Women don’t quit marriage easily

African woman

When you see an African woman opting to seek a divorce, you can be sure that she has been there, served time, and awaiting her medal.

Photo credit: Shutterstock

What you need to know:

  • Divorce is a journey of years, sometimes decades before it actualises into a day of packing and leaving.
  • When an African woman opts for divorce, you can be sure that she has been there, served time, and awaiting her medal.

Never say die is the motto of many a married woman in Kenya. Generally, the female species seeks stability for herself and her offspring. Stability to a woman means the cover, the protection that a man’s love and commitment promises.

We are nurturers, carrying life and pulling ninja moves to sustain that life. Childbirth is child’s play, compared to what else a woman can endure to ensure the welfare of her offspring.

That is why many a woman put up with cruelty at the hands of an abusive husband, for the sake of her children. But the day she realises that her children will be more damaged by her martyrdom antics while in the marriage, that is the day that marriage ends.

When you see an African woman opting to seek a divorce, you can be sure that she has been there, served time, and awaiting her medal. A divorced African woman is an oxymoron. We do not just quit on our marriages. If anything, many of us are either rescued by our children, or a life-and-death episode forces us to take stock of our sad existence and finally throw in the towel.

Divorce is a journey of years, sometimes decades before it actualises into a day of packing and leaving. What one deal breaker makes a woman take the road less travelled?

Fear. There is nothing as damaging as a wife being afraid of her husband. We crave protection, which is a woman’s idea of love. There is no fear in love. When the man who vows to love, honour, and protect his wife, becomes the number one threat to her life, she knows she must quit and run, before she turns into a statistic and leaves her children motherless.

Violence, adultery, and other forms of abuse drive fear into a woman. The shock of these acts leaves her disillusioned. She remains in a constant state of survival, often, for many years, before she finally leaves.

She knows fear when he assaults her, and justifies it, by blaming her. When he betrays her, he minimizes her hurt. She dreads his mood. She and the children learn to live on the edge because they cannot predict what mood he will be wearing when he walks through the doors every day. She tries everything to be a good wife. Supportive? She takes loans and hands him everything. She bends over backward to please him. She reads books, subscribes to marriage seminars, and couple retreats, and learns to shield herself and the children from his wrath.

But one day, something gives. Maybe, it is her daughter’s lost look or the last assault at five o’clock in the morning. Or was it the unrecognisable image staring back at her in the mirror? What happened to the joyous, ambitious woman who used to spring up from the bed and smile at the morning sunlight?

"This is not who I am. This is not the mother I envisioned for my children." She takes a memory tour, back to the last decade, the pain she has endured, the breach of trust on so many fronts. “I am done. With the facades. With smiling when I should be frowning. With laughing when I should cry. With saying yes when I should say no. I am done! With tolerance, prayers, fasting, hoping, waiting, hustling, suffering, needing, with tiptoeing, with whispering. I am done! With putting up fronts, riding dead horses, being a role model, and a good wife. I am done with timidity, with hang-ups, with bitterness, and with conformity. I am done.”

When a woman makes this resolute decision, more so when she decides to find herself, even if that means starting from zero, you are best advised to keep off her path. Even the stars align and the planets commune to point her in the right direction. Her vision is clear, once she starts to rediscover herself. “This is not what I signed up for. I am going to look for that woman who once threw her head back and laughed, heartily.”

She has a vision of the woman she is, just that fear in a relationship that should have been filled with ease had chipped off something from her. “I am that woman who would never let anyone hit, shout at, cheat on, or lie to.” She goes out to protect herself, and her children and prioritises finding herself. After all, you must be lost to be found.