Loice Noo- Okello [Photo: Courtesy]

Loice Noo- Okello explains why intelligent men fall victim to gold diggers, the reason old couples divorce and how big weddings strain marriages.

There are too many spouses are killing their partners of late... What are we missing?

It is true there is a surge in homicide cases involving couples.  But it is important to acknowledge that the cases of violence that end up in death tend to be highlighted most by the press. However, the hundreds of cases where the violence is not physically visible remain unnoticed. We have far too many cases of gender-based violence and suicide in families.

Why do people who are joined together by love resort to violence to express frustrations, anger or solve disagreements?

Most people are not well-trained or experienced in conflict resolution due to poor social skills or the modeling from their own families. Secondly, there is an increase in use of alcohol and drugs among couples and some of these drugs trigger violent reactions whenever a person is agitated.

Further, there is an increase in mental illnesses that are not diagnosed or managed well. Majority of these illnesses impact on how the affected persons relate to other human beings.

What should one do when a partner threatens violence?

The moment a partner issues a “threat of violence”, STOP and pay attention. Do not ignore any threat. Take ACTION whenever there is a physical confrontation.

Would you say women empowerment has created marital strife?

The irony is that when an African man marries from a culture where women empowerment is the norm, they have no issue adapting but they remain “African” if they marry Kenyan women! The fact remains that change has come and what was seen as “wife material” is not applicable today. The sense of independence women enjoy cannot be reversed.

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How come Kenyan men have no clue on how to deal with this modern Kenyan woman?

Women are trained on their rights and how they can be independent, but no one seems to teach men how to accommodate this rapidly evolving woman. So the poor men continue viewing modern women with the “traditional” lens, much to their surprise and confusion.

How come many Kenyan spouses don’t list husband or wife as next of kin?

There are enough examples of spouses who have been killed because of their wealth, the drama that often ensues whenever a spouse dies because they have a secret family or spouses who stop minding about in-laws once the partners pass on.

 There are couples who go for months without sex. Would you call this a marriage?

I view sex as the shortest moment in a relationship and it is confined to specific times and conditions. Therefore, to define a marriage through the “eye of sex” is a fallacy. If sex is the most important component, then what happens if a couple gets to a situation where there is a medical condition or an accident that interferes with their sex lives?

Why do some couples divorce after 50 years, yet they are supposed to be wise enough to know what works?

At that age, they look back at their life and may have the courage to make some unexpected decisions on any area of their life that they have regrets because they want to make the most of their remaining time.

If their marriage is not supporting them in this, then they are likely to quit. Equally, couples who were just staying together because of taking care of their children find no reason to stay in the relationship once the kids are grown.

How come on average, couples that marry in church have more stressed marriages than traditional, civil or come we stay partners?

I am not sure this is factual because I don’t think any research has been done on this. But I think couples who made vows before a crowd of witnesses and a spiritual leader are likely to undergo the pressure to live up to a certain expectation and this is often the source of stress and conflict.

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Which are the worst palaces and scenarios to meet a future spouse and why?

There is not a worst or good place to meet a future spouse because we have evidence of people who met in the most unexpected way or place and went on to have a good relationship.

We also have couples who have met in what is perceived as the “safe place” such as a religious place and have ended up in a difficult relationship.

Which is the commonest denominator couples don’t expect from each other, but which breaks most marriages?

In my experience as a family therapist, what has been surprising to most couples is how simple acts of unkindness, assumptions or carefree behaviour can have such a huge impact on trust, and how difficult, frustrating and heartbreaking it is to rebuild trust after it is broken. 

How would men go about dealing with the spate of money-minded women searching for rich partners?

Men are naturally endowed with the privilege of intellectual reasoning yet they use it least in matters of the heart and love while the society covers for them with colloquial terms such as they have been bewitched or given love portions and “kukaliwa chapati”.

The most practical approach would be for the men to develop a lifestyle of responsible expenditure of time and money to avoid being taken advantage of.

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Whites divorce when one falls out of love. But in Kenya, couples must suffer with bitterness why?

The stigma associated with divorce is unbearable and often extended to the children, so most parents would offer to suffer in silence to protect their children; sometimes they suffer to death to see their children live or hang in there until it is too late.

It is comforting to know that children are the most resilient and adaptive to situations as long as they are given the right care and they feel supported. Therefore, with the current child maintenance provision, couples in a potentially dangerous marriage can go through mediation and counseling to help them design a suitable co-parenting style that would work well for the children rather than stay in an environment where even the children would be traumatised.

Why do Kenyan men shy away from marriage counseling when things are not working?

Men and especially the African men have been socialised to be in control and always take charge of their lives. It is therefore not easy for them to admit what they may perceive as failure to take control.

Should marriage have an exit clause, say for when kids grow up?

I have the conviction that no one should wait for an exit clause in an abusive and dangerous marriage. However, preparation before anyone gets into the marriage institution is critical and should not be taken for granted.