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16 things every woman must know before saying ‘I do’

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‘He went to work in Nairobi … then married another wife’

Growing up in the village, you must have known a man who went to work in Nairobi ‘… and then he married a city wife.’ Just like the happy ever after tales, most tales involving men who went to work in other towns end in ‘ … and then he married another wife.’ This has seen a rise of men who have wives in every city and from every tribe.

‘We thought he had a secret wife; we were his secret family!

The habit is so rampant that some women cannot tell if their husband has a secret wife or they are the secret wife; some children grow up suspecting that their father has a secret family only to find out later that they are the secret family.

Paradox: Married women wish they were single; single girls wish they were married!

When I came to the city, I started hearing women say ‘If I were young, I would not get married.’ I did not understand, and when I asked they would not explain why. Just a simple ‘If I were single I’d be far’ or ‘Wanaume ni stress (men are a stressor – in a woman’s life). Women who have been married for over 20 years would always look at new brides with pity during wedding processions.

Years later, after interacting with more women and experiencing city life for a while, I managed to gather some information that I believe women need to know before they get married.

If you are the kind of woman who positions herself to be picked up for a one-night stand to break a dry spell, this article is not for you.

If you are the woman who believes you can sleep or hookup with any man you set your eyes on, this article isn’t for you either.

However, this article is for women who crave quality long-lasting relationships and take time to get to understand other people before considering any kind of relationship.

Advice for single women: Before you say ‘I do’ …

  1. Have your own income or some employable/deployable skills. One thing you need to know is if a woman does not spend her man’s money, he will spend it with other women out there. Men want to be with women who know how to spend. However, this does not mean you stop working or looking for your own money when you get married. There are men who will of course ask their wives to quit their jobs or stop doing business to focus on homemaking. This is a huge trap. Just when you stay home long enough for your skills to become obsolete, he will start hanging out with someone at work. There are men who manage to stay faithful, but they eventually get tired of leaving money for the salon. While this may not happen, let us not rule out unfortunate circumstances such as loss of income or loss of life. Assuming that he loses his source of income and you don’t know where to start looking for money, where will you start?
  2. Do not leave your career/business for marriage. Many husbands ask their wives to step down from their positions so as to help build their businesses or focus on raising children. Don’t get me wrong. You are his helper, and your children need you. But leaving your job is a bad idea. Most men wait for a few years until you have so huge a gap in your CV you can’t get employed anywhere, then they make an about-turn. I have also heard married men who were getting help to build their businesses boast about how they sit on the big table alone, consult themselves and make decisions alone because ‘I am the only director, it is my business.’
  3. Have a circle of loyal and trustworthy friends. You do not need a huge crowd of people, just a handful that can be there for you. Times are changing and people have really changed. Friends have become frenemies, and best of friends betray each other without thinking twice. The friends you need are not the kind to betray or abandon you when you need them. You need friends who can take care of your man in your absence without telling him: ‘If you see me, you have seen Kanini. There is nothing she can do that I can’t.’
  4. Your female friends are human. When you talk nicely about him, there are those in your friend list who want to experience the same joy. When you invite your friends over, there are those coming to get his number and prove that they can compete with you and defeat you – by cheating with your man. You don’t need such friends, and neither do you need such a man.
  5. Take care of your family. Your husband may or may not take care of your family. It is your responsibility to maintain a good working relationship with your people. I have seen men who deny their wives permission to visit their parents, yet force them to go and stay with their parents. It is said that a man and a woman shall leave their parents and become one. Not a woman shall leave her parents. And leaving parents does not mean burning that bridge. There are men who can visit a town near their wife’s home and refuse to go see her parents. This is spite. And if you have children of your own, only you can protect them. If you show your husband that you don’t love them, he won’t love them either.
  6. Do not abandon your dreams because of marriage. So you were building or thinking of doing something before you met your husband? And now love has been so sweet it has made you abandon your dreams? Your husband provides for you and therefore no need to continue working on your dream? That is the first cry of a dying horse. The worst mistake women make is abandoning their dreams to blindly build their husbands’ dreams, then once he makes enough money he goes to spend it as he wills, often with other women, while you are at home nurturing poverty and relying on handouts.
  7. Seize every opportunity that comes your way. Opportunity to travel? Seize it. Opportunity to work at a higher rank? Take it. Opportunity to serve in church? Take it. Opportunity to make new friends? Take it. Opportunity to travel? Study? Go on holiday? Take all of them because if they go his way, he will not hesitate. You will be left there wondering whether both of you were working towards the same goals of building a family. Only leave cheating opportunities alone… those can completely tear you apart.
  8. Get a life. Do not narrow down your focus to just your husband or marriage. There are many things you can do in life. If you shift all attention to one thing or person, you will keep resenting each other. Attend get-togethers, social events, charity causes, enroll in a school, volunteer somewhere, go hiking … the list is endless. Just don’t let everything in your life be about your marriage.
  9. Know that he will not think twice about going abroad. a lot of women cling on to their marriages like an egg only to be shocked when the husband comes home one day with a letter to work abroad effective immediately. He packs and leaves as if you do not exist, and then ghosts on you. Others just decide to be traveling to a certain place at specific regular times, and will not give further explanations until you find birth certificates of children you’ve never heard of, whose father is your husband.. or strange callers from his frequent destination.
  10. Marriage is not the most important thing that happened to you. Stop treating your marriage as the most important thing that ever happened to you. Enjoy it privately, and give the public a break. If you go showing off your spouse, chances are high that you will not go far or don’t enjoy your marriage in private.
  11. He can walk out any time. Men do not think twice about a cheating opportunity. That colleague he sits next to, that stranger he met on the plane, that supplier, that laundry lady, that lady he met at a funeral or wedding, that former classmate he likes to hang out with, that friend of yours who comes for sleepovers… the list is endless. A man will leave home, meet a lady in the matatu and book lodging by the time he alights. Then he will take her number and they will meet again in the evening, then it will become a trend. It boils down to knowing whether your man has boundaries. Is everything permissible to him? Is he prone to cheating? Is he the risk-taker who never counts the cost? The way he handles members of the opposite gender boils down to his value system and principles.
  12. Men always have a spare wheel. Have you ever realized that men never terminally end their relationships? They are always in transition. When someone new gets into their lives, they slowly transition often without ending it with the previous person mate. Even if they end that relationship, they keep in touch for ‘rainy days’. And because they don’t spend time mourning breakups, they never grow their pain tolerance levels. When something painful happens in their lives, they treat it like a breakup and you like the errand lover.
  13. Do not tolerate cheating. Most people handle cheating by cheating back. But one wrong cannot make another wrong right. If he cheats and you forgive him, he will go back and do it when you least expect. It is said that men do not break off illicit affairs. If he starts one, he will always continue seeing that person. It is up to you to decide what you want. If he confesses to having cheated two times, counselors advise that you multiply that by 2. If he cheated 4 times, it means 8. Someone who loves you will not cheat on you.
  14. Do not give up your male friends because he will not give up his female friends. It is not good to be having close friends of the opposite gender, or exes lingering around. But if you think he will stop having close female friends because he got married, you are mistaken. Check point number 12. No man is monogamous. A pastor once said that men do not divorce or become widowed because they always have someone else. If you don’t believe check how long your ex stayed single or how long he took before dating someone else. You will find that he was already in a relationship, it is the intensity of meetings that changed from say once every month to thrice weekly. If he was traveling once every Friday for ‘some engagement’ that turned out to be an affair, she will move in immediately as if nothing changed; she will pick up from where you left.
  15. Create time for things that matter to you. Do you love art? Attend galleries. Do you love traveling? Create a schedule for your tours and holidays. Do you love crafts? Join others in creating some new designs. Do you love photography? Take time and snap some photos. Do whatever you are passionate about because marriage will not hand it to you.
  16. You are in charge of the quality of life you live. Happy? Sad? Mellow? Resentful? Nobody is in charge of those emotions but yourself. If you are always angry and bitter about stuff you don’t like that keeps happening, you will always be sick and resentful. Your husband will not solve that problem for you. Rarely will he change if he is the cause. Only you can change, or decide if that is how you want to spend the rest of your life. An abusive partner will eventually return you quickly ‘back to the Sender’. So make a decision while you still can.

In conclusion, creating a beautiful marriage requires you to take the time to get to know your partner. It is not something you rush or force. If you force being with someone, you will always be having problems. Yes, you can tolerate them at first but eventually, they overwhelm you and you will not be able to contain negative emotions any longer.

While finding the right match is not an easy thing, it is not advisable to ignore those cues. Any sign of incompatibility will come back to haunt you. Men can walk out of a marriage without apologies, but women get attached too much to the point where quitting a bad relationship becomes hard. Finally, know that quitting a bad marriage is harder than quitting a bad relationship.