A Pakistani husband’s most common narrative about his wife is that she is ‘nagging and controlling.’ There are countless memes and TikTok videos that are created at the expense of this pestering creature called a wife; the villain of their story and circulated amongst the poorly-controlled husbands. I believe they forward them as a gesture of goodwill to provide temporary relief to their brothers who are a hostage to their wives, who control their lives by pushing them in the backseat and driving them around while they helplessly await their fate.

Ah! What a sad state of affairs for Pakistani husbands! My heart bleeds for their plight; that even though they are mostly the bread earners and pay the bills, they have no say in the state of affairs and are yes-men in their marriages. What a miserable existence, if I may say so.

So, what is the common complaint or should I say complaints these helpless men have? ‘My wife doesn’t let me meet my friends. She decides who we can invite to our home. She interferes in financial matters. She considers herself to have the last word on children’s issues.’ The most common one is that ‘she consistently nags by repeating the same thing again and again’ and the list goes on. And, the oh-so-hopeless and powerless husband has no choice but to either succumb to the pressure and agree to all that she is saying or scream and be angry and abusive to be heard. ‘There is no other way to talk to her and that’s the only way to get my way’ is what the screamer says.

Sure. Let’s agree with all the complaints and consider them valid. But my question to a grown-up man who knows how to assert his way in his professional dealings day in and out is, what makes you get controlled by another person? Why can’t you say no? Why do you choose to be unhappy? The common response to this will be to maintain peace at home and make the marriage work and that he doesn’t have a choice. Well, if that’s your noble intention, then my dear, stop complaining and accept it without reacting to it. If you are choosing to be controlled and nagged then what are you complaining about? You contradict yourself when you declare that you have no choice and are a victim but continue to react and protest to it at the same time.

Also, it’s interesting that these vulnerable husbands in my country retain selective power and make all the big decisions, whether it is a professional choice of quitting jobs and changing their line of work, their expectations around how their families need to be taken care of, or financial decisions. They choose to be functional fathers with minimal involvement; but declare that the wife is dominating and calls the shots when it comes to kids’ decisions. And, the most common issue is how they have no personal space or boys’ time because the wife is nagging and stamping around, yet they can carry secret affairs for years on end.

It’s time that such complainers get over themselves and have the courage to look within and find out what makes them give that control away. You bloody well can’t tell your wife to run the house and then be a cry-baby that she is controlling the workings of the house. You can’t call her nagging or that she’s repeating herself if you can’t listen because your eyes are glued to the television screen while you are telling her that you are all ears.

If you did not learn how to have better boundaries, that’s on you. If you think that the only way you can be heard or seen by your wife is by screaming and hurling abuses at her, it’s on you. Stop victimising yourself under the pretext of, ‘I want peace in the house.’ You cannot be controlled unless you choose to put yourself in that position. Most likely because that is convenient and absolves you of taking responsibility. If she is nagging and repetitive, ask yourself why you are the only one who might be experiencing that and none of her other relationships. You choose to be how you are and you can make a different choice and live by it. You are a victim if you are being physically and verbally abused by your wife and I have all the empathy for you. But if that’s not the case, then take ownership and stop projecting your inadequacies onto your wife in the name of stereotypical labels that mean nothing. It might be you who is nagging and controlling!