The other Saturday at our AMKA monthly reading forum, a story from one of the participants split us down the middle, along gender lines.
It was about a woman who walks out on her man because he has asked her to choose between him and her new job (it makes him insecure).
Competitive couples, in an unhealthy way, come in all shapes and sizes and circumstances. There is the workaholic husband, who leaves for work early and comes home very late. His wife is herself working from home, and even gets to help out with household chores.
“I slave all day, and half the night for this family,” he complains.
“I work just as hard,” she fires back, “but in a smarter way, that enables me to see my family.”
Maybe there is the man who believes he has to provide for his family in a big way. So he is in over his head with, say, a large mortgage in a leafy suburb.
“I put designer clothes on your back and a magnificent roof over your head,” he yells in a fight.
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“Do you think I was eating and living in the open before I met you?” she retorts.
Maybe he thinks the children should not be attending some high cost academy. But she is a die-hard believer in prestigious schools for the kids, whose ‘Group of Schools’ name she name drops to her friends and chama.
Or the man has taken out a big loan to buy a car that is the size of a small house, and she resents the ‘waste,’ while he feels it befits his status/image in the society.
Then there is the highly educated competitive couple. He’s a doctor who is doing well, but keeps crazy clinic/consultation/ hospital hours. She is an NGO lawyer who is always away, in Arusha, in Rwanda, in Addis Ababa, in conferences.
They are away from each other so often, they each think the other is up to no good. One day, stuck at home during the pandemic, he says: “So, are you missing your sex-minars?”
He’s had too much to drink. “Daktari,” she says sweetly, “do you miss semen-ing her (nurse)?”
Then there are the alpha males who feel bewildered, even angered, when their women suddenly get better paid, and begin to look for affirmation from, say, college girls.
There’s this guy we know who, after losing his job (at the start of Covid-19 woes in April), has become increasingly suspicious and bitter towards his wife who supports him (they have no children); while she has started zile madharau ndogo ndogo of ‘no ambition’ and ‘unalala kama mfalme?’
Children are no guarantee of a non-competitive relationship. In fact they can become casino chips. Many women, more than men, are guilty of bringing up children to see dad as a ‘bad man.’
The payback for this can be bitter later in life, when your son sends Sh5,000 a week to your wife (as he sends you 500 bob), or that daughter in Dakota who invites only mum to America.
Then there are couples whose body looks or goals have become incompatible. He’s still tall, slim and fit as you turn into a fat round barrel after baby three, and sense he can’t stand sex with you, anymore.
Or she seems to get younger and trimmer, as your beer belly ensures you’ll be buoyant even if ye fell off a ship in the middle of the Indian Ocean.
“So who is it you go to see at the gym?” you snarl at her. “Pambana na hali yako!” she scoffs.
Ultimatums are also not good for a healthy relationship.
She freezes you sex because she caught you secretly smoking, after you had said you’d stop.
“Can’t stand the stink of cigarettes,” she says, to justify lack of intimacy. “And I have my needs.”
Eventually, he hooks up with some younger lass who smokes so much weed, ‘Grass’ is her nickname. She revenges/finds solace with an older married man, who loved her long ago.
Dude, stop competing with your woman. Admire her, be happy for her, cheer her on, support her and root for her success.
If she leaves you after ‘ulimlipia’ college fees, or even just ‘kukula transport’ after saying ‘na cum na Uber,’ just know life’s not always ‘fare’.