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10 signs your friend is ‘unhappily married’

By Brian Guserwa | October 19th 2021

The way the economy has been kicking young people in the jewels, it has become harder to plan and execute the lavish weddings they see in movies.

It is even trickier when you have to go through dowry negotiation, send cows back and forth, and pick your woman’s forehead out of a lineup of similar-looking foreheads. It is easier to just put that woman in your house and start splitting utilities, right? You don’t even have to tell anyone that you’re technically married.

But there are always signs that your old friend has started the journey:

1. Sudden potbelly

Your friend used to be the praying mantis of the group. He had that wiry frame that everyone used to make fun of. But then you meet him one day and his shirt is more stretched than a rubber band on a cheap weave. Happy weight, they call it, that nice kakilo of fat that settles in the lower gut as soon as it detects long-term female presence in your house. A potbelly is almost always the first sign of marital bliss.

2 Sisi tuko tu sawa

When you call your friend at odd hours of the night, he no longer responds with the insults you’ve come to expect. No more “Niaje nugu”. You ring the chap up one day and he is suddenly speaking like the Pope. Everything in the third person, and in plural. “We are doing just fine.” “Just a little homa here and there, but we thank God.” When your friend starts using collective pronouns to refer to himself, there is someone else in that household.

3 Wholesale prices

Those who claim an old dog can’t learn new tricks have never interacted with married men. Once upon a time, the only thing that man knew the price of was a bottle of beer. But now, he can tell you the price points for a litre of Jik from four different supermarkets, accurate to within 50 cents. These days he goes over the supermarket receipts like a teacher marking CATs, frowning and muttering things like “Hii supermarket inatuibia.

4 Home by 9 pm

Even before the government told us they want us home and docile by 10pm, some people had an unofficial curfew they were even more terrified of. Forget about GSU, the enforcer of this curfew is more fearsome than that hungry cop on Thika Road. How else would you explain your friend freaking out when 8pm finds him still hooting at cars on the highway? How else would you explain him nudging his Vitz onto a pavement just to overlap. That terror has another name: Mama wa Nyumba.

5 Delaying going home

But if your friend is also extremely reluctant to go home, that may still be a sign of an invasion. If he keeps signalling for more drinks, even though he lost coherence three shots ago. If he drives well below the speed limit, makes as many stops as possible and still lounges in the parking lot for 30 minutes or so, then that man has ceded territory back home, and he should be accorded sympathy everywhere he goes.

6 Permission slips to go out

Your friend is no longer an active participant in those weekend plans your crew comes up with on the fly. He no longer wants to do a quick one to Vasha or chomoka to Tsavo to spank elephants on short notice. No, these days he is like a politician; you have to access his schedule well in advance and beg him to slide you into that empty slot three weeks from now. You cannot even get him to leave the house without hearing “Acha niconfirm alafu nikuambie”. Take the hint: he has gone to get his permission slips signed.

7 Drinks alcohol like it’s honey

When you do manage to spring him free from his house, he is like a high school boy on half term break. He wants to do it all. Grope all the waitresses. Dance to every song. Eat all the nyama choma even before the kachumbari arrives. When he drinks, he is on cloud nine. Look out for signs of overindulgence; your buddy only wants to paint the town red because tomorrow he is back in his ensuite cell.

8 Kabambe phone

He bought the latest iPhone, of course. He never talks about where his old one went, but this new one is silent like a graveyard. No messages. No incoming calls. No notifications from Instagram, even though you know for a fact he follows Manchester United, and those ones never shut up.

9 Clean socks

If that man’s socks are clean, there is a woman in his life. In fact, if his outfit does not look like it was picked out by a teenage boy in a hurry, you should be very suspicious. Ironed shirt that matches his shoes, and socks that don’t change the temperature of the car? Congratulate the man.

10 Dining table

We all know men’s idea of furnishing a house is buying the largest TV and mounting it on the wall with all the sockets. So long as he has somewhere to rest his back while drinking tea, that house is a home. But when you visit your mate after a few months, and he has a thick Persian rug with rustic furniture to match and colour-blocked curtains and coasters on the coffee table, something is afoot. But if he has a dining table, then you might as well ask him when you’re meeting your in-law.


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