May your courage not fail you (for Collin’s daughter)

It’s been going on for months.

The torment of your fear-filled heart. And we’ve talked about it via Whatsapp chats but I haven’t really been paying attention. For this I am sorry.

I stayed up tonight to pay attention to your pain and to tell you that I understand. It is a frightening path upon which you tread – tread lightly dear friend.

Standing at the forked road between going forward with this man you pledged to spend your life with or moving on without him towards a destination where uncertainty is the only thing certain.

I am sorry I have not been paying attention.

Sometimes when you know that the heart heals, you are quick to dismiss the process of pain that comes with the healing. That’s what I have been doing.

Listening to you and knowing your heart will heal and not paying attention to the pain you feel in the here and now.

I want to give you answers. To assure you and give you guarantees but there are none.

There are no guarantees, nothing to hold us up when we venture into the unknown except our own courage and grit and will to live.

May your courage not fail you my friend. May your will to live not waver. It hurts I know and some days will be worse than others.

Osho - Courage Love Affair

And you will look in the mirror sometimes and wonder who that stranger is that’s staring back at you.

Life doesn’t always pan out the way we hope it will. Certainly not with intimate relationships.

I long to see you laugh again, to watch you throw your head back in mirth. I want you to find joy again.

You are so battered and so bruised and the laughter in you has since died away. It is frightening to see the hollowness in you and the shell you have become.

Sometimes when love goes wrong it takes so much out of us. It scoops out all the hope we hold and leaves us empty.

Come back to me. To us. To who you were before this love made you give until you believed you had nothing and were nothing without him.

You want to hold on because it is so much safer to keep holding on than to let go when you don’t know where you’ll land. But may your courage not fail you dear friend.

Because all we are is the sum total of all we have had the courage to become.

I have learned that there is no reward for breaking my own heart to spare the hearts of others.

There shall be casualties, make no mistake about this.

There shall be a price to be paid. Be willing to foot the bill because losing a lover always leaves a scar long after they cease to matter.

You will miss him on some nights and thoughts of him will pop up at random in the middle of the day and a pang of ‘something’ will hit your heart. A pang of regret, of sadness, of nostalgia and even residual heartache.

Be willing to have it so. Accept it and let your heart heal as it sees fit.

You will learn to live without him.

Because our very existence consists of things we have learned, things we have unlearned and things we have had to re-learn.

You will learn to ignore the urge to call him with good news and suppress the need to share your joys with him.

You will learn to resist the desire to reach out to him for comfort when you have bad news and want his strength to hold you up. You will learn to not need him.

And in time you will forget him for hours and eventually you will forget him for days upon end.

And it will surprise you, even sadden you… that someone who was once the center of your universe can eventually cease to matter.

In time you will be free of him. Free of your heart’s longing for him and free of your soul’s grief over how things ended.

May your courage not fail you my friend.

We cannot make people love us and indeed, they too, do not have the power to command their hearts to love us.

And similarly, we cannot force ourselves to love or compel our hearts to open up when there’s no inclination to do so.

Make peace with it. Heal. Laugh. Have hope. Live as you believe. And have courage Collin’s daughter.

I love you always.

Gratitude Memoirs #4: Thanks to those who’ve believed in me (Guest Blog)

By John Mokwetsi

I often doubt myself.

I question myself and I question why things are programmed the way they are in my life.

Maybe I occasionally suffer from impostor syndrome or maybe I am just never quite content with whatever I may have achieved.

There are times I when try disassociate myself from my successes and from those achievements people use to define what I am or what I have become.

It is never enough to be me. Some call it ambition and a psychologist friend says it is low self-esteem.

...I have been to places I never thought I'd be, done things I never imagined I'd have a chance to do and people who've believed in me every step of the way!

…I have been to places I never thought I’d be, done things I never imagined I’d have a chance to do and people who’ve believed in me every step of the way!

But it is when I forget other amazing things about being me that I am reminded by my tortured conscience what the great spiritual writer, Thomas Merton once said:

“To be grateful is to recognize the Love of God in everything He has given us – and He has given us everything. Every breath we draw is a gift of His love, every moment of existence is a grace, for it brings with it immense graces from Him.”

In those moments when I have felt my ambition waning, when I have considered my resolutions to be as worthless as the paper they are written on – I have had shoulders graciously offered to me to lean on… and to weep if need be.

Perhaps I took to heart the words of that brilliant French novelist by the name Marcel Proust who said: “Let us be grateful to the people who make us happy; they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.”

Whenever it seemed as though my soul where lost and searching for the path; I have always had that unexpected yet amazing midnight call or that thoughtful and encouraging Facebook inbox and more importantly – the motherly assurance that all would be well.

My mother has had to play the role of a father figure in my life and as a single parent her life was far from easy and fulfilling these roles required a great deal of dedication.

Despite the financially constraints she worked hard to ensure I was fed, clothed, sheltered and that I got a reasonable education.

She has been there to listen to my stories of disappointing girlfriends.

That closeness can only be born out of the heart of a woman, for it is the maternal love that can only be patient with the whining and complaints I had almost on a frequent basis about this and that.

I only discovered a half-brother and two sisters very recently. After 32 years of living I found myself with siblings – a brother and sisters.

Before them, I’m grateful to the close friends I’ve made over the years because I think my friends somehow became dots that linked up to create the person I have become.

From Tafadzwa Chinembiri who has always been there… to Delta Milayo Ndou who always says I can be whoever I want to be… to Bethel Goka who keeps on pushing me… to workmates who have monitored my progress and cheered me all the way and to Joseph Katete’s ears that never tire of my fears.

I am especially blessed to have my wife Mildred who chooses not to see my weaknesses while I am indebted to Vincent Kahiya who put his head on the block for me.

I think of and appreciate people like Ignatius Mabasa for the inspiration and for believing in me, as well as the colleagues I met at the University of Sussex and all the help they gave me (Zondi, Mialisa, Tanya, Sammy and a host of them).

At some point in this whole article, I obviously have to make mention of my favorite football team so here it goes – to Dynamos supporters for showing me that when you cheer others you cheer yourself too!

But I reserve the last and most important mention for my son, Jayden.

Jayden is the brother I never had, he is the reason I work hard, he reminds me of the father I never had because he passed away when I was too young cry.

Jayden is the personification of all my joy as a father and the embodiment of all my fears that go with fatherhood.

They are many others I did not mention, not because their contribution was less important, but because there are far too many to mention.

Suffice to say, I remember each and every one of them and I am so grateful to them.

“Sorry” would have been nice

Our bitterness does not come from the fact that we’ve been hurt.

Our bitterness comes from the fact that those who have hurt us remain perpetually unrepentant.

Our bitterness comes from the fact that those who have hurt us go unpunished, make no penance and show no contrition.

And so our wounds remain gaping, our sense of violation festers like a sore and the injustices we have suffered silently, become loud screams in our heads.

We have heard our national leaders shift blame for the country’s demise. They have rationalized….but they have never once apologised for messing up our country

We have been powerless to retaliate because at first we were young (born frees) and later we were ignorant of the power of our vote (pushed to the margins by the older generation who insisted that they knew what was best for us).

Then in time, we were rendered powerless by our lack of capacity occasioned by the worst economic meltdown that had those whose skills we relied on scurrying out of the country like rats deserting a sinking ship.

We lost the skilled teachers, nurses, doctors and other vital citizens owing to a massive brain drain.

But that’s not all we lost – we lost our big sisters and our big brothers; siblings whose protection and mentorship we were deprived of – learning to fill the gapping hole caused by their absence with lists of things we wanted them to send from abroad when all we really wanted was for them to come home and help us understand the chaos and turmoil that Zimbabwe had become.

We lost our mothers and fathers who needed to eke out a living on faraway shores while we were left under the guardianship of extended family members – some good and some not-so-good.

We lost our path and found it all by ourselves again.

We have suffered and no one said “sorry”.

Not even once.

No one apologized because no one noticed that we bore the brunt of it.

Well, we remember.

We are not powerless anymore, we are not ignorant anymore and more importantly – we are not incapacitated any more.

We are first time voters.

And from now on; we will make every election a living nightmare for those who’ve lorded it over us for years.

Even if you rig these elections; we will prevail eventually.

We will appeal to our peers – the youth of this country who make up about 60% of the entire population – and we will get them to swell our numbers at polling stations. The wool you pulled over our eyes is gone now.

You liberated yourselves and not us – so don’t speak the language of liberation to those whose lives have been shattered by your political tyranny.

My soul limps… now

I go through the days with a firm resolve and the same goal that pulled me back from the edge of that precipice now propels me forward.

But it is never an easy thing to drag anyone away from the carcasses of their hopes and the mortuary of dreams. It is not enough to say to the soul, “look here, it is dead. Let it go.”

The soul will not have it. It will not be reasoned with. Because wherever a person’s heart ventures – the soul plants its roots and calls it home. And you were my home.

You were home.

In the aloneness of this solitude I have no one to put up pretence for. But some habits must have somehow snuck into the tightly packed luggage I brought with me. Even though I am surrounded by strangers, I still pretend I am fine – as if they could tell the difference.

Some things are hard to live behind.

They are too burrowed deeply into the survival kit of our psyche. And they are forged by seasons of hardship, of pain and of life’s endless unknowable and unshareable sorrows.

Home is not a place. It is not a thing or an object. Home is a person. If you’re lucky it’s many people but for most of us – it’s usually just one person.

And even if the home goes up in flames the soul lingers round it like some crazed phantom refusing to believe that all is lost. The soul is too stubborn to be reasoned with.

It will keep you there. In the rubbles of the past, driving you mad with its frenzied desire to go through the rubble attempting to find something salvageable.

There is nothing left. It is all gone. And in the end you have to be okay with the fact that it’s gone. But your soul wants to go home to a home that no longer exists.

You show it pictures of the devastation. You show it the witness reports your heart has compiled over the years – detailing every pain sustained, every hurt inflicted and every self-demeaning act of retaliation.

Your mind weighs in – with minty fresh memories of disasters endured, of laughter that got extinguished and soul deep agonies to which the defenceless body curled up through long nights.

You want to tell the soul, “let’s go.” And it won’t budge. It won’t.

Like the desperate futility of holding on to the corpse of a cherished one, the soul wants to stay here.

Wants to try and nourish these drought-hardened soils. Wants to sacrifice itself by making manure out of its roots to fertilize the ground again… perchance something may spring up again.

You tell it “no. We have tried it all. It’s over. Let’s go. Please.”

And in the end you are left with no choice. You must go. This is no longer home. It hasn’t been for a very long time. You must go.

And so you wait until your soul takes a nap, lift it gently and tenderly; try to carefully uproot it from the ground and realize you can’t – it’s too deeply rooted.

If you don’t hurry, your soul will awake and keep begging you, “let’s try one last time. Please. Just one last time.”

But you know that one-last-time would be a waste of last times. You know the reserves containing your one-last-times have become depleted. You know you spent them on this very space and you are running out of one-last-times to spare.

You cannot try it one-last-time.

You are looking at the flatline on the screen, telling you that there is nothing left to resuscitate – that the dreams which once thrived have shrivelled and died. That the hopes which were on life support slipped into a coma and did not survive the wounds inflicted by sterilized loss.

Sterilized loss is a silent killer; a grief denied gains potency with time. Grief is a messy business but sterilizing it only pushes it deeper into our souls. By denying it an outlet – it becomes at home in our hearts – tiny slivers of unacknowledged pain.

We die from tiny defeats, from small let downs and from tiny flesh wounds…it is not their tininess that matters – it is their multitude – death by a thousand paper cuts is still a death.

Your soul is starting to stir and you know the nap will soon be over. You must go. And if you cannot convince your soul then you must just take it with you by force. There is nothing to stay here for.

So you grab it. Grab your reluctant soul and realize the roots are still tied to this ground. Your soul wakes up in alarm and demands to know where you’re taking it, why you don’t want to try one-last-time. You are done talking.

You tell your soul it is time to go. Go before you die in this mass grave containing all the dead dreams and hopes of the past.

Your soul says it will go but there’s a price, “Leave something behind. Leave a piece of me here. This used to be home. Something must be left behind. This used to be home.”

And so I carried my soul out of there, stumbled out into the open of a new day and am blinded by the brightness of future prospects.

“Put me down”, says my soul, “I can walk from here”.

I put it down and begin to walk, thinking that it was right by my side… but a few steps and I realize something is wrong.

I turn back to see my soul following with a limp, “what did you do?” I ask in distress.

And my soul says, “I left something behind. So that I could remember the home that once was. If I could not save it, then let me at least remember. It used to be home. It used to matter.”

Now I understand why my soul limps and why my smile curves into a sad tilt and why my laughter goes out of tune sometimes… ringing in a high falsetto.

You used to be home. You used to matter. And my soul limps to honour that.

My writing has packed its bags… and is leaving

I have been struggling to write of late. And it is a frustrating and frightening thing. Frustrating because writing is something that has always come effortlessly to me.

And when I have to exert myself when writing an article; I let it go. I cannot force it.

That is not the kind of relationship that words and I have… I don’t force them to come. There is no coercion just camaraderie.

Words and I. For as long as I can remember we have been ‘in this’ together. And by ‘this’ I mean the business of living. The business of thinking, of questioning things, of seeking answers, of trying to do better, be better and be relevant.

I need the words. I need to write again.

I am frightened. Frightened by this silent treatment my mind gives me when I say to it, “hey why don’t we find words and scribble something up?”.

Writing has always given me release, always allowed me free reign – enabling me to make my thoughts visible where I could not make them audible. I want it back. My writing.

Anyway I have worked it out. Why the words won’t come. Why the writing is being so aloof. It’s because I am distracted. Because my mind is on a leash… tethered to that nasty thing called ‘unfinished business’.

And in my life there are people who go by that name as well – the people I have ‘unfinished business’ with whom I have judiciously avoided dealing with to the point where it is stressing my mind out!

And now even my writing has packed up its bags, is standing at the door and telling me how things won’t work between us unless I get rid of the distractions.

Now the ‘unfinished business’ is people or things that fall into these categories:

1) The hurts I can’t let go of…
There. I said it. Every year end when I sort out through the stuff I want to enter the new year with; there are certain hurts I make sure I pack to take along with me. I keep the hurts, the really deep ones because I want the pain to be a constant reminder of why I should not let people in. Why I should not trust or depend or need anybody. Why I should learn to crawl if I can’t walk rather than accept the outstretched hand of someone offering to help me to my feet. I keep these hurts because they are souvenirs of risks I was once willing to take, gambles I was once brave enough to make and I especially keep them so that I don’t forget the person who inflicted them on me. So that I don’t ever forget. If I forget it may trivialize the enormity of their transgression against me. But if I keep the hurts – keep them minty fresh – hold on to them tight; through the years and seasons; then it will be reminder that I got hurt and that the hurt was so bad it has not healed and so the offense cannot be pardoned.

2) The things that could have been…
And every year when I pack up for the next year… I pack again a little box of the things I almost had that life cruelly snatched out of my reach. By life I am referring to specific people and their choices that impacted on my life because I had been foolish enough to bank my life on theirs. I keep this box as a set of lessons that I must never attempt to travel through life without. All the things that could have been have one thing in common – they all required the cooperation of somebody else and they all failed because that somebody failed me. So the lesson I learned from the things that could have been is that I increase exponentially my chances of succeeding in life when I go it alone. I learned that if I premise my life on relationships or make someone other than myself central to what I am hoping to achieve – it has the terrible potential of becoming a colossal failure. In short, it has taught me to regard with fear, suspicion and scepticism the hand that would interlace its fingers with mine.

3) The hopes that got deferred…
Each year I carry over, the hopes from the previous years that never came to fruition. And with the years, I find there are some hopes that lingered year after year even when I can see that there is no way they can ever materialize. These I keep locked away and double-bolted in the attic of my mind because they are the worst form of self-torture. They are the heart’s refusal to accept what is and the soul’s refusal to let go of what never was. Because these are things that were fed by everything in me that was beautiful, good, well-meaning, pure and positive. How can such things, fed on such a wholesome diet of everything that embodies goodness in me not come to be. For hope is fed by nothing dark, negative, malicious or twisted. No. Hope is the stuff of goodness. In the balance of life and karma… the hopes that got deferred hurt the most because they sting my innate sense of fairness, of rightness, of just reward and deservingness. So I carry them along too; to remind myself that life is too stochastic to entertain certainty in self, in people and in what the future holds. In short, the lesson I carry from this is – you never know what’s going to happen.

4) The people I won’t forgive…
I have a list of people held captive in my dungeon of grudges. These are people who have let me down; and these people who’ve walked away when they’d said they’d always be there; and these are people who returned my good with evil; these are people who took something from me that I have not yet figured out how to restore – my faith in humanity. Every year, I declare an amnesty for these captives of grudges and I am glad to say many often go scot free. BUT there is a select core of people whom when I release others; my heart reinforces the cage of bitterness and resolutely increases the chaining restraints to make sure they don’t escape. This dungeon is safely guarded somewhere in the recesses of my heart and they have made for light luggage over the years to the point where I can go for months on end without thinking of them but some little thing will trigger a memory and before I know it; I am standing in that dungeon reliving the unjust treatment they gave me and wishing I had more rope to tie them up in. They are ‘unfinished business’ because I am afraid that if I set them free; it will make what they did to me right… it will sanction their actions and it will trivialize the gravity of how they wronged me. I don’t want it to be okay that they hurt me. Because it is not okay. And it will never be okay. Forgiving them would be like saying it’s okay. And it’s not.

5) The things I regret…
Of course the most unfinished business is the stuff I regret. The choices I made that I shouldn’t have made; the people I hurt that I shouldn’t have hurt, the places I stayed when I should have left; and the places I left when I should have stayed. The promises I made that I failed to keep; the people I rejected when they deserved a chance; the people I kept making excuses for when they didn’t deserve the generosity of my loyalty; the people I have betrayed when they’d honoured me with their trust; the things I did that I shouldn’t have and mostly the things I didn’t do that I ought to have done. I carry these along with me to remember that I am not better than others. That I am as messed up as the next person. That I have no right to judge. That my pain is not special, unique or more noteworthy than that of others. That I am only human and can only do the best I can with what I have when I have it. That I too have done horrible things and yet remain a good person. That people deserve a second chance to redeem themselves but also that some people cannot be redeemed and regardless of how many chances they get – they will be what they’d rather be. My regrets teach me that no one can save me from myself and I can never save others from themselves. In short, I cannot change other people; I can only change me.

So my writing is still standing at the door, all packed up and ready to leave – my mind is still tied to a leash, straining to get past all the ‘unfinished business’ so that we get on with the dreams yet to be fulfilled.

Of faith, marriage and baskets!

I just came across this article I wrote over 4 years ago; bright-eyed, eager and hopeful. I resisted the urge to edit it for fear that I may taint its sweet sentimentality with traces of the bile skepticism and cynicism that I have unfortunately picked up over the years.

Marriage is the highest form of faith.

It is the unrelenting faith in the potential and good inherent in another person. It is to open one’s eyes and accept the faults of another. It is to entrust to another that which you can least afford to gamble with – your heart.

Marriage is like a basket.

...ready to gamble? Don't let go of your end...and I'll hold on to mine.

It is the only basket that requires you to put all your eggs in it. Because if you hold on to some of them, you’ll need both hands to make sure they don’t break. And so, with two hands shielding some precious eggs, there’s none left to hold your end of the basket.

Marriage is when two people, who owe each other nothing; decide to owe each other everything. To spend their lives paying a debt they never incurred, because a marital relationship is the one interaction between two people with the greatest degree of intimacy, bonding, sacrifice and exposure.

Marriage is a culmination of the voluntary exposure of two beings, who strip themselves naked in every possible way, physically, emotionally, mentally and share their deepest and most vulnerable thoughts, emotions, hopes, fears and dreams.

I suppose that is why losing a spouse is as good as losing an integral part of your life, because marriage intertwines two people’s destinies into one.

Marriage meshes and interweaves the goals and aspirations of two people into one – they become a team, supporting, defending, caring for and loving one another. They both sacrifice their energy, material and emotional resources and time to improve one another.

I guess that’s where faith comes in.

To believe that the other party will not go back on their promise. To believe the other person will keep their end of the bargain. To believe the other person won’t just let go of their end of the basket and smash every one of your eggs.

There are no guarantees.

Life is a journey... question is: are you gonna walk alone?

Just the hope that things will work out. Just the hope the other won’t stumble and crush some of the eggs. Marriage is the highest form of faith.

Because we know God is faithful, but men at times are not.
But still we believe we can beat the odds and find a perfect partner.

For if we never keep the faith alive, then we’ll never place our eggs in a basket. We’ll carry them in our hands, walk the journey of life in solitude, fearing to stumble because we’ll lose the eggs we’re clinging on to.

Rather we carry this basket together – you and I.

If I should stumble, forgive me for the crime of being human. And believe in me, in my good intention not in my wrong-doing. And if you stumble, may I be strong enough to still believe in you and I. To have enough faith to hold on to my end of the basket. So that at least, some of our eggs remain.

This basket is ours – you and I.

In it we’ve placed so many eggs: we’ve invested our time, our emotional resources, our passion, our aspirations, our dreams, our hopes and also our faith.

I believe in you, but more than that; I believe in who you can become.

An error is when one does what is not in their nature, when they act out of character. I know when you stumble, it ‘s not because it’s natural for you to stumble; it is only because it’s natural to err.

So I’m holding on to this basket, we’ve carried through so many trials and hardships.

At times you’ve had to carry it alone, when I was too weak to hold on, too hurt to be strong and too afraid to believe.

But I believe in you and I.

I believe you are the one, the only one I want to stumble with, to conquer with in the duel of life.

Marriage is the highest form of faith.

I’ve got enough faith to see us through a lifetime, may you have enough faith to hold on lest I should stumble.

…marriage isn’t about the highways: it’s about the crossroads

IF there is an institution that is under siege and threat the world over – it is undoubtedly the marriage institution.

Someone recently made reference to a research that was conducted in several countries including Zimbabwe to identify the causes of depression among women.

The study titled: Africa: Depression linked to gender stereotypes, violence revealed that in Zimbabwe out of the 172 women involved 65% reported anxiety.

The women interviewed complained of “thinking too much,” “deep sadness,” grief, fear, or having an insoluble problem, as some of the causes of their anxiety. Further analysis suggests that men are the leading source of the difficulties women undergo.

I have often received calls from married women who just want someone to talk to and who are just so miserable in their marriages.

They talk and I listen.

I did some research on how some people’s marriages last and I got a few answers. I don’t know if the answers are correct and I don’t even know if these remedies work but it’s food for thought.

The question plaguing many married Zimbabwean women is to stay (married) or to leave?

Hold on or let go....

Well I don’t know the answer to that. In everything; personal choices should be made by individuals themselves because at the end of the day we must all be as responsible for our own misery as we are for our happiness.

In a research titled, “How Do Unhappy Marriages Get Happier?” researchers claimed that a study had revealed that two-thirds of unhappy marriages had become happy five years later.

The researchers also conducted focus group interviews with 55 formerly unhappy husbands and wives who had turned their marriages around.

They found that many currently happily married spouses have had extended periods of marital unhappiness, often for quite serious reasons, including alcoholism, infidelity, verbal abuse, emotional neglect, depression, illness, and work reversals.

Why did these marriages survive where other marriages did not? Spouses’ stories of how their marriages got happier fell into three broad headings: the marital endurance ethic, the marital work ethic, and the personal happiness ethic.

Marital Endurance Ethic... marriages got happier not because partners resolved problems, but because they stubbornly outlasted them.

With the passage of time, these spouses said, many sources of conflict and distress eased: financial problems, job reversals, depression, child problems, even infidelity.

I hazard to guess that this is the premise of the dictum most women have been taught regarding marriage. That it must be endured and not enjoyed.

Sometimes it gets too much and.... the seams start to come apart!

Question: Can you outlast the problems you are facing? Are you prepared to give it another 5 years (just in case these researchers are actually on to something?).

Marital Work Ethic… spouses told stories of actively working to solve problems, change behavior, or improve communication. When the problem was solved, the marriage got happier.

Strategies for improving marriages mentioned by spouses ranged from arranging dates or other ways to spend more time together, enlisting the help and advice of relatives or in-laws, to consulting clergy or secular counselors, to threatening divorce and consulting divorce lawyers. (I daresay this strategy would work better if we didn’t live in the sort of society that blames the wife for everything).

Question: Since it takes two to tango, how do you mend a marriage when the other partner is having an affair? Moreover, how viable is this alternative when some men choose to have children outside the marriage? (The truth is illegitimate children make the process of salvaging the marriage even more complex, excruciating and distressing for the wife).

Personal Happiness Ethic… in this instance, the marriage problems did not seem to change that much. Instead married people in these accounts told stories of finding alternative ways to improve their own happiness and build a good and happy life despite a mediocre marriage.

I suppose that the upbringing of most women makes them pre-disposed to settle for mediocre marriages because in many instances, a woman’s worth is associated with her marital status. No one really cares about the quality of the marriage as long as the woman is married – that is really all that matters.

The guiding principle here being – just stick with it (the marriage) and learn to make do!

Question: Does it really matter how happy marriages are as long as families remain intact? If people can have mediocre marriages and thrive in other aspects of their personal life – should they not learn to be content? (The idea here is that one should not expect marriage to make them happy).

In the words of Frank Pittman; “Marriage isn’t supposed to make you happy — it’s supposed to make you married.”

Five years is a long time but I wonder if there are any couples who are unhappily married right now who, in 2016, could step forward and prove these ideas right.

What I find interesting in the dynamics of the marriage institution are powerful effects of marital commitment on marital happiness.

Perhaps it is true that a strong commitment to marriage as an institution, and a powerful reluctance to divorce, will not merely keep unhappily married people locked in misery together but could also help couples form happier bonds…. with time (5 years or so?).