Home Together: The Power Dynamics

May 31 , 2020
By Kidist Yidnekachew

Although it is crucial, and we should heed the calls for social distancing and home quarantining from health professionals, we cannot help but realise that it is driving us a little crazy.

On the quest to sanity and purpose, we find ourselves far more often trying to feel productive, either by doing house chores we have not done in a while or getting creative on social media.

When we run out of things to do, we also start focusing on others around us, studying and observing their every move. Occasionally, we get annoyed at the realisation that their ways are very different from ours.

Recently, as I was walking home, I overheard a conversation two ladies were having. It is preferable not to eavesdrop, but I was behind them, and they were walking slow and blocking a narrow road that leads to my house. I did not have a choice.

The women were talking about their husbands and children. One of the ladies had hair dyed brown and was wearing a sweater and jeans. The other donned a colourful long-sleeved dress with heels. They looked to be in their 30s.

"My husband is driving me crazy. He is spending most of his time playing video games and doesn't give me any time," said the lady in the sweater.

The lady in a dress shared her friend's frustration. Her husband was also not giving her enough attention and spent most of the time on his phone. Whenever she tries to talk to him, he does not really listen but just nods and gets back to scrolling on his phone.

“I told him how boring he was making me feel every time he went to his phone,” she said. “But he brushed me off and said he was trying to establish a business online and asked me to bear with him for a while.”

It is interesting how women crave attention from their spouses. We want them to recognise our efforts, to look good for them. Even if what we do is small, like getting our eyebrows done, we demand recognition.

“Thank God for schools,” the lady in the sweater continued, now moving on to her children from her husband. “I don't know how teachers deal with children all day. They deserve respect and higher salaries. I had to keep myself from smacking my kid more than once.” Her friend agreed, “I can't imagine. I hear boys are difficult to raise and give you a hard time.”

There may not be truth to this. It is not an issue of gender but of a child's upbringing and their personality. But sometimes, as parents, we want our children to listen to each thing we say and do as they are told without asking questions. This, in the long run, creates an individual who grows up to conform to society and does not really challenge anyone.

The ladies continued their banter. The woman in  the dress said that she tries to let things go to avoid arguing with her husband.

“I guess it took me this quarantine to realise how annoying my husband can be at times,” she said. “I think to myself, ‘Who does that?’ and I want to shake some sense into him.”

She mentioned how she asked him not to stay over at his brother's house, as he was spending up to five days a week there. He agreed. Shortly after, she caught him on the phone with his brother, asking him to come and pick him up. She stopped talking to him for two days. When he finally realised how angry she was, he tried to apologise, in his own way, and they managed to clear up the issue.

There is always a power struggle in relationships, and the COVID-19 lockdowns are making that all too clear. There will be a struggle to either gain autonomy or control over the other person. This means that sometimes one of the spouses in a relationship loses sight of what is important and chooses a road that does not benefit either themselves or their partner. When this happens, one of them feels the need to address the concern.

Usually, women are the ones that voice their concerns and, when that happens, men feel threatened and think their spouses are trying to change them. They get defensive. And on and on it goes.

PUBLISHED ON May 31,2020 [ VOL 21 , NO 1049]

Kidist Yidnekachew is interested in art, human nature and behaviour. She has studied psychology, journalism and communications and can be reached at (kaymina21@gmail.com)

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