“I take you, to be my lawfully wedded wife. In sickness and in health, in riches and in poverty, till death do us part.” I’m not sure that’s how the vows go but it’s along that line. I’ve not been to many weddings in my life. Partly because the people I know barely get married and the ones that do, share their wedding invitations when I have other commitments, like learning how to swim or have a dance-off with my god daughter.
I’m not big on Western weddings for a number of reasons, the major one being the cost implication against posterity. However, that’s not an issue I want to discuss because I may end up ruining my chances of being invited for future weddings. My issue is with the vows and understanding your roles. Do you understand the implication of the words you utter or is it just a phase to you?
The divorce rate in Kenya isn’t as high as Western countries because of the mere fact that court processes drag on for years and most people don’t have the finances to see their cases through; so they end up separating amicably. The number of separated homes in Kenya is soaring by the day from generations born in the 60s and earlier to those born in the 80s. The sad thing is that most of these people recited those vows.
This year alone I’ve seen videos of domestic abuse on Facebook more than enough times. One time is enough and I’ve seen those videos more than once. I’ve learnt something from interacting with people older than me and that is called, separation of issues. I’m not a Psychology major and having done one or two units in the said field doesn’t make me an expert in analyzing behaviours and all that Dexter stuff.
I however, know plenty about human interaction from experience. Have you ever wondered what goes through a persons mind when they take up a knife or rod and attack someone they vowed to love through thick and thin? Does it happen overnight? Is there any form of justification? Isn’t there an easier way out of the situation than violence? What led love to this?
I rarely involve myself in marital or intimate relationship discussion. This is because my uncle once told me, “Two people that sleep together know how to sort their issues out. If you get involved, you’ll be the only loser in the end.” At first, I never took his words seriously but as years go by, I can clearly see his words coming to pass. I’m not a violent person and always believe there’s always a multitude of options before violence.
Why are domestic cases a common scenario? What are communities, societies and relevant authorities doing about it? Is it time for stern action to be considered? I’ve seen a number of videos and there’s one thing I cannot fail to mention; double standards. A video of a man being beaten by a group of women using wooden rods was doing rounds on the internet. Going through the comment section made me question humanity.
For decades now, people have been fighting for affirmative action. Different groups have been clamouring for equality among both sexes in various aspects. That is until you see how issues among both sexes are treated. When the video of the man was doing rounds, most of the comments were, “He deserves it for cheating on the girl.” “What kind of man is this?” “These are the type of men we have today!” Nobody stopped for a minute to think these are the type of men society has brought up and continues to bring up.
If the same video was of a group of men hitting a woman for cheating on the husband, the reaction would have been totally different. “Why can’t he just leave?” “What kind of men gang up on a woman?” “Men are animals?” Why the double standards? Are we not fighting for equality? Or does equality only come into play when it’s about education and money? I don’t support violence of any kind unless it’s your profession.
This is the kind of frustration that makes its way into marriage. You look at yourself as the provider and want to run your family like an absolute monarch. You presume you have dominion over whoever has the lower pay. When did it get to this? Is respect all about who brings more to the table? Shouldn’t equity be what is being preached? Equity is giving your daughter who is 3 years older than your son more pocket money because her needs tend to be more demanding. Equality is giving them the same amount because they are both your children.
You see where I’m going with this? Marriage as an institution is losing its value because it’s no longer about equity but equality. My wife is close with her male boss so I’ll cheat on her with her friend. What gives? It’s not always about give and take. Sometimes you give expecting nothing in return. When you say till death do us part, does it mean you go through suffering, abuse and torment to your death? Or are you just saying it because it’s a norm?
How many times will you take a cheating partner back for the sake of your kids? How many times will you wear make-up to conceal the black eye you always have on Monday mornings? How many times will you avoid going for swimming with your friends because your back looks like a skid mark? These are the type of questions marriage vows never tackle. A donkey breaks its back at one point and what good is a donkey if it can’t work?
The sad truth is that conformity has blinded us to what is really true in our lives. We want to do because that’s the way it’s always been done. That doesn’t necessarily make it right. I cannot say today’s men are weak compared to their fathers because that is what society has taught them. I can also not say today’s women are not humble like their mothers because they’ve been exposed to different standards and world views. When you say you’re independent, do you understand the gravity of the word you’re using?
I have no children yet and do not foresee any in the near future. However, if and when I have my own, I will teach them about equity. I want them to know they are not and will never be equal. I want to teach them about justice and make them understand that they should not conform for the sake of fitting in. I want to teach them about diversity and make them understand we all have different roles to play and none should be looked down upon.
You’re not any less of a woman because you are able to balance your career and family. You’re not any less of a man either because your wife earns more than you do or you pull your weight behind her in the household. Society has fought so hard to get rid of stereotypes only to impute others. Just like every relationship is different, so is marriage. Find a partner that improves you and make vows you know you can keep. Marriage is a partnership that only works when both parties put in collective effort.
You may find yourself floating against the tide when you stand up for what you believe in but if you’re the same person that says, “I’m not doing this for anyone,” you won’t mind being different but comfortable in your truth. People will ask you to be unique but expect you to do what has always been done. Approach your relationships and marriage like an essay. No two essays can be the same even if they have the same ending or beginning. Be the difference in your life. Say no to discrimination and gender based violence. Pain knows no sex.