Yes, Virginia, maltreated husbands do exist
We never understood why our mother avoided my father’s grand aunt like the plague, until we spent a beautiful vacation in her big house in a sea town in faraway Ilocos Sur many decades ago. We were still children then, but I remember it vividly. She was accommodating, but it was her husband who did all the house chores. A tall, regal woman, she walked like a queen when she went around town. On hindsight, she was a dictator who dictated her wishes on everyone.
Every morning we would wake up to her big voice. “Teban, Teban, wake up and cook breakfast, the children might be hungry now!” “Teban, Teban, cook the chocolate first!” And like magic, Lolo Teban would be up and about following her instructions. Teban was head nurse in the hospital in their town, but how he developed such loving devotion to his wife was a puzzle to me.
We also have a doctor cousin married to a nurse-cousin. They have lived in the United States for decades, but he advises dominating women not to marry. Why, our unmarried cousins would ask. And he’ll say, “spare future husbands the hardships which I am suffering now.” A chief surgeon in a US hospital, he recounts how he gives all his money to his wife and gets a measly $5 a day for allowance. He has a very beautiful wife who orders him around like a subordinate. He himself narrates how he acts like a meek lamb.
I am amazed at women who can manipulate their husbands to follow their bidding. Do their husbands know exactly when they have become slaves to their liberated wives?
I remember a popular female government official who was not afraid of facing erring rich tycoons. As my husband was one of her staff, she asked me one day over lunch if my husband was scared of me. I laughed out loud and said no, I wish he were. And then she told me this: You know, my husband is scared of me. I looked at her beautiful face with amazement, but in deference to her and her position, I did not ask anything more.
I also rode a Philippine Navy ship once with other government employees to do social work in poor provinces, and the ship was manned by macho Navy officials. When the ship docked and anchored in our first destination, everyone was happy to be on ground again. Some guys stayed and played cards with the Navy officers early in the morning. There was happy banter among them, and while everyone was happily playing and watching the games, a lieutenant’s wife angrily came along and with her hands on her waist said, “Hoy, di ka pa naglalaba, tama na yong laro na ’yan, maglaba ka muna!” Suddenly, everyone was hushed, and when the wife and the lieutenant were in a safe distance, wide eyes and controlled snickers followed from the watching crowd.
We still see such harassments of husbands every day in our lives. Someone who works for us is deathly scared of his wife. Fortunately, he faces his torturer only on weekends. But once he puts down his bag when he reaches home, he has to do the laundry, cook, clean the surroundings, and do whatever task the wife bids him to do.
But for all the harassment he receives from his wife, he manages to have little extramarital affairs, which we then just laugh off because of the kind of maltreatment he gets.
I do not know if I should say hooray to these liberated women. But shouldn’t tortured men know this is emotional abuse? Very few of them do, I guess. But these few men should also know their rights just as maltreated women do.
Sylvia Europa-Pinca was president of Europa Public Relations Inc. She is 69 years old and has been a writer all her life.
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