The other day, my friends and I were having a discussion about marriage after it emerged that a famous media couple are splitting up after just a few months of being married.
My friend *Njambi pointed out an interesting fact; that the couple had been dating for six years but a few months of marriage and all that was ruined. In her opinion, the institution of marriage is cursed….and that marriage destroys relationships that were once very stable. I was perplexed for a bit. How?
I pointed out to them that as someone who has been in a relationship with the same person for five years (since I was nineteen….yes, imagine that…) I pretty much believe that I could handle anything this person throws my way. After all, I already know the guy “inside out” and pretty much everything about him. Marriage would be a walk over for me.
“Marriage has a way of destroying beautiful things,” njambi repeated while looking me dead in the eye.
I didn’t know what to say.
“I believe strongly in marriage. My parents have been married for a long time and still do romantic stuff to each other. I also believe that a man and a woman is the perfect environment for raising children. One of the biggest purposes for us on earth is to bring forth life and what better way to raise these kids than together as husband and wife,” *Steve said slyly. Before I could open my mouth to protest that surely procreating couldn’t be the sole purpose for us on planet earth, he went on.
“However, I believe it is naïve to think that two people can be in love with each other for twenty years or more, let alone ten.” I opened my mouth to speak and he cut me off again. “You meet new people every day, people you get to discover and interact with. Plus let’s face it, being with one person for ten years and more can be pretty boring. You know everything about them; you predict their actions and reactions. Your love becomes so boring. It is at that moment that cheating happens and the marriage becomes one big ball of lies.”
“You mean it is at that moment that a man begins cheating,” njambi said.
“Women cheat too you know. Let’s face it; humans aren’t wired to be faithful to one partner for the rest of their lives. It is a near impossibility. Our fore fathers accepted that. The Masaai shared their women, in the kamba community; a woman was allowed to have one or two children with a different man as long as she kept it a secret.”
I wanted to say that those were only two tribes he’d given as examples but for the sake of peace kept my mouth shut. Plus I wanted to see where this was heading, not argue about what used to happen in Africa hundreds of years ago.
“As I was saying, it is practically impossible to live with the same person for years on end without getting bored. It is not in our human nature as much as we try to bury our heads in the sands.”
“So what do you suggest?” njambi asked with a ridiculous look.
“Exactly. What is your solution to all this madness,” I quipped in too.
“Openness, that is the solution to a successful marriage. People have to sit down and be real with each other. You have to accept that as long as you will always love each other, the physical aspect of the relationship has nothing to do with love. You should agree to see other people at least twice a year but only for physical gratification.”
“Ohhhhhh,” njambi and I said in unison. What else was there to say?
“I know it sounds ridiculous, but it is better than living lie after lie and just accepting issues for what they are; that human beings and especially men aren’t monogamous by nature.”
“What if you end up falling in love with these other people that you are now sleeping with,” I asked incredulously.
Steve was thoughtful for a while, then, “here is how I see it. You have to vet these people that your partner will be having. You have to make sure they are at a certain level. That they aren’t very successful- In fact, they shouldn’t be as successful as you. At any one point, you should always know who your partner is going out with in order to okay them or veto them.”
“Your argument is flawed,” I pointed out, almost defensively. I felt like the whole institution of marriage lay in my hands, to defend courageously.
“let me point out first,” njambi interrupted, “that if – and that’s a big if- I am going to sleep with someone else while still married, that person better not be somewhere at the bottom of the food chain. Because if I do step out, it better be with someone better than my husband.”
“Let me tell you why this will not work anywhere. First of all, there is no guarantee that once you step out you will only do so twice a year. Once you go that route you might never look back. Secondly, there is a high chance you might end up losing your partner to this other person. Also, what’s the point of it all if you have to vet each other’s “people”? That beats the whole fun point don’t you think? I mean, why even bother if I cannot choose someone I truly want? Another thing, stepping out of a marriage shouldn’t just be about the physical aspect. If indeed the marriage has become boring and you want to try something else, that means you also need someone you can talk to, someone you can have intelligent conversations with, someone that can make you laugh and feel good about yourself. Why should it be just about sex? Personally, I think this is the main reason why your argument is flawed. There is no man – well, not one that I can think of- that will be okay with knowing his wife is sleeping with someone else. I am not saying that women are usually okay with it, but at least they can condone it. I mean how many women do you personally know who happen to have information that their husbands are sleeping with other people but decide to look the other way? I’ll tell you; I know a few. The point is most men I know will oppose this idea vehemently. Which is not funny because they will then turn around and go ahead to cheat! Yes, men want to cheat but they do not want to be cheated on. And then here is the most interesting bit about this whole topic of going out. Most people who cheat do so for the thrill. That thrill of knowing you are cheating and that you could be caught any minute. The risk of being caught gives them some form of adrenaline…it gives them that rush, like when you are high or something. So the whole point of knowing each other’s partners is not alluring to this group at all. Personally I think marriage is sacred and should be honored by all costs.”
I was breathless.
Njambi and Steve stared at me and said nothing.
At that moment, I wish I had a mike.