Having known each other since teenhood did you ever think you’d end up getting married?
Fridah: It seems like a lifetime but we only started interacting consistently with each other in 1991 when we joined our church youth group. I was still a student but Victor had just finished high school. We started dating and by 1999 we were married.
Does having a long friendship make transitioning into marriage easier?
Victor: Yes and No. For instance, while I knew Fridah angers easily and can be very expressive when disappointed, the surprise was how glaring it became after marriage.
Fridah: Couples wear camouflage when courting but marriage forces them to face each other in their rawest form. Some of my surprise pet peeves included his tardiness. I am also very keen to grab opportunities quickly while he wants to analyse everything. He is also very philanthropic and can go broke very fast!
Victor: (Smiling) That’s why Fridah handles all our finances.
Speaking of finances, did you discuss asset management before marriage or you’ve been dealing with it as you go along?
Victor: We always talk about the things we want to accomplish together. I am not so keen on material things because when you hold them too dear, that’s when you want to hide them. But we do have a common place where we place our asset documentation and each of us has access to it. My relief is Fridah is a good financial manager and should God see it fit for me to go first, I know my family remains in good hands.
Fridah: We did not have a discussion per se but from the onset, I decided to trust my husband. He’s my friend and confidant. When it comes to issues of asset sharing and inheritance, he is listed as my next of kin. People ask me why and my answer is: what if he dies first and I learn that he did not trust me with our assets? Wouldn’t it be painful?
Do you have or have you ever considered a will?
Victor: Once. Ironically, the lawyer I approached dismissed the idea.
Fridah: We don’t have one but on second thought, it would be good to have it as security. I do premarital counselling and I encourage couples to do it.
So what happens when the two of you have an argument or get into conflict?
Victor: I keep quiet which again is a problem as far as she is concerned!
Fridah: (Chuckling) I talk about the situation to my heart’s content. I just have to let it all out. However, when I am extremely annoyed, I give him the silent treatment.
How do you bridge the divide after an argument?
Victor: I always ask myself if there’s a better way of handling issues. After she has finished expressing herself, I try to suggest solutions. I learnt early on that two raised voices will only exacerbate a bad situation, plus I am a quiet person and therefore naturally inclined to silence. If it’s something I do not agree with, I give her the leeway to go ahead and do it her way. When it doesn’t work out, she always comes back to consult. The one lesson I have learnt is to never tell her I told you so!
Fridah: Sometimes I am busy waiting for an apology from him and the likelihood of it coming is next to nil! However, I have learnt that Victor is extremely patient and rarely fazed. So much so it has rubbed off on me. When he is remorseful, though he will beat about the bush, he reaches out to me. Every once in a while I play hard to get!
Some men consider long-winding arguments and playing hard to get as off-putting. Victor, what’s your secret considering you are literally surrounded by women, counting your three daughters?
Victor: (Laughing) It can really test a man’s ego but women will always talk. At times they don’t even need you to solve anything; they just need you to listen. That’s where selective listening comes in handy especially during arguments. Unpleasant things may be said and I do not want to dwell on hurtful words, intentional or unintentional. Patience and my resolve to make my marriage work also helps.
Tell us more about your daughters.
Victor: We have three girls Alma, 13; Alissa, 10; and five-year-old Aliana. They all attend Peace Junior Academy off Mbagathi way. Though similar in some aspects, they are also very individual in their choices and reactions.
Fridah: Alma and Aliana are quiet. They take after Victor. Alissa is friendly, a go-getter and fearless and can sometimes feel out of place. Out of my experience hat which looks negative and turn into something positive for each of them.
What kind of legacy would you like to leave as parents?
Victor: Chances are high my girls would describe me as a teacher and a disciplinarian. I am also a perfectionist who is reserved yet playful. I sit with them through their homework, teach them how to dance and public speaking and when they do something mediocre, I tell them to do it again. It is a very conscious decision to spend time with my girls because they don’t have another father. It also makes the difference in their characters, confidence and overall holistic development in their approach to life and its challenges.
Fridah: It’s also important to give children room to express themselves. When they think am being too tough on them or favouring one over the other, I allow them to express the same and in that way, I am able to not only explain where they went wrong but why a certain decision is the best. Totalitarianism is what makes parents and children butt heads.
What inspired you to get into child mentorship?
Fridah: I lost my job as a human resource and administration officer in 2012 and moved from career woman to housewife. It was difficult to be honest. I started conducting counselling regarding infant loss and as my network grew, people started inviting me to speak to groups and do trainings.
Victor: (Chiming in) That was a blessing in disguise.
Fridah: I discovered some hidden strengths such as public speaking. We were also running a peanut butter business. I took up its day to day management, streamlined it and it’s now doing better than ever! In 2007, I noticed so many children within our estate and with their parents’ permission, invited them to my house for some basic life skills lessons. Soon after, parents started asking for the lessons during school holidays and it just grew from there.
Parenting is clearly very dear to you but you have also lost two children. Care to share on what went wrong?
Victor: Our first-born, a son, was born two years after our marriage. At 36 weeks, Fridah started bleeding. Despite treatment delays, he was successfully delivered. Unfortunately, two days later, he passed away. Doctors said his lungs had collapsed.
Fridah: Thereafter we had Alma and Alissa. Thirty-five weeks into my fourth pregnancy, I had complications, admitted in hospital and delivered our daughter. Five days later, however, she passed away. It was a bad case of déjà vu. She was born the exact date, month and weight as our first-born.
That must have been upsetting, the proverbial lightning hitting the same place twice.
Victor: It was confusing and frustrating. A mixture of emotions and questions. The first time it happened, I resolved to pull through but the second time around, it broke me.