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Westgate Mall terror crisis uncovers marriage fault lines

By By ZAWADI LOMPISHA | September 28th 2013


What does one write at a time when the country is in a dark place and many lives have been lost while others nurse serious wounds in hospital beds? This past weekend, many widows and widowers were created by a heinous act of terrorism, which we condemn, in the strongest possible terms. Husbands and wives will go through transitions as they adjust to dead or wounded in-laws, friends, parents and children.

As the country stands stunned by the despicable Westgate attack, the effects of the attack permeates through all spheres of our lives. Tragedies affect marriages in different ways, so today I just want to highlight the possible effect of this attack on Kenyan marriages.

My husband’s office is in a mall and I am now a lot more afraid for his safety than I have ever been. He is normally very good at keeping in touch, but I’m very anxious about his being in the mall at this time. As a result of the anxiety, I forgot to do things like feed my family as I watched live coverage of the Westgate events. My husband couldn’t understand why I couldn’t just get over it and let the armed forces take care of it. So after a conversation about it, we’ve agreed that we’re processing this differently and have given each other the space to do exactly that. I want to have a blow by blow account while my husband would rather just watch the news then move on to watching other things.

I have a friend whose husband thinks telling his wife where he is going to be or is during the day, is tantamount to losing his independence. So last Saturday when news of the attack began filtering in, of course Noella couldn’t find her husband who had left the house in the morning. His phone was off and she had called everyone she thought might know where her husband was but none of them had seen him. He eventually called back to tell her that he wasn’t at Westgate and that his phone’s battery had died while he was in the Westlands area and finding a place to charge the phone had been an uphill task. Noella was so mad with him, the minute he told her he was safe, she hang up and didn’t talk to him until he got home later that evening. I think Noella’s case has just been strengthened and it is a pending difficult conversation for that couple.

When a crisis strikes, many times it uncovers fault lines in marriages. When this happens, the best thing to do is address the issues for the sake of the marriage. As we stand with our beloved motherland at this time of overwhelming shock and grief, let us extend a loving and extending hand to those who need it and let’s not forget our spouses.

God bless Kenya, today and always.

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