… a husband is like a chair

A husband is like a chair. The only way to be certain that it’s exclusively yours is to sit in it …perpetually!

I mean you can cherish your chair – love it with all your heart – but if you leave it unattended it has the potential of being noticed by those that are standing.

And you have no way of knowing – absolutely no way of knowing – what’s happening to your chair unless you have your butt firmly planted in it.

So you use your hard earned money and buy yourself a good chair or you can acquire yourself a husband (by whatever means or currency used to ‘purchase’ husbands).

Hell you even have a certified receipt (or marriage certificate) with your name boldly written on it clearly stating that you own this chair (or that this fellow is your legal matrimonial ‘property’) – you still have no way of knowing who’s gonna decide to just sit in your chair (or have a roll in the hay with that husband of yours).

Really, husbands remind me of chairs. If they’re left empty those who are standing don’t mind taking a seat. No, not at all.

.....should spouses come with such signs!

Even if you put a big sign written, RESERVED, some disrespecting “freelancer” is going to decide – she’s been standing too long… can’t wait to get a chair of her own… her back hurts from all the standing…and her feet are killing her so… f**k the sign…she’s gonna sit her arse down! (Excuse my French).

But husbands are not chairs to be owned. I think husbands are companions not property.

Husbands are not things you stake a claim on – like a chair. I think they are more like companions you choose to invite along on a journey you prefer not to travel alone.

There’s nothing to say, you won’t reach your destination if you go without one.

There’s nothing to say you cannot make the journey alone.

There’s even nothing to suggest that the texture of the journey will be enhanced; the loneliness lessened or the experience more enriched in the sharing – it’s just that many prefer to travel with them.

Husbands are not owned like chairs; they are companions choosing daily to walk in step with you and sometimes they may decide they’ve got better places to be than walking along life’s path in your company!

Maybe chairs are even better than husbands, you may insure them and if they get stolen or damaged – you might get a brand new replacement.

Irresistible looking chair...

But who is to say that when you have this brand new replacement chair; some greedy “sister” (who has her own shabby chair at home) is not going to covet what is yours and decide that your replacement chair was designed with her own butt cheeks in mind?

In the end, shouldn’t you have a clear understanding of the things you can claim to own?

Things like your dreams and your hopes?
Things like your strengths and the quirky imperfections that make you an interesting human being?
Things like your smile, your laughter and even your tears?
Things like your body, your heart and the integrity of your soul? Things like your memories – shared with friends or with companions – always made in moments of love, light and laughter?

I suppose I could be wrong, perhaps a husband isn’t that similar to a chair; he is not something to be ‘owned’ or something you bind to yourself with excessive sentiment.

If you must own anything – perhaps you might like to start by owning yourself?

…a slap in my face!

This post was originally written for and appeared in The Sunday News Leisure Magazine, in the city of Bulawayo, Zimbabwe. (Issue of 6-12 November, 2011)

I spent the last two weeks proof-reading and editing a book on marriage and had it been written by anyone other than my best friend Talema’s dad – I would not have consented.

For one thing, the book is lengthy and I have a crazy schedule without adding anything else, for another – I was certain that my views on the subject of marriage clashed completely with whatever his were (generation gap and all that).

I approached the book with a respectful attitude, prepared to keep my prejudices on a tight leash and also unwilling to contradict the author – after all he’s been a distant father figure to me for nearly 15 years.

I read the book and it left me feeling like I had been walking around with shit in my shoes.

Reverend Levy Moyo’s soon-to-be published book, The Woman in White – is a blunt, relentless and devastatingly written book – brutal in its honesty and frank in its castigation.

I did not expect to encounter such a frontal onslaught to all my ideas around marriage; never mind the fact that each chapter made me want to dig a deep hole and shove my feminism in there like some dirty secret!

The book is engaging and reads like an invasion – drawing in the reader, ruthlessly tugging, pulling and testing every idea or notion one has of marriage.

Proverbs 31: "1 The words of king Lemuel, the prophecy that his mother taught him. 2 What, my son? and what, the son of my womb? and what, the son of my vows? 3 Give not thy strength unto (loose) women, nor thy ways to that which destroyeth kings. 4 It is not for kings, O Lemuel, it is not for kings to drink wine; nor for princes strong drink..."

The book is like an armpit check; it makes you want to keep sniffing at your own life or ideas to see whether you’re the one that’s being written about and it forces you to take stock of your life.

Like a sober parent, Reverend Levy Moyo’s book spanks foolishness out of the mind; firmly asserts wisdom, discipline and the stinging slap of reality.

And here’s the twist – he wrote the book for MEN!

The woman in white is premised on Proverbs 31 in the bible and it is the Reverend’s contention that although that scripture is always quoted to women and sermons are crafted with the intention of ministering to women through it – that Chapter is a mother’s letter to her son.

It was written by a woman to her son, for her son, and in order to help her son find and marry a good woman.

Reverend Levy Moyo redirects the message back to the audience it was originally written for – men.

He points out that behind every great man there is a great woman – only that woman is not his wife; that woman is his mother!

One of the things that left me frazzled is how he demonstrated the devastating effects of verbal abuse in a manner that I have tried, unsuccessfully to express in my own writing.

Perhaps it was because I too, was of the opinion that verbal abuse was bad but not that bad; I used to compare verbal abuse to physical abuse and sub-consciously classify verbal abuse as a ‘lesser evil’.

But Reverend Levy Moyo draws an intriguing parallel between verbal abuse and The Chinese Water Torture technique.

In this one paragraph, he encapsulates the undesirability of a contentious woman.

Chinese water torture is the popular name for a method of water torture in which water is slowly dripped onto a person’s forehead, allegedly driving the restrained victim insane.

The Discovery Channel investigated Chinese water torture and found that dripping water on the forehead, by itself, was not particularly stressful.

Immobilizing the subject along with a variable water drop schedule proved the most stressful of the methods they tried, and cold water intensified the effect.

The key part of this is that the water drop was made to be randomly timed. Thus, the victim would not know when the next drop would come. I think there are many men that live in dread of when the nagging, yelling, shouting and quarreling will start or what will trigger it.

Some women are accomplished Chinese Torturers and some men live in perpetual torture…because what some women fail to appreciate is that they fail to the long-term consequences of short-term repetitive actions.

The mouth is hard to restrain and many men live on the receiving end of what is arguably the greatest weapon of mass destruction known to human kind – the undisciplined tongue.

As a mother to a young boy; I fervently hope my precious son does not fall into such captivity and endure a lifetime of having to put up with a Chinese torturer of a woman!

I’m keeping a copy of that book and like, Lemuel who remembered the words of his mother; may my own son remember my words as I too point out life’s endless follies.

Parting shot: “Victims were strapped down so that they could not move, and cold water was then dripped slowly on to a small area of the body. The forehead was found to be the most suitable point for this form of torture: prisoners could see each drop coming, and after long durations were gradually driven frantic as a perceived hollow would form in the centre of the forehead. Many of the people that were being tortured suffered a great deal of mental retardation.” – Wikipedia (describing Chinese Water Torture)

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?).

Is Macheso the real deal?

Over the past weeks Alick Macheso has dominated the headlines with his decision to marry a second wife; whose courtship no doubt at some point necessitated that he cheats on his first wife.

I simply cannot see how any man can get to the point of deciding to marry a second wife without having gone via the cheating route i.e to meet, then date, then fall in love and finally make a marital commitment to someone else while you have a spouse at home doesn’t leave one smelling daisy fresh.

I am not a fan of his music and for the greater part of my existence – the man rarely crosses my mind therefore devoting a whole blog entry to discussing him would ordinarily be unwarranted.

However, I recently came across the not-so-funny information that this musician was now preaching the gospel of HIV prevention against the background of his dubious private life high jinks.


What qualifies this man to be entrusted with a life saving message when his own very recent conduct is contrary to the anti-HIV hymn book he now purportedly sings from?

A month ago, one Psychology Maziwisa took it upon himself to ferociously defend Macheso’s right and liberty to marry another wife because as far as he can stretch his powers of reasoning “it is the appeal of his voice not character that has gained him (Macheso) the legions of fans that adore him. Macheso is a celebrated musician not saint.”

Well, I will not argue that point having already admitted that I am not an authority on the man or his music and am therefore not equipped to make an informed or considered critique of Macheso.

But I am sufficiently versed in the discourses surrounding HIV prevention and messaging to wonder how a man who is about marry his own daughter’s friend becomes the best mouth-piece to spread the word?

Haven’t we established, beyond any reasonable doubt, that inter-generational sex is a major driver of HIV infection particularly in this region – and if the age gap between Macheso and his intended bride is not inter-generational; I don’t know what is.

Haven’t we spilt ink debunking the evils of sexual networks and how the practise of having multiple concurrent sexual partners is arguably the highest contributor to new HIV infections, most of which occur in marriages and long-term committed relationships.

Macheso’s lifestyle revolves around the two women in his lives and at some point it is very likely that his wife Mai Sharon was blissfully unaware that her husband was involved with anyone besides her or being intimate with the individual.

....age is just a number? Macheso with his wife-to-be, Tafadzwa who just happens to have been friends with Macheso's daughter

A dear friend Fungai Machirori’s commentary on the phenomenon seems an appropriate reference point at this juncture as it succinctly puts across what I am at pains to communicate.

We can reasonably assume that Macheso was not practicing safe sex with his wife (as most married couples who “trust” each other don’t) if the fact that she reportedly suffered a miscarriage not long ago is anything to go by.

And it is plausible that Macheso was not abstaining from having Tafadzwa (the wife-to-be) sate his manly appetites.

I hasten to say there is a lot of conjecture coming into play at this point but when a man with dirty linen hanging out on the line decides to become a detergent salesman – we are forced to wonder why we should buy into his pitch when evidence of his not-so-clean laundry suggests that he’s not practicing what he’s preaching.

I believe there is always a need for more voices to amplify the message of HIV prevention but I am also convinced that the integrity of the message is harmed when it is entrusted to people who are not credible as role models.

So the man is not a saint – fine. But where the hell does he get the crazy idea that he can be an “activist” advocating for HIV prevention when his own life reads like a script out of “The things one should avoid doing to prevent HIV”?

A few months ago, Garikai Muchemwa woefully lamented the “lack of a specific HIV prevention strategy targeting musicians” revealing that as a development practitioner with specific interest in HIV prevention he was “highly disturbed with the issues surrounding Josphat Somanje’s infidelity (he was reportedly caught by his wife in the act with a girlfriend according to H-Metro reports) and Tongai Moyo’s multiple concurrent sexual partnerships”.

He goes to point out that: “barely a week after disclosing his HIV status Tongai Moyo had a domestic dispute with his wife over his intentions of marrying a second wife and there are even some claims that the man impregnated his wife’s young sister. This unfortunately claimed Barbara’s life (Moyo’s wife) as she committed suicide using rat poison.”

But I digress.

What has really been grating at my mind is whether there is any merit in polygamy as a preventive measure for HIV or infidelity? If men were encouraged to marry as many women as they pleased would we witness a decline in HIV prevalence and would we see infidelity drastically reduced to becoming a very rare occurrence?

I ask this because someone hailed Macheso for being “heroic” enough to admit that he is cheating on his wife and will now seek to white-wash that reality by formalizing the relationship with his hitherto “small house”.
What I maintain is that it is not possible for a man to arrive at the destination called polygamy without going through the route called “betraying and cheating on his first wife”.

I only wish to strongly contest, Macheso’s suitability for the role of HIV prevention activist which he appears to have taken up with such shameless gusto.

Is he the real deal?

Mimosa and Action, HIDC (in their combined wisdom or lack thereof) seem to think so.