I was told of a funny story. A young woman was greatly angered by her husband. So angry was she that she told him she needs to go back to her mother’s house to cool off. He asked for her forgiveness but she insisted she needed to be away from her marital home to cool off. So he let her go. Traditionally, a man is supposed to give the woman a few days or weeks to cool off and to miss her home before he goes to pick her up from her parent’s house with a token. This man however enjoyed his new found freedom too much and didn’t go to look for his wife. Worse still, he quickly replaced her. Word quickly reached the first wife that while she was in her parent’s house, the man had married another. Everybody blamed her for leaving her home “yet she knew wanaume wa siku hizi hutaka kubembelezwa.”
Clearly she didn’t expect that turn of events. Was she that easily replaceable? Where is the love? Where is the commitment? Can people walk away that easily? I wondered.
I know some women who are like this man; they seem to move from marriage to marriage without a blink of their eye. Some are barely into their 30s but are on their third or fourth marriage. Poverty and ignorance drive them from one man to another. After a few months of marital bliss things once again go south and they hop to the next marriage. Are these even marriages? Where is the commitment?
A husband is cheating. We advise the wife to kick his philandering backside out of the door. A man is not providing for the family and spends the whole day watching TV. We tell her to pack her bags. A woman is disrespectful, lazy and full of vitriol. We encourage the man or support his decision to get a second wife.
Why is it so easy to tell people of walk out of their marriages? Would we make the same decisions faced by the same conditions?
What does ‘for worse’ look like in marriage? Does it come clothed in neglect — a man who puts everyone and everything before his own wife and children? Does it look and smell like poverty — a lack so bad you cannot even afford underwear for your wife?
What does till death do us part mean? Should we be even making those vows when the death we are referring to is the death of lust or love or of the bank balance or of looks and character? Feebler things have torn marriages apart.
Are we to stay committed to the man or woman we married and to the vows we made when he/she has become a philandering and lying derelict straight from the pits of hell? Do we stay committed when the person we gave our life to turns us into a physical or emotional punching bag?
Are we to remain faithful even when he becomes a thieving public servant or conning pastor, when his character rot makes your skin creep? Does commitment come with a disclaimer: until she becomes lazy and fat and ugly, or, until he loses his job and can’t match your income for the next century unless he won a SportPesa jackpot? How about when all we want are children and her womb refuses to give forth? How about when a little boy is brought and left at your door by a raving mad woman, the result of the passions of his youth or stupidity?
Do we sometimes wonder if the burdens we bear are too great, if we got ourselves way in over our heads, if this union we are in is there to teach us lessons we are refusing to learn?
I don’t have these answers. For me, I just remember I walked down the aisle to John Legend’s “Stay with You”.
“I’ll stay with you through the ups and the downs
I’ll stay with you when no one else is around
And when the dark clouds arrive
I will stay by your side
I know we’ll be alright
I will stay with you.”
That’s what I pledged on my wedding day. Also I remember that on the morning of my wedding day, I dedicated a home-made video to my soon-to-be-husband declaring along with Randy Travis that I was gonna love him forever.
“As long as old men sit and talk about the weather
As long as old women sit and talk about old men
If you wonder how long I’ll be faithful
I’ll be happy to tell you again
I’m gonna love you forever and ever, forever and ever, amen.”
Unless you married your first love ever, you have been in a relationship where there was no commitment; and it stinks. Not knowing how long that was gonna last, wondering how much was safe to invest physically and emotionally into the relationship and for how long, not knowing what the other was doing when they were not picking calls or replying to your texts for days or weeks, wondering where you lay in the space in their heart or if you had already been replaced and by whom…
The beauty of marriage is commitment. Seeing people weather storms together; grow up together; build memories, a home, a legacy together; grow old together… I love to read the “Vows that last” column and see glowing faces of couples who have stayed for 50 plus years.
Commitment is about doing all that you can to be true to your marriage and spouse and to the vows you made. It’s about big things that we know little about — like unconditional love, sacrifice, persistence, forgiveness, faith, hope, countless prayers, more hope and faith. It’s about small day-to-day things like coming home at the end of the day or making him dinner even when your every fibre hates him…
Where human strength fails, God gives grace. God is the third strand of cord in the rope.
Let us not be quick to renounce the vows we made. Let us not be quick to pack our bags in anger. Let us not seek to revenge for harm done with another younger and hotter and faster. Let us not give up as long as we have God in the mix. He will not let the enemy have the last laugh.
“Love is not a place
To come and go as we please
It’s a house we enter in
And then commit
To never leave
So lock the door behind you
Throw away the key
We’ll work it out together
Let it bring us to our knees.
Love is a shelter
In a raging storm
Love is peace
In the middle of a war
If we try to leave
May God send angels
To guard the door
No, love is not a fight
But it’s something worth fighting for.”
Would you fight for me? I will fight for you. I will never give up on you.