What you need to know:
- We spend a lot of resources putting up fronts, looking to impress others than building a foundation for our relationships.
- We stop having serious, uncomfortable conversations that address the uncomfortable situations in our marriage.
We are used to witnessing dramatic, tear-filled, insults-ridden break-ups that are escorted by threats once a marriage ends. So, when the Machakos governor calmly confirmed the announcement by his then-wife that their marriage had come to an end, we all gasped, looked at them and held our breaths.
We flopped our pillows, took out the popcorns, covered our children’s eyes, turned on the TV channels and then waited. One day, two days of waiting turned to ten, then into weeks, and now, no plates are flying a month later. Where is the name-calling? Did we load up data to watch weather updates? Aren’t they going to enthral us with the dirt of what he did, what she did, he is this, and she is that? Aren’t we going to learn new vocabularies of insulting each other?
As we were figuring what those two were up to, a friend posted photos of her and her ex-husband and their children enjoying a holiday in Diani. We were all excited - mostly curious - whether they had got back together after almost five years since they got a divorce.
She laughed, then posted additional photos of her ex-husband and his new wife, all at dinner with my friend, her new beau and his children and her children. It seemed strange that they all could be amicable after a divorce.
“We are better people to each other when apart; besides, he is an awesome dad.”
Having experienced the stigma and trauma of divorce after my parent’s relationship died and after that, living through the hate that followed, I wanted to understand this phenomenon.
“We have had big differences and raised voices, but there are also many memories that we have together, tender and precious,” Anne told me when I later pinned her down to explain.
Gestures of tenderness
One of these memories is when she gave birth to each of their three children. He always took two weeks off work to be home with her. His tenderness towards her at her hour of need when she was most vulnerable left a permanent imprint. He made her soups, bathed his babies, and burped them, soothed them to sleep as she rested. He helped her to the bathroom, sponge bathed her, and attended to her until her caesarian wounds healed.
“Why did you even divorce him? Some of us want our husbands to kiss our foreheads, but you? You had the best deal!”
“He hurt me deeply, you remember. Maybe because he was my best friend, and I did not expect that kind of hurt from him, my trust was broken, irreparably.”
There were more tears and less shouting when their marriage ended. The memories of their past together must have helped in their healing process and their ability to remain civil to each other and eventually, regain their friendship.
What ills these other ‘normal’ breakups where the plates, cups and anything that can be made to fly ends up suffering as it is hurled at the other spouse? What is it that makes a hitherto, supposedly, cupid-stricken couple who display their love on all platforms turn to hate speech and mudslinging about each other?
Me thinks we spend a lot of resources putting up fronts, looking to impress others than building a foundation for our relationships. We stop affirming and demonstrating love to our spouse in the privacy of our homes where there are no flashing cameras and profile updates. We stop having serious, uncomfortable conversations that address the uncomfortable situations in our marriage. We stop pursuing and building our friendship with our spouse but instead prefer to hang out with the boys, the girls, and our colleagues.
Slowly, we drift apart; we find our spouse boring, not worth investing our time on. We start competing and not complementing. We turn horrible to each other. When the inevitable happen, we subject the people around us to free viewing of the thrilling docudrama that is our marriage.
Karimi is a wife who believes in marriage. [email protected]