Why bickering is good for marriage 

Unhappy couple

An unhappy couple having argument at home having argument at home.

Photo credit: Pool | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • Watching elderly couples squabble dawns on you that yes, you are in for the long haul.
  • There is no time that you will be compatible as to agree with everything.

“Does bickering in marriage ever stop?” Charles, our friend asked during a chat in our online group.

“Never, or at least, not as long as you put a male and a female together and call them a married couple,” was our shared response.

A while back, I mentioned how Bonnie and his cousins would often hang around their grandparents just to catch them bickering. The couple, in their late eighties, would argue, with his grandmother threatening to go back to her parent’s home.

“I will leave you, I swear M’ Mwiru, I will go and leave you here alone!”

His grandfather would look worried that she might leave him, never mind that she had told him this for over sixty years of their marriage.

“Juuju, where will you go?” Bonnie would ask her, laughing.

“I will go back to my parent’s. And I will get a suitor and I will accept his dowry for me.”

“What about my dowry?” M’ Mwiru would ask, looking very hurt.

“I already gave you my youth and children.” 

“But… what about me?”

“You said my food was over salted.”

On and on they would bicker, their grand and great grandchildren listening, falling over themselves with laughter.

Sometimes, M ’Mwiru would be found in the kitchen - traditionally unheard of for a man - making his meal. When asked what he was doing in the kitchen, he would say, “My muciere is upset with me.” 

Muciere, in this case, was an endearment, equating the old lady to a young woman. He would serve her the food, which would get him back to her good graces.

When not bickering, the elderly couple talked, reminiscing and laughing at jokes only they understood.

Then they would argue about a fact, because, as it would turn out, one of them remembered something differently from the other.

“No M’ Mwiru, the gate faced the right, and the huge tree was on the left.”

He would snort.

“That was not how it was. The tree was near the granary and the gate faced the left.”

“The granary was further on, near the kitchen pen.”

In it for the long haul 

“That was the cowshed, not kitchen pen!”

Watching elderly couples squabble dawns on you that yes, you are in for the long haul. There is no time that you will be compatible as to agree with everything or to always see things from the same lenses.

Elderly couples have no fronts to put up for anyone. If you are in the middle of their argument, either walk away or stay silent. If you take sides, they will both turn on you and tell you off, reminding you how just the other day you had drool and how they wiped it with their clothes. 

I happened to be in the same space with the parents of a friend during the planning of a family function. The parents got into an argument. They bickered on and on, then one of their children decided to take sides with their dad. She learned that day that indeed two became one long before she was born. 

“I am talking to your mother and she is probably right,” her dad retorted and went back to tell her mother why he thought she was wrong.

Their kids rolled their eyes and exchanged knowing smiles. I felt embarrassed and stood up but their mother stopped me in my tracks, saying, “We have not yet agreed, so stay on.”

I sat down again and she turned to her husband as if none of us was there.

“Your problem is that you have not had your tea. Wait here, I will bring your tea and we can end this discussion.”

If you are fortunate to have your grandparents or parents still alive and together in their late seventies or thereabouts, as you witness their hilarious bickering, please don’t lose the lessons of healthy fighting.

We all need them for this journey of marriage and life in general. Danny, our family friend, says he laughs every time his parents start arguing. They will argue about mundane and serious things in the same breath. 

“Mom always wins. She will not stop talking until Dad either gets his radio on or apologises for being right!”

Danny says his wife is exactly like his mom, so he has a particularly deep appreciation of his dad. Danny plans to acquire a radio when he turns sixty.

Cheers to healthy bickering.

Karimi is a wife who believes in marriage. karimigatimi@yahoo.com

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