Ben had always been a bit dramatic. However, I dismissed it. Everyone has their flaws so you have to compromise on some things. After all, I wasn’t going to mould my perfect man and I didn’t check all the boxes either. So I married him.
They say what you permit persists. Having labelled him dramatic, I often did what he wanted and apologized frequently. It felt like the easiest way to avoid conflict. The first time I saw that side of him was a couple of weeks after we started dating. We had made lunch plans. I got there before him and the only available table was near the window. The reflection of the sun was a bit disturbing. Ben hated it but that was the only table. I figured we could endure it before another table opened up.
Ben threw a tantrum. I explained that we could wait for more space to clear up but he went on and on about how I knew his preferences. I apologized and felt inconsiderate. I didn’t know I would be apologizing for the next foreseeable future and if he had had his way, it would have been till I dropped dead.
As you can imagine, planning our wedding was very stressful. The planner dreaded dealing with him. Sometimes, I would pretend that I was to blame for giving the planner certain instructions to save the planner from his fits. During our traditional wedding, he almost walked out when one of my uncles complicated the negotiations unnecessarily. It took his mother’s intervention to keep his cool. Despite seeing it, I downplayed his behaviour and proceeded to marry the man.
Don’t get me wrong, he had his strengths. He was hardworking, resourceful, and loyal. He was the kind of man who handled stuff. You didn’t have to worry about him acting helpless. He had solutions for most things. But, he also had a fatal flaw – he could blow something small out of proportion.
After our wedding, we started living together. I would polish his shoes in the evening before going to bed. One morning after having served breakfast on the dining table, I went back to the bedroom to finish preparing myself for work. I heard him curse loudly before storming into the bedroom.
“What is this?” He asked.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” I responded.
He was pointing at his shoe but I couldn’t make out the problem.
“Look closely,” he said as he brought the shoe closer.
“Ben, I don’t know what I’m looking at.”
“You missed this spot. You know how I like my shoes polished.”
“Oh, I didn’t notice it but you could just fix that. There was no need to be so dramatic early in the morning. Anyway, I’m sorry.”
He stormed out of the room. He was supposed to drop me off at work but he left me. I was angry because I was late for work as a result of his actions. He was furious that I had missed a spot on his shoe and had trivialized his concerns. I spent the next few days apologizing.
I gave birth to our son later that year. Life changed drastically for me as a new mom. Suddenly it felt like everyone needed my attention. Both my husband and child needed extra attention. Ben would throw tantrums over things as usual. He couldn’t eat food warmed in the microwave, I would have to pan fry it while heating it up. It was hectic to do so even when it was just the two of us especially when he came home late in the night but it was now very stressful with a young baby.
Sometimes he would come back right after I had finally gotten our child to sleep. I would be so sleepy that it would take a while to realize that he was home and I needed to warm his food. He would get angry at me. It would be worse if the child woke up because he would expect me to deal with the baby and still attend to him.
One morning, I packed his breakfast because he needed to get to the office earlier. I packed a few ndumas and a mug of tea for him to drink on the go. Fifteen minutes after he had left the house he called. I thought he had probably left something in the house.
“Hey, did you forget something?” I asked.
“Woman, are you trying to kill me with hot tea?” He asked angrily.
Apparently, the tea I had packed for him was too hot. He has almost burnt himself. He argued that I should have made sure the tea was a bit cooler before giving it to him. I wanted to ask why he couldn’t wait for it to cool down but I remembered how angry he got if I dared to justify myself.
“Why can’t you think before you do anything?” Ben asked angrily.
I could picture him at his workplace’s parking lot making that phone call. I was wrong; he had parked at the side of the road to scold me. It took him two weeks to speak to me after that. We had several other incidents of the same nature until he went a step further.
We had taken our son to the hospital for a vaccination jab. The injection was uncomfortable and so our son cried, making it difficult to dress him up.
“You need to be quicker, it’s bout to rain,” Ben said.
The rain was quicker. Our son fussed and it took me longer to get him to calm down. I then proceeded to the parking area as I called Ben to pick us up at the entrance because it was now raining heavily.
“I left you. You know how I feel about people who don’t keep time.”
“Martin, I have a cranky child. You were there and so the struggle.”
“Excuses,” Martin said.
“You left us in the rain?”
“Yes. You need to learn your lesson.”
I was furious. He left his son in the rain to punish me and felt justified. We didn’t talk for over a month. Compounded with the other incidents, it was clear it wasn’t going to work until he worked on himself but he wasn’t willing to do it. He didn’t see anything wrong with his behaviour. I begged him to attend therapy and went to his parents asking them to intervene but he felt justified. Eventually, I left him.
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