It is said that marriage is work and hard work at that, but there are times no amount of effort will revive it. This might be a difficult fact to accept, especially in the African setting.
In this great land, women are told to endure all their husbands' 'misdemeanors' as long as the men provide for them and their children. Men on the other hand learn from an early age not to show any sign of weakness and how to separate his desires (read mistress) from reality (read wife).
But you can no longer stay in a marriage just because it is convenient. If you are not happy in your marriage, don't just endure it, not even because of:
Your dear children
Yes, I said it. How many women do you know or have heard of that have stayed in an abusive relationship just 'for the sake of the kids'?. These women claim that they do not want to deny their children the opportunity of being raised by their father.
To them, I have this to say. No child has died from being raised by a single parent. Yes, it might be tough but your child is better of in single-parent home than in a toxic environment where mummy and daddy are always fighting.
Research shows that such children develop relationship issues of their own stemming from their background. Great men and women have been brought up by single parents and they turned out just great. Leave and explain it to your children when they are older, they will still love and respect you, perhaps even more.
In this economy, we are scrambling for a stable financial ground, an attempt which has proved futile for most. Therefore, we tend to cling to the small portion we have at whatever cost.
You would rather stay with a man or woman whose greatest skill is landing blows on your body than stop driving that red E Vogue. And sometimes your perseverance turns out to be for nothing as Jackie Waithera discovered, "My husband was an alcoholic and often are times that he did not come home.
But I never lacked for anything and this was enough for me to turn a blind eye. When he passed away after a tragic road accident, the bank seized all our properties to cover all the debt he had accumulated.
For 20 years, I had stayed with a man who would come home having soiled his pants and now I have nothing to show for it," she says. Jackie has to start from the ground up, but if she had left a few years back, she would have been in a much better place now.
Till death do you part
You made a promise before God and you have no intentions of breaking that promise. There are actually a few people who do stick to their vows.
The irony is that these same people seem to have forgotten the other parts of the vow; to love and to remain true. It should be that each segment of that marriage vow is binding. Hence, if any part is broken, you have enough reason to seek a divorce. Then there is the extreme side.
Meet Rita Obondo, a 48-year-old housewife who contracted HIV from her husband. It was only when she was pregnant with her fourth child that she learnt of her status.
She knew that her husband had affairs, but always thought he was careful. Her husband's betrayal tore her apart but she has never left him, "Where would I go? Who would want a HIV positive, elderly woman with four children?"she says bitterly. For Rita, this man is her husband in sickness, health and HIV till Aids do them part. Is all that worth it?
Not sure you will find...
Someone else or as wealthy or as good looking or simply someone better. In other words, you do not want to leave the penthouse and downgrade to a one-roomed house with no view.
Therefore, you stay because you doubt that you will find someone as good as the person you fell in love with. But if the person you are with was actually good for you, you would not be planning on how you should leave. You cannot stay just for the sake of vanity.
"My husband married me when I was a naïve village girl," says Rebecca, a 33 year business executive. "He educated, pampered and nurtured me until I became the sophisticated woman I am today. But once I started excelling in my own field, he started to act differently. He would claim that I was sleeping with my male colleagues and demanded that I reduce my interaction with them. In order to reassure him, I followed his orders and even dropped my male friends. But this was not enough and he asked me to quit my job. It had now become too much, he seemed to want to control me. Eventually, I had to leave him and in as much I appreciated what he did for me, I would not be his prisoner."
You have never been alone
He probably courted you while you were still in college. He was your first boyfriend, your first love and your first everything. You moved from your parent's house to the hostel and then to your matrimonial home.
You never had a house of your own and never got the time to discover yourself or enjoy your own company. Naturally, the thought of being on your own scares you and you choose to stay despite the fact that you are not satisfied. You dare not take a risk. But you will never know if you could have been happier on your own, if you choose to stay in your comfort zone.
"My family would think that I am weak and could not handle a woman," Gitome a 29 year old electrician says. Odera who has been married for ten years but sleeps on a separate bed from her husband confessed, "There has never been a divorce in my family. I won't be the first to tarnish my family's name and disgrace my mother." And the list is endless: I don't want to end up a spinster, I want to leave a legacy, I don't want to be the joke of my friends... stop caring what other people think, they will not have to endure the insults or sleepless nights or share in your misery. Take control of your own life.
I am all for preserving our culture, but there's a difference between culture and ignorance. Should we still carry out Female Genital Mutilation just because it is in our culture?
Should we still practise wife-inheritance because our fore-fathers did it? You cannot remain in a marriage just because divorce is not allowed in your culture or religion. You just cannot. If you are not satisfied in your marriage, you have every right to say, "I want a divorce".
Starting over again
I will not lie to you that it won't be difficult. You are allowed to be apprehensive or even afraid. But life is too short and time to precious to let fear or doubt run your life. It is never too late to start over. You are better off struggling than taking any form of abuse whether physical, emotional or psychological.
Of course marriage and life itself cannot be black and white and in the end it is your choice to make. But as Gordon B. Hinckley once said, "Life is to be enjoyed, not endured."