Ms Eddah Wamuti was 23 when she got married. Five years later, however, her marriage came to an end.
“I met him at my place of work. He was 28. Our relationship progressed very fast because six months in, we had started entertaining the idea of living together. We introduced each other to our families and set a date for a traditional wedding,” she says.
It is during the dowry negotiations their relationship began to show signs of distress.
“We both wanted to have a white wedding but his mother was against the idea, insisting that we should get a child before wedding in church,” she says, adding that her ex-husband tended to be easily swayed by his mother.
With the wedding shelved indefinitely, but having received blessings from both sides of their families, the couple started living together, and could not wait to start a family. One month went by, and then another, and another, but Eddah had not conceived.
“I decided to visit a gynaecologist to find out what the challenge was and was relieved when I got a clean bill of health. Yet still, there was no pregnancy to talk of,” she says.
Her inability to get pregnant began to weigh down on their marriage and they began to drift apart. He became violent and would frequently disappear from their home.
“He also became insecure and possessive, and would always want to know where I was, what I was doing and with whom. My parents could tell that something was not right with our marriage and were concerned, but I was determined to make it work,” she explains.
At one point, the makeup artist and entrepreneur became the sole provider when her ex-husband’s business took a nosedive.
“Looking back, those were the most difficult years of my life,” she says.
Early in 2019, Ms Wamuti packed her clothes and the items she owned and walked out of the place she had called home for five years. As the door slammed shut on her way out, she knew that this chapter was firmly closed.
“I had a well-established salon and spa in Kericho, where we lived. I left and rented a house near my place of work and set about beginning a new life,” she says.
Soon after the separation, Ms Wamuti says her ex-husband’s mother called her father and asked him to return the dowry that had been paid since the two were no longer married.
“The plan was that the elders who presided over our dowry ceremony from both sides of our families would meet and the money that had been paid to our family returned. However, he owed me more than his family had paid in dowry, money I had borrowed from my father to help him get back on his feet.”
“The condition was that the dowry would only be refunded if the amount I lent him was repaid,” says Ms Wamuti, saying this turn of events was hugely embarrassing and stressful for everyone involved.
The aftermath too wasn’t easy for Ms Wamuti.
“You see, Kericho is his home and I was the guest there. When I walked away from my marriage, there was a lot of negativity towards me, those who knew us believed that I was the one that had broken my home,” she adds.
“He does not take alcohol, but even when we were together, I would occasionally meet friends for drinks. This was misconstrued to mean I had a drinking problem.”
Others accused her of being a “gold digger”, that she had injected his into her business and left him when he became broke.
“As if this was not hurting enough, others poked fun at our childless marriage and concluded that I left after realising that I could not bear a child – isn’t it sad how women always bear the brunt of a childless marriage?”
To cope with the emotional and psychological distress, Ms Wamuti cut ties with almost everyone she knew in her married days, to avoid constant updates on her ex. She wanted to move on.
“I focused my attention and energy on work during the week, and on weekends, I went to my parents’ home – support from people that cared about me helped a lot.”
Looking back, she says there are things she could have done better and lessons she has learnt from introspection.
“For instance, I should have taken time to know the person I was dating and not rushed into marriage. Also, I am a workaholic and I realise that this could have played a part in the disintegration of my marriage.”
Drawing from experience, she says divorce, or separation, is an emotionally draining affair and that one needs support to pull through.