It was a Thursday night. Marvin and I were having dinner as we waited for Josh and Patrick. The weekend started earlier because Friday was a public holiday. We needed to have a bite before indulging, as is the Kenyan tradition whenever there is an extra free day. Josh and Patrick joined us shortly after. They were excessively bubbly, even for extroverts who never seemed to have a dull moment.
“Why do you look happier than usual?” I asked them.
“Our boy, here Patrick just got a promotion,” Josh announced.
“Well in Pato!” Marvin said as he hugged him. “So drinks on you?”
We all laughed and congratulated him. The boys made jokes as we enjoyed our meal, and then Josh mentioned something.
“Marvin, you know you’d be dating the new manager of our finance department if you’d have stayed with Dorine.”
“Oh, she finally got the promotion? Good for her,” Marvin responded indifferently.
“That’s cold,” Patrick told Marvin.
“Yeah, I thought you liked that she was ambitious?” I asked Marvin.
“I did,” Marvin responded.
“And? You sound like those men who don’t support their women’s career ambitions,” I told Marvin.
After considerable shrugging and two shots of whiskey, Marvin decided to open up. He looked like someone who had bottled up feelings and needed to get it off his chest. We were all invested in this story. Josh and Patrick worked with his ex, Dorine and had been the ones who had introduced them. They looked like the perfect power couple. Marvin was a brilliant guy in tech, while Dorine worked in finance.
On paper, they looked perfect for each other, but Marvin soon found out that one of the things that he admired most about her would become the bane of his existence. His voice cracked a bit as he narrated about his relationship with Dorine.
“This might sound bad but I don’t think I’ll ever date a career-oriented woman again,” Marvin began.
“I think I know what you mean,” said Josh. Patrick seemed to agree.
“Why? Should women not follow their dreams?” I asked.
“That’s not the problem. You guys want to have it both ways,” Marvin responded.
“This woman was busy at work all the time. She’d leave the office late, travel for work and even work on some weekends, which was I did understand to an extent, but she expected me to play the traditional role of the man,” Marvin explained.
The boys smiled as though he spoke for them, too. Marvin continued to tell us how difficult it was to find time to spend together because of the busy schedules. However, the times they met were magical. In hindsight, the limited contact prevented him from seeing the cracks in their relationship. The picture got clearer when they decided to have a trial period of living together. This was six months into the relationship. They moved in together so that they could see each other more often.
“Let me tell you, there’s no difference between dating a working woman and an unemployed one,” Marvin said bitterly.
“Why?” I asked him.
“The modern working woman wants you to understand she is working but she still expects you to foot the bills,” he responded.
“That is such a broad generalization. Did you talk to her about it?” I asked him.
“Some things should be common sense. I used to pay the rent and related utilities. She was hardly there to cook, would expect me to pay for the take out and I would even pay the cleaning lady that she recommended by the way,” said an agitated Marvin.
Josh and Patrick joined in the conversation, fully siding with Marvin. They went on to share similar experiences.
“Are you guys talking about your expectations and responsibilities with your women before you crucify every working woman?” I asked them.
“I didn’t have a problem spending on her initially, but if we’re both chasing the paper, let me see your contribution to the relationship in some way. I hardly got quality time, didn’t get that feminine touch in the house but she expected me to play the traditional male role,” said Marvin.
“Bro, I feel you,” Josh told him.
“I got tired of hearing about that job,” Marvin stated.
The relationship ended as Dorine felt Marvin was unsupportive of her ambitions. We spent another hour discussing the issue, with Patrick having the last word as he was in a functional relationship with a career-oriented lady but could also empathize with Marvin.
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