These 3 Vows Could Change Your Love Life

“When are you getting married?” is a common question to young couples. Marriage is often considered the peak of adulthood and a requirement to grow the position of a family, a clan, an ethnicity and a community. Most people strongly believe in the notion of marriage and its permanence and will not only desire but ensure that their sons and daughters go through the procedure. The solemnization vows from The Book of Common Prayer  cement the belief even further:

“I, _____, take thee, _____, to be my wedded wife/husband, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death do us part, according to God’s holy law; and thereto I pledge thee my faith.”

Image by Pexels: Wendel Moretti

But how are these vows working in our time?

  • To have and to hold…

In property terms, this phrase simply means a statement of ownership but in marriage, the meaning takes a slightly different twist, to indicate a promise of unconditional emotional acceptance and the physical embrace between husband and wife. This has been misinterpreted and sadly used to perpetuate inequality in marital relationships. In marriage, several women have undergone marital rape, just because they are now considered as one, giving the husband powers to overrule the wife’s right to consensual sex. Since marital rape is considered a private issue, it does not receive befitting public limelight and condemnation, despite international acknowledgement as a legal and human rights issue. It is reported that “globally35 per cent of women have ever experienced physical and/or sexual intimate partner violence.

  • For Better, For Worse, For Richer, For Poorer, In Sickness and in Health…

In the context of marriage, this simply means that the two individuals have decided to stay together, despite the good and challenging times that may face them. Interestingly, there is no standard guidance on what is better or worse or richer or poorer or sickness and health. It could depend on the background and emotional makeup of the two individuals. Generally, it is presumed that by entering into a marital relationship, a couple commits to jointly handle negative issues and celebrate positive achievements.

However, the reverse is also true as one of the spouses may be responsible for perpetuating violence in the relationship. Most spouses remain in violent relationships and are unable to leave for several reasons, including the commitment they made to remain together notwithstanding pressure from society to stay married. The number of intimate partner violence cases has been soaring over the years and women have borne the brunt compared to their male counterparts. WHO reports that “globally about 1 in 3 (30%) of women worldwide have been subjected to either physical and/or sexual intimate partner violence or non-partner sexual violence in their lifetime”. Sadly, these numbers are only the few who have reported and is a stark reminder that several others are yet to reveal what they are going through.

Image by Pexels: Karolina Grabowska
  • Till Death Do Us Part

Yes, the holy book is clear that what God has joined together, let no man put asunder. It is believed that one will be set free to engage in other marital relationships upon the death of their spouse, maybe as a result of sickness or an accident or even a natural disaster. However, there is evidence to indicate the contrary. Some spouses have remained in their unions just because they are not willing to separate from them, despite the despicable things they are going through, to the extent of death. There is overwhelming evidence to indicate that some spouses have taken the lives of their partners in the course of their relationships. According to UN data, six women are killed every hour by men around the world, most by men in their own family or their partners. According to UN Women137 women are killed by a member of their family every day. 

Is it proper to wait for a spouse to take away another’s life? should one be subjected to physical violence in the marriage, sustain injuries and die? should one undergo emotional and psychological torture from their partner until they suffer mentally, deteriorate and lose their life? 

This is a sad reality of what people are willing to go through just to fulfil a certain vow, or to gain approval from family and society about their marital status.

In any kind of [marital] relationship, it is important to remember that:

  1. You are a human being first, then a spouse. You had a life before getting married and you enjoyed fundamental human rights like any other human being, including your spouse. Your spouse has no right to take away these rights. 
  2. You are in charge of your happiness. While two are considered as “one” in marriage, each individual should prioritize their emotional and psychological self-care and not depend on their spouses to complete them.  
  3. You are better off alive and healthy. If the relationship turns violent, it is best to leave rather than get emotionally hurt, physically maimed or even killed in your quest to fulfil societal expectations. It is advisable to assess the situation as soon as it presents itself to avoid getting stuck in the cycle of violence noting that there is always a way out and there are people ready to help out. 

Indeed, marriages and love relationships do present a wide array of challenges and some have managed to work through them. As the statistics show, several others have faced worse situations including death but that should not be your journey.

 ~Choose to live, by Choosing to leave. If it disturbs your peace. It is not working out if it ruins your happiness, character, behaviour, reputation and drains your energy. If it gives you pain, wounds, sorrow, heartbreak, headache, stress, grief, sleepless night and discomfort-De Philosopher DJ Kyos~ 

If you are stuck in a violent relationship and need help in Kenya, please dial the National GBV Helpline 1195 or the Kenya Police Help Line 999/112. 

Further reading:

5 self-care tips in an unhappy marriage. (2021, January 20). Marriage Advice – Expert Marriage Tips & Advice. https://www.marriage.com/advice/relationship/5-self-care-tips-in-an-unhappy-marriage/

Femicide watch platform prototype launched at 2017 UN crime commission. (n.d.). United Nations: Office on Drugs and Crime. https://www.unodc.org/unodc/en/frontpage/2017/May/femicide-watch-platform-prototype-launched-at-2017-un-crime-commission.html

III. The cycle of violence and power and control — Peace over violence. (n.d.). Peace Over Violence. https://www.peaceoverviolence.org/iii-the-cycle-of-violence-and-power-and-control

Law prohibits marital rape — MEASURE evaluation. (n.d.). MEASURE Evaluation. https://www.measureevaluation.org/prh/rh_indicators/womens-health/sgbv/law-prohibits-marital-rape

Reasons Why The Youth Should Be Engaged in Leadership

When you follow in the path of your father, you learn to walk like him, goes an Ashanti Proverb. This portrays the position of the youth in society, to be seen and not heard as the mature and old crop take the lead in forging the future of the society. The youth are viewed as immature, vulnerable and in constant need of guidance and leadership. This means that they are often ignored in discussions that involve their lives and instead have to wait for decisions to be taken on their behalf.

Image courtesy of: https://www.pexels.com/

Different societies variedly define the youth but a common definition as provided by the United Nations is persons between the age of 15-24 years.  This is also cognizant of the definition of a child under the 1989 Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) that a child is every human being below the age of 18 years. On the other hand, Kevin Kruse defines leadership as a process of social influence that maximizes the efforts of others towards the achievement of a goal. In 2019, the United Nations estimated that the youth numbered 1.2 billion persons, or simply around one in every six persons worldwide.

The next question to ponder over is whether persons between the age of 15-24 years are capable of maximizing other people’s efforts towards a common goal. The answer is a resounding yes!

In business it has often been said that the customer is always right and it has shaped how products and businesses conduct their operations. Similarly, as the youth make up about 42% of the world’s population, they too can take part in leadership and significantly shape the decisions that impact their future and the world at large.

What Tools Do the Youth Need to Take Part in Leadership?

The age category covering the youth is large and as such, offers time and opportunity for the youth to nurture leadership skills and also get prepared for more complex leadership roles as they grow. There are different opportunities where the young can actively take part.

Governments have a key role to play to ensure that youth are included in all aspects of leadership and decision making. Article 12 of the 1989 Convention of the Rights of the Child stipulates that:

“States Parties shall assure to the child who is capable of forming his or her own views the right to express those views freely in all matters affecting the child, the views of the child being given due weight in accordance with the age and maturity of the child”.

The 1995 World Programme of Action for Youth (WPAY)  further built on the provisions of the CRC and recognized that the youth need a combination of services, support and opportunities. The WPAY listed fifteen key actions which governments and other actors in the public arena ought to do to ensure meaningful youth participation and leadership right from community level.

For youth to openly express their views, they require:

  • access to education and training,
  • access to information about issues in their communities and unconditional inclusion and participation during deliberation of these issues both at school and in the political arena,
  • access to meaningful partnerships and opportunities both with government authorities, public and private institutions and non-governmental organizations which will shape their thoughts and actions. Most importantly, they should be encouraged to form youth community based organizations which can help them develop confidence in meeting new people, basic intellectual skills and networking skills.
Image courtesy of: https://www.pexels.com/

With these conditions fulfilled, the youth can be involved in a variety of leadership activities like youth clubs and peer to peer educators, youth community leaders, school teachers, religious leaders, team builders and political leaders.  Such platforms encourage the youth to build their voice and provide leadership from their own perspective, which will shape the future, both for them and the other generations to follow.

According to Kofi Annan,  “young people – with their dynamism, their energy and their inherent understanding of our interconnected world – have much to teach us. Increased educational attainment, advances in technology and the spread of information have made this generation the best educated, most connected and most informed in history”.

The youth in the 21st century are undoubtedly different from earlier generations because of the emergence of technology. They youth are now able to access information through the internet and hence able to learn from their peers across the world and are coming up with modern, unconventional and innovative ways of solving issues in their communities and the world by extension. The youth are already taking leadership in the use of internet and technology and are acting as an integral link between the old and the new generation.

It is therefore crucial that the youth are encouraged to be part of the solution than part of the problem, because the  youth of a nation are the trustees of posterity-Benjamin Disraeli

Further Reading:

Let the young lead. (n.d.). The Elders. https://theelders.org/news/let-young-lead

OHCHR | Convention on the Rights of the child. (n.d.). https://www.ohchr.org/EN/ProfessionalInterest/Pages/CRC.aspx

School-Based Health Alliance. (n.d.). Developing youth leadership skillshttps://www.sbh4all.org/training/youth-development/youth-engagement-toolkit/developing-youth-leadership-skills/

United Nations world programme of action for youth | United Nations for youth. (2015, June 8). United Nations Youth. https://www.un.org/development/desa/youth/world-programme-of-action-for-youth.html

(2015, June 8). United Nations Youth. https://www.un.org/development/desa/youth/what-we-do/faq.html

Youth leadership. (2016, January 19). Freechild Institute. https://freechild.org/2016/01/19/youth-leadership/

Why Should We Celebrate International Women’s Day?

On 08 March annually, the world celebrates International Women’s Day. The push for women’s rights began in 1909. The 1945 United Nations Charter was adopted by world leaders including an emphasis on “equal rights of men and women“, and promotion of women’s human rights was agreed as the responsibility of all governments. The United Nations officially began celebrating International Women’s Day in 1977. 

Image by Arloo

Nevertheless, the world largely continues to operate under patriarchal ideology, which tends to fight the key principle of gender equality as it justifies male dominion over women. One would rightly wonder why the International Women’s Day commemorations are important if there is still a visible gap in gender equality. While no country in the present day has achieved gender equality, discussions on women’s rights continue to attract international attention. This is because women constantly face significant challenges in all spheres of their lives. For instance, women still face inequality in family life, legal, civil and financial matters including discriminative practices at the workplace. The majority of women still face bottlenecks accessing land and property and other inequality in the practice of nationality laws. Women are more at risk of sex and gender-based violence. Women have also participated in politics and leadership as their male counterparts but at relatively low levels.  

Remarkable efforts to fight patriarchy and propagate women’s rights have over time produced significant political commitments. The enactment of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) in 1979 boosted the journey towards gender equality and provides women with the tools to address inequalities. The Sustainable Development Goals by 2030 further recognize women’s equality as a driver of change by ensuring that gender dimensions are integrated into public policies.

Image by UN Women

More than 100 years later, gender quality and women’s rights are yet to be achieved to preferred levels. Therefore, the world must continue to celebrate the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of ordinary women playing extraordinary roles in the realization of women’s rights. This will help keep track of efforts made and address bottlenecks arising in the global fight for gender equality. 

The theme for International Women’s Day 2021 is Women in Leadership: Achieving an Equal Future in a COVID-19 World. Women continue to face inequality challenges and the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of women in the pandemic as they stand at the core of recovery efforts at home and in the community at large.

There is a pressing need to ensure women’s participation in planning and decision making in the COVID-19 response. Our governments need to act inclusively by ensuring that decision-making platforms are gender-balanced and women at all levels have access to information to encourage their participation. 

Today, men continue to predominantly own control over resources, both in public and private spheres that inhibit women’s participation in society. Therefore, to change these perceptions, men should participate in discussions that highlight the importance of women’s involvement in decision making and implementation both at community and national levels, especially in leadership and COVID-19 response. 

As we assess how far the fight for gender equality has come, we should intentionally celebrate and take decisive actions to ensure that gender equality is achieved in our communities. 

#IWD2021

These 4 Little Things Change Relationships

Little things matter, in everything. When two people get entangled with each other, it is refreshing as love and happiness abound. As life happens, couples face different tides in a relationship and their creativity to handle different situations will determine how long the relationship will last. Love, validation, endorsement and gratitude determine how relationships thrive. But there are some really small things that drive people crazy in relationships:

  1. Lack of common courtesy. For instance, it hurts when one partner continuously interrupts the other during a discussion. It also hurts when one’s efforts are ignored and unnoticed or when one is taken for granted when doing favors for their partner. While forgiveness is encouraged, it is disheartening when a partner continues repeating the same mistake and expecting to be forgiven, without regard to their partner’s feeling. When a partner is rarely appreciated but overly criticized, that could also dampen their morale and lose motivation for making the relationship work. In some cases, a partner plays evasive or defensive during discussions and loses their partner’s interest which may make their partner feel demeaned and devalued.
  2. Perpetual lies and failure to keep promises. Solid relationships are built on a foundation of trust and confidence. Some partners entertain extra-marital affairs in their relationship at the expense of the feelings of the other. While people lie to protect themselves or their image, such habits erode the trust that the partners had when they came together and over time, the relationship may not survive.

3. Silent treatment. Partners come from different backgrounds and therefore they have to forge ways of talking to each other regularly, despite life’s challenges. Some people generally do not talk much and that is fine but total silence to one’s partner is demeaning and hurtful and may seem like a punishment to the receiving partner. In this era of mobile phones, some partners opt for text messaging and avoid face to face talk with their partner, which may also be used as a tactic to avoid clear cut discussions. This may not solve their situation and portrays lack of respect for the relationship.   Such poor communication will inevitably ruin the relationship as this drifts both partners away from each other.

4. Lack of physical affection and sexual intimacy could also draw a couple apart. Tender loving care forms the basis of a warm and strong relationship with both parties feeling secure and dependent on each other. The lack of physical affection and intimacy signifies lack of interest and attraction to the other partner and can drive the relationship to frustration and eventually break up.

Relationships should ideally be fun and when faced with issues, couples undergo difficult emotional times trying to figure out what to do next. Couple therapists recommend that one should ponder over their planned actions and avoid making any irrational decisions.

  1. Re-evaluate the reasons why you fell in love with your partner. List down the good side of your partner and why you chose them over all others. For what it’s worth, list down the issues you are going through at the moment. You were attracted to them for some reason and so there is a possibility things go back to normal again.
  2. Look at yourself in the mirror. What was your contribution to the situation? Were there other external issues that affected your thinking and actions that led to the breakdown of communication? Did you apologize to your partner? What can you do to change things?
  3. Remember that you are in charge of your own happiness. Despite facing some trouble in the relationship, be nice, try to smile and maintain a good mood. This will boost your positive energy too, even in the presence of your partner. Say genuinely pleasant stuff to them and keep a warm demeanor. Your calm actions may soften their feelings and may draw them back to you.
  4. Be truthful when presenting your grievances to your partner. Carefully assess the time when you want to have this discussion with your partner. Consider if there are other elements affecting his judgement. Employ a listening ear and entertain a calm but honest discussion, while considering the first two elements.

While things may never be the same again, there will be need to consider the good, the bad and the ugly, before taking any permanent decision to abandon the relationship. You may both want to seek couple’s therapy with a counseling professional in your area who could guide you through the process.

Further reading:

11 habits of people who are good communicators, according to experts. (2016, July 5). Bustle. https://www.bustle.com/articles/170717-11-habits-of-people-who-are-good-communicators-according-to-experts

7 easy ways to make your relationship last. (2021, February 19). Reader’s Digest. https://www.readersdigest.ca/health/relationships/7-secrets-make-your-relationship-last/

van Lankveld, J., Jacobs, N., Thewissen, V., Dewitte, M., & Verboon, P. (2018). The associations of intimacy and sexuality in daily life: Temporal dynamics and gender effects within romantic relationships. Journal of social and personal relationships35(4), 557–576. https://doi.org/10.1177/0265407517743076

Zimmerman, J. (2018, September 27). How to have an actually productive argument, according to a couples counselor. mindbodygreen. https://www.mindbodygreen.com/articles/how-to-have-a-productive-argument-according-to-a-couples-counselor