Women have been told they are their man’s better half. But what does that really mean?

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I was watching Laura Ikeji’s dance post on Instagram the other day and my thoughts were not coordinated at first. A woman loves to showcase her children and celebrate her love for them, regardless of the amazing love she had or has for her husband from the beginning of their relationship. So if the woman is celebrating herself and her children, who is celebrating the husband? But perhaps, it is a husband’s joy to see his family being celebrated. It probably only makes him feel like he’s the man, taking care of his business. Nevertheless, it is the wife’s responsibility to make her husband feel loved, cared for, pampered and celebrated in order to keep the synergy in the home.

Even in the midst of misunderstandings and conflicts, both husband and wife ought not to forget their responsibilities toward each other. This is perhaps why it is important to expect and embrace conflicts in order to quickly resolve them without letting them get in the way of our duties to one another. Some men are quick to emphasize and re-emphasize that they are the ‘head of the family’ and a lot of women are also quick to stamp their foot as ‘a better half’, throwing it around like a badge or title.

“I am your wife, your better half!” But really, what does it MEAN?!

My Bible tells me that one will chase a thousand and two, ten thousand. As feminist as I am, I do not subscribe to the school of thought that what a man can do, a woman can do better but I know for a fact that whatever a man can do, a woman can too, if she puts in the effort and time. In conventional marriage, however, it is not to say that when the husband lays the foundation of the home, the woman should lay hers’ too, especially when it contradicts the husband’s. We ought to work together in marriage for the ultimate benefit of the family. One of the keys to achieving full potential of the family is for the husband and wife to come together, respecting each other’s opinions and views on all things. It is the only way we can move ahead, brainstorming together to make the best of resources and time together. After all, the head of the house is not respected by the mere words and the better half is not appreciated by encouraging nonchalance. This is where the term “better half” is appreciated, although it is more referred to the woman in a marriage. They are referred to as “better” version, in the sense that they are supposed to make up for their husband’s weaknesses and enhance his strengths.

This term ‘better half’ wasn’t originally restricted to referring to one’s spouse as we use it now, but to a dear friend. It was used that way by the Roman poet Horace and later by Statius. The allusion then was to a friend so dear that he/she was more than half of a person’s being. That meaning persists, although these days, if the term is used seriously rather than sarcastically, it is generally considered to mean ‘the superior half of a married couple’. That is, better in quality rather than in quantity. Sir Philip Sidney was the first to put into print the use of this phrase to mean spouse, in The Countesse of Pembrokes Arcadia, 1580:

“My dear, my better half, I find I must now leave you.”

The essence is not to look for someone who completes you but for someone who complements your completeness. You see, there’s a sense of need attached to the former. When the person who “completed” you leaves, you’ll be incomplete, unhappy and grief-stricken. But when you are happy in your own skin, fulfilled to the hilt, then the leaving won’t matter. Initially, you may be upset but gradually, you’ll find your “better half” in yourself.


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