A Lazy Man’s Path
By: Abi Adegboye, PhD and Olapeju Simoyan, MD, MPH
The alarm went off at five o’clock in the morning and Bisi immediately rolled out of bed, tiptoeing around to avoid waking her husband, Mike who was still fast asleep. At 7:30, she and their two daughters headed out to work and school, respectively. While driving to work, she silently prayed that Mike would somehow get motivated to find a job.Mike eventually got out of bed at 11 am, strolled into the kitchen to see what Bisi had prepared for breakfast. Following his usual routine, he ate a leisurely breakfast and then turned on the TV to watch his favorite sports channel.
Things hadn’t changed much in the past five years since Mike lost his job with a major oil company. Bisi progressed with her career and had recently been promoted to the position of managing director at a local bank. In addition to paying all the household bills and the children’s school fees, she frequently helped members of Mike’s extended family when they had financial needs. Mike would take the money from her account and give it to his relatives, without acknowledging her.
His family believed that he was independently wealthy or perhaps had saved up so much money during his time with the oil company that he did not need to work. Little did they know that he was taking advantage of his wife’s work ethic and generosity.
The burden of bearing all the family’s financial responsibilities was beginning to weigh down on Bisi. With the recent hike in the children’s school fees, she was finding it hard to keep paying all the bills and now they were several months behind on their rent.
Whenever Mike was questioned about his apparent lack of interest in finding a job, he would reminisce about the ‘good old days’ when he worked for the oil company and money “was flowing, just like the oil was.” “I cannot belittle myself to accept anything less,” he’d say, “so I am waiting for God to bless me with a big contract and to restore the years that the cankerworm has stolen.”
As Mike lay on the sofa watching a European soccer match, the landlord banged on the door. “Are you in there?!” Mr. Konga bellowed. Mike’s first instinct was to pretend there was no one home, but then he heard a key turn in the lock and jumped to his feet. “Your time is up,” Mr. Konga yelled, “You and your family are moving out today.”
Mr. Konga was followed by three thugs who began taking the furniture outside of the building. “Wait, Sir! Wait! I told you we’d have the money for you at the end of the month,” Mike pleaded. “That’s what you told me last month, the month before and the month before that!” He continued, “I don’t see you doing anything to make it happen.” “But…” Mike began. “But what?” Mr. Konga cut in, “Are you about to tell me that you are looking for a job in front of the television? Are you studying to be a sports commentator?” He turned away and ordered the thugs to move everything in sight out of the building.
When Bisi arrived home with the children later in the day, she found Mike sitting on the front porch, surrounded by a pile of boxes and the living room furniture.“I see we’ve been evicted” she mumbled to herself as she got out of the car. “Hi, dear, how was work today?” Mike asked casually, trying to muster up the courage to explain what had happened.
“The landlord said we could return if we can give him even just half of the rent today,” Mike continued softly. Completely ignoring him, Bisi packed a bag of essentials for the girls and herself before heading towards the car with them. “Are you leaving? Mike asked in bewilderment.
“You can’t do this to me, God hates divorce!”“Really?” Bisi responded, lowering her car window. “I believe God also hates laziness”, she continued. “Remember that verse in the Bible that says a man that doesn’t provide for his family is worse than an unbeliever? Well, I am not supposed to be married to an unbeliever, so why should I stay with you? Goodbye, Mike”.
Sadly, this scenario is all too common, where the man does not seem to understand or simply refuses to acknowledge his financial responsibility for his family. Some would argue that this is a backlash of women’s apparent self-sufficiency in modern day society. In other words, the more money their wives make, the less men feel the need to work.The reality is that a single income is often inadequate to meet all a family’s needs in today’s society.
Beyond financial responsibilities, women frequently shoulder other responsibilities such as cooking, child care and housekeeping, largely on their own. A woman who works long hours at a stressful job in order to provide for her family and then has to single-handedly bear all the responsibilities of a home maker is in danger of burnout. This kind of stress puts both the physical and mental health of women in jeopardy, in addition to the marital strain it causes.
It appears that men like Mike in the story above want it both ways: they want a wife who is educated and makes “good” money and there is nothing wrong with that. However, they also want that same wife to play the role of a traditional homemaker – and do all the cooking, cleaning, child care, and, in Mike’s case, pay the bills, too! They want to eat their cake and still have it. Something has to give – responsibilities should be shared and no partner in a marriage should have to bear an undue burden, financial or otherwise.
Anyone who does not provide for their relatives, and especially for their own household, has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.
– 1 Timothy 5: 8