“Honey, I’m Hungry”: Feeding Habits of Commuter Couples in Jos, Nigeria

Friday, 20 July 2018: 17:45
Oral Presentation
Sahmicit KUMSWA, University of Jos, Nigeria
Commuter couples are married couples who do not share the same residence on a daily basis usually due to work commitments. The commuting spouse returns to the primary home weekly, fortnightly or even after a longer time interval not exceeding three months. This work-family arrangement comes with its benefits and challenges among which are feeding and eating habits. Interviews were conducted with 17 commuter couples in Jos, Nigeria, where couples narrated various experiences in a commuter marriage relationship. The narratives on feeding and eating habits were portrayed differently among men and women. This portrayal had much to do with changing gender roles, cultural expectations and societal norms as well as the dynamics of the living arrangement the couples find themselves in. The societal expectation of the Nigerian wife is to live together with her husband, primarily to satisfy his needs including feeding him properly with the food he usually gives resources to purchase. Women are quite happy, and oftentimes proud to perform their marital duties in this way even though, they express how tedious the process of meal preparations are: from bargaining in the market to buy the food ingredients, to actually cooking the meal three times a day, every day for the entire family. Women in this study, indicate they have some respite from this duty when their husbands are away at work, but face a social and emotional dilemma when they do not perform their duties in this way. Wives are fraught, with various strategies to try and remedy this situation. Men on the other hand, complain that due to work commitments, they do not eat as well as they should and look forward to coming home at opportune times.