By Vivian Agaba and Shamim Saad
Moses Muyinda is a businessman in Ntinda, a Kampala suburb. The 32-year-old has lived with Sofia Nakibule as his wife for six years. Nakibule is a 29-year-old teacher.
Muyinda is a happy father. He is grateful to God for the two children he has had with Nakibule. However, he is not equally happy as a husband. Nakibule has been threatening to leave Muyinda’s home. Reason? He has delayed to wed her. “I love my wife and I plan to wed her, but not very soon,” he said.
He says every time they have a hearty conversation, she takes the opportunity to remind him of the wedding. “Whenever I explain the delay, she refuses to listen to me. Instead, she quarrels and sometimes spends days without talking to me.” Muyinda reasons that since they have just established a business, he wants to ensure it grows.
“I also plan to construct a house for the family before the wedding comes into the picture,” he explains. “I love her and would not want to lose her, but do not know how to address the problem,” he says.
Peter Ojok, a 40-year-old businessman in the Kampala, was in the same dilemma five years ago. He had been living with a woman for 10 years, and had three children with her.
“A few years into the ‘marriage’, she became quarrelsome and very possessive,” explained Ojok. He said his wife’s nagging nature made him distance himself from her. Ojok said his wife reasoned that a wedding was the only sure way for her to be secure.
“I chose to wed her, hoping she would stop being quarrelsome. Instead, the situation got worse. As a result, I got another wife,” confesses Ojok. He says he now lives with his new wife and just provides support to the first wife. “I may have wedded her, but I no longer love her,” he says.
Muyinda, please listen to your wife, say counsellors
There are reasons why Nakibule is putting pressure on Muyinda. She could be suspecting him to be cheating on her or it could be pressure from her family or friends, says Brenda Kansiime of Kani Counselling Centre in Najjera.
“If Nakibule is from a staunch Christian family, which considers co-habiting a sin, they cannot be happy seeing their daughter
in a ‘sinful’ marriage. When they pester her for a wedding, she will also pile pressure on Muyinda,” Kansiime says.
“Weddings usually require a huge financial commitment by the men, which most of them think would rather be invested elsewhere,” explains Kansiime.
She urges Muyinda and Nakibule to discuss the way forward together, arguing that a woman may want a lavish wedding for prestigious reasons, but after the party, the couple suffocates on debts.
Joseph Musaalo, a counsellor at Uganda Christian University Mukono, says the real marriage starts after the wedding. Since Nakibule and Muyinda are not officially married, she wants an assurance that the father of her children will not abandon them. “Muyinda’s reasons for not wedding his wife are mere excuses.
A man is ever setting goals and striving to fulfil them. For instance, children will soon start school. Will he wait for them to finish school?” Musaalo asks. He says the two need to find a solution, so that the woman does not leave the marriage as she has been threatening.
“If it happens, the whole family, including the children, will be affected emotionally and psychologically,” he says. He advises that if she wants a simple wedding, Muyinda should give it to her, but for a luxurious one, it could have consequences, especially after the ceremony.
Why a wedding is perceived as victory for the bride
When a wedding is ‘overdue’, that is, after a couple has lived together for sometime, had children, and perhaps experienced challenges, whispers among guests will most likely not be short of, “She has finally won the battle!” Many women will admit that they yearn for that moment of being walked down the aisle. It is after that moment that she will feel secure in the relationship.
One of the reasons women are congratulated upon winning the ‘battle’ is because of the pressure unwedded co-habiting women face from their families and society. Women of marriage age are usually put under pressure to find a man, get married and settle down. Those who are co-habiting are usually told to get the man to walk them down the aisle.
One such woman is Edith Namuleme, who got married to Peter Musinguzi early last year. The couple started dating when they were in high school in 1998. Namuleme says her parents always put her under pressure to get Musinguzi to wed her, claiming that they did not want to deal with the shame of people gossiping about her having finished school, but failed to get a man to marry her.
She adds that before their wedding, she refused to have children because she doubted Musinguzi’s love for her. More so, she thought that if her relationship with Musinguzi did not work out, she would have spoilt her chances of getting another partner, because not many men would marry her if she had children.
“I was patient, but careful not to get pregnant, much as he wanted it to happen. I told him I first wanted to be married to him officially before having children with him, which is really the right way to do things, ” Namuleme says.
“I will never forget the day he proposed to me. I could not believe it until he pulled out an engagement ring and asked me to introduce him to my parents,” she says.
Namuleme adds that she rushed to inform her parents, who immediately started planning the kwanjula. The couple wedded a few months after the kwanjula. Namuleme says most of their friends congratulated her upon being patient and finally being the victor.
However, none of them said such a thing to her husband. Namuleme’s story is not different from Mariam Nabukalu’s. She got married to Hassan Abubakar in 2001. Unlike Namuleme, Nabukalu had to set conditions before Abubakar walked her down the aisle.
“Since he really wanted a child, I told him I would not get pregnant unless he married me, however small the ceremony,” she says. Nabukalu says Abubakar arranged a small Islamic wedding (Nikah) where they invited only family members and a few close friends.
Brenda Kansiime, a counsellor at Kani Counseling Service, says a wedding is looked at as a victory for a woman because it is every woman’s dream. “No woman wants to be used and dumped,” she says.
She adds that a wedding is a sign of respect for the woman’s family. Justine Nantume, a ssenga with Obuganda Buladde in Ndeeba, says a wedding is looked as a victory for the woman because these days, men do not treasure marriage since they can get whatever they want from a woman, without having to first marry her.
Therefore, when a man weds a woman, the woman is applauded for succeeding in getting the man to walk her down the aisle. She advises women to take marriage seriously. “Many men ‘use’ women, have children with them and later dump them. So if marriage comes your way, do not let it go,” she advises. You can join the conversation here to have your say.
Intimate in Saturday Vision