While we were dating, we spoke about maintaining the household. There was no rent to pay because the house belonged to him; it was just a matter of paying the usual utility bills. He said that as he was accustomed to paying all his bill’s, he would continue to do so. I told him that I too had always paid my bills and that I wasn’t looking to be dependent upon him. We went back and forth on the matter. Not arguing per se, just trying to understand the position of the other. I stopped bringing it up. I wasn’t angry, I simply couldn’t understand why we couldn’t be a team. I didn’t need or want to be reliant. In the strictest sense of the word, I wasn’t. I had a job. Not contributing to the home meant that he provided everything. I wasn’t too comfortable with that because I wanted to make a contribution; it would make me feel like we were a team. In the end I decided to use my salary to ‘soften’ the home because it was particularly masculine.

Our Pastor paid us a visit one day after we were married. I was quite taken aback when Mr. Impatient brought it up. The pastor’s response was priceless “Is there a problem here?” I sat and smiled but I really wanted to laugh out loud. Indeed, what was the problem? I patiently waited for my husband’s reply.

“Well it’s a man’s duty to look after the home isn’t it?”

The pastor looked at me then asked why I wanted to contribute. I explained, in fact I told him the exact thing I had told my ex husband many times before.

His expression  was thoughtful as he replied, “Most men would be more than happy to know that their wife wants to do something to maintain the home. So many women these days will tell you that their salary belongs to them. Then the man is left with the total financial responsibility of looking after the home. I think you should be happy that she sees things differently. Husband and wife are a team.” He shrugged.

I felt smug after that. After our pastor left, Mr. Impatient said that I could be responsible for the groceries. I was ok with that. There wasn’t necessarily a one stop grocery store where I could get everything I wanted and I have always preferred to go to the market for fresh produce. I would head off into town after work and make my purchases. Customers can place their groceries in a  booth and return for them later. In the beginning, he would pick me up from the market which was usually my last stop. Then we’d go around and simply pick everything up from the relevant shops. I would give him the card which had the booth number, and he would jump out and grab them.

Somehow everything changed. I was expected to gather groceries from point A, carry them, and meet him at point B. The length of time waiting for him to pick me up from the market made me restless. Parking can be quite a nightmare but rather than find a parking space, I was suddenly expected to jump out of the car, grab the grocery bags all the while he sat in the middle of the road holding up angry traffic. One memory stands out. I called him to say that he could pick me up from the market. He asked if I had alot to carry. The thing with being with a toxic person is that you end up analysing every question in order to determine the ‘right’ answer. I made a quick judgement call and replied that the bags were a bit heavy. “Well I parked over the bridge. I couldn’t find any parking so you’ll have to walk over here.” I bit my lip and hung up. He didn’t say that I should wait while he walked back to meet me. He didn’t say that he was going to drive by, so be ready to jump in. In the heat of the sun, I had to walk to where he parked because he basically couldn’t be bothered to do the loving thing.

After that experience, I determined that I would keep an eye on the kitchen cupboard and fridge so that I only ‘topped up’ a few items at a time. There wouldn’t be any more bulk buying.

There is something demeaning about feeling like a slave when you are in fact a wife. When you are the spouse of a toxic person, you must always remember to replace the value in yourself every time they strip it away from you. Jesus Christ left the throne room of heaven where He was the Son of God; worshiped by the angels and at one with His Father. He came to earth where He had no royal status and was despised by mankind. He laid down His life for all of us. You are not what that toxic person says you are, you are who God says you are. That’s your value!

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