George Kimenyi, 34, and his wife Mary Wamucii, 32, have been married for 12 years. Despite marrying young, Mary, a marriage counsellor and teacher and George, a businessman, have defied all odds to make their marriage blissful, a situation they want to maintain at whatever cost. The couple share how marriage has transformed their lives into one tranquil existence with FAITH MATHENGE-MURIGU.
They laugh a lot during this interview and one can tell this couple shares a deep connection. It is a love that has matured over time; a love that has seen them through challenges that come with dashed hopes and expectations; a love that has grown stronger despite many imperfections.
Teenage love and marriage…
George: Mary and I met when we were barely out of our teens in 2000. She had just completed high school and enrolled in college to study sales and marketing. I was also in college pursuing a diploma in hotel management. I came to know her through our houseboy, Mutua. I lived with my parents in Ngong and Mary’s aunt was our neighbour. Mary came to live with her auntie when she joined college. Their house help was Mutua’s close friend. He told Mutua of the pretty girl who had moved into their house and Mutua naturally told me.
I was not one to be told of a pretty girl and shy away, and besides her aunt was a close friend of my family and I often went to her house to help her seven-year old daughter with homework. A warm current swept over my body when I set eyes on Mary and I resolved to make her mine despite our ages – she was 18 and I was 20. A deep friendship started and within no time we fell in love. We dated for two years before getting married in 2002 after we were both done with our studies.
Mary: I first heard about George from my young cousins, who obviously adored him. I did not take much notice of him when he first came to visit. Then I met him the second time at the bus stop and he stared at me with such intensity that I became self-conscious and blushed. Still, this didn’t linger in my mind for long until the day he came to our home and told me he was attracted to me. Then I got thinking… and the love bug hit me. There was no stopping.
George: Our profound love for each other grew within no time and before long we started talking about marriage. One thing led to another and in 2002, even before we had found jobs, we moved in together. Our parents were unhappy with this ‘come we stay’ arrangement, particularly my parents. They thought I was too young to take on marriage responsibilities and even tried to persuade me to leave Mary. Nothing was going to shake our genuine and solid love and we stuck together despite the challenges, especially finances. We went on to have a baby, Trevor Thendeu, in 2003. When our parents realised we were coping just fine, they joined in the party and blessed our union. Today, we enjoy a good relationship with them.
Mary: We realised we were too young and unprepared for marriage after the birth of our son. We had far too many conflicts; we would get angry with each other and hurl heartless words at each other. Our lack of money was also a source of conflict and we still held onto our egos, blaming each other for our situation. While it was tough, we loved each other so much that we resolved to make our marriage work. It took us a long time to learn how to manage conflict but the situation changed after I took a deliberate step to equip myself with conflict management skills. I enrolled for a guidance and counselling course in 2009 and the knowledge I gained not only helped to make our marriage a haven of peace, it also enabled me help other couples struggling with conflict.
George: As a Christian, I accept the bible is the inspired word of God. I believe God hates divorce and His plan is for marriage to last a lifetime. Marriages often break for various reasons including idolatry, physical abuse, peer pressure and neglect. But the answer to saving a marriage lies within the couple; they must seek solutions to their problems and vow to remain together no matter what challenges face them. The fundamental doctrines of marriage remain the same irrespective of one’s religion. Love and faithfulness are the bedrock of a good marriage. Intimacy is also important as it shows that you care and there is no denying that sex maintains the bond of love. Keeping promises and being reliable and dependable is what builds trust. I am happy that over the years, I have become a better husband.
Mary: My marriage has taught me many skills I didn’t have before. One of the greatest is becoming a better communicator. The more I muster it, the better our relationship becomes. Communication is key to any relationship and women need to muster it in order to learn how to express their feelings and not expect their husbands to guess. If you haven’t told him, then he doesn’t know. Communicate, communicate, and communicate, is my advice to all couples. The other important thing I have learnt is to keep people with ill intentions away from our marriage. Marriage is for two and if you let a third person, other than God, to come in the middle, you will have many conflicts.
Value of marriage…
George: To have a God-given companion to share life with is a blessing. It not only gives you peace to know you have someone around who cares, it also provides psychological relief. You know you are never alone and you have someone to share all your burdens with. I am happy to be married to my friend Mary who comforts me at all times and never judges me. What a precious gift!
Mary: My marriage is the best school I ever attended. It has made me a better person. I have matured and I am more organised and focussed. I have seen good returns from the investment I have put in my marriage. I feel blessed to share my life with such a wonderful man. He is considerate and loving. I particularly love him more for standing by me when our parents resisted our marriage. That is true love.
George: If I were to get married again, I would still choose Mary. She is a wonderful partner and companion. We have a very good relationship and have helped each other grow in positive ways in our lives including our careers and spirituality. I am able to embrace life with a smile, even when things appear difficult. My wife is a very good homemaker and she has made our home a sanctuary; a place where I find peace after a hard day.
Dealing with shortcomings…
George: Neither of us is perfect; we both have weaknesses which we have learnt not to dwell on. We are accommodative of each other’s shortcomings while emphasising our strong points. We thrive on sorting out our issues before they get out of hand.
Mary: We have learnt that criticising each other’s weaknesses breeds resistance. When we wrong each other, we wait until we are both in a good mood before bringing up the subject. When annoyed, one is not sober minded enough to reason and make good judgement. Even the bible is clear that you should not do anything in anger.
George: Every relationship has something unique. Our marriage thrives on being well matched and therefore tightly bonded. We laugh about the same things, we love having fun and going to places together. We even go shopping together.
Mary: Disagreements are inevitable when people live together but what is important is how these are resolved. George and I always find ways of settling our arguments and we have learnt not to let them get out of hand. We have learnt the power of saying sorry and are quick to forgive each other. Our aim is to have peace prevail in our home. We remain best of friends and there is a lot of laughter in our home. We also share jokes and include our children in the warmth of our lives.
Trusting each other…
George: Mary and I trust each other and share almost everything. We talk a lot and do not shy away from sharing disturbing issues, and when we have misunderstandings, we discuss them in a loving manner. We desist from seeking advice from friends on matters relating to our relationship because we know divulging confidential family matters to other parties may work against you. Trust is key in a relationship. It is a value we have in plenty in our marriage. It eliminates suspicion, which can ruin even the best of relationships.
Spicing up the marriage…
George: I like cooking for my family whenever I have time. I also help my wife with household chores once in a while. I endeavour to take my family out on a dinner or lunch date at least once a week.
Mary: I pray for my family daily and also shower them with surprise meals from my creative recipes every now and then. We create time for our two sons, Trevor Thendeu, eight, and Melvin Kamau, one-and-a half years. They are a huge blessing in our lives and they add to our joy. Our communication channels are open and we exchange text messages, call each other and are sincerely concerned with each other’s endeavours. Sometimes, it feels as though we are still dating. With understanding, love, respect and patience, any marriage can be successful.
George: There is nothing hard in marriage if the couple is committed to each other.
Mary: We are very open on finances. I discovered the issue of finance is a dark area that can cause conflict in marriage. My husband is good at managing money so all my earnings go to him for easier and sound financial planning. We usually agree on how to spend our money. If we want to assist our families, we agree on how to go about it; we do not give away money behind each other’s back.
George: My wife has access to all my bank accounts. She has access to my wallet and even my phone.You cannot love without trust.
Words of wisdom…
Mary, a marriage counsellor at Tremel Marriage Counselling and Teaching Centre based at Elroi Plaza in Nairobi shares some areas of conflict in marriage:
Negligence. Sometimes women neglect their physical appearance after marriage – they no longer dress attractively neither do they take care of their bodies. She cautions that every man desires an attractive woman and it is, therefore, important to ensure that one is well-groomed at all times.
Sex. When a couple shares in sexual relationship, they express their innermost feelings for each other and this keeps their love strong. It also minimises incidences of infidelity.
Respect. When a couple stays together for a long time, familiarity comes home to roost and this may breed contempt. A couple should be careful not to take each other for granted. In every successful marriage, there must be respect.
Commitment. A healthy marriage should provide a haven of peace. It should also be one where people can express themselves without fear. Spouses should also be mindful of each other’s feelings and opinions. It takes two committed people to make a marriage successful.
Gratitude. It’s always important to be thankful to your spouse for being your perfect partner. Appreciate the small details because by doing so, you will motivate him to do even greater things for you. Gratitude is an ingredient for a blissful marriage.
Time. Many people settle into marriage and then get very busy and forget to create time for each other. Take some time off to unwind and spend quality time together. This helps to break boredom while bringing fond memories of good moments shared in the past.
Forgiveness. No one is perfect and it’s through forgiveness that life gets better. Learn to apply the three magical words – thanks, sorry and excuse me – to enhance your relationship. These are our magical words. They are presumably small words but they mean a lot in a marriage.