My Brothers-In-Law Are The Reasons I Am Not Happy In My Marriage

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As soon as I completed senior high school, I got a job in a hotel. That was where I met Joseph. He was working at the same place. He was a nice guy, both inwardly and outwardly. At that age, I had a lot of men falling at my feet. But I paid no attention to them. However, when Joseph proposed love to me I couldn’t turn him down.

There was just something about him that assured me that he was worth my time. A year into the relationship, he got the opportunity to travel abroad. We made a lot of promises to each other. “Wait patiently for me. I  will come back and marry you,” he promised. “I am not going anywhere. I will wait for you, however long it takes,” I promised.

He went to school so things were hard for him in the beginning. I am always content with what I have so I never disturbed him with money problems. For six years, I waited for him. It wasn’t easy to do. While I was waiting, my nieces who were around twenty-four and twenty-five got married. Although I was the only one in the family who had attained tertiary education, I was treated like a child because I did not have a husband.

All through that time I had men coming my way, but I didn’t want to disappoint Joseph so I turned all of them down. By and by, we got married in 2021. A few months after that, my visa was approved and I joined him. When I got there I realized we were sharing the same house with seven other tenants. One kitchen. One bathroom.

I had never been in such a situation but I decided to manage. A few months after I joined him, his mother pressured him into bringing his three brothers here. When he first suggested that we get a place together with his brothers, I objected to it. “Babe, before we got married I told you that I didn’t want either my relatives or yours living with us permanently.

Have you forgotten?” I said this as a reminder of our agreement in the past, that I like my space and privacy. His response was, “Arabs in the diaspora live together. You will find ten of them sharing the same room. But Africans insist on living alone.” I still didn’t agree with him but I didn’t also want him to say that I was disrespecting him so I agreed for us to live with his brothers. While we were packing into the new place, I heard one of his brothers say something rude about me but I didn’t say anything.

After we settled in, I was the one preparing our soups and stews. I was in school then so I knew I wouldn’t get time to be cooking every day. After I had cooked for them, my brothers-in-law would eat without washing the dishes. I also refused to wash them. I am not a slave. Sometimes it is my husband who returns home from work to wash his brothers’ dirty dishes. When they are the last to eat, they wouldn’t heat the food or refrigerate it so it doesn’t go bad.

I would have to wake up in the middle of the night to make sure everything was in order, if not the rest of the food would go bad by morning. I asked Joseph why his brothers wouldn’t adapt to their new environment. He didn’t have any explanation for me. So I also decided not to care anymore. It got to a time when I washed me and my man’s clothes and hung them on the line, they would remove our stuff and hang theirs. When I put food in a bowl, they would transfer it into another bowl.

When I cooked, they would tell my husband that it was they who cooked. They don’t do anything to help the universe progress. All they do is sit on their buttocks in the living room watching TV. Then they would mess up the whole place. Even when I rearrange it, they mess it up again. Because of them, I don’t even get room to watch movies.

When I report their behaviour to my husband he tells me I don’t like his family. Left to him alone, I should go out of my way to please them the way he does. He asked me to clean their bathroom. Luckily, it’s a three-bedroom apartment with a bathroom attached to each room. So I clean ours and refuse to clean theirs. Just because I am married to their brother doesn’t make me their slave. I want to believe this is what they don’t like about me. My unwillingness to bow to their whims and caprices.

I have asked my husband to look for a single room so we move away from the three men who won’t let me enjoy my marriage in peace. He says he doesn’t have money to pay for another place. “Don’t worry,” I told him, “I will help you to pay for the place.” I explained to him that our marriage is still new, so we need privacy to nurture its roots.

He is a generous man but I believe that makes him a baby sometimes. He is always in a hurry to do everything his family wants. I keep advising him to carve his own path in life and forget about what his family and friends want. I can tell that he wants to try his best for me but he is too much of an open book. He can’t keep things to himself so everyone ends up knowing his business.

Then they tell him what to do and he doesn’t oppose them. That’s the most frustrating part. That’s why I need your help. How do I help him to start keeping things to himself? And how do I help him become the kind of man who says no when something does not favour him? 

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