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‘My wife loves to dress like a street girl’

Dear Njigirl,
I have been married for 12 years to my wife. But my pain is that she likes to dress like a street girl. I have warned her several times to change her mode of dressing but she looks at me like she doesn’t know what I am talking about.
Some guys in the office wink at her whenever she stops by and I get very embarrassed and angry. How can I make her to stop?
■ Chidi

Dear Chidi,
Let me try to understand this: you have been married for 12 years to this same woman who likes to dress like a street girl? When did she begin dressing in this manner?  Has she dressed in this fashion since you have known her? What steps did you take to address her in the past? Do you have children? How about the guys in the office that wink at her whenever she stops by? What is that about? Are these people that she knows and that she is friendly with? If you are so angry with that, what have you said to her about the guys?
Chidi, it looks like you have not done much about the situation. If she has been dressing this way since the time that you met it is not likely that she will change now. You should have gently told her that you did not like the way that she dressed to your first date. You see what not speaking up has caused you? I believe that you can still try to dialogue on this situation though. You need to tell her exactly what you do not like in her dressing. What exactly do you mean by “dressing like a street girl?” Are you saying that she wears cut-up jeans, revealing tops, body-hugging clothes, crazy looking hair, long lashes and nails or what? You must be precise when talking to her. Let me give you a script: “Honey, the gown you wore to my office was inappropriate. Did you notice how the guys were looking at you? It was too short and the lace part exposed your breasts. Your lipstick was also too red. I was very embarrassed today, honey, could you please tone down your make-up and also wear something more professional to my office. I would really appreciate it.”
Do not get into the bitterness, angry, blame game pattern. If she repeats next time, gently inform her that she is causing you severe embarrassment, which you do not deserve. Offer to help her pick up her clothes the night before and iron them if you must. There is no need to begin a shouting match or to rain insults on her.
I hope that she listens to you concerning this matter.
Cheers,
■ Dr. NJ

dear Nj,
I know you have talked about the subject of men who leave the mantle of responsibility to their wives including financial and social responsibility and still expect to be seen as head of the home.
In my own case I have been fending for house rent, school fees, food and general maintenance of our home for more than 10 years. My husband does not appreciate my efforts and believes I have stashed money somewhere. He wants me to pay for everything and still expects me to be a wife.
I have lost respect for him and just want to move. Please help me,
■ Nneka

Dear Nneka,
Yes it is painful when it is obvious that your partner is not necessarily interested in keeping the home front in one accord. A men have certain obligations to women in most cultures and the African culture is not an exception.  In fact in the African setting, a man pays the bills, is responsible for purchasing all heavy ticketed items and ensures the smooth running of the home.  When a man forgets to do these things, he automatically deserts his role of Head of Household and transfers it unconsciously to her. I always say that when you leave a vacuum unattended, someone else will try to fill it up, that is the case with you. Your husband has become so used to you doing everything that he now takes you for granted.
What you must do is immediately decide which bills you must continue paying and inform him that the rest of the bills will be left for him to pay. For instance, pay the electric and cable bill but let him know that he will pay the garbage bill. Of course the heavier bills such as mortgage and gas bill should be split in half.
■ Dr. NJ

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