27 September 2011

Fiction aside.

Everyone has something they are looking for in a relationship. Even when people get married, they have an idea of what they expect from their partner. Some expectations are realistic, others far from it. More often than not, people get into marriage expecting Prince Charming to remain just that and live happily ever after, no obstacles involved.

Growing up, I read with zest so much romantic fiction that it begun to look real. I mean, in the mind of a young girl, the story of Cinderella only serves to evoke visions of an out-of-this-world experience in the arms of the Prince. I took the story in, all of it including the pumpkin bit. You see, most fiction that young girls read tends to overlook the part about working at the relationship and any flaws involved and concentrates more on the happily ever after. Thus the idea of what is involved in a relationship only presents half-cooked.

Back to reality. Any relationship is hard work. Even having a healthy one with the kids is loads of work. How much more one that is more intimate. I have been listening to young ladies cry for love. I get to listen to their expectations and what concerns me it the fact that most of them are not willing to work at it. They mostly want to meet a self-made man who has made it in life and theirs is to partake of the sweat of that dude. Well, if that happens the better. But more often than not this man will be married to another.

What concerns me is the fact that most people nowadays want ready made everything. God in his wisdom ordained it that one has to work for anything. All that comes to us by any other source is bound to crumble at some point. Labour is just part of the deal. It is what makes it all worthwhile. We tend to take for granted anything that we have not worked for since it comes to us the easy way. Forgeting this. Easy come, easy go.

And so anyone who feels ready to get into a relationship should prepare for all that goes with it. That way, it will come as no surprise when dude prefers to spend some time with his mates watching a game of football. And she spends a whole day at the salon just getting pampered and having some 'me' time her own way. There need to be some form of independence in any relationship otherwise one partner could end up gasping for air.

Time is of great value in a healthy one. With the passing of time, what bothered us about the other slowly fades. And there is understanding. Especially of things that cannot change about one another. And so the issue of the toilet seat does not bother us as much. Or how to squeeze out the toothpaste. We have adjusted to sleeping like a baby amidst the snoring too. Little things, really. Although it may not have seemed so at the beginning.

And so lessons in patience for our young ones are in order. They could serve to sift real life expectations from fiction. In turn this could save a generation. One that seems to view marriage as such a tall order and a loss of identity. Instead they could view it as it was made to be. A union of two imperfect individuals who work at moulding each other until they eventually fit in together. And this takes time and patience mostly. And a lot of dedication to the cause.

Perhaps if the benefits are pointed out it might be more appealing. After all the work put into a marriage relationship, there are is benefits. Companionship being top of the list. So also comes well adjusted children. With an experience of growing up with two involved parents. From who they can learn how to do the same in turn. Thus the chain continues. Of people who are willing to work at relationships. And do not shirk the effort involved. Rather look at it as a stepping stone to fulfilment.

19 September 2011

Women on a revenge mission?

Lately, there have been many cases of women beating and injuring the men in their lives. It seems that they have learnt from the men and learnt rather well. And so women are choosing to battle it out physically and leaving a trail of injured men in their wake. Men too embarrassed to admit that they are hurting and cry softly in their hearts.

It does not make it justifiable for a woman to beat up a man. Neither does it the other way round. But it is happening more and more nowadays. The patience levels between spouses and and those dating is lower. Issues that are best solved in the silence of the night, are now being broadcast to all and sundry. All this has been happening. But now the roles have reversed. The hunter has become the hunted.

Contrary to the women, the men are not talking about it. They choose to suffer in silence lest they become the laughing stock of their peers. And so a man will bear with the battering in silence mainly because he's  dependent on his wife or he has the welfare of the children at heart. Both no excuses to stay in an abusive relationship. And so now counsellors are having to contend with preaching the same gospel. But to a different audience.

Women are more stable economically these days. We are seeing more and more self-made ladies. And they are bent on going for the highest. Nothing will stand on their way. Not even their husbands. That's if they do not help them achieve their set goals in life. And so more and more men are starting to feel like they are in the way of their wives' quest for success. And face dire consequences when they protest. Leading to relegating of roles.

A man's basic need is respect. A woman's Love. And so when those ingredients are lacking in a relationship there is bound to be trouble. Respect a man and he will walk the desert for you. Love a woman and she will give you her all. Unconditionally. And so when a man lacks respect from his wife two things happen. He could either wither and be a broken soul or he could come out fighting. The women have learnt the two options very well. But now prefer the later.

She might not get physical if her man is loving and supporting to her. Even if he is wanting in other areas. But she will not take a husband who does nothing to support her morally and is not loving to her. Or is a hindrance of sorts. This is the type of man who will face the wrath of a woman on the move to the top. No stopping her. Men had better learn to love their wives.

A man who has been physically abused is a sorry sight not just to his wife but to his kids as well. He presents the picture of a fallen hero. Whereas he should be leading his family along he barely can lift his head to direct them. A real sad state for the kids who should be looking up at him as their model. And so a woman's role even while pursuing her own interests is to dish respect to her husband. And he to love her.

Failure for each party to keep their side of the bargain is the root of trouble. A case of unfilled roles leads to each party having a feeling of dissatisfaction that often culminates in a breakdown of their effectiveness in performing their roles. And that, is usually the beginning of trouble.

12 September 2011

Cry, the beloved country.

Picture this. A family lives in a one roomed iron sheet house. A complete family. This is the only home the children know. This is where the tired head of the house comes to rest at the end of a hard day laboring at a construction site. And this is where a mother, tirelessly works day after day to make a home worth coming to for her hubby and school going kids.

The situation is so bad that food is anything that is affordable within the set budget. On the day hubby does not secure work at the site, then the family may have to go to bed hungry. The mother will try all she can, including trading some vegetables just outside of their house. Just so she can get something to put at the table for her children when they come back from school after trekking a while.

The family survives on less than a dollar a day. Even with the rising food costs. That means that they have to make sacrifices even more. The children might have to skip breakfast so that they can have supper that day. They grow up wishing that life was better but have to bear with the way things are. They work hard at school with hope that things will be better some day. But do not go far because school fees, though subsidised by the government, is still not cheap.

And so life goes on. The man of the house can barely manage to feed his family, leave alone pay the rent. Or clothe them. It is a life of desperation for the family. And they live in a neighborhood where most people share this situation. Hope is but a distant glimmer. The children hear about families that have all they need. They see children from rich families looking out of their family car on their way to school. They wish they would ride but once in the school buses that go by at the main road. They can only look down forlornly as they trudge on to school.

School is not fun either. There are no warm snacks at break time to warm their little tummies. They take a break and play in the open, hoping for a miracle for lunch. That mum will have sold some greens and made something for lunch. These children life entirely on hope.

In the evening, the scene is repeated. The children take what is on offer for supper before retiring to bed. That is usually a mattress on the floor of the one roomed house. The bed is for mum and dad. Sometimes the wind blows in cold air to their sleeping space through the open space below the door. Nevertheless, they sleep on.

Then a break appears. A neighbor has spotted some leaking oil from a burst oil pipe not far off. Soon word spreads throughout the slums. Everyone scrambles with whatever they can to catch some. All they can think about is how much the oil might help their family situation. Nothing about the danger of the action triggers in their minds. Just anything to help them survive another day.

This is the scene of what happened today in a kenyan slum. So many people lost their lives in a fire caused by an oil spill. And so before anyone lifts a finger to accuse these people with a they-should-have-known-better attitude, please stop to think. Human beings are born with an instinct to survive. And will go to any lengths to do so.

Meanwhile, our government needs to come down to the level of the common man. Try and see if the shoe fits. It is not fair that some people have more than they will ever use in their lifetime while others watch over the fence with nothing to eat. It is time to have the welfare of the people at heart. Let everyone show their humane side by doing something for the sake of another. While you push those overladen trolleys at big chain supermarkets, think about that guard at the door and drop a loaf of bread to him. It might make for a pleasant surprise for his children. And you will be none the poorer.

If anything has to change, it will start with me and you. All of us caring about those around us. It might even catch on with our leaders. And there, we might have our beautiful country back. With people who are so beautiful at heart. Caring for each other. As well as it should be.

02 September 2011

Battle of the sexes

It seems everywhere you look nowadays men are fighting to retain their status and women are fighting for theirs too. The family scene is the most obvious in the scenario. More women, by virtue of their financial independence are now willingly taking over the affairs of the family much to the chagrin of their men.

Their is a divine order for the sexes. I believe all religions agree on this too. That the man is the head of the family. For a good reason too. Men make more rational decisions because they focus long term. Women, on the other hand make more rushed decisions. Women are more emotional and that's how God intended it. For a woman to be a leader in the home but more on matters of emotions.

A new born child knows that he gets sustenance from mother. He grows up looking at his father as the strong one in the home by virtue of his size (and booming voice?) but knows that he can run to mother when he is hurt and in need of reassurance. He can also get anything he wants from his father through his mother. It is mother that will pick him up when he falls and hurts himself. She is most likely the one that will take him for the visits to the Doctor and soothe him later. Even in discipline matters it is mother that will softly sit him down to explain the consequence of his misdeeds after punishment.

On the other hand, the man takes up the difficult tasks in the home. It is him that needs to fix the broken tap. He is responsible of all the menial jobs and if he cannot do them has to find a way of having them done. It is better for him if he can fix basic stuff though. He is the one that will move the heavy furniture around when wifey desires a new look in their living room.

It upsets the set standards when either of the two try to take up the role of the other. And often leads to conflict between the them. Some times it is best to just flow with it. But that is fast changing. More and more women are asking for more on their plate. And getting it. The only problem with this is that what this means is that we have more exhausted mothers at hand. From juggling demanding jobs to running high-charged families in modern day setting. What this means is that the woman is too stretched to sit down and genuinely listen to her child at the end of a demanding day leave alone find some quiet time with cubby. Even time to offer guidance to the help on the running of the home is limited.

We are fast becoming a 'fast' community. The faster an issue is dealt with the better. And it is spreading to relationships too. Every where we are looking for a quick fix. So that anything that does not work for us is quickly replaced because we cannot afford to waste time on it. And so a man who will not fulfil his role in the home is fast tagged as inadequate. And a woman that cannot cook the way his momma did is not well trained. Suffice to say, every role requires some experience. Momma did not become an excellent cook overnight.

It takes a wise couple to allow each other to grow into their individual role. Given, after sweating it out trying to fix the cooker the first time cubby will do a better job next time. And so with the wifey's home making abilities. They can only get better with time and encouragement from cubby. As opposed to each comparing the other with someone who not only has experience at hand but several bruises and burns to show for it.

In the long run, no one looses in the relationship. Each is so busy battling with their God-given roles to even think of trying their hand in the other's. Which leads to fulfilment at the end of the day in knowing that they not only did their part but also gave their significant other a chance to perform what is rightfully their duty.

It is said that behind every successful man is a woman. This is not to say that all a woman does is just sit back and watch him make it. The wise woman will continue to offer the necessary emotional back up to her man. She will do all that she can to bring out her man's capabilities to the fore. How she does that is as individual as all families. Sometimes back breaking, sometimes easier. And she will be rewarded in enjoying the fruit of her labor. Success comes in different forms. Could be in material or in bringing out the good in a person so that they are able to do their best. At whatever level.

The man on the other hand will have a fulfilled wifey when he has done all that he can to support her. It is even better when he recognises her soft strength and learns to draw from her wisdom. Given, God gave the woman that sixth sense for good reason. It is so that she can use it to give counsel to her family and so that she can know when to take up issues that are beyond her to the right place. On her knees. An awesome task if you ask me. But equally rewarding.