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Every relationship needs a makeover

Posted by Administrator on June 7, 2011


Photo/FILE A home should be warm, inviting, and the atmosphere friendly. Unfortunately, some homes are disablers.

Photo/FILE A home should be warm, inviting, and the atmosphere friendly. Unfortunately, some homes are disablers.

If you are dating, or have been married for a while, then you already know that a happy and fulfilling relationship takes conscious effort.

Unfortunately, not many people are willing to go that extra mile to nurture the relationship they want, yet they are the first ones to complain when their relationship goes south.

Forever is a long time, (this is what you sign for when you get married) so you might as well make your relationship the most enjoyable experience you have.

You can do this by making a few minor changes, changes that will give your relationship the bounce it needs.

Grooming: Before you got married, you made a conscious effort to look good, especially when you had a date with your boyfriend or girlfriend.

Two years later, you got married, and all this changed. Now your wife wears an old stocking to bed, and an oversized, faded t-shirt, while you wear an old frayed tracksuit that would look better in a dustbin.

I have never understood why married couples let themselves go once they say “I do”.  Ladies, ditch that unappealing weave and wear flattering clothes while at home.

Gentlemen, there’s nothing appealing about the ‘cave-man look – you could do with shaving your head and beard more often, as well as losing those extra pounds around your mid-section.

You will not only improve your health, but will also increase your energy and sexual appeal.

Physical affection: Ever observed how babies coo when you hug them lovingly, or how fast they calm down when you hold them lovingly and sing to them in a soothing voice?

There’s something therapeutic about touch, and just as babies react to it positively, so do adults. How many times do you hug your partner just for the sake of it?

When was the last time you held her hand? Remember when you first got married? If you’re like most couples, you started your day with a warm hug and a kiss, and ended it the same way. What changed?

Why do you behave like strangers, when you should behave like lovers? The most common problem in many marriages is that there is no physical affection, yet they complain that sex is boring.

How can you enjoy the tango when you treat each other like brother and sister?

Listen to the unsaid: It is important to learn to listen to your partner’s non-verbal cues. In most cases, what is unsaid is mostly what matters most to your partner.

Women tend to be more perceptive than men, and can often tell when their help is needed. Guys, since you now know your weakness, why not begin to be more observant?

This will help you to identify when your wives need help, when they need to “talk”, and when they need a hug.

Communication: How often do you talk to your spouse during the day? I’m not talking about the normal phone calls, where you remind each other to pay rent, school fees, and other bills.

I’m talking about the “how are you?” phone call. This is the one that tells your spouse that you’re thinking about him, that you miss him, and that even though your job is important, he is more important.

That said; never talk ill about your spouse in the presence of others. It belittles him, and is as disrespectful as you can get.

Is your home a haven? My definition of a home is somewhere where you can retreat, relax, and find refuge in after a hard day’s work in a tense environment.

A home should be warm, inviting, and the atmosphere friendly. Unfortunately, some homes are disablers.

The first thing you’re greeted with when you open the door is a wife with an endless list of complaints, and demands, or a drunk husband keen on picking a fight, or one who’s more interested in the football match on TV, rather than how your day was.

Once in a while, turn off the TV and the radio, and use the quite time to bond with each other.

This list is certainly not exhaustive. Think of other things that can make your relationship more exciting, and reap the benefits.

The writer is a Counselling Psychologist. Do you have any relationship questions? Write to kenmunyua@yahoo.com

Source: http://www.nation.co.ke/Features/Living/Every+relationship+needs+a+makeover+/-/1218/1172398/-/4p2pv1/-/index.html

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Before you pop the question

Posted by Administrator on June 4, 2011

Prince William had to fly all the way to Kenya to propose to his fiancée Kate Middleton.

He did not book into one of our beautiful five star beach hotels or rent one of the stunning villas or the privately-owned exclusive ranches that we have around. He opted for a remote area in Rutundu on the slopes of Mount Kenya that is not even connected to electricity.

Well, Rutundu may be secluded but you cannot trade it for any other place in the world. Its beauty is outstanding and its simplicity is what made it the preferred choice.

I’m sure there are great sites and hotels in London and other places around the world but the Prince went for the most spectacular one.

No doubt, Kenya has what it takes to have hosted this royal proposal. The bottom line is the Prince wanted to make this moment a special one  that Kate would always remember and cherish.

Well,  not every man is a prince and not every girl is dating a prince so away from the royalties and closer home. As long as you are in a steady relationship that is headed to marriage, as a man, you are expected to propose to your woman.

Yes, every woman in such a relationship expects you, at one point or another to propose to her that you want the relationship to move to the next level…marriage.

Proposing is such a relative word since there are many ways and means of doing this. Whatever form you choose, just bear in mind that “the proposal” is one of the most important moments in a woman’s life and therefore you ought to make it as special as you can.

I have to admit that this is one of the toughest  things that a man has to do and for sure, I do not envy our brothers at all.

However, it does not have to be an insurmountable task.

Before you decided to pop the question, you must be certain that this is person you want to spend the rest of your life with.

Both of you must be reading from the same page. You do not want to propose to someone who has never thought of getting married, leave alone get married to you.

So have a conversation on where the two of you see each other in the next couple of years.

It is wise to write down a list of all the reasons why you want to marry her. This will go a long way in guiding you on what to say on the day you are actually proposing.

Some things may be beyond your control, you need to know for example, that how you propose to her will be a topic of discussion among her girlfriends for a long time and from  there they will judge you as a romantic at heart or not, as a ‘stingy’ person or not among other things.

What happens once you pop the question and she accepts is that she will update her status as engaged on facebook and from this, everyone of her friends will be informed of the development.

The girls will then convene an urgent meeting so that they can view, complement, criticise  the ring you gave her and then jostle to be in the wedding line up.

The newly engaged woman is asked to narrate the whole event of ‘the proposal’. Questions such as ‘so how did he do it, where were you, did you cry, how did you feel, have you chosen your wedding date?’ are common in these girly rendezvous.

I have no idea who sets the standards of what a proposal entails but what I’m certain of is that every detail of it will be a subject of discussion so it’s up to you to make it memorable and make her the envy of her girls.

I believe that it’s the love that you share that counts hence the more the carats the ring has does not necessarily equate to how happy you will be.

Of essence is that at least the man in any relationship should do the honourable thing of asking the woman he intends to marry that all-important question.

In Kenya, actions like going to see her parents and setting a date for dowry are big steps and indicate your commitment, the modern woman expects you to ask. On top of that, they expect a ring to show for it.

Of course, no one expects you to fly her miles away to propose (but if you can pull this, go ahead)  What is important is to make it a special moment. Twenty years later, she will surely remind you of it and recount every detail to your children.

Therefore, gentlemen if you believe in proposing, I cannot overemphasize the importance of making it an outstanding event. You do not have to get a personal loan to do this, simple goes a long way.

More importantly, you really need to know what tickles your girlfriend. For that reason, here are some simple tips to consider before you pop that all-important question.

Don’t publicise

‘My fiancé called all his friends and then he proposed right there infront of everybody. I was very confused and didn’t know how to react. Instead of being a happy moment for me, I ended  feeling confused and embarrassed. This was our special moment and we did need all those people around. I said yes but I wish he had done it differently.’ says Catherine.

A proposal is supposed to be an intimate affair so if your girlfriend is a private person, respect that and do it far away from your boys and her girls. You can then announce the engagement later at a party if you like.

Avoid discussing your plans with others

Betty was not surprised when her boyfriend proposed because word had already leaked out that he was going to do it. He called his friends and told them that he was going to propose to her that evening.

‘Before I got home, someone had already texted me asking me how the proposal was.’ quips Betty. Although it’s wise to get a second opinion on what you intend to do, please be careful who you are tell your plans.

The grapevine is always busy and you do not want anyone else disclosing your plans before you do it. It simply loses the flavour when your woman knows someone else knew of your plans before her.

Space the time before the wedding

Consider how long it is that you want before your wedding happens. Most women interviewed preferred at least six months to one-year between their engagement date and the wedding date. This allows enough room to prepare for the wedding and time to celebrate the engagement.

Squeezing these two dates closely may not be ideal so get a way of finding out what she prefers.

Also, once you have decided that ‘she is the one’ don’t take a decade before you propose. It might be misconstrued to mean that you are not sure or are buying time.

Janice says that her husband proposed after they had gone out for close to five years and by that time, the excitement had died out.

Both her relatives and friends kept asking her why he was taking so long such that when he finally proposed, the enthusiasm that comes with such a moment was lacking.

Meet her parents 

It may seem old-fashioned but as soon as she agrees to marry you, the next most logical step is to meet her parents. It is always a good gesture to make your intentions known to her parents.

This will earn you respect from her relatives and creates a lasting bond since they will that you are involving them in the whole process.

Get the size of her finger

It may not go well with your girlfriend if you propose to her with an oversize ring or one that cannot fit in her finger. There are ways of finding out the size of her finger, ask her sister or her best friend to do the homework for you.

Mercie says that she was overly excited when the boyfriend of two years asked her to marry him, until he gave her a ring that could not fit any of her fingers. It had to be taken back to the jewellers to be adjusted and this took away some of the excitement.

Don’t be too obvious; be creative

While proposing on special holidays like on her birthday, on Valentine’s or even the anniversary of when the two of you meet, is such a romantic thing, it has its drawbacks. If you propose on her birthday, it means you will be celebrating her birthday simultaneously with your engagement date. To some women,  this may have an impersonal touch.

To others this may be a great way of remembering that holiday so take time and ask indirectly what she prefers. Again proposing in restaurant shows how you have thought through the whole thing but it’s something that has been overdone.

The problem with a restaurant setting is that other people are likely to be interested in this so they will be watching what you are up to.

You can also propose on any other day when she is having a bad day at work or school and this will really lighten up her spirits and it will be a memorable occasion.

‘We had gone for a walk on one of those Saturdays and then out of nowhere, Mike stopped walking, tuned to me and  proposed. I was elated’ narrates Viviane.

Make use of our beautiful sceneries

Our country has one of the most picturesque vistas so make use of one of them to propose. You could be on a picnic in one of our parks, boat riding or even along the beach.

Have in mind the things she loves or those things you enjoy doing together. Is she an outdoor person, an adventurous person or does she love the indoors? This will help you choose the right venue.

Do what feels comfortable

In the west, a man traditionally went on one knee and propose to his love. Here in Kenya, this would look contrived. As a man, do what feels comfortable to both of you.

Ask, don’t assume!

Although some words do not come easily, make sure, you ask her to marry you. You are supposed to ask and she to accept.

There are many way to do this but make sure she knows you are asking to marry her. Zena asserts that her fiancé just bought her a ring and gave it to her in the house and that was the end of it. He never told her why he was giving the ring.

He assumed it was obvious.

Asking makes a big difference and makes the person you marrying feel special, so do it!


Practice what you are going to say  to her on this special day. You do not want appear ill prepared or indecisive. Say the words you want to tell her repeatedly until you get it right.

They say these things come naturally but you don’t want to fumble and look foolish so practice how you want to make that proposal before the big day.

Source: http://www.nation.co.ke/Features/saturday/-/1216/1174312/-/xio5ru/-/index.html

Posted in Kenya Marriages | 1 Comment »

Don’t get married before you read this

Posted by Administrator on May 4, 2011

Courtship is supposed to prepare you for marriage. Enjoy each other’s company, but also make an effort to learn as much as you can about each other. Photo/AFP

Courtship is supposed to prepare you for marriage. Enjoy each other’s company, but also make an effort to learn as much as you can about each other. Photo/AFP

When I ask young people what makes them apprehensive about marriage, most cite the possibility of failure.

The fact, at least drawing from my interaction with young adults, is that although they look forward to marriage, they are not really sure about what to look for in a marriage partner.

In fact, few look beyond the giddy love they feel for their girlfriend or boyfriend.

That is why, even after a long courtship, you find a couple arguing about things such as money, children, and household chores — things they should have talked about and agreed on while they were still courting.

Most failed marriages are the result of poor courtship. Courtship is supposed to prepare couples for marriage. It should not just be about having fun, rather, also about getting to learn as much as you can about each other.

I know a couple that rushed through courtship, only for the man to bring home two boys, his sons from a previous relationship the woman knew nothing about.

When they came to me for counselling, their young marriage on the verge of a breakdown, the man confessed that he feared that he would lose her if he confessed that he had children.

Now, if this is not ironical, I don’t know what is. Courtship is a time for full disclosure, time to get honest with each other, to reveal those secrets that are likely to injure your marriage should they come out in the open later.

It is also the time to find out about the health history of your partner’s family because some illnesses run in families. If you have had a miscarriage before, talk about it.

Find out about any episodes of childhood trauma, for instance sexual abuse, abandonment, and death of a parent, because these are significant events that could influence one’s mental and behavioural make up.

If it is difficult for your spouse to talk about such issues, be supportive and understanding. Assure them that you will always be there to listen when they are ready to talk about it.   

I always advise couples against rushing to get married. Marriage is unlike any other relationship, specifically because it is meant to be a lifelong commitment.

A whirlwind courtship, though exciting, means that you may not have enough time to really get to know the person you are committing yourself to.

Getting married to someone you met just a few weeks or months ago is setting yourself up for failure.

Issues you should discuss and agree on during courtship

A successful courtship should be long enough for a couple to get well acquainted.

However, if you don’t make your courtship a learning journey, it will not matter whether you court for years.

  • Don’t assume that like you, your partner would want to have children. Some people are not keen on having children.

Once you determine that both of you want children, agree on when you would like to have them, as well as a number you are both comfortable with.

  • Talk about money. How much will each of you chip in? Who will pay for what? It is important to go into marriage with a clear picture of your financial responsibilities.
  • Talk about your values and goals and the role that each of you will play towards achieving them.
  • Talk about your in-laws. Will you help them financially? If you will, how much help will you extend to them? Do you intend to live with them? If yes, for how long?
  • Have important tests, such as for HIV and STIs.
  • Knowledge about one’s religious views are also important. If you profess different religions, where will you say your marriage vows? Which religion will your children follow?
  • Discuss significant aspects of your past as well as the future with your partner.

These seemingly minor issues could turn out to be explosive in future if they are not discussed as early as possible.

If you want a successful marriage, begin to lay the foundation right now.

The writer is a clinical psychologist. Do you have any relationship questions? Write to wkitetu@yahoo.co.uk


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Familiarity silently kills your marriage

Posted by Administrator on March 30, 2011

Don’t allow boredom and monotony into your relationship.

Familiarity is a silent killer that is eroding most marriages. We rarely talk about it, yet when it sets in, it attacks and eventually destroys marriage.

It is said that living together for a long time eventually leads to greater liking. This may be true in cases where the couple makes an effort to understand each other better and grows in love.

In many cases however, the more familiar couples become with one another, the more they start to take each other for granted. During courtship, so many traits about yourself stay hidden from your partner.

When you do get married, these traits eventually come out in the open and, in many cases, they are a put-off to your partner. But these often happens to couples that go into marriage with perfectionism in mind. They find it difficult to reconcile with the shattered image they had of their “perfect” partner.

The irony is that these off-putting “discoveries” are inconsequential. These include hearing your spouse blow his nose, his irritating belching after meals, his snoring, or chewing with his mouth open.

My take is that such insignificant traits shouldn’t have the power to undermine your marriage because there are greater challenges ahead.

Signs of familiarity

The general definition of familiarity is when you stop doing the things you used to do before, or early in marriage.

  • For instance, when you no longer observe personal hygiene or when you stop making an effort to look good and smell good for your spouse. Women are especially guilty of this. I have had men complain that their wives do not visit the hairdresser as often as they did during courtship. There was one client who complained that his wife is fond of wearing wigs and weaves which stayed on for months.
  • Your partner used to turn you on, now he turns you off.
  • You no longer hug or kiss each other as a way of greeting
  • You no longer put as much thought into the food you serve your partner.
  • You know you’re getting too familiar for comfort with your spouse when you begin to address each other with disrespect.
  • You no longer pay attention to her when she talks, and you no longer laugh at his jokes or go out of your way to make him feel appreciated.

What leads to unhealthy familiarity?

  • You assume that you have your spouse figured out, and therefore miss out on the changes he may be going through. True, when you live with someone for a long time, you are able to anticipate his needs. However, as he grows older experiences new things, these needs are bound to change, and so will his perspectives in life.
  • Getting too comfortable with each other.
  • Taking it for granted that your partner is with you for keeps.
  • The assumption that you have nothing more to learn about each other.
    Ideally, couples need to relate with each other the way they did during courtship if they want to keep familiarity at bay. Here is some food for thought.
  • A perfect relationship does not exist. However, it is possible to have a fulfilling and exciting marriage, no matter how many years you have been together. To avoid monotony, seek new activities to do together, meet new friends, and take regular breaks from work and home to reconnect with each other.
  • Everything shouldn’t revolve around your partner and your marriage. Getting married shouldn’t erase you, the individual. A marriage is enriched when you have individual interests.
  • Step out of your comfort zone and do things a little differently.
  • Resolve to have meaningful communication with your spouse. Listen actively and you will be surprised to discover this other person you never knew.

The writer is a Clinical Psychologist. Send your relationships questions to wkitetu@yahoo.co.uk

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Marital rape… a reality!

Posted by Administrator on January 24, 2011

Several months ago I wrote a piece on marital rape in Kenya. Two editors working with a respected Kenyan newspaper refused to publish it.

“There is nothing like marital rape, what are you trying to tell people,” one editor told me.  His reaction surprised me because my story was not based on hearsay or uncorroborated assertions, but rather on the findings of the respected 2008-2009 Kenya Demographic and Health Survey. 

The study had revealed disturbing figures showing that at least 14% of married women said their current husband or partner had forced them to have sex in the past year, while another 37% had been subjected to sexual violence at some point in their relationship.

A recent Gender-Based Violence Indicators study conducted by Gender Links and the Medical Research Council found that 7.8% of South African women had experienced intimate partner sexual violence in the past year, while 19% of women had experienced such violence in their lifetime.

My piece was about a group of human rights organisations were lobbying parliament to make it a criminal act. Yet the editor I spoke with insisted there is no such thing as marital rape.

Synovate research conducted during the 2010 Tanzanian elections found that media there gave minimal coverage to rural women who were complaining of being coerced by their husbands, sometimes under threat and violence, to vote for particular parties or candidates. The media did not see this as a serious issue. Women’s voices were not sought on this or other election issues.  

Consumers of media should be wondering why editors and journalists are not interested in these stories of gender-based violence.

Media is normally quite good at putting a spotlight on wrongdoers and shaming perpetrators, be they politicians, criminals or celebrities. Why the silence when it comes to violence against women? 

It seems that editors are breaking one of the cardinal rules of journalism and allowing personal feelings and behaviour to impact their reporting.

Objectivity, significance and impact are no longer values guiding decisions on what to publish. This is why many gender-based violence stories fail to see the light of the day.

When male reporters and editors feel GBV stories touch on, or call into question, their personal behaviours and opinions, they become hostile to these stories.

This may be one of the reasons why the 2010 Gender and Media Progress Study found that stories about gender-based violence are rarely covered by media, accounting for just 4% of all stories in Southern Africa, despite countless other studies which note it is a widespread problem.

When articles about domestic violence and rape do appear in the news, they are more often about the rape or abuse of elderly women and children.

When rare stories are produced about young or middle-aged women being raped, journalists usually shift their reporting, suggesting that somehow the women “asked for it”. Questions arise. What was she wearing? Was she drunk? Where did it happen? Should she have been there? What time of night was it? 

Similarly, when a woman is killed or battered by her husband, the story is framed as a love triangle gone wrong. Rarely do reporters dig deeper to investigate causes or patterns of violence, linking them to poverty levels, lack of human rights protections (or knowledge of them), or legal systems that take forever to hear and pass verdict on cases of gender-based violence. 

Rarely do media report on the massive cost of gender-based violence in terms of treatment of injuries and sexually-transmitted disease, not to mention missed work hours. What about the invisible but extensive cost to our society when this cycle of violence is passed down from absent abusive fathers to their children. Why don’t journalists write about this?

In the mindset of many in the media, gender-based violence is not an issue worthy of paper and ink.

Journalists offer various lame reasons: gender-based violence stories don’t sell papers the same way political stories do, survivors are not willing to speak to media, and journalists lack the skills to cover sensitive topics. All talk, all excuses.

These issues are not the problem; it is the journalists and editors who harbour negative attitudes towards these stories. And by not reporting on these stories, the media becomes part of the problem, almost as culpable as the perpetrators of violence.

We need to demand action from our media. Action that will transform our newsrooms and ensure gender-based violence is treated as the serious human rights abuse it is. Journalists and editors need to take their personal feelings out of the equation and open their eyes to the truth, finally seeing this issue as an epidemic that will not go away until the media is responsible enough to report on it.

Arthur Okwemba is a journalist with the African Women and Child Feature Service in Kenya. This article is part of the Gender Links Opinion and Commentary Service. For the research quoted in this article go to www.genderlinks.org.za

Source: http://www.women24.com/LoveAndSex/LoveAndMarriage/Medias-role-in-marital-rape-20110120

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For better, bitter or worse

Posted by Administrator on January 12, 2011

The couple in a more recent photograph. File I Nation

The couple in a more recent photograph. File I Nation

Joseph Njuguna was fresh from his teens when he realised that he only had eyes for Hannah Gathiru, a pretty girl, in his Nginduri village.

While he often dreamt of walking over to her and declaring his love – or infatuation at the time – he was sure his poor family background would have been a turn off for the lovely lady.

Still, each time the two of them met at Thigo, the village dance, Njuguna’s heart would be restless.

“The dance nights, which were arranged for young men and women, were meant to discourage misdirected sexual desires. They were always preceded by serious counselling sessions,” he says.

The sessions cautioned girls to against accepting sexual proposals and the boys were equally warned never to force themselves on them.

If either of them compromised, then they would have stripped themselves of the village’s respect and would never have been considered as possible marriage partners.

And so, Njuguna knew that he had to carry himself in a respectable manner if he was to ever catch her attention and the approval of her parents as no family would knowingly accept bride-price from a philandering young man.

Although some young men and women engaged in unwarranted intimacies in such occasions, Hannah was different.

“She had a strong character, discipline and evoked good reports from our neighbours,” a nostalgic Njuguna, 78, now says of his wife of 55 years.

Njuguna had joined a missionary school in 1947, from which he later dropped out in order to support his younger siblings.

“Since my mother couldn’t support us all, I decided to work in construction sites in the early fifties for a monthly salary of Sh40…all the while, keeping one eye Hannah who was five years my junior.”

By this time, they had been just friends, but Njuguna was dying to tell her how he really felt.

“In 1954, I finally gathered courage and told her of my intentions concerning our friendship,” he says, but Hannah was a tough nut to crack.

“I was very reluctant because he came from a very poor family. I felt that he had not done much to improve his financial situation just by looking at his tiny cube of a home,” she admits.

And so, Hannah played hard to get. She knew that her father would quote quite high for her bride price. But Njuguna, she says, was patient and persistent.

“Eventually, I accepted, because I knew that I loved him.”

Back then, a man would inform his father about the girl you were interested in.

He would then find about her clan to make sure that the marriage would be culturally right as there were certain clans from which they could not marry.

“The Ethaga clan, for example, was considered too lazy and so it was up to your father to confirm that your chosen bride was right for you…A delegation would then be sent to the girl’s father for dowry negotiations before they can give the girl away,” he says.

But Hannah was already smitten. She left for Njuguna’s house, partly in protest.

Upon her arrival at his house, Njuguna had mixed feelings.

“I feared that she would complain or run away. There was literally nothing in my house, apart from the bed! But she didn’t”

“When I walked into that house, my initial fears were confirmed. Our beginning was not promising at all. We had nothing, not even start up farms,” Hannah confirms.

Hannah’s father was not very fond of her husband and honestly thought that they would amount to nothing mostly because he had not brought him the 30 sheep he had asked as dowry.

That meant that at their point of need, which was ever so often, she could not seek any assistance from him. The neighbours and close relatives too, spelled doom for them.

Hannah painfully remembers one of her siblings telling them to their faces that we would die before a sheep ever bleated in our compound.
She admits to habouring feelings of anger and at the same time, desperation.

“The piercing comments and were too frequent that my mother began to believe them,” adds Mzee Njuguna, “but we determined to prove them wrong.”

In 1957, a year after the birth of their first born son, Njuguna got employed at the Nairobi Railway Station as a Mechanic.

“My wife remained in the village and the distance gravely affected our relationship but I kept at it because I could finally raise the money for the bride price as my wife did manual labour in farms to fend for the children.”

“His being away left a void,” Hannah opens up, “I missed him and felt that I too had emotional and physical needs to be fulfilled. But in those days, marriage was a commitment, I couldn’t just leave.”

After four years of walking around with a tool box, looking for broken machines to fix, Njuguna decided to become one of Jommo Kenyatta bodyguards, a voluntary position.

Not exactly a wise choice for a man with a wife and four children at home.

“It was a tough decision for me. But I hoped that by being close to Mzee, I would land a proper job after independence. I gave myself to the service for two years, within which I hardly saw my family,” he offers.

During his time in the service, his wife and children got kicked out of his father’s homestead where they had lived all along.

“My father had two wives, each with nine children and my mother was not the favoruite of the two, and hence his support always went the other way.

And his choice to kick my wife and children out was because our struggles were seen to soil the family name. And so Hannah moved back to her parents’ house with the children.

In 1964, Kenyatta’s close associates were able to get Njuguna a job in the General Service Unit (GSU) and so things began to look up. While the job demanded a lot of time from the family man, his wife was supportive.

“We could finally eat properly and clothe well. In 1965, we got our own farm of 30 acres in Nyandarua and re-located… life was good.”

Then their boat began to rock.

“I was bitten by the polygamy bug’, ” Mzee Njuguna recounts his ‘exploits’, “I wanted to conquer and prove that I could manage several households at the same time. So I married to more wives.”

And that choice made Hannah rightfully annoyed.

“After twelve years of marital hardships, I could have set out justifiable protests at his decision to re-marry. But I chose not to. Instead, I closed eyes and continued to build my home.”

But these new unions did not last. The two younger wives hardly had any of Hannah’s qualities. They were not strong, and often ran away when storms began to hit.

“Looking back, it was a mistake. I felt a shamed. What good did it bring me? I wouldn’t advise anyone to do like I did,” Njuguna offers.

Njuguna decided to resign from his post in 1975 return to his first love. The children finally got some time with their father.

In June 1992, on their 37th anniversary, the couple solemnised their union at ACK Church Mugumo in Nyandarua.

Today, they are the proud parents to twelve children– though two of them have since passed. Their 24 grandchildren and six great-grandchildren keep them on their toes.

And with five and a half decades of experience in a marriage that has seen its fair share of trials, Mzee Njuguna can claim to know more than a thing or two about marriage.

“Marriage is not about emotions. It is about commitment. We have learned to conceal our problems to ourselves, to respect each other and to be grateful for what we have gone through. For a home to last and be safe there needs to be a strong commitment and responsibility.”

Today, Hannah is happy to have her man back at her side. She’s managed win her man’s heart twice.

“I could have chosen to divorce when things roughed up. But I made a decision and committed myself to it. Now look at us: we are still going strong.”

Indeed, it’s taken the two of them a lot of work to make their relationship work.

Source: http://www.nation.co.ke/Features/Living/For%20better%20bitter%20or%20worse%20%20/-/1218/1087792/-/g7hbdl/-/index.html

Posted in Features, Kenya Marriages | 1 Comment »

Time to stop blaming men for all ills

Posted by Administrator on January 6, 2011

It was a rooftop party of sorts. The snobbish type where people cluster in little pockets and talk about “that summer in Milan.” The type where someone walks in carrying a dog dressed in a small ridiculous outfit and people pat her on the head and say nice things.

People pat the owner, I mean, not the dog. I didn’t belong, of course, not necessarily because I haven’t been to Milan (I’d love to) but because I was the only one who wanted to toss that dog over the ledge.

I found the dog’s presence unnecessary and annoying and I remember wondering why the owner wouldn’t put it down like the rest of the dogs.

At some point, the dog started exchanging hands at the party, as if it was some cute baby everybody was dying to carry. You should have heard the ladies at the party ooing and aahing and using generous words like “adorable,” or “cute” or “precious,” in reference to that furry little mutt. And the dog –obviously used to being the centre of attraction – glowed in this adoration. I felt nauseated.

Anyway, at some point, the dog finds herself in the arms of this lady who was excited (and honored) to be holding such a “divine” creature.

Then she rubbed the dog’s fur, petting it and paying these nice complements and then she suddenly burst out in tears! For a moment, I thought the dog was so cute it brought tears to her eyes.

The dog owner quickly came and politely took away the poodle, perhaps afraid that all that crying might destabilise her dog emotionally, that perhaps all that crying might just depress her dog which was a bad thing because it was the festive season and people were meant to be making merry. Even poodles.

I was curious to know what caused that outburst but my curiosity was sated not long after when the bawling lady said to her friend, “That dog reminds me of Remi so much.”

The friend, obviously aware of the history rubbed her back soothingly. I didn’t want to think there was a man with a name like Remi out there.

From their conversation (I was eavesdropping) I quickly learnt that Remi was indeed a cat (which says something about that poodle if it looked like a cat) and that it was a gift from her boyfriend who had left the country for further studies or work and how he had broken up with her on email because she kept saying how “mean” that was.

“Yes, that was so not cool sweetie,” The very supportive friend echoed. Then she said something that made me take a large sip of my drink, “He wasted two years of my life,” she hissed.

I wanted to ask her how he wasted her years. If her life stopped completely. I wanted to ask her if she stopped eating her favourite foods or listening to her favourite music.

How was her life wasted? Did she walk around feeling empty, aching for a semblance of normality? Was she imprisoned? Did she do things she hated when she was with the guy? Did she not have fun at all? Or did she sacrifice her life to that man? I thought Jesus already did that?

And this is the worst mentality women like her carry onto the New Year. It’s 2011, the year of emotional honesty (I made that up), it’s a year where ladies should take charge of their own happiness and stop blaming men when something goes wrong in their lives.

It’s a defeatist mentality. There isn’t a single thing a man can do to a woman if she doesn’t allow it. If, after three months of dating, the man decides it’s not working, take it in your stride; don’t make vile accusations on how you were “used.”

Bow out with class, be remembered as someone who chinned up and sucked it in. Not someone who bawled over a poodle on Christmas Eve!

Source: http://www.nation.co.ke/Features/saturday/Time%20to%20stop%20blaming%20men%20for%20all%20ills%20/-/1216/1081588/-/pdw1ng/-/index.html

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Bedroom battles take a turn

Posted by Administrator on November 12, 2010

By Billy Muiruri

Forget the typical gold digger or that woman with questionable immoral credentials who want to use her body to get whatever she wants from a man.

We are talking about married couples. Sample this: It is a weekend and normally, you are out but, today you have come early with some meat or gifts.

Earlier in the day you had called your wife and reminded her that you love her and every time you are with her you are convinced you made the right decision in marrying her.

Once in the house, you hand to her some money to do with as she pleases. You play with the kids and help them out with homework. Then you tell her you have organised a holiday for the two of you and the only thing remaining is for her to choose a date.

You do not stop there. You ask her whether she has heard from her mother (Your mother-in law) of late. You go on to call her just to say hi.

Scenario two; You leave the house without even a goodbye . You do not call the whole day and in the evening, you get home late and drunk. You do not speak to your wife, do not ask about how the family has spent the day and you immediately dump yourself in bed.

Who between these two men’s wives is likely to yield to sexual advances? Enquiries by Saturday Magazine reveal that women are able to use sex to reward well behaved husbands and deny it to those who behave badly.

A research done in India and published in India Today shows that 60 -70 per cent of women use sex as a tool to drive a point home.

“She does not have to achieve or benefit from something, but she is able to show her approval or disapproval of something by the way she responds to a sex demand,” notes the report.

According to the research done by Dr Anu Goel, a counsellor at Neuropsychiatry Clinic, it is on the bed and not the mere bedroom, where the most important decisions are made, an arena where women are able “to push” their agenda.

Men are not prone to “let women down during intimate moments”,” she writes and adds,  “I have handled many cases in which women successfully manipulated men into doing whatever they wanted. Especially in matters that involve money,” writes Dr Goel.

Asked why some married women use sex “for their own good”, White Knight, one of the respondents said, “Because they can and it works.” The traditional saying that the way to a man’s heart is through the stomach, the psychiatrist notes, can appropriately have an appendage, “ and then it goes further down.”

Twenty-seven-year-old Shraddha Tyagi, a research analyst, talks of how she convinced her husband to go on two honeymoons after he stuck to his first choice. He wanted to go to Egypt and she preferred Maldives.

“I cooked his favourite meal, put on my sexy nightdress and bowled him over. But when he was ready, I said, darling, can we go to the Maldives please?” says Tyagi. “He instantly said yes and I earned a holiday within six months!” confirms Tyagi.

Does sex as a bargaining weapon apply locally? Though none of our married interviewees wanted to be captured on camera discussing sex, the possibility that men are losing grip on their power to make love with their wives when they want came out strongly.

Independence craze
Daniel Kaburu, a father of one, thinks the “independence craze” among women has gone to the bed.  “It is not men who decide when to have sex, it all depends on whether the wife wants it in the first place,” he says.

“If a wife is unhappy with you, do not even think of sex. It is like you have to really behave well for her to embrace you,” says Kaburu, a communications officer in a medical supplies firm in Nairobi.

His married colleague, Nancy Kirimi, says a wife will not just get into bed with a man who beat her last night, has not provided for the family and is only at home when he is drunk.

“For us (women), sex is more emotional than physical. If a man insists, sometimes women will yield to the physical aspect, anyway, but the experience is just awful,” she says.

The mother of two admits she has had occasions when she is not ready for sex but she insists, “ I always give reasons why I am not ready.

The problem is that women do not explain to their men the truth about why they are saying no,” she says.

Loise Sika, 32, says she does not have to lie to a man that she is enjoying lovemaking when she is actually bitter with him. “It will hurt me more if I see he is enjoying what I am offering him when he has hurt me,” she says.

Has she ever denied her man sex for reasons related to his behaviour? “At least I can remember when he missed our daughter’s birthday after promising gifts only for him to come late and drunk. He touched me and I pushed his hands away,” says Sika, a sales and marketing executive with an advertising agency.

For the three years he lived with his former wife, Ben Makau, a land economist, had come to know which dates he could ask for sex. The first week of every month was always easy. But the drive would disappear as the month wore on,” he starts.

In 2006, they disagreed and could not speak for three days. In the midst of this, he got some money past mid month and bought her some gifts.

“It did the trick. When we got to the bedroom, she said she was happy about the gifts and the rest is history,” he confides.

Makau believes the wife would not have embraced him if he had not bought the gifts. “She changed very fast when I suddenly appeared to have some money,” he says.

It is harassment, says counsellor
Any wife who denies her husband sex without a “valid reason” is committing sexual harassment, a counselling psychologist says.

According to Mrs Bernadette Kimondo, valid reasons could be related to her reproductive health and even then, this decision should be discussed and agreed upon.

“Sex is a key pillar in a marriage. When it is not there, it causes distress, anxiety and it is a form of psychological torture to the affected person,” says Mrs Kimondo, a director of Faith Counselling Institute.

Couples should treat sex as an obligation to each other. “Today, denial of conjugal rights is a serious ground through which a court of law can grant divorce,” she says.

While blaming men for not reading a woman’s mind and understanding her “ideal time to seek an encounter”, the counsellor says women also tend to take advantage of their mood swings to deny their husbands sex.

Sex and love making are different things. Often, men want to have sex while women want lovemaking. This disconnect can cause a lot of problems,” she says.

Men should learn to create “a friendly environment” for love- making and this does not have to be pleasing antics. It is natural that when there is happiness in a home or between couples, sex is done more often and is fulfilling,” she says.

What redress is there for a man who has been denied sex without a varied reason? “ As long as you are in a marriage and both are reproductively healthy, sex is inevitable. Any misgivings should be discussed and addressed,” asserts Kimondo.

Because men will not just break a marriage because of lack of sex, they tend to get another partner. “ The reverse is also true. A wife who is not happy about her sex life is likely to get an alternative without breaking the marriage,” she says.

“It is now on record that transmission of sex related diseases is more prevalent among married people because they want to go out with someone and still go back to the spouse,” the counsellor warns.

Source: http://www.nation.co.ke/Features/saturday/Bedroom%20battles%20take%20a%20turn%20/-/1216/1052478/-/r79qd/-/index.html

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He cheated? Here’s not what to do

Posted by Administrator on November 10, 2010

By Lilian Kithia

I once stumbled upon a book on the internet titled, ‘My husband’s affair became the best thing that ever happened to me’ and at first it seemed to me like its author was in denial of the adverse effects that her husband’s infidelity could have had on her.

But as I read the book and begun to see how her life had gradually changed since the moment she stopped blaming herself for her man’s philandering ways, I realised one thing, an obvious tragedy does not necessarily mean the end of the world- or the end of a marriage for that matter.

However, while Anne Bercht, the author of the aforementioned book may have found new meaning in life after being betrayed by her better half, this is not always the case with every affair.

As a matter of fact, we have all at least met women who can recount the details of their husband’s affairs that happened more than twenty years ago, like they happened yesterday.

But though it may be hard to forgive and forget and like Ms. Bercht, turn your man’s affair into the best thing that ever happened to you, how do you ensure that you do not forever look at it as the worst thing that ever happened to you?

Here are some pointers;

Don’t take it out on the other woman: It is your husband you are in a relationship with, and the other woman owes you no explanations. Truth is; she probably doesn’t even know that your man is married, and if she does, she clearly doesn’t care. So don’t call her and try to give her a piece of your mind since nothing will be achieved this way. Talk it out with your man instead.

Don’t try to make sense out of nonsense: When you confront your spouse, one of these two things is likely to happen; he will either be forthcoming and remorseful or distant and rude. Whichever way it pans, be wary because distant and rude means that he is not sorry and could do it again, while his remorse could be a decoy. Do not try to excuse his actions or the way he responds to your confrontation. Remember that rationalising your cheating spouse’s behavior or sympathising with him is pointless.

Resist the urge to try and make him love you: Many women blame themselves for their partner’s infidelities. They wonder what it is they could have done better to ensure that the man remained in love with only them. Resist the urge to do this. Don’t cut your hair or break a bank getting a make-over. At least not for him. His actions are not your fault.

Re-evaluate yourself. Has this happened to you before? Are you a bad-boy magnet? Do you give off the wrong kind of vibe that makes it hard for a man to respect you? Are you too afraid of losing your man that you let him get away with dis­­­­­­­­­­­­­­respecting you? Answering these questions will ensure you don’t get hurt again.

Be patient: Give yourself time and permission to mourn. Something has been stolen from you. You can never get it back. Something has been lost forever. The most important promise, a vow, has been broken. Don’t fight the feeling to cry or binge. Give yourself time to mourn and you will soon get over it.

Move on: Whether with your husband or not, you need to move on after the affair. Sadly, this is where most women get stuck. Don’t spend the rest of your life recounting the affair to everyone who cares to listen. It is necessary for you to move forward with life and love. Remember that it is better to be healthy alone than sick with someone else. If your partner wants back in, he will have to earn his way back into the relationship. Renegotiate the relationship in a way that works for both of you.

Remember that for you to be able to enjoy love after this, being willing to trust again is key. Take things one step at a time. Time heals nothing. It is what you do with the time that matters. 

Source: http://www.nation.co.ke/Features/Living/He%20cheated%20Heres%20not%20what%20to%20do/-/1218/1050040/-/s0419i/-/index.html

Posted in Kenya Marriages, Sex and Relationships | 1 Comment »

What’s the role of a man in marriage?

Posted by Administrator on November 10, 2010

How many times have Kenyan men been accused of being unromantic and clueless about what makes a woman tick?

I believe that our shortcoming in the love department is somehow tied to how we were raised.

Think about it. Traditionally speaking, the role bestowed on the man was limited. He was provider and protector. Period.

The women in his life did the rest; they took care of him, cooked his food, and generally made his life comfortable. How then could he have learnt the art of romance if he was used to be on the receiving end of all things good?

We may be in the 20th Century, but little has changed in the manner that men are treated in our society. It is only natural then that when he gets into a relationship, he expects the same royal treatment his father received from his mother and sisters, and since he did not see his father reciprocate, pleasing his wife and catering to her needs does not feature anywhere in his to-do list.

He views marriage as a place where he shows up in the evening just like his father did, and proceed to be accorded unconditional love, attention, sex, meals, clean clothes and a wonderful home.

Why then should such a man be accorded the title of King of the jungle when he is not even the one who runs things in the palace?

If you want to earn your woman’s respect and nurture a healthy and fulfilling relationship, it’s time you updated your roles as the man of the house. After all, we’re in the 20th Century!

Love and Support:

Women need more than financial support from you. Showering her with money is not an expression of love. She also needs emotional nourishment. Be there for her, listen to her, and comfort her.

Guard and Protect:

However, don’t interpret this as a license to beat or rough up anybody that threatens your family. It simply means that they can rely on you to be there for them when they need you.

Head of the household:

While there’s no doubt that marriage should foster equality, it does not exonerate the man from taking a position of leadership where necessary. It is acceptable to be forthcoming about implementing necessary change within your family instead of reacting irrationally, emotionally, and living unhappily while complaining about it. At times this may mean that you’ll have to give more than you get. However, remember that you reap what you sow.

Master of Ceremony:

I knew the word master would get your attention. Well, now that I have your attention, being the family MC means more than simply shouting out your demands and opinions.

It means leading by example and ensuring you depict the perfect role model for your children, from how you dress, to how you speak and act, and how you handle adversity and meet social obligations.

A Teacher:

What does your behaviour teach those around you? It’s important to be a good example to your children, loved ones and community, with both words and deeds. Set high standards and remember to practice what you preach.

The writer is a Counselling Psychologist

Posted in Kenya Marriages, Sex and Relationships | 1 Comment »

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