Marriage: A man’s perspective

Is love enough to build a strong marriage?

In his recent post ‘Men and marriage’, Kenyan blogger Jackson Biko reflects on the mystery that comes with men and their experiences in the institution. 

He points out that men choose to hike through marriage in silence, like mules carrying heavy loads—never to offload. This, among other factors, probed the writer to dig deep and understand how men sail through their journeys in marriage.

Women are said to sit over wine or tea with their closest friends and unleash all the issues they have; this means comparing notes, getting advice  and learning from others, just to mention a few.

“But who do men really talk to when our marriages are going pear-shaped?” Biko asks.

“What does one do when you spent millions on a wedding two years ago but now its wheels seem to be coming apart and you hang on tight hoping for something to give? Who do men talk to when their “sense of manhood” is diminished in marriage? When they feel their voices going? When they feel like they are standing on quicksand? When they are in way over their heads in debt and the wife has no clue?” Biko writes.

Indeed, the ultimate outlook towards marriage from a male perspective remains a mystery. How they rate or sail through it, only men can explain.

For many, marriage is a complex matter. Sergio Karenzi agrees with this. Having been married for over five years now, he is certain marriage is not a commitment to joke around with.

He is convinced that marriage could have been easier if only women were not “complicated beings”.

“Women tend to expect a lot from marriage yet men are simple creatures who take life as it comes with no complexities,” he says.

To him, the distinct nature of men and women is the root cause of the many misunderstandings that result in marital conflicts.

“Women rarely comprehend our nature. They don’t understand that we view things differently, but if you are going to be with someone for the rest of your life, these are things that are very important to learn,” Karenzi says.

Livingstone Buyinza, a divorcee, says society overrates the essence of marriage. People in different societies relate marriage with wealth and this comes with very high expectations, and as such, marriage misses its main objective.

Buyinza is of the view that for a marriage to last, women have the upper hand, especially when it comes to compromise.

“Women don’t know that compromise is vital, they have to compromise where necessary to sustain the marriage,” Buyinza says.

The father of three also believes that marriage is a journey walked by two people together, but because this is not respected anymore, numerous issues are coming up, leading to marriage failure today.

“I must say, today’s relationships are not real, people are looking for survival, imagine these common questions from girls: Where do you work? Where do you stay? Will you drop me on Sunday, I have a wedding upcountry? Such a relationship is based on financial capacity and not actual love. Remember, wealth is acquired and at a certain point, one can go broke, and this is where separation comes in.”

Buyinza points out other factors, such as lack of communication, an unsatisfactory sex life, over consumption of alcohol and smoking, which are wrecking today’s marriages.

With his experience in marriage, Buyinza has learnt that love alone cannot sustain a marriage.

“Love is not enough to build a strong marriage, yes it can be at the forefront indeed, but it’s not enough. Praying is key, trust is important and loyalty drives a marriage always,” he counsels.

Conrad Mugisha, a newly-wed, says that what people need to understand is that marriage is a union that requires deep respect. Once you get married you start a new life and this calls for adjustment from both parties.

He suggests that if only people get married for the right reasons and not out of obligation, marriage will see a lot more success.

It’s all about respect

Counsellor Jessica Kayitesi says that building a loving marriage starts with respect.

For men, the most important thing in a relationship is respect. You can love him and care all you can but if you disrespect him, then all the other things you do for him won’t count at all, Kayitesi says.

“Men love it when they have a wife who ardently listens to them, they also like it when a woman backs up their thoughts and opinions, especially when in public. For a marriage to succeed, therefore, it is important for a wife to be positive, appreciative and considerate towards the needs of her husband,” the counsellor says.

Mark Nkotanyi, a married man, agrees with the counsellor, saying that the most important thing that any woman interested in a stable marriage should know about men is that they generally love to be respected and taken care of very well.

This, he says, also applies to when they are in public, which means that the woman should conduct herself in private and public in a manner that shows respect for her husband. Failure to show respect to one’s husband is a disaster to any marriage,” he says.

However, Nkotanyi believes that though men share altered views about marriage, the union should be all about companionship. “You know, having someone by your side that you can share with the struggles and successes of life. When success comes, you celebrate together. When struggles hit, you hold hands for encouragement and strength to face them.”

He also notes a difference in which men and women view marriage, explaining that most women view marriage as an institution that is a source of their protection and provision. A place where they have to be extremely loved and cared for, whereas for men, marriage is an institution from which companionship comes, but with heavy responsibilities of providing, protecting and being the head of a family.

Communication is key to avoid conflict. Net photos

Why men don’t talk about their feelings

Beth Gahongayire, a family counsellor, explains that men tend to have a wall around their feelings because they think expressing how they feel is a sign of weakness.

“Men hardly express their difficulties in a marriage, they often ignore them yet women always deal with marital issues outwardly. They talk about it or cry over it. Hiding pain is not healthy because it indirectly affects one’s thinking or how they react to certain situations, which may cause even more trouble in a marriage,” she says.

John Gray’s book “Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus” indicates that one of the biggest differences between men and women is how they cope with stress.

According to the author, men become increasingly focused and withdrawn while women become increasingly overwhelmed and emotionally involved. A man feels better by solving problems while a woman feels better by talking about problems. Not understanding and accepting these differences creates unnecessary friction in relationships, he writes.

Gray goes on to explain that when a man is stressed, he will withdraw into the cave of his mind and focus on solving a problem. He generally picks the most urgent problem or the most difficult. He becomes so focused on solving this one problem that he temporarily loses awareness of everything else. Other problems and responsibilities fade into the background.

At such times, he becomes increasingly distant, forgetful, unresponsive, and preoccupied in his relationships. For example, when having a conversation with him at home, it seems as if only five per cent of his mind is available for the relationship, while the other 95 per cent is still at work. His full awareness is not present because he is mulling over his problem, hoping to find a solution. The more stressed he is, the more gripped by the problem he will be. At such times, he is incapable of giving a woman the attention and feeling that she normally receives and certainly deserves.

With the difference in which women and men are wired, they will always view marriage from a completely different perceptive. Marriage experts, hence, suggest that both make effort to understand each other because this can be the ultimate way of solving marital problems.