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LOUD WHISPERS: Cooking, Cleaning And Praying

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Monday, August 15th, 2016

I am at that stage in my life now when many young wards around me are getting married. I have a lot of young men and women who have come to me with their prospective brides and grooms, seeking my blessing. I usually have the same set of questions for the potential couples. The first question I ask is not ‘Where is he/she from’? it is ‘What does he/she do?’. Our parents’ generation was very concerned with where their future in laws came from because from this they could deduce character traits peculiar to that tribe or ethnic group. It also helped their investigative skills, because the said family would be fully analysed to determine their suitability as in-laws. For many of them, this was a deal breaker. My late mother-in-law did not want any of her children marrying someone from Ijebu or Abeokuta in the South West part of Nigeria. In her opinion, the people from Ijebu and Abeokuta were too ‘money conscious’, ‘showy’, and ‘westernised’, as opposed to the more conservative and reserved people from ‘up country’ Yorubaland such as Oyo, Osun, Ekiti and Ondo. Thankfully, none of her children tested this to its limits, they all safely married from suitably ‘conservative’ parts of Yorubaland. The day I first met my future mother in law, there were a lot of people in the house. One of my husband’s sisters had just had a baby and the family had gathered for the naming ceremony. In spite of the fact that there were so many people around, my mother in law still found a way of getting me alone to ask the question ‘Where are you from?’ When I told her I was from Ondo State, next door to Ekiti State, she heaved a visible sigh of relief and said, ‘That is very good’. I suppose she had been dreading a confrontation with her son over the origins of his future wife.

When I introduced my intended husband to my parents, my father was more concerned about his future plans and asked  the ‘What do you do or are planning to do?’ questions. When my mother was asked to say something, all she asked her future son in law was ‘Where are you from’? Over time, most of these ethnic stereotypes have been set aside. These days we have many young people marrying across tribal, ethnic and racial barriers. While families might of course have some initial reservations, it is no longer the life or death issue it was when I was young.

Last week the revered Pastor Enoch Adeboye of the Redeemed Christian Church of God gave some advice to young people who are thinking of marriage. For the young men, they were advised to marry women who can cook well and pray fervently for at least an hour every day. Young women were advised to marry men who had jobs. A number of people have contacted me to ask what I think about this advice. In thinking about how to respond, I reflected on my own experience of being ‘prepared’ for marriage by my parents and my own hopes for all the young people around me, my biological and non-biological children alike. My parents prepared me for marriage in different ways. My mother took the conventional route. I was taught how to pray, cook, clean, wash and manage a household. I could pound yam and cook Egusi soup, though never as good as my mother’s, but good enough. I even learnt how to cook something which she never got the hang of – Moin Moin. My father taught me that I had to be self-reliant. He would say, ‘When poverty comes in, love flies out of the window’. He taught me how to exercise independent judgement by forcing me into arguments, just so I could take a position, which he would then critique, all in a bid to ensure that I would always be able to think and act for myself. My mother would throw up her hands in despair and say, ‘No one will marry her if she is too talkative and opinionated’. My father would say, ‘She will be fine. She is not an idiot and she is not going to marry one’. My father was right. When the time came to think about choosing a husband, I wanted someone who would not be intent on breaking my spirit. I was looking for someone who would nourish it and enable me to grow, just like my father had done.

So for those young men and women who are debating the advice of Pastor Adeboye, for whatever it is worth, here is what I think. I do not believe in expectations that perpetuate gender stereotypes. If you are a young woman thinking of marriage, you should have a job. You should be able to bring something to the table to support your marriage. You should never enter into marriage with the expectation that your husband will feed, clothe and pamper you all the days of your married life because he is the man. Even if your future husband is a ‘One percenter’, you will be in for a rude shock if you have unrealistic expectations. There are times in most marriages when one income is not enough. It is also not just about the money, it is to do with your dignity and self-respect. You can certainly make decisions on how to pursue a career or livelihood taking into consideration the needs of those around you, but you should be comfortable with that decision and own the choice. If a young man tells you, ‘I don’t want my wife to work’, run! Run as fast as your legs can carry you. That statement has little to do with loving you and wanting to take care of you. It is about power and control over you. You should also look for someone who is willing to pull his weight around the house if you don’t want to end up bitter and frustrated.

If you are a young man looking for a wife, not only must you have a job as Pastor Adeboye has advised, you should also be able to do some things around the house. There are many household tasks – cooking, laundry, gardening, cleaning, ironing, school runs, children’s homework, and so on. Is your wife supposed to perform all these tasks alone? If you are unable to undertake some of these tasks (or at least draft in someone to help), how long do you think it will take before there is a strain on your marriage? I hear a lot of people say things like, ‘But my mother did all those things and my father did not have to do anything’. Is that entirely true? Our parents’ generation always had someone around to help. There was always a member of the extended family around who helped do household chores in exchange for an education or vocational training. Some families were polygamous, so even though this is not an endorsement of the practice, it eased the burden of some women. In my view, one of the main reasons why marriages today are under threat is the consistent refusal to come to terms with the realities of today’s world in which gender roles are no longer set in stone.

This is why, when young couples present themselves to me, I ask questions about the emotional, spiritual, financial, and professional preparedness of both parties. When I ask the question, ‘What do you do?’, I want answers that can assure me that financial struggles will not overwhelm the young couple. My father refused to allow my younger sister to marry until she had a job. The fact that her fiancée had a job did not matter to him. I refused to consent to the marriage of my niece who is like a daughter to me until she had a job. The question, ‘Where are you from?’ that used to preoccupy the older generation, is now, for me, a much broader question about the character, values and principles that have shaped you along the way. Who are you as a person? Do you have the right temperament and generosity of spirit to share your life with someone?

Do you come from a family or tradition that encourages and rewards enterprise, resourcefulness and progressive ideas, or are you from a background that is more concerned with crushing spirits and enforcing negative gender stereotypes?

When my husband and I were living in London, with no outside help available, we adapted. He does not cook, the best he can do is warm food in the microwave. He however made up for it by buying the groceries and using the washing machine. We both travelled a lot for work and had a child to bring up, but we never had any fights over who did what. I could give many reasons for this – love, communication and respect, and they would all be true. It is however important to stress that we did not have unrealistic expectations of each other, and we were sensitive to each other’s needs.

My message is not for young couples only. It is also for my peers who are now parents of children who are married or preparing for marriage. Before you get all excited about the Aso Ebi and how many guests you are inviting, ask the hard questions. Your daughter needs to have a job or a source of income before she gets married. Your son not only needs a job, he also needs to be able to pull his weight around the house. As for being able to pray, both of them should be able to pray. On the day of judgement, everyone will answer to their God separately.


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Bisi Adeleye-Fayemi is a Gender Specialist, Social Entrepreneur and Writer. She is the Founder of, an online community for women. She can be reached at

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39 Responses

  1. This as been my expected article. Because I have so many questions on my mind that has been answered or should I say treated by this write up. Bless you ma.

  2. Hmmmmmmmn I have been anticipating this write up a long time ago, and am glad it didn’t dash my hopes. I concur to what Baba Adeboye said, but that aside men and women should have a good source of income in order to set priorities right.

  3. Beau write up, I can’t marry a man who doesn’t have a job because I work too, any man or woman who’s not ready to work should never think of getting married, a jobless person seem to me as one who doesn’t have a destination, yet dragging someone along with Him.

  4. Am glad God didn’t make me a man because I might probably not find my match, talking about women I hate them dirty and unable to cook. I can cope with anything but dirtiness and inability to cook I can’t bear.

  5. This was a wonderful article and I think I relate very well with the perspectives, both of the pastor and the writer. However, we should still understand that in most parts of Nigeria, families basic necessity is a providing husband and a cooking woman. Other intricacies mostly fall under these

  6. Shortly after the internet began buzzing over Pastor Adeboye’s spiritual counsel, I have read different opinions blatantly and bluntly taking sides for or against. Much as I appreciated the diverse opinions his discourse has generated, I am appalled to be struck in the face by the shallow thinking of some commentators. For some, it was simply a way of displaying their ignorance while others, especially the younger ones, saw it as an avenue to display their exuberance. As a 31 year old single lady, I have come close to getting married but had to back out; not because the guys did not have a job or I couldn’t pray enough or cook. Raised as an Apostolic, praying extensively is a lifestyle, raised by a widower, cooking is second nature to me. I have been courted by men with “comfortable” income and chased by randy men who might have upgraded my financial status sweatlessly. However, with each inch closer to walking down the aisle, I ask myself, Will I enjoy waking up every morning beside this man, do I honestly enjoy his intellect and what has been his impact in my life? Should I just take the plunge and damn the consequences? These were soul questions which unfortunately, the answers were not convincing and comforting and I had to back out. But I pyscho- analysed myself and realised I had too many bad examples around me; a breadwinner aunt with a philandering husband, a brother we had to literally beg to get a meagre paying job to take care of his wife and children who were wasting away due to the near poverty level they were. However, the strength of my resolve comes from my father, who despite being a widower of over 20 years, still speaks in glowing terms of his wife, my mother. They spent a little over fourteen years together but apparently, it was magic for them. He also taught me to work harder, pray harder, cook better and never use myself to beg a man. I’m sure his advice, earlier given, mirrors Pastor Adeboye’s internet trending advice.

  7. This is just the right ingredients …..Lol….nice article….we need to have more of this,let our mummies and our daddies not only give the fish but teach us how to fish ourselves

  8. PERFECT is an understatement for this write-up,i was @ RCCG camp when Pastor E.A Adeboye gave that advice,and even on the seat,Youths of ‘cos started arguing,so i had to join …I have said and will say again,that advice is just so perfect and am sticking to that ..have gotten all i need from this write-up.God bless your wisdom Mummy Fayemi.

  9. If this could go across all youths preparing to get married ..we’l have better home .As for me and my Fiancée, we sticking to this.

  10. This is an uncommon piece of advice.Let he that has hear-Ear .. There is no point rushing into this,certain things are to be attended to first .God help us all.

  11. Well written piece.. This is a generation where both parties; male and female should be able to do house chores.. I can’t forget what my sister once told me, she said if a man is allowed into a kitchen to work why shouldn’t a woman know how to switch on a generator. This she knows how to do. So it’s all about communication and not so dependent when one can actually do things oneself. As for the job, in this state that we are, the husband and wife must be able to bring in income no matter how little. I really love that quote when poverty comes, love flies away which to me is true. Sharing this asap. I knew you were going to talk about this in a matured way unlike some other write ups i read. Thumbs up.

  12. Great write up.. It’s all about the two parties working hand in hand both on the homefront and also on the job phase. Wonderful points to follow.

  13. I love this write up. I support the ideology of you all. But I will like to focus on a man having a job. My question is, is it majoyly getting a job or the income of the man? A man earning 10k also has a job. It is advisable to settle down with such? And for the ladies it has been said all, don’t be a liability. Leave out your dream to the fullness.

  14. This is just the best and I must confess it is so touching. Mummies, daddies and youths out there this articles is for us all to ponder on. Our lives depend solidly on Prayers, work and cleanliness. Even God Himself recommended those 3things!

  15. This is exactly what we need to know. Not only to the single ladies and brothers out there but also to our parents.

  16. The earlier we know these thing the better to reduce the rate of divorce in our society. I quote… It is a right ingredient for real.

  17. Oh my God…. Beautiful write up. Well spiced and good combination of ingredients. Sorry am using food terms but this article is just what the youth of this generation needs to read and what our parents needs to understand.
    I totally agree with what our dear father in the Lord said during the convention and what our great writer analyzed here. He that has ears let him hear oo. Marriage is not 2mins indomie noodles oo. We have to be fully prepared in all ways. God bless you ma.

  18. … GOD bless u ma.
    I quite agree with what @olowolafe said, A guy earning 10k per month also has a job oo. So we need to get it right and understand responsibility before we walk down the aisle.
    Our parents also have their roles to play, for as many parents pampering their children and won’t allow them learn how to prepare good food, they should also start training them now that their children are still young and can learn. I started house chores and cooking at a very young age and now I can help mum prepare Christmas and new year food to send to Friends and loved onces. So let’s get it right before running into marriage so as to have a peaceful and beautiful home.
    God Bless Daddy E. A Adeboye and our dear writer mummy Bisi fayemi for sounding the importance of all this essential things before settling down in marriage. God bless the US the youths and help us to heed to his instructions ijn.

  19. Let me say i am overly impressed with this article. Most especially the parents part. All they do is pressure your life about marriage and when you eventually get someone, they want to Pick colour, head gear majoring on the minor.

    I wish all the young ones would educate their parents that marriage is a journey that they must help us prepare for. God bless this platform

  20. Perfect write-up. We live in a society where people believe it’s the responsibility of the woman alone to ‘hold’ a home. ‘she has to know how to pray fervently’, ‘she has to be a perfect cook’ ‘the power to make the marriage work lies in her hands’ and so on. When people make such statements I ask myself over and over again, what about the man? It takes two to make marriage work.
    From my perspective, the way a home is built by a young couple is highly dependent on their family upbringing.
    I knew what I wanted in my kind of man years back and was quick to throw away any man who thinks he will marry me and kill my dreams/make me a ‘housemaid’ kind of wife. Never wanted a man who would tell me it’s my responsibility to wash his boxers/do his laundry (nothing wrong with this, but don’t make it my duty by dumping clothes and waiting for your ‘wife’ to put them in the washing machine for you, while you cross your legs and watch football), it’s my sole responsibility to do house chores, to take care of the children. As far as I am concerned,it should be a joint venture.
    Nobody has a specific role in my home, while I do the cooking most of the time, he helps in taking care of other things,and I think that’s the way it should be. He does laundry- I do it too, He cleans the house I do it too, He takes care of our baby’s mess- I do it too. There shouldn’t even be any reason for arguments over helping eachother in marriage.
    On prayer, even the bible says where two or three are gathered,there He is. It is not my sole responsibility as a woman to hold a home firm both spiritually and physically, it is our responsibility as husband and wife.
    It takes two to make it work.

  21. Beautiful writeup at the right time because many youths are really getting married fast this days. Even the Bible said it all in the book of proverbs 31 from VS 10… “Who can find a virtuous woman? Her price is far above rubies” .
    The person you get married to has a strong influence on your life, and that is the reason why it is very important to find a virtuous spouse (it should be in both cases thou, a virtuous woman and a good man). So for we that are not married we should not enter marriage hurriedly but we should get it right first, even if we are not yet perfect, we should get it right.
    We should not be on the lookout for the physical traits alone like height, complexion, shape or morphology. You must look beyond the physical and also consider virtues that can make your relationship beautiful and give you a peaceful and happy home
    Proverbs 31 VS 10-31 listed the qualities of a virtuous woman where it was mentioned that she is an intercessory i.e a praying woman. And I believe a guy that wants to marry a lady that can pray should also be able to pray because a praying couple stays together and it takes two to make it work..
    I so much love this article, Daddy adeboye’s advice also. A guy should also have a good job that will b able to take care of the home and the lady should also be able to help with her own income also.
    God bless us even as we continue to learn and help us not to make the wrong decisions in marriage ijn.Thank u ma.

  22. Wonderful write-up. But going back to what Daddy Adeboye said, he didn’t mention ladies should not have a job or their own source of income, nor did he say men should not pray. He only stressed areas in making choices that are usually the major causes of disharmony in marriages. In analogy, the recent black lives matter movement stressed the need to place more importance on black lives owing to the treatment of blacks in the States, though indeed all lives do matter.

  23. This couldn’t have been more balanced. My take has always been for both parties to get prepared for an independent life. Who knows, even if your wife is the best chef in the world, what happens if she becomes bedridden (God forbid)? If you as a woman decides to just relax and enjoy your husband’s money without getting productive yourself, what happens if his days are suddenly cut short (God forbid this too)? Marriage is a noble institution, not for the selfish and unprepared, but for those who understand how to share and make positive impacts. Thank you so much Madam for penning down your thoughts on this.

  24. The institution called marriage is very complicated. From my own perspective, i believe strongly that the success of any marriage lies on the upbringing and backgrounds of both individuals. Core and moral values needs to be imparted rightly from early childhood to sharpen and prepare us towards the basis of social behaviors in the society.The two parties must be balanced physically, emotionally, psychologically, and emotionally.
    On the issue of cooking and praying, the two are already located inside core and moral values. Nowadays, we are in a sandwich generation whereby the society expects too much from the young couple, who by virtue of their socio-cultural,and economic backgrounds might not figure out their roles on time in the marriage. My candid advice is that Marriage, Family, And Relationships studies should be included into the school curriculum in the school systems, from the elementary level to the tertiary level to prepare and inculcate the right attitudes, mindsets, and orientation towards having a successful marriage.

  25. BAF, this is soooo BAM! In a world where value systems are taking a somersault, you nailed the issues on the head. Most responses to this issue merely reduced it to a sexist/gender war! Great deconstruct here!

  26. Hmm… This is the first timeni would comment on the matter started by Pastor Adeboye.

    I agree with most of what he said, not everything but then what do I know yet?

    My grouse with those don’t like gender stereotypes is that they talk from different sides of the coin at the same time. You can call it whatever you like but it is what it is. Men lead the house and provide for it, women manage the home period. Believe it or not.

    To deny this arrangement is to suggest that GOD should have given men wombs too, after all nobody should be confined to a definite role. Unfortunately, that’s not the case.

    The balance of the matter is that, despite the obvious roles that each spouse has to play in a marriage, the other party should not throw his/her hands in the air when the one needs some help, solicited or envisaged.

    Marry a partner who will help you do your duty for the house to progress. The help you get from your spouse without having to make it their responsibility is what makes love grow in the home. So yes, the man should help his wife and the woman should help her husband.

  27. I have said it before and I will continue to repeat it. Marriage is not for everyone. Even Paul mentioned something along those lines in the Bible, he said it is better to abstain from the institution of marriage if you are capable of holding body(i.e. you can do without premarital sex). Marriage is a major responsibility that goes beyond planning a wedding and inviting 300 people to come and rejoice with you.

  28. This is a good one, written from a balanced angle. I think people only took Baba Adeboye’ message sarcastically. It meant to me that whoever is going to get married must have or must be holding on to something that will guarantee him or her a good future. We also live in a society where religion is held very highly by our parents, not necessarily because they merely choose to but because it is the only means of securing their children from the attack of seen and unseen enemies, and so I believe Pastor Adeboye’s address was directed to people like me whose parents had to go to the mountains for weeks on long hours of prayer before they embarked on the journey from Ibadan to Ikole Ekiti to let me have a wife. I must also confess here that though I didn’t do as much as my parents did in terms of going to “ori oke” but when my own daughter was to get married, my wife, me, the children and even my Pastors all prayed for days before and after the events. I think it is our believe, it is therefore a matter of choice.

  29. Words are not enough to express my gratitude for this article you have written. It breaks my heart to think that “this is meant for a woman/it is her place” is still the order of the day!

    As an individual, created uniquely by God, we should strive to do things to make the world a better pace; man and woman alike. The earlier we make a conscious effort to reduce and eventually put a stop to certain ideologies, we would be better off.

    Once again, thank you maam

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