LOUD WHISPERS: To Whom It May Concern

Last year I started The Wrapper Network, an online platform for women of all ages (but mostly young women) for networking, mentoring and practical support. I get questions from members of the platform every day, and I sometimes set time aside to respond. Some of the questions are about the experiences of those asking, and some arise from debates on things happening around us. I also get a lot of questions and comments from men. Of course, there is no one answer to all questions because life can be quite complicated. We can however spare ourselves a lot of heartache and pain before it is too late. I had a long telephone conversation with an older friend of mine last year about a situation she found herself in. She had been totally blindsided, she did not see it coming. I asked her a question, ‘What is your plan?’ She let out a deep sigh. She did not have one. Here are some responses I have given to some of the questions put to me recently:

  • If you are about to marry a wealthy, older man who has a family with grown children (especially a former wife who is still alive), ask for a pre-nuptial agreement. This agreement will spell out what you are entitled to should anything happen to him. If you are unable to secure such an agreement, summon the courage to ask the question, ‘What will happen to me when you are no longer here’? If he truly loves you, he will provide a satisfactory answer and evidence to back it up. If you don’t get an answer when he is alive, you will continue to live in uncertainty, and you will need a plan. To those who will be asking ‘Why is this necessary if you are in love’, my response is love is not blind. The day they come for you is the day you will know that you need glasses.
  • If you have been living with a man for years and you have children together but you are not legally married, you need to act. Ask him to marry you or give you a good reason why he cannot so you can determine what to do. If he gives you a reason why your relationship cannot be formalized, it is up to you to decide what works for you, at least you will be able to make an informed choice. Remember, your children might have some protection but not you.
  •  In some of our communities, there was the practice of due diligence that helped families determine who was a worthy match for their son or daughter. The ‘investigators’ who carried out the research could put the FBI, CIA, MI5 and Interpol all to shame. They were thorough and relentless and were always able to unearth enough information to enable families make decisions. We need to go back to this practice. These days our globalized existence makes this impractical, but not impossible. This due diligence will inform you if you are about to marry into a family that has strange practices like forbidding contraception, forcing you to swear fidelity oaths every time your husband travels or insists that they must circumcise any daughters you have. Do the research on potential partners. Then use the information as you deem fit.
  • If you are a husband, find out who your wife’s Next of Kin is. It might not be you. If you are a wife, find out who your husband’s Next of Kin is. It might not be you. What you choose to do with the information is up to you, but at least you will know.
  • If you are over 50, make a Will. Even if you only own a bicycle and a hut, let people know what you want done with them. You should also have instructions that specify who your executors or trustees are, and where and how you want to be buried. As I have written before on this subject, having a will is not an invitation to death. Death operates on its own timetable and we have no say in the matter. We should however have a say in what happens to our loved ones.
  • How you make decisions on family assets depends on who you are married to. By all means keep joint accounts if you want to. For your mental and emotional health, keep your own accounts too.
  • Still on the issue of family assets. If you are a young woman and you have your own things before you get married, keep them in your name. If you are a wealthy parent and you want to give your son/daughter a significant gift like a house or car, give it in the names of the couple. I read somewhere that such gifts should be given in the name of the groom alone. That is dreadful and awfully sexist.
  • We all know about male entitlement to ‘Side Chicks’. What starts out as a casual, transactional relationship evolves into something else when promises start being made, lines start getting blurred and the ‘Chicks’ start laying eggs. The stories never end well. Unfortunately, nature abhors a vacuum. As the ‘Side Chick’ dramas unfold with increasing brazenness these days, we start seeing the emergence of the ‘Side Cocks’. Then men start looking for DNA laboratories. Male or female, if you don’t want trouble in your life or to die before your time, minimize your sense of entitlement. A word is enough for the wise.
  • If your husband or wife is seriously ill, let their people know. You have a right to privacy but they also have a right to know, particularly if it is a terminal illness. You need a paper trail of medical interventions, not just the dates you took him or her up the mountain or to church for special prayers. You have a right to refuse if you have the kind of in-laws who say they want to remove a Stage 4 cancer patient from the hospital for ‘help in the village’. The condition of their son/daughter needs to be made known so that they will not turn around and accuse you of the unthinkable.
  • There is a lot to be said for modesty and caution. It beats boasting and bragging hands down all the time. People who work hard for their resources or who value things do not brag about their latest purchases or gifts. Your husband bought you a new car? Good for you, congratulations. Thank him off camera. Your wife bought you a Rolex wristwatch? Nice. If you bragged about the car this year, what will you brag about next year? The pressure is absolutely needless. Your enemies don’t have the desire to be jealous of you, they hate you.  Your friends are embarrassed at your lack of class but will never tell you because they don’t want to hurt your feelings. As we say in Yoruba, ‘When you harvest your new yam, eat it in private’.

Life is too short. If Trouble is sitting on its own, sipping tea and eating biscuits, let us not be the ones to insist on helping it boil the hot water.

Bisi Adeleye-Fayemi is a Gender Specialist, Social Entrepreneur and Writer. She is the Founder of Abovewhispers.com, an online community for women. She is the First Lady of Ekiti State, and she can be reached at BAF@abovewhispers.com

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7 Responses to LOUD WHISPERS: To Whom It May Concern

  1. DSEED March 20, 2021 at 10:39 pm

    Thank you ma for giving a clear thought on these matters. This is an eye opener.

    Reply
  2. Femi Diipo March 21, 2021 at 10:14 am

    Wonderful and wise words as usual. There are so many wonderful lessons here. Thank you ma

    Reply
  3. Flora March 23, 2021 at 2:42 pm

    Thank you ma for dropping gems for us as usual. We hope we listen and act up.

    Reply
  4. Olaniyi James March 23, 2021 at 3:08 pm

    Wisdom alone!

    Reply
  5. Maureen March 23, 2021 at 3:09 pm

    Deeply rooted truths. Love is not blind.

    Reply
  6. shola March 23, 2021 at 3:09 pm

    If this isn’t wisdom, what else is wisdom?

    Reply
  7. Olakunle Olajide April 11, 2021 at 8:58 am

    Your answers are made from true knowledge and experience. Thank you ma’am and great job on the wrapper network as well.

    Reply

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