Marriage is not all bliss. Culturally, young couples are told to persevere, advice that typically warns them of impending trouble. But exactly what does this mean? Is it about putting up with abuse or infidelity? In this article, Paida Mpaso explores:
Ideally, marriage is when man and woman come together for companionship and procreation. Couples vow to stick together till death. As life progresses, certain marriages crumble while others survive on a thread, with the woman holding onto the larger part.
This article addresses whether women should hold on to unsuccessful marriages for the sake of children or wealth? When should a woman call it quits?
The other day, a woman told a friend about how her husband treats and talks to her.
“He tells me I can pack and go if I so wish. Honestly, I have stayed in the marriage for 10 years for fear of starting all over. I am a house wife. How would I take care of three children if I were to leave?” she told the friend who naturally advised her to cling on with the hope that someday, things will work for the better.
Evidently, the fear of starting out and making on their own plays a big role in women’s decision on leaving or staying. The thought of another woman getting their supposed life on a silver platter fuels the “staying on” syndrome.
Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital (QECH) counselor, Dominic Nsona, says people should enter into marriage with the spirit of working hard at it. He says giving up should be the last option.
“Nobody enters into marriage to walk out of it without any reasons. We all hope for the best and it lasts. However, there are expectations that are not met from either parties and when this happens, women in particular resort to move out; although at times they are chased.
“Women have greater expectations from the man they marry. They expect to be loved, cared for, companionship, financial security among others. This is why we see women deserting a man who may lose his ability to earn an income but stay in battered relationships as long as there is provision with the hope that things will change,” he says.
But Nsona, there are women who are not motivated by money or a good life, who choose to leave.
“The responsibility to sort out issues in marriage lies with the two. There is little ankhoswe [marriage counselors] do to keep marriages. The rest and the best can be done by the couple themselves. Abusive men should learn to live with their wives in peace and tolerance. There are troubles and misunderstandings in marriages but, they can be resolved through mutual agreement.
“Women too should take responsibility to live in peace. When things do not work out, counseling should be sought from reputable married personnel,” said Nsona.
NGO-Gender Coordination Network (NGO-GCN) chairperson Emma Kaliya says couples need to go through several counseling sessions before the ball can be thrown back to them for separation or divorce. She says while most women cling to marriage for materials or for the sake of children, it is wrong to out rightly advise separation.
“If we tell them to abandon their marriages, what will become of the children? What we do is to counsel the couple. There are some husbands who actually change after several sessions and that is what we advocate. Separation should be a last resort. If all these sessions fail, then we can tell them to do whatever they want. The decision to separate must come from the couple,” she says.