My boyfriend wants me to sign terms and conditions before marriage

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Everyone I’ve shared this story with believes the best thing for me is to walk away from the relationship. Deep within my heart, I know that’s the best thing to do but when I look back at where it all started, and how long we’ve stayed together, I feel I should stay on and fight until he changes his mind. He loves me, I know for sure. For the last five years that we’ve been together, he had done nothing to suggest that he loves me less.

He found me when I was about to complete university. He came to campus as one of the speakers of a program we organized to celebrate our week. After the program, I called him to thank him for showing up. He said he was thankful too. “It’s a good platform you gave me and I have to admit, it benefited me more than I can think of.” On a different day, he called. He said, “You came to mind and I decided to check up on you.” He asked me out on that day. We met later in the evening. We talked. We laughed. We made jokes about people passing by and he later drove me back to the hostel.

It was a good night, a lovely night actually. We never stopped talking. When time could allow us, we met. That evening after dropping me on campus, he sent a message. “I think I’m growing fond of you. Your presence excites me and brings the best out of me. Would you be my girlfriend?” The feeling was mutual so I said, “Yeah, you excite me too. I think I can give it a try.”

When I became his girlfriend, I visited him often in the house. He lived alone in a three-bedroom house. A place he said his dad left for him because he was the only child. Some months later, we went to visit his mother and she was grateful that her son could finally bring a woman home. I completed school and started my national service. I was posted to a village far from home. First, I was scared I might lose him due to the distance. Second, I feared he would forget about me soon.

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I was wrong. He was with me through it all. He visited once every two weeks and I visited once every month. That was enough to keep us going. Anytime he came around, he bought all the things I needed and filled my fridge. What a kind and sweet man he was to me. When I completed National service, he came to pack all my things from the village and brought me back home. What else could I ask for in a man? A year later, I got a job and just around that time, we started talking about marriage.

Today, he is so sure about the marriage. Tomorrow, he would be dragging his feet. I didn’t know what the issue was. “You have some fears concerning the marriage?” I asked. He said, “Not really but there are somethings we need to get off the way first?” I asked, “What are those things?” He answered, “I’m not too sure but as the days go by, I might have some clarity. One day, he asked me, “When we marry, how should we manage our finances?” I said, “I have no idea. you’re the man. What do you think?” He only nodded but said nothing. Another day he asked me, “Why do women change after marriage?” I said, “I can’t answer for all women. I can only answer for myself and I know I won’t change.”

He smiled.

Each day came with a new set of questions. He was a man with too many questions. Then one day he finally came out to say, “We need to agree on certain things before we get married. That way, we both know what is expected from each other.” I said, “Why not. It’s a good idea.” I thought we were going to sit down, talk and agree on what to do but no. He pulled out a sheet and said, “Read and let’s see what we can add and what we can subtract;

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#1. You’ll keep your money and I will keep mine. We both have to exercise absolute control over our finances.

#2. We’ll have a joint account where we contribute 40% of our salaries each month.

#3. You’ll help pay monthly rent for the house we will live in.

#4. You’ll maintain your body size throughout the marriage.

#5. We are going to have two kids. No more no less.

#6. If you don’t give birth after four years, I can walk out of the marriage.

#7. Your parents and your siblings are your exclusive problems. I can’t be made to cater to them. They can visit only once in a while but they can’t stay for over a week.

I read the document about four times. I didn’t know what to make out of it. I said, “This doesn’t sound like a marriage to me. It lacks everything a marriage should have. How do we agree on such a thing? It’s like we are two separate people living our individual lives. We don’t have to do this to ourselves.” He asked, “What do we have to take out and what do we have to add?” I said, “We should throw this away and talk about real challenges married couples go through.” He said, “These are my challenges and these are what I believe need solving before anything else can happen.”

Anyone I’ve shown this document to laughed. “How could you pay rent when you’re living in his own house?” Someone asked. My senior brother said, “Leave him. He’s not a man enough.” Another friend said, “If he wants the same body size throughout the marriage, then he should marry a doll.” I didn’t get a single person to agree with these terms and conditions. I sat with him on it again. He didn’t agree with me. I asked him, “So what do we do after we’ve had the two kids?” He said, “Family planning.” I asked, “Which form of family planning?” He said, “Whichever you choose, I won’t have any problem with it.” I asked, “What about you? You’ll do any form of family planning?” He said, “It’s you who’ll get pregnant so you have to do it.”

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I asked, “And why should we pay rent for a place you own?” he said, “If you want us to live here, then we have to pay rent. We didn’t build this house. We can also get a new place so I give this out for rent.” “Wow,” I said.

Everything was about him and nothing was about me. He wanted to be married and still keep his independence. He wanted to be married to me but not to my worries. He wanted what he wanted without thinking about me. I told him, “Give me some time to think about it.” He said, “You don’t have to worry too much about this. We can continue our relationship but if we have to marry then we have to agree to these.” It’s been four months already and I haven’t said anything to him. He calls and asks me to visit him, I give him excuses. The last time I was there, he wanted to get intimate, I didn’t yield. He asked if we were still in a relationship. I told him yeah just that I’m still thinking about his terms and conditions.

In the end, I will walk away. I’m very sure about that unless he changes his mind. I’m using this period to calm the storm of the broken heart I may go through when things come to an end. I’m using this period to adjust to the regrets of the wasted years. I’m sticking around hoping he’ll change his mind. Again, I’m sticking around just to lessen the pain so when I finally leave no pain can make me rush back to him. I’m making moves silently and I know he’s making moves too. We are both playing chess. Currently, we both have our cheeks in palms thinking about the next move.

—Mama

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