I should have spent more time with her: Love lessons from divorcees

Robert Burale
Our ancestors once said that when you see your friend’s head being shaven, know that you are next in line. Divorcees are on the rise in Kenya. Four divorcees share their experiences with Kuria Wanjiru.

Robert Burale, 41, emcee, mentor and motivational speaker

The whirlwind romance…

I met my ex-wife at a Gospel concert in 2012. She has the voice of an angel.

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 We courted for five months and then got married in the same year. Everybody said we were rushing it but we were in love, in hindsight, we should have listened.  We dated, courted, paid dowry and got married all within five months. Her parents were okay.

It broke down so fast…

I wish I had communicated better with her, listened to her. I also wish I spent more time with her. It’s not that I was travelling or working a lot but sometimes you can be in the same room as someone else but you are not really spending time together. There was also outside influence from friends. Nobody gets into marriage wanting it to fail. Mine failed after one year, two days! It was painful and depressing. I tried to hide it for a while. For four months, I was still putting on my ring. It was hard to pretend because I was a preacher. There was no infidelity in our marriage, but we should have cultivated our friendship more because this is what holds a marriage together. We should have been friends first.

No regrets…

I married a great woman. We didn’t get a child together. Today, I have no regrets. If you asked me that two or three months after my marriage collapsed, I’d have said it differently because there was a lot of anger and depression. People ask us why I teach about marriage and mine failed. But you see, I’m in a good position to tell men what not to do in marriage if you want it to stand. There are many counselors with qualifications but there’s nothing as good as the experience. Would I marry again? I do not have the grace to be single. It can get lonely because you do not have anyone to share life with. But, the greatest impediment to an already divorced person dating or marrying again is the fear of making a mistake. But I’m praying about it.  

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Next time, I will be a better provider

Robinson Kimani, 54, a businessman and carpenter

We were happy…

I was 26, she was 23. We courted for 12 years and eventually had a Church wedding in 1990. Later in the same year, we were blessed with our first child. I was happy, we were happy.

Until we weren’t…

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The cracks began when our first born died in 1994. This was after an accident with hot water that led to serious scalds all over his body. It was devastating but we held on and were blessed with three other children – two girls and a boy. Despite life seeming OK on the surface, our child’s death lingered unspoken.  We were also facing financial problems and pretty soon, we had nothing to say to each other. It just fell apart.

And the house broke…

She left in 2000 with the children. I was left alone. Later, I got my children back. At this point, relations with my wife were still so bad. There was so much hurt between us that I moved towns to get away from all of it.


I do not regret marrying her at all, and she bore me three children that I’m really proud of. I don’t habour any ill will towards my ex-wife. I have moved on and I hope she does too. God has provided me with peace of mind.

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What I will do better next time

If I marry again, I’ll ensure that I’ll provide for my family to the best of my ability because to my knowledge, most of our problems emanated from the financial difficulties that we faced. Our primary roles as men are to provide for and protect our families. All men should strive to play these roles diligently and without fail. Last year I won Sh 1,000,000 through Lotto, and besides investing in real estate, I have been able to pay fees for my daughter and stared a business for my son. When I meet the right woman, I will marry again.

If he was married before, he won’t be truly yours

Nancy Wairimu, 50, businesswoman,

Love a second time around

I met my ex-husband in 1986 in Kiambu and we dated for two years.  We moved in together in 1988. We didn’t do a church wedding but I didn’t mind. He had separated from his first wife. The union had produced four children. I also had a daughter from a previous relationship. Together, we had three children. Our marriage was happy, and we were so in sync that people assumed we were siblings. He was in construction work while I was a farmer. Life was great”

The turning point…

In 1999, thieves broke into our home. They attacked me using machetes and damaged my arms. No other member of my family was hurt. My problems began then. I was a wife who couldn’t work; I had to depend on others to do the most mundane of tasks. My husband took my new reality harder than I thought and withdrew from me. I had to look for work…fast. I started selling second hand clothes and then went back into farming, something that was so difficult because of my mutilated hands. I worked hard and educated my children. I did relatively well and bought land in Kinangop to continue farming.

While I held on to hope that we would find our way back to a happy marriage, my husband remarried, a fact made possible since we weren’t formally married. 

The hurts and aches…

My marriage lasted for 26 years. There was a lot of betrayal in my marriage. And having a blended family didn’t help matters as sometimes children don’t accept the new spouse. I felt really hurt when he remarried but such is life. 


The fact that we never argued or fought before the unfortunate incident in 1999 meant that we never got to really know each other. Couples that fight and not sweep thing under the rug are often closer and know all the sides of their partner.  Could I have sought better solutions to our problems? I would drag him to the local chief and even to our parents to seek solutions to our problems, but we couldn’t own up to our mistakes. It is however water under the bridge now. My arms have now fully recovered. I can work for myself. And I’m never getting married again! 

Lessons the hard way…

I learnt that men never fully settle into a second marriage since they constantly think of their first families. If a man has broken up or left another family to be with you, you are in a hopeless union. He will always compare you to his first love especially when you err.

Margaret Wambui, 56, a steward

The dream family…

 We met in 1985 in Nairobi. I was working as a steward while he was an accountant.

We had our first child in 1987 but we started living together in 1989. We were later blessed with twins in 1995. He quit his job to go into self-employment and I supported his dreams. We were the dream family.

Until it wasn’t…

The new financial pressure caused so many cracks. There was some infidelity and so much mistrust.

Should have known better…

We should have had better communication between us instead of playing down bad behaviour. The moment we developed problems, we should have talked about it and resolved the issues. Any relationship is defined by how well people communicate. If one person slips up, talk about it immediately before it’s too late. If you carry the mistakes forward, they’ll pile up and you won’t know where to begin from; it’ll be too late then. I now know that people do not really change their true nature.

Lessons learnt…

I now know that I won’t get into another relationship again. I am done with marriage too.

I have learnt that you can live with someone and not really know who they are. Couples should take time to learn about each other. Also, one should also not leave the burden of raising children to one spouse. If a person is having financial trouble, that is a problem that can be solved by both parties. All couples need to do is sit down, talk it over and try to find a solution. Trust is also vital if a marriage is to survive.