The one way to arrest such an unhappy union is to be very sober and independent while choosing marriage partners. Photo/FILE
When I wrote recently about women who cheat on their husbands as a punishment for neglecting them, I got a barrage of protest from many men.
They protested that the story implied that only women are lonely when marriages do not work, or that men are always to blame for failed relationships.
Two of the complaints especially caught my attention; one from a man who wanted to be hooked up with one of the women I interviewed because, although he insists he still loves his wife, he was constantly denied sex.
He figures, since the only thing lacking in his marriage is bedroom action, if he could get that elsewhere, he would feel complete.
The second one was from a man who has been married for eight years but has never known a moment of happiness in his marriage.
I bring you the stories of the two men, who, judging from the other replies, are testimony that it is not always a walk in the park for men.
*Musyoka wanted me to hook him up with one of the ‘married and lonely’ ladies because, according to him, they meet specifications of the kind of woman he is looking for; unhappily married and not ready for a divorce, moneyed, driving and beautiful.
He wants them married as it means they would not demand more time from him than he can give. That they have money is also a plus as he is not willing to spend large amounts of money on them – his money, according to him, is for his family; that they drive means he would not have to pick them or drop them home after a clandestine date. “All I want is somebody to take care of my physical needs,” he asserts.
His wife of four years gave birth two years ago. Ever since, their sex life has been fast heading south. “My wife, who is my best friend and whom I love very much, completely went off sex. Whenever I try to get some, she says she does not feel like.
“She only lets me near her once a month, and every time I feel like, I just get it whether she feels like or not. I am tired of feeling guilty, I have all along remained faithful, but sex once a month is just not enough for me – maybe if she was a willing participant, it might be different, but she has turned me into an unwilling rapist,” he laments.
*Musyoka’s attempt to involve her best friend bore no fruit, as she asked to be given time, but according to him, two years is more than enough time.
Divorce is the last thing he wants as he still views her as the love of his life, and he hopes one day she will change and start enjoying intimacy with him. According to him, in certain circumstances it is okay to cheat on a partner as he is not willing to lose his marital status or be separated from his child.
“I am fed up of torturing her with sex.” He says. “If or when I get mpango wa kando, I am determined to continue taking care of my family financially and emotionally. To tell you the truth, the only thing that is lacking in our marriage is sex, and if I can get that somewhere else, the tension will be over and we will be happier.”
*John’s story is quite different. Unlike *Musyoka, he does not love his wife anymore, and he wants out. The only problem is, he does not have the option of mpango wa kando, and divorce is not going to be so easy.
*John is a pastor in the city leading a large flock. Divorce would mean the end of his career, or as he puts it, his calling. “How would I do marital counselling while my own marriage is over, who would take me seriously?” he laments.
He is not interested in mpango wa kando as that is against his faith, but he has reached the end of his tether. Nine years ago, he met his wife who was a member of his congregation; she was the perfect wife material; Christian, volunteered as a Sunday school teacher, mature and always had a kind word for everyone.
They courted for a year before tying the knot. That was when hell’s doors opened with a vengeance.
“As soon as we went for our honeymoon, she changed immediately. She did not want to have sex with me, she did not want to talk to me and when she did, if it was not in monosyllables, she would be insulting me by telling me how bad I was in bed but in my opinion, how can I give good sex when she keeps injuring me emotionally, and even if I do not know how to do it, why not sit like two adults and discuss how I can improve? For a long time, I thought there was something I must have done to make her hate me so much, but for the life of me, I cannot think what.”
Matters have gone from bad to worse. “She does no longer goes to church, she does not wash my clothes, she has kicked me out of our matrimonial bed and she keeps pushing me to the wall at every turn. I suspect she is doing this to start a fight or to make me hit her so she can run to my bosses or to court. Several times she has asked them to give me the sack, that I have not been a good husband to her. I do not understand how someone who once professed to love me can now hate me so much.”
“Once in a while, she will want to sleep with me. But only when she feels like it. It is so mechanical it leaves me feeling used and dissatisfied. If I talk to female members of the congregation and she gets to know about it, she gets upset. My job requires me to talk to a lot of people, sometimes I have to visit them at home – she does not want that.
“If I come home after seven in the evening, I get the silent treatment, she will not serve me food, and she locks me out of the bedroom. I do not know what to do, I live day by day, thank God I have my daughter who gives me a reason to live, otherwise, I would be in some mental hospital by now.”
*John has tried all avenues to soften his wife’s attitude. He dragged her to counselling which did not help, he has tried friends and the result has been more insults as she demands to know why he is talking about their affairs to the public.
“Now, I go to counselling alone just to keep sane. I asked her once whether she regretted marrying me but she did not answer. I wish she could just tell me what it is she hates so much about me, and then I would know where to start.
“For now, I just have to swallow the bitter pill that she is, because the laws of God about marriage, the one of ‘till death do us part’, bind me to her. The church will not let me divorce her anyway, although God knows it is what I want more than anything else right now. I cannot begin to tell you how utterly lonely I am in this marriage!”
Although the two stories cover a lot about the reasons why a lot of married men are unhappy, we asked a few other men what would make them unhappy in their marriages.
“If my wife denied me my conjugal rights, then I would be very unhappy. When you marry someone, sex is part of the contract and breaking that part of the contract gives me a go-ahead to look elsewhere, or leave her.” Njoroge, a 37-year-old father of two, states categorically.
“Cheating.” James puts in. “Cheating on me would be the greatest sin of all. I am a one woman man, and I do my best to accommodate her both physically and mentally. If she cheated on me, it would not be because I have neglected her, it would be because she has very high demands, demands I could not meet even if I wanted. That would really devastate me. It is paramount also that we have regular sex.”
Michael had a host of reasons why he would be unhappy with his wife. “If she was wasteful, I would be very unhappy. Just because I have money does not mean she should have a new dress and a pair of shoes for every Sunday.
“If she used sex as a weapon to bend me her way, that would also be a big issue. Wastage of any sort is a no-no for me as I grew up in poverty. If she was a regular drinker, I would have my misgivings as I do not drink.
“I am a humble person, and when I am unhappy, I like to talk it out, so if she gave me the silent treatment, I would not take it kindly. However, I would not let her make me miserable for long; I would walk out without a second thought.”
We spoke to Rev John Kamau on whether it is ever right to divorce if you are unhappy in your marriage. The Bible is clear on the fact that God hates divorce, but even the church appreciates that, some situations demand that spouses separate for a while.
If there is violence in marriage, it would be unfair to expect the abused to sit and wait to be killed but in unfaithfulness, the church encourages the couples to settle their differences, so as to set good examples to their children and guard the marriage institution.
The one way to arrest such a situation is to be very sober and independent while choosing marriage partners. Invest in early preparations prior to the vows and certain situations should not be allowed to dictate the marriage, situations like unwanted pregnancies and money.
All the men we talked to stated ‘being denied conjugal rights’ and an overbearing wife (read nagging) as good reasons to make them unhappy in marriage, and although some women just do not want to have sex, childbirth is known to take away female libido.
So why do women lose sexual desire after birth? Experts are still debating on this, but change in hormones has been hugely blamed.
It is widely believed that sex is 80 per cent in the mind; when a woman gives birth, there are a lot of things that take priority over sex; she is mentally and physically exhausted from looking after a newborn, she sleeps less, and she is probably worried about her weight or change in body shape.
Some experts have also cited it as nature’s own way of spacing children – it lowers the woman’s libido so that she does not conceive while she is breastfeeding, sort of to give her time to nurture the child she has just had. The good news is, this is not a permanent condition – in most cases, libido is back within a year.