Mohamed A Khalfan (Dar es Salaam, Tanzania)
“You keep dominating! I do not need to be told what time of the day to take bath and what dress to put on! I am not a child! I am a grandfather” After a pause, the husband added softly: “You were not like that before”. This was a retort from the husband to his wife, both advanced in age.
A few weeks back there was a similar emotional protestation from the husband when he could not find his old pair of shoes. The wife had thrown them away because they were worn out and a disgrace in public even though they were very comfortable to him.
The wife, now a grandmother, was indeed not like that before. If that fact was pondered upon, the husband would have found that the wife was behaving normally and therefore naturally as she grew older. It is common to find that a wife who was not dominating on her husband by her nature when she was a young mother did play her domineering role of motherhood, like all mothers do, on her children, instructing them on the “dos” and “don’ts”.
However, as no womanhood is complete without motherhood, the wife wants to continue to play a mother. Therefore, when the children are grown up and separated from the parents to establish their own homes, in the same city or elsewhere, the wife is found to continue playing the role of a mother, and the husband tends to become a substitute for the children as her maternal beneficiary.
It is not surprising to see that the wife’s concern for the well being of the husband is now more motherly. She would tuck in the husband comfortably well if he was careless with the blanket or mosquito net covering when he retired to bed.
It is therefore inconsiderate on the part of the husband if he rejected or rebelled against the overtures of the wife who was now assuming also the kindness and concern of a mother. A couple growing old and now on their own with the parental obligations fulfilled need even a better mutual understanding than before for an inter complementally emotional support.
The support from the aged wife in the house is even more important. Let her transfer her motherly attention and concern from the children, now no more under her care, to the aged husband. To interpret the motherly overtures as domineering is a short sight. Behind every old but seemingly organized husband is likely to be the exhausted wife. She likes it.