less and my husband started reaching out to hold my hand or pull me in for a kiss. I had no idea that I was responsible for my own happiness. I thought my husband should make me happy.
I’ve now found subtle ways of getting my husband in the mood for sex.
My kids began to notice the change in our relationship too, and as a result, their behaviour improved and our home became peaceful and fun again. Women often ask me if my approach is about dumbing myself down or becoming a submissive wife. I tell them I am a feminist.
In most successful marriages, there is no boss-syndrome. Although there is a family leader who must be respected, the home works like team supporting each other in their strengths and being honest about their shortcomings.