“A man avoids meals at home only when he has another woman out there."

They say hell hath no fury like a woman scorned. One way to scorn a wife is skipping a meal she’s cooked.

Not the takeaway thing some of the women serve but what they religiously prepare with their husbands at the back of their minds.

Caleb Korir found out just how sacrilegious it is to come home with a full stomach. “All the pent-up emotions came boiling down,” he recalls.

His wife, Agnes Chebet, gave him the lowdown of their married life.

“I love cooking for my family,” Chebet says, “and my husband, the head of the house is the actual target of the food.”

Chebet says: “There is an unexplained feeling of being cherished by baba watoto on that small matter of your husband eating your meal.”

“In my culture, a woman gets married to create a home for her husband; give him children, companionship and importantly feed him well,” she says: “It is fulfilling to see him wipe the plate dry and ask for more.”

She casts her memory back to the time of their courtship where she would sneak snacks out for him.

“While preparing food at home I would ‘budget’ for him too. And when we met I would give him,” she says.

“It was a sign that she loved me,” Korir reminisces, “reason why I married her.”

The couples’ romance, of course, blossomed into marriage.

But as they headed towards their first anniversary Korir started coming home late and, you guessed it, missing meals.

“I had just started a new job and, you know, I needed to adjust to the new schedule. So I would be late home,” Korir says.

Initially, Chebet showed restraint. Though deep inside it irked her.

“Because he is the sole breadwinner I tried to understand that he may come home late and head straight to bed without eating. But I did not like it a bit,” Chebet says.

Koris confesses, he would pass by an eatery and grab himself some food. “By the time I am making it home it would be 9.30 pm. It is not an ideal time to eat. Plus, I just want to rest at the time,” he says.

Suspicions of cheating

Unbeknown to him this new arrangement was beginning to spite the wife.

One Friday evening in November 2017, Korir came home and as usual, didn’t even head to the kitchen for the hotpot.

Inside the couple’s bedroom, Chebet lay in wait. “Have you taken supper?” Chebet asked.

“No. I am full already,” Korir answered.

“Full from what?”

“Babe, I ate on my way home. But tomorrow I will be home early for supper,” he said, hoping that it does not escalate further.

“I prepared food for you. You did not say you will be eating out. So, you have to eat. What am I supposed to do with the food?”

Chebet was onto something. “Where have you been eating? Is there somebody else feeding you?” she rasped.

The conversation heated up until Chebet was wailing – because her husband ‘didn’t love her any more’.

“If you want to effectively punish your wife, don’t deny her anything like outing, shopping and the like, simply snub her meal.”

Confronted with the possibility of nosy neighbours milling at their door spooked by Chebet’s cries Korir was petrified.

And so, he yielded. “I told her I would resume eating her food frequently. I confessed and re-confessed my love for her. And to earn her forgiveness I committed to taking her dress-shopping that weekend.”

It’s not only Korir’s wife’s who demands that her husband regularly eat her food. Charles Nchagwa knows too well not to strike that nerve.

“After seven years of marriage I came home one day and my wife had left back to her parents; along with our son,” he says.

At first, she refused to pick his calls. Nchangwa says: “I didn’t know what was happening. I needed to find out why she had left. I kept calling to no avail.”

A day later he received a call from his father-in-law asking why he had been mistreating his wife.

“I was taken aback. I had never laid a finger on her. While we had had passionate exchanges I did not expect that she would accuse me of mistreating her,” Nchangwa says.

When she agreed to talk on the phone her answers made little sense.

“Which man comes home late and constantly finds reasons not to eat the food that has been prepared at home?” she retorted.

“What do you mean?” he asked.

“A man avoids meals at home only when he has another woman out there,” she concluded.

Nchagwa is a businessman. He delivers bulk goods to retail hardware.  His job requires that he is flexible with time.

“I don’t have designated lunchtime,” he says. “I eat on the go.”

Warning from in-laws

As a result, he misses most meals at home, sometimes even breakfast. Unbelievably, it was enough to make his wife suspect he was cheating on her with another woman.

“I still don’t know how that small mistake birthed all that,” he ponders.

To get his wife back, Nchagwa had to arrange for a visit to her home and atone for his ‘small sin’ to get his wife back.

But not without a warning from his wife’s people: “You either eat her food or marry that woman who feeds you.”

For David Omwoyo, another businessman, avoiding his wife’s food killed their union.

Omwoyo, unlike Korir and Nchagwa, deliberately avoided his wife’s food.

“As soon as the romantic phase ended I could not trust her. Especially because I run businesses which earn me a great deal of money. She started looking wild-eyed to me,” he says.

Omwoyo was fearful that his wife might poison him and so he always found an excuse not to eat at home.

And when he did, he would prepare the meal himself or have somebody he trusted – like a sibling – do it.

Sensing animosity, his wife eventually took off and got married to another man; “A man who knows how to handle a wife”, she would text Omwoyo later.

Rejecting food as punishment

But some shrewd men, sensing the attachment their wives have on their food are exploiting the bond.

“If you want to effectively punish your wife, don’t deny her anything like outing, shopping and the like, simply snub her meal,” says Alphonce Onyango.

“Let her prepare the meal and when she serves it drop the bomb, ‘I will not eat’ then sit back and watch her tear deep down.”

He says that in our growingly litigious generation, slapping your wife, denying her conjugal rights or the like when she misbehaves could birth an unnecessary lengthy court battle.

“She can easily divorce you for cruelty. Snubbing her meal is the ultimate punishment,” he says daring those who doubt it to “try it at home”.