Being married to someone who doesn’t seem to give a hoot about anything can be quite overwhelming. From one believing that he or she would turn a new leaf or adjusting over the years but they never seem to be coming close to one’s expectations. These can cause a strain in one’s relationship.
An elderly mother of four men, Yinka Oni, laughed heartily when PUNCH correspondent asked her how to cope with a nonchalant or carefree partner.
Oni stated that marriage is about nonstop learning, saying the earlier one accepts and tolerates one’s partner’s weakness, the more one would enjoy one’s marriage.
“I wish I knew what I know now earlier in my marriage. When we were dating, I knew my husband was a bit carefree but I didn’t see it as an issue. I hoped that he would naturally adjust to it when we got married.
When we got married, reality dawned on me that the attitude worsened. He would remove his stockings and dump them on the floor. He wasn’t just taking a lot of things into consideration.
I was usually upset about how he would pee on the toilet seats and many other things. He wasn’t a bad man; he just didn’t see those things as being significant whereas they meant so much to me.
Because I was usually upset, I would nag over and over again. It caused a lot of strain on our relationship. He felt I was making a fuss over the issue while I thought about why it was difficult for him to learn the little things.”
Oni said for one to accommodate a carefree partner, it was vital to know the best approach to make them see the need to let go of such habits. She added,
“I realised that my husband wasn’t going to change that way, He was used to living that way all of his life. I couldn’t impose my idea on him.
“I had a deep conversation with him and the need for him to always clean and pack his stuff. Then when the children started coming, we drew up rules in our home. We had rules for the kitchen, sitting room, bedroom and all. It became everybody’s responsibility to ensure the house was well kept.”
Oni said having seen that her husband’s carefree attitude was part of his upbringing, she tried to ensure that she paid attention to raising her children especially because they were males to change the narrative. She said,
“I didn’t just try to correct it for my husband. I also ensure that my children learn to pay attention to details from an early stage. I didn’t want another woman complaining of the same thing.”
It’s the same with some women going by the experience of a civil servant, Mr Alaba Daniels, who noted his wife’s carefree attitude.
According to him, she’s trying to adjust but there’s a lot of improvement compared to when they got married.
He said that he was an organised person and would like to always have his things where he kept them. Daniels said his wife taught him how to accommodate other people’s excesses. In his words:
“My wife is an amazing person and I love her. I saw the traces but you know when they say love is blind. I was blind to that area. She can be nonchalant. She would pick up things from certain places and would not return them there.
She’d probably pick something from the bedroom and leave it in the kitchen or living room. She’d bathe and leave soap lather on the wall without rinsing it.
She doesn’t see those acts as wrong. It was a battle that we fought. At first, I got cranky and it caused tension in the home.”
Daniels said there tension in the house because he found many things quite irritating about the habit. He stated,
“My home was becoming a tension zone. My wife wasn’t enjoying my presence as much as I wasn’t enjoying hers. Our home was gradually falling apart.
“Then I had to ask for help before it ruined my marriage. We learnt to talk about our differences without attacking each other’s personality and self esteem. Things are better now. Though, it’s a work in progress.”
For a caterer, Mrs Thelma Mark, she had assumed that her husband didn’t love her so much in their first year of marriage. She said that her husband was so nonchalant that he never even took note of important dates.
She noted that her husband was surprised as she wished him happy birthday on his birthday. She said,
“When it was our wedding anniversary, I called him to come home early, he kept wondering why. I got him a gift but he never got me any. Though he apologised and still repeated the same thing during my birthday.
I already doubted his love for me because he wouldn’t say anything. I kept nursing the feeling that my husband doesn’t care much about me. Consequently I stopped talking or bothering much about him.
I soon found out that he doesn’t even remember his own birthday. He wasn’t just concerned about certain things. He was just carefree in that aspect.
You needed to see the expression on his face when I wished him ‘happy birthday’ on his birthday. He didn’t even know that it was his birthday. Though I understand that it’s not deliberate, I also love to be assured of the love he has for me and that he cares about my feelings.”
She said she had to let him know that little things mattered and he had to show care and concern because they meant a lot to her. She said,
“I soon accepted that every human being is different; he may have his own thoughts, preferences and likes like many people have theirs. I understand this basic principle of life and relationship while keeping my preferences, likes without expecting others to follow one’s laid down standards or parameters.
“The frustration of one’s spouse’s lack of follow-through on good intentions, or saying one thing and then doing another, or breaking promises can slowly erode emotional and physical intimacy in one’s marriage.”
A grandmother and retired nurse, Mrs Mary Anyanwu, believes that one doesn’t need to condemn one’s partner’s weakness, but to help them and accept that one cannot change their spouses but can lead them to behave well. She said,
“You can’t change your spouse, it’s important to accept that you can’t change your spouse. You can only change yourself and your own reactions. Changing your own behaviour may trigger your spouse to want to make changes.
“Try responding differently to difficult situations. If you’ve had the same argument over and over, state that you will not rehash the issue and leave the room. If you’ve not expressed your feelings previously, share how you feel with your spouse.”
However, a relationship and marriage coach, Mr Tobi Aremo, said some of the expressions of being with a lackadaisical partner would express itself in ways like not being proactive in building relationships, lack of follow through, breaking promises, and having no desire to change. He said,
“Such a person may slowly agree that there is an issue in the relationship/marriage but would refuse to put in the work or get counselling to solve the issue.
“In such cases, there is emotional frustration on the part of the other partner which can spill over into many other issues if left unattended to. This lackadaisical attitude can be traced to childhood experiences, cultural affiliations and sometimes fear.
“Some people appear lackadaisical to avoid committing so that they are safe when something goes wrong. But the attitude itself is a self-fulfilling prophecy that there would be an issue.”
Aremo noted that it was important to communicate, offer help, and be accountable to one’s partner and seek counselling if possible. He said,
“What is to be done by the other partners to manage such a situation? Communicate: Share your concerns giving the partner the benefit of the doubt. Share the effect it is having on your relationship/marriage.
“Offer help and support: Offer any help and assistance that the lackadaisical partner needs to raise their zest for the relationship and life. Find the one thing in their life that they are excited about and engage them from there.
“Be accountable to each other: Plan together what needs to change in life and the relationship, divide the responsibility among both parties. Each partner should keep the other accountable to the task. Celebrate when such plans are executed especially by the once lackadaisical partner.
“Seek counselling: Everyone deserves to be with people that love and value them. For a marriage, both parties should get counselling. Counselling can help find the root of the issue and provide practical ways to help the couples.”