A few years ago, I bumped into a teacher from one of Kampala’s affluent schools at one of the more annoying saunas in this city.
As I stormed out of the sauna, thanks to a touchy-feely stranger who thought it okay to inappropriately touch female clients in the hot room, I bumped into this beautiful teacher at the reception where I had gone to lodge my complaint.
The teacher and I later struck up a friendship over the black tea served to clients and she shocked me by saying she actually frequented that particular sauna (it was my first and last visit) because of men like the one I had wanted to throttle.
“I don’t mean any harm; I am actually married and have no intention of cheating. I just want the reassurance that I am still beautiful and desirable to men,” she said.
The story was, her husband had left all the loving and affectionate gestures in their courtship days. Now, he never told her she was smart. He never called her beautiful. He never touched her, unless they were making love. He never noticed any change to her hairstyle or wardrobe.
“Sometimes, these sleazy men and their comments are the only thing I have that is close to affection. They pat my butt, praise my looks and body; that is enough for me to return home with a spring in my step!”
I remember thinking, “How sad!”
But recently I heard it again. Wives confessing they measure their good-look days and bad-look days from boda boda riders’ reactions!
“If I walk through a busy part of town and no one catcalls or makes a comment about how good I look, I feel terrible,” one wife confided. “A pharmacist once referred to me as ‘maama’. I know he meant to be respectful, but I was so depressed. Did I look that old? I mean, I am not even 30…”
Dismiss her as just a classroom case of being insecure, but she is not alone. Like the sauna teacher, her husband is not affectionate or expressive; the validation she occasionally needs as a woman has to come from alternative sources.
A husband treated by his wife as ‘just one of her kids’ and gets no distinguishing treatment can feel emasculated; similarly, a wife whose husband gives no love and attention can develop self-doubt.
I don’t know whether it is an African thing, shyness or simply bad grooming, but actually many husbands are not thoughtful and affectionate. Even that sleazy character in the sauna busy touching and admiring other people’s wives…? Chances are in his own marriage he is an aloof wall that only comes to life with other women.
Be affectionate. It makes you seem less selfish and wearisome when your hands start wandering suggestively under the sheets.
Be affectionate. It makes making love with you a more intimate and bonding affair, as opposed to a daunting one that feels like a chore.
You may not be the PDA (public display of affection) type, but there are many ways to let your wife get assurance – yes, she needs it – that you love her.
“Husbands don’t understand these things; there may be 20 apples in the family fridge, but him bringing me a special one – just one – could be a game changer,” another wife told me last Thursday.
This is the quagmire: many a wife if told to choose, would choose affection, foreplay and cuddling over penetrative sex. On the other hand, many a husband’s choice would be sex, sex and more sex.
Now, for a middle ground, give some and get some. Put some effort into being affectionate and attentive towards your wife; she will automatically be more sexually responsive and receptive to you, because you would have triggered the right chemical combinations to facilitate that.
That way, it is a win-win situation.