Sunday, 21 March 2010

Working with wife: Madness or miracle?

By Femi Akintunde-Johnson
FROM The first day I noticed that my first serious male friend in the profession was going out with one of his female colleagues, I had harboured disdain for office romance that goes beyond the usual flings and tumbles now and again.
It didn’t make sense to me that one could sign off to share the rest of his life with a partner who not only does your type of job, but works in the same establishment.
I was certain, and few instances had since confirmed my stance, that such a union can only last as long as the woman waters the marriage with a huge dose of African evostic (voodoo or more precisely, juju).
I couldn’t fathom how anyone would be expected to be normal if you share your bed, home, leisure, and then your office with your wife…I was certain, one of us would be found dead…of accidental strangulation (most likely orchestrated from the dream world).
I know, because of the sedentary nature of some professions; especially if success is measured by the investment of personal passion and commitment to quality service, people in such “enclosure” usually marry each other.
Loved ones outside of a particular profession may find the demand and sacrifice of such a profession strange and unacceptable; thereby breeding resentment and disaffection.
So, often, it naturally follows that doctors, journalists, lecturers/teachers, missionaries, entertainers, and similar vocations with such creative or illustrative intensity, have a high incidence of intra-disciplinary wedlocks.
Even when this is so, a lot of people will agree that such marriages would likely survive if couples work in different locations, and meet up at the end of the day to cross notes and responses on happenstances of the hectic day.
But, to work on the same set, same project, same journal, clinic or parish is stretching it too far the dictum: ‘What God has joined together, let no man (aka work) put asunder’.
The modern man will likely be suffocated by such relentless proximity that he is wont to snap, now and again; and it will be difficult to blame either of the parties for the predictable tension, and possible collapse such a marriage would go through.

APART from sundry items of admonitions necessary for would-be couples, and even unlearned veterans to update and imbibe (an excellent list was published in this paper last month); there are very sensitive issues that are best glossed over at the onset of the relationship.
As the union undergoes stress-tests and other inevitable ‘disclosure-shocks’, it is vital that the husband and wife have brief ‘absences’ from each other (going to work in different cars; romantic salutations on arrivals from work; phone-checks couched as ‘just to say to I love you’ sweet-nothings, etc).
What man is there who has the opportunity and the good fortune of being young, upwardly mobile, ambitious…and the graces granted only a few, and would refuse to stray far from wide-eyed co-combatants whose circle of influence shares borders with him?
That was why when I got married more than 18 years ago, I followed scrupulously my long-held persuasion: Don’t marry your colleague, and work on the same spot!
Don’t get me wrong; I was not a party to the idea that because you have your life stretched well ahead of you, what you then need is a woman who will fill certain spaces in your house: the kitchen (to cook meals which may not rival the club’s bukateria); the bedroom (to produce your children); lounge area (to welcome unwanted guests). Such a woman will crash your dreams and suffocate your ambition. You’ll probably end up in each other’s throat. That was 18 – 20 years ago.
Today, I have since changed my position, without any shame. This is the thirteenth year of working together with my wife, and loving every part of it. Next week, we will discuss the twists and turns; it will be crass tomfoolery to insinuate that it has always been heavenly. No, it hasn’t; but now, I won’t want it another way. We’ll share why men miss it when they want space between them and their women. And others! or

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