Toby and Agnes were in love and inseparable all through the University and eventually got married within 3 years ofgraduation. Toby worked in a new generation Bank while Agnes opened a boutique and they were both doing well and were financially comfortable. They had two boys in quick succession and their life appeared to be charmed. Then the cracks started appearing. Toby was already Head of Operations and was a rising star when his bank was taken over by a bigger Bank.
The Head of HR at Head office summoned some of the branch Heads including Toby to appear before him. As soon as he entered the office, the Head of HR went straight to the point. “Mr Toby, we consider you surplus to requirement. However, because of your unblemished record, I will offer you a 6 months period of grace to prove your value or be laid off. That will be all, have a nice day.” ‘Thank you, Sir; I will prove my worth Sir’, he muttered as he stumbled out of the office in a daze.
Meanwhile he was heavily indebted as he had become accustomed to living on facilities from the Bank. He changed his vehicle every 3 years and just started repayment on his new vehicle. He was also completing his own personal house (again, financed with a facility with a 10-year tenor). Furthermore, he had made some bad loan calls on behalf of two close friends who had simply disappeared and he was repaying gradually. He felt his world caving in and he found it difficult to breath as he exited the office of the head of HR. What will I do now? I cannot tell Agnes; she is already hypertensive and will just break down. I will try and work hard and ensure that I don’t lose this job. Otherwise, how will I cope? My children’s school fees? Our annual vacations abroad? My younger siblings and dependents?No, I will sort this out on my own, he resolved.
He became very anxious and worried even though he tried to put on a brave face. The wife noticed he was not his usual cheerful self but he claimed he was fine and there were just some minor issues at work, relating to the take-over, and that he was stressed and doing much more. She encouraged him and tried to cheer him up. Later that evening she, tried to give him a relaxing massage and he appeared to be aroused but could not sustain for long enough to achieve penetration. He could feel Agnes was disappointed and he felt very ashamed and embarrassed. Over the next few days, he became increasingly worried as the same scenario repeatedly occurred on two other occasions within the week. He simply had no desire and could not be aroused. He did not understand what was going on but felt really small and less of a man.
Meanwhile he realized that Agnes had also become cold towards him and was no longer sympathetic. He wanted to plead with her and try to explain but he did not know what to say. And his overwhelming feeling was that of embarrassment and humiliation. He started dreading evenings and considered going to a chemist to ask for Viagra or see a doctor. But what will he say is wrong with him? At the young age of 35 years? On and on he ruminated, even as he felt his wife was treating him as if it was an intentional failing on his part. He became more worried and upset.
Agnes, on the other hand, was also very upset with Toby. She had always been a faithful and dutiful wife and was never suspicious about his work environment and all the young ladies in his Branch. She had heard tales but always dismissed them and never allowed such stories to affect their relationship. Now she realizes that perhaps he no longer considers her attractive and she started feeling foolish. Knowing him very well, she became convinced that he was having affairs outside and that’s why he is no longer interested in her. She checked herself out in the mirror and thought she still looked beautiful and had maintained her shape even after two deliveries. She noticed that Toby was somewhat evasive and avoiding eye contact with her. This further convinced her that he was guilty and he was up to no good. She cried every day when he leaves for work but steels herself to be cold to him when he returns. She felt betrayed and humiliated after her years of faithfulness. Who could she discuss with now? What should she do?
To be completed next week.
Tribune Article for the column “Your Mental Health & You”
Thursday, 6th May 2021