The idea of marriage and situation-ships has greatly evolved over the years. It was one man and one woman, but today things seem to have shifted with the ideas around relationships constantly changing and evolving.
If you look at the celebrity world today, there’s Nick Cannon who has 12 children with six different women. In this group of six women, he only married and divorced one, Mariah Carey with whom he has twins.
Back home we have the Samidoh story, which features his wife Edday and Nominated Senator Karen Nyamu. We have two independent, successful women openly fighting and making a nuisance of themselves for the one and only Samidoh, a Mugithi musician.
All made a public declaration to leave him only to return to him shortly after. It is a circle that never ends as all women involved continue to talk, but in private continue to share this one man.
So why are modern, educated, sophisticated, exposed, successful women willing to share men and get into the polygamous type of relationships in 2023?
Jackie Keya, a psychologist/counsellor and life coach says that there are many reasons why an independent, educated or even exposed woman would choose to willingly share her man with another woman and sometimes even many other women.
“Firstly, I want to make it clear it is not just a woman’s action that perpetuates a man stepping out on his wife or girlfriend, it takes two. If a man is not honouring their promise to their wife and is available then he too is to blame.
- Why you need to teach your child independence
- What it means being a 'girl dad'
- Bad parenting: How to tell if a parent is controlling
- How to cope when children leave the nest
“The reasons that would motivate a woman to agree to share a man are many. For both men and women, our ideas of love and family are influenced by a lot of factors. These include how we were brought up, our culture, and our norms,” she says.
“The way we were brought up will determine how we look and interact with love. What love looked like in the home you were brought up in and how it was expressed towards you will help to determine the way you interact with love as an adult.
“It will determine what love looks like and what you tolerate within your adult relationships. For example, If I was brought up in a polygamous family, I may not think that it was bad especially if it was successful, but if it was a disaster I may resist and run away from any polygamous situation.”
THE OTHER WOMAN
Keya says that just like our upbringing, culture and societal norms also shape our ideologies about love and relationship.
“Whatever was acceptable when you are growing up will most likely be acceptable when you are an adult. If being the other woman or a second wife was accepted then you will take it as the norm and not necessarily think of it as a bad thing.”
“Also, the personal development we go through our personal experiences in relationships, both friendships and familial. If you have been hurt so many times in a relationship by single men, if you find a man who is married but treats them well, then they are likely to willingly be part of such a relationship.
“Media also affects how one may perceive mpango wa kando and relationships in general, and in turn whether a woman will be willing to share a man. Further, if the media portrays it as the norm, one may be willing to join the band waggon.”
Keya adds that the role a woman’s father plays in her life also plays a big role in what she is willing to accept as the norm in a relationship.
“Our fathers as daughters teach us what relating to men looks like, they teach us how we should be treated by the opposite sex and what we should tolerate and not tolerate. The relationship a woman has with their fathers is important especially when it comes to their future relationships with men. When a woman has a positive relationship with her father that provides support and stability, and as such she will be drawn to relationships that are healthy, nurturing and stable,” she says.
“However, if a woman has a negative relationship with her father because he is negative, abusive, and upset then she may struggle with trust and is more likely to engage in risky and destructive relationships. Further, watching your mother and father display love will determine where you look for it, and your attachment styles. Our attachment styles have a great influence on how we search for love and relate with our relationships.”
Apart from social, cultural and personal upbringing, and the role of a father, she says some women will be okay with sharing a man because of financial security, and other times they want a man without having the responsibility of being in a real relationship.
“Some women may agree to share a man with his wife and even a second woman as long as they can have a man without the responsibility of taking care of one. They want the fruits of being in a relationship without the burden of being in one. They enjoy the emotional distance a taken man provides – they get the sex, the gifts and the special treatment without having to do their washing or taking care of the man.”
Then there is the category of women who like the thrill and challenge of chasing a man who is already taken.
“For some, it is an emotional connection with this taken man and the misguided belief that their connection as the other woman is stronger than his current relationship with his wife or other women. Other times some women are coerced and manipulated into such type of relationships, and made to believe by their married boyfriend that they are more special than his wife or another mpango wa kando.”
Keya says that sometimes it is both the married woman and man who agree to enter into an open marriage.
“Today you can find couples who are willingly in open marriages. So, you have a situation where people are married but they have permission to continue dating from their spouse.”
Reson Sandino, a Counselling Psychologist, says the idea of women sharing a man or even two side chicks agreeing to share a man with the wife can be traced to several reasons.
“To begin with, it can be traced back to biological factors. It could be a couple is married and are unable to get a child and so the husband is given permission to get a second woman. So, the issue of jealousy is not as profound,” she says.
“Other times it is out of necessity - just look at the environment. For example, currently, there is drought, so some women will look around for a man who can provide for them not caring if the man is married or not.
“Also, sometimes it is about family legacy. If a man finds that he has so much wealth, he will often marry many women or have other women so he can have many children who can inherit and manage his wealth when he is gone. He wants his family to be run like a family business.”
This idea that women can share a man is also influenced by religion and culture in many ways.
“For example, Muslims and Mormons, and African cultural marriages are more open to polygamy,” she says.
“Culture and religion can shape how we view things, and for some people, it makes them more open to sharing a man because of it.”
Sandino, also says that finances can play a big part in influencing some women to willingly and openly share a man whether he is married or not.
“That is why you will find that a 25-year-old woman will not date men who are in her age group and not earning much. She instead will look for an older man who is financially stable, and most men in this category are often already married. She has no qualms about sharing a man, and is very open to it as long as she is financially taken care of,” she says.
However, she says that today it is common for some men not to necessarily marry a second wife according to the law, but to have a second woman on the side, who they even introduce to their first wife.
“So, you have a situation where both women know of each other and even meet at family events, but it is not publicly declared as being a polygamous arrangement as there is still a stigma around that,” says Sandino.
Whatever the reason women choose to date committed men, Sandino says that all parties involved should know that every action reacts.