After dating for many years, I felt I knew Henry. We enjoyed each other’s company and we were free with each other to the point of sharing phone and bank account passwords,” says Alice Nabakka.
On their wedding night, his true colours emerged when Henry shouted at her for forgetting to turn on the heater. “I brushed it off pegging it to exhaustion,” she says.
Unbeknown to Nabakka, that was the beginning of dealing with Henry’s bad temper. “Looking back, I was walking on egg shells, making sure that I do not do anything to disturb the happy moments. I lived to please him so much so that I agreed to do things I would never have done. At one point, I took a loan for him to start business,” she says.
The happy bubble soon burst when she asked Henry to help in paying back the loan, as he had promised, now that the business was making some profits.
“The outburst was like an erupting volcano. I thought he would honour his side of the bargain rather than call me names and remind me how that same business feeds me,” she recounts. The thought of paying back Shs10m weighed her down because she had other plans that were now curtailed and while she finally paid it off, the feelings of agony and betrayal were eminent. But Nabakka chose to look on the brighter side of life and believed that the stresses of life were weighing him down and she just had to play the supportive wife.
Choosing to walk by his side and staying true to her vows, she prayed for that phase to come to an end. She missed the nights they would chat about their day and make plans for the next. Everytime she looked at her son who had been neglected by his father, she fet sad.
“Will this end?” She wondered as she kept praying. With time, Nabakka became numb to the pain. “At least, he still provided and we had a roof over our head. But he hardly talked to us,” she says. Wondering if she had ever given separation a thought at that time, Nabakka says she had been told to go through each storm with knowledge that it would finally end. With two more children, Nabakka swung from one emotion to the other and was uncertain about what to expect. While it seemed an insane way of living, yet she hung in there waiting for that sunshine at the end of the storm.
She could not hold on anymore when she watched how her children cringed at the sound of their father returning home. It seemed that finally every action was a weight around her neck and it was heavier than she could carry. Six months later, after a lot of verbal and emotional abuse Nabakka called it quits.
No couple walks down the aisle envisioning divorce and perhaps this is what makes it a painful experience.
When a couple reaches the stage of reality in marriage where their love is tested, usually expectations are not met from either side. “While disagreements are normal in any marriage and enable a couple to learn each other’s strength and weaknesses, daily arguments are a red flag and if there is no effort from one or both parties, it can result into divorce,” Evelyn C Kharono Lufafa, a counselling psychologist at Sermotherapy Counselling Foundation, says.
Stephen Langa, a counsellor, says when one shouts at their partner, belittles them in the presence of their children, deliberately does things contrary to the expected behaviour, calls each other negative names, then a separation or divorce is close by. A relationship devoid of respect signals to a looming separation or divorce.
Drug or alcohol problems
If one of the spouses becomes addicted, it can interfere with the relationship and may end in a divorce, if nothing is done about it. “It interferes with the daily way of doing things and causes tension which strains the marriage,” Kharono says.
Loss of interest in sexual intimacy
When it gets to an extent where sexual intimacy does not happen for a couple of months or longer, Kharono says it is a warning sign. “It can cause deep resentment and end up harming the relationship,” the counsellor says.
Lack of communication
When a spouse is the last to know about major decisions such as changing children’s schools and buying property, danger awaits. “When you get to hear such things from outsiders is a sign that things are getting out of hand,” Rhoda Sebaata, a marriage counsellor, shares.
There are men who will blame their partners for mistakes they made 10 years ago. At every small argument, they will refer to all the wrongs you have done. Sebaata says being unable to move past grudges and bringing them up in every argument is a red flag.
Kharono, however, believes that a couple may face all or some of the above issues but still survive if it is intentional about making the marriage through talking and attending marriage seminars.