Another chance at love: Why our second marriages totally rock

Desmond Rao, 36 and Janet Tutu, 34 married for 6 years. PHOTO|POOL

What you need to know:

  • Can couples be second-time lucky and be happily married? Four remarried couples share their experiences

A little boy once asked. “Grandma, why is your wedding ring so big and thick?”. His grandmother answered, “Honey, when we got married, wedding rings were made to last.”

What was largely true in Grandma’s day, isn’t so anymore. First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes the crushing reality that, happily-ever-after takes a lot of work.

Most couples find their relationship faltering a few years into marriage and this challenges the notion ‘for better or worse’ which implies that no matter what happens, the couples should stick together.

As David Russell puts it, ‘The hardest thing to learn in life is which bridge to cross and which one to burn’. Divorce is a stressful and emotional experience because it not only represents the loss of partnership but also of the dreams and commitments shared.

Those afflicted may feel hopeless and some may end up shying away from the marriage institution. On the flip side, there are those who believe that despite failed marriages, they can still find love again.

The question then begs, does the idea of getting married a second time revolve around ‘rebounding’ or is it a case of ‘second time lucky.’

According to the 2015 Kenya Bureau of Statistics, Social, and marital Status of citizen data, divorces had risen from 10.5 percent to 17.7 percent in 2019.

Similarly, according to new data by the National Centre for Family & Marriage Research, men are consistently more likely to attempt a second marriage than women because they have less emotional support to weather the storm of separation or loss. 

Notably, is the rise of blended families in Kenya over the past few decades.

Samuel Johnson, the Nigerian historian made the famous observation that second marriage represents ‘the triumph of hope over experience. 

Marriage experts echo that remarriages are booming and an increasing number of remarrying couples are seeking out good counsel about remarriage issues.

“We advise couples that all is not lost after divorce. It is possible to enjoy love again but healing is needed to reduce the rebound. Rebounds are about getting what you need and not about the other person but love motivates you to genuinely care for another human,” says Dorcas Munene, a marriage therapist.  

While these sentiments point to a shifting change to remarrying, there is still that lingering stigma.

“The stigma linked to remarrying is that one is seen as a failure since they couldn't keep the first marriage and are also seen as a reject who have come with children and are considered to receive favour from the new family,” adds Jennie Wachira a divorce recovery coach, and a counseling psychologist.

This begs the question, “Can couples be second-time lucky and be happily married?” Four couples share their experiences.

‘We regret wasting a decade in abusive marriages’

Boston Isaboke Onchari, 37, Police Officer and Alice Nyaguthii Muchine, 33, a Beautician married for one year

Boston Isaboke Onchari, 37, and Alice Nyaguthii Muchine 33 married for 1 year. PHOTO|POOL

Boston and Alice met at a point when they needed healing from their past marriages. The pair were previously in abusive unions for a decade. Looking back, they appreciate that they have found true love.

Boston says:

I wish you saw me in my previous marriage. Stress and depression took a toll on me and I fought hard to change things in my marriage.

My ex-wife, who was my colleague, was very violent and almost all of our discussions ended in physical violence. I was humiliated and belittled and this drastically affected my self-worth.

I was reluctant to report abuse because I felt embarrassed considering it’s thought that only women suffer and report abuse.  At first, I thought the marriage would work and I gave it my best shot only for things to go from bad to worse.

It took two years to heal after leaving the union. When I met Alice I was very cautious about getting into a relationship. I narrated my past experience and she assured me of her love and unconditional support. It’s been one year of true and sincere love.

My wife is supportive and every day she erases the pain I have undergone. We stay with our two children from my previous marriage and they have fully embraced her. From time to time, they communicate with their mother and we are yet to finalise our divorce process.

Alice Says:

My story is similar to that of my husband. I met him when I was hurting and didn’t think it was possible to have a good marriage. Previously, I was married to my childhood friend who made my life hell. My first four years of marriage were good but things changed.

I went through abuse ranging from physical and emotional and this affected my self-worth and esteem. There were intense conflicts with the in-laws who insisted on staying with our three children after I left the marriage. I visit the children occasionally. 

Meeting Boston was a prayer answered as he has demonstrated that good men still exist. Friendship has kept our marriage and we look forward to spending more years together. I am now glowing because of love.”

‘We are an answered prayer for each other’

Desmond Rao, 36, IT expert, and Janet Tutu, 34 Businesswoman, married for six years

Desmond Rao, 36 and Janet Tutu, 34 married for 6 years. PHOTO|POOL

When it became clear that the future that Desmond had envisioned with his ex-wife was over, it took him two years to fully recover and move on.

The pair is now blessed with two children and together run a Divine Care Program dedicated to supporting those going through divorce and separation.

Desmond says:

It breaks my heart to see people staying in toxic relationships. I was previously in a marriage that only lasted for three months. I was 29 and my ex-wife was 28, and we were not adequately prepared for marriage.

As Benjamin Franklin puts it, ‘if you have not made adequate preparations for your journey or project, you are unlikely to succeed.’ That was our story. Though we knew each other from campus, things didn’t work as expected as we never handled our differences amicably.

Looking back, If I knew what I know now, my previous marriage would have been better. It took me two years to recollect myself and identify what I needed in life. In 2016, I met Janet and despite liking her, I was cautious and didn’t want to not only love from the heart but the brain too.

I was keen to prepare myself for marriage and I did my homework to understand Janet’s values, and after dating for a year, we married.

I am glad I married my best friend who is my greatest support system. She is an answered prayer and we are always on the move to make each other better. We are not perfect people but we keep on working on our imperfections and loving each other selflessly.

Unlike in my past marriage, I now understand my roles as a husband and am deliberate in taking my position and making every moment count with my wife.

My past experiences propelled us to impact people with knowledge and hence prepare them for marriage.

Janet Says:

I faced a lot of stigma while associating with my husband as many judged him harshly and memes were done to vilify him as someone who couldn’t keep his previous marriage.

Tags were attached to my personality and brutal judgment was melted saying I was making the wrong decision that would cost me. I was so discouraged that most people couldn’t accept my husband who by then needed a shoulder to lean on.

I faced hardships dealing with his ex-wife who stalked me on my social media platforms and did all she could to text my friends and bosses about how I was dating her husband whom they had parted ways by then. My reputation was ruined but I never gave up on my husband.

Looking back, I am glad I chose my husband. We share the same values and am always moved by his big heart. There were no children from the previous marriage, which made the journey easier, having in mind divorce triggers depression and stress in children.

The secret to our marriage has been friendship, mutual understanding, and prayers.”

‘Patience made our love blossom’

David Abagbodi, 53, biochemist, and Shiko Abagbodi, 41, a registered nurse in the United Kingdom, married for 12 years

David Abagbodi, 53 and Shiko Abagbodi, 41 married for 12 years. PHOTO|POOL

Shiko says:

I came to the UK when I was 19 to study. Life took a tragic turn when the couple that was hosting me changed and I became vulnerable as I tried to make ends meet.

During this season, I met a man who was kind and I thought he was the ideal man to be with. He showered me with so much love and attention and offered to host me when the couple I was staying with abandoned me.  

Within three months of our affair, I became pregnant and later I realised that I was married to a narcissist who was controlling, possessive, and violent. I still recall how I was beaten after three weeks of delivery, and despite the pain I had, I always protected him from people who at some point suspected all was not well, especially after seeing me with bruises. 

My story is long but in a nutshell, I went through hell in my previous marriage. When I met my husband, I was hurting and I protected myself from being hurt again.

I became so rebellious and I would spend nights in clubs and leave my husband at home. In 2008, I gave my life to Christ and my life took a turn, and day by day healed psychologically. 

My husband’s love and patience have taught me that indeed there is a God of second chances. We are great friends and I am truly enjoying my marriage.

David says:

I met my wife when she was hurting and because of my sincere love for her, I never gave up. My wife is very submissive and I could tell she was hurting from the past marriage.

She was rebellious and would spend most nights clubbing and of course, I was not happy with it. I was very patient with her and every day I kept on telling her ‘You are my peace.’

Despite what she displayed, her motherly heart captured me.

My wife changed for good and we are enjoying our marriage. I have always assured her of my true and sincere love and I am glad when I see her enjoying our love.

Indeed, marriage works and we are deliberate in mentoring others to know that they too can enjoy marriage.

‘We understood each other’s pain’

Bishop Justus Mutunga, 49, and Trizah Mumbi, 44, married for one year and five months

Bishop Justus Mutunga, 49 and Trizah Mumbi, 44 married for 1 year and 5 months. PHOTO|POOL

The pair met on a Facebook page where they began chatting. Having gone through an abusive marriage, Trizah was touched by Bishop Justus' Facebook post that depicted his painful experience in his previous marriage.

Trizah says:

I would never want anyone to encounter the abuse I encountered.

I endured 11 years of pain and this really affected my self-worth. Everything seemed all right in my previous union until I bore my second child and my ex-husband started having multiple partners which affected me emotionally. 

It took 13 years to fully recover and at some point, I thought my script of settling into a good marriage had ended. During that lonely phase, I joined a Facebook Page where members shared their painful experiences in relationships and marriages.

I messaged him and our conversation started and little did I know, that I would find true love. At first, it was not easy setting aside the negative thoughts of my failed marriage but with time, I realised that I can still enjoy love. Communication, honesty, and openness have kept our love growing. 

I am grateful that my two children accepted my husband and I constantly assured them that he was a Godly man and that he would never hurt us.

Indeed, my husband has demonstrated true love to us and changed the script on finding love again.  My children have experienced a father’s love in the truest sense.”

Justus says:

I was in an abusive marriage for a decade which broke me into pieces. I was belittled, humiliated, and went through so much pain.

I recall one time my ex-wife told my children that she will search for another man who would be their father as I was not man enough for her. To date, I still remember how my ego got crushed.

I will never regret leaving my abusive marriage in 2014 as this made me later meet my soul mate. The court ordered my three children to stay with my ex-wife but I always create time to communicate with them.

My children knew our marriage was not working and hence, they embraced the idea of me moving on to another marriage. My firstborn has been supportive and he visits us occasionally.

Trizah came with two boys and I bonded with them effortlessly. In our first meeting, I ensured that the boys felt loved and my wife always tells me that they were amazed at how easy I was and expressed love to them.

Remarrying Trizah has given me a great opportunity to enjoy life. I have enjoyed true love in the simplest form. Unlike in my past union where we couldn’t share the same vision, Trizah has enormously contributed to the Boaz Single Ministry.

In the Ministry, we educate people on how to date and marry the right person.  Although the first years were challenging especially with the stigma linked with remarrying, I was confident that this was the right choice because even the bible gives grounds for divorce.

What Experts say

According to Jennie Wachira, a Divorce Recovery Coach and Counselling Psychologist, those desiring to remarry need to process and heal from their past hurt.

Counselling will equip them with insights on how to handle challenges that come along. Couples should communicate effectively with their children about their plans to remarry.

Tips to making your remarriage work

  1. Let go of anger and resentment from your past relationships.
  2. Think about your children and involve them in the plans.
  3. Make your new marriage a priority.
  4. Communicate and maintain openness and honesty with your partners.
  5. Address issues before they become bigger.
  6. Learn how to manage conflict respectfully.