I have noticed a worrying trend among married people and it’s been bothering me for days. On the outside our marriages look perfect and amazing but on the inside we are fighting and unhappy. We go to church and events together, we come in holding hands and sit next to each other. We laugh and chat with people in pubic and then we get home and sleep in separate rooms. We write beautiful things about our spouse on social media on anniversaries and Valentines but when we get home no one is speaking to the other. Behind closed doors we are having major conflicts but we refuse to admit we need help.
I have encountered many couples going through this. They look amazing until you take a closer look. Haven’t you heard that so and so are getting a divorce and thought “wait, what? I didn’t even know they were having problems. They looked so happy.” Well, clearly they weren’t that happy. So, what is really going on? We are covering the sins of our partners thinking it is wise when in reality it is doing more harm than good. Let me explain. I have had wives write to me and share how their man is cheating, messing up family money or even physically abusing them. I also know men whose wives have been a constant thorn in the flesh. Each says they have tried everything with no change. Yet they continue to look perfect and no one knows what is really going on. So, what do you do when your partner has a big problem and refuses to change? That is a question I have been asked a lot the last couple of months. My answer? Expose them. Sounds radical? I know! But I have my reasons. Hear me out.
From the day we get engaged up to the wedding day we are given a lot of marriage advice. One of the common things we are told is “doesn’t expose your marriage, cover your partner”. This is very good advice actually but it has its context. I have actually written a piece on why you should not bad mouth your husband. And no I am not contradicting myself. As a wife, I know the importance of covering my man not putting his flaws up for everyone to see. However there is empowering your spouse by not airing their dirty linen in public and then there is covering them too much it becomes a way of enabling bad behavior. There is a place for speaking to somebody and getting help. There is need for tough love even in marriage.
There are conflicts in marriage that are easy to handle. There’s a little friction, we talk about and we sort it out. But there are big conflicts mostly involving something one person is doing. For instance one partner is cheating or physically abusing the other. They could be mishandling money leaving you stranded with the kids. You have tried talking and praying but they refuse to change. In this case walking around looking happy and perfect allows the offending partner to continue misbehaving. They have no motivation to change. After all nobody knows what they are doing except you. I say tell someone. Speak to a sober person you both know and who you feel can help. It could be a pastor, it could be a couple you both respect. But by all means speak out. I don’t mean tell all your friends and anyone who cares to listen. No. The point is to seek to solve the problem with the agenda of reconciliation. Spreading your issues all over will only add salt to injury.
You may need to see a counselor. Or even have a sitting with both sets of parents. The point is do something. This is especially necessary when one person stubbornly refuses to change over a major issue. Traditionally in Kenya if a man did something terrible like beat his wife she would run away and go back to her parents and her husband would have to come and get her back. Before he could have his wife back they would first have to explain the situation to the elders. Same thing happened if the wife was the offending party. They would have to talk it out with the elders. I’m not saying we go back to the era where wives keep running back home. I’m saying that the aspect of speaking out in front of respectable people is helpful. Even warring communities bring in a 3rd party when they have tried reconciliation and failed! You won’t be the first to seek help and there is no shame in admitting you need it.
It is of course important to pick someone trustworthy and sober to speak to. It is also important that the people you speak to handle your situation without taking sides or making things worse. The point though is to seek help. Stop pretending your marriage is fine. Don’t be those people everyone is surprised to hear are getting a divorce. Or even worse the people we hear in the media that were killed by a spouse. Don’t wait until it is too late. There is no weakness in asking for help.
Author: Wanjiru Kihusa
I am Wanjiru Kihusa and I’m a writer and founder of Still A Mum – an organization that seeks to reduce maternal and newborn deaths in Africa. I am especially passionate about women and children.
I blog to share my thoughts and experiences hoping that in the process someone will learn from my life.