What she does when he is out with the boys

Published on 06/02/2009

Milly G

A friend told me recently that he is convinced there will soon be many retiree divorcees. By the time a couple is hitting 50, the two have resigned themselves to the fate that their marriage brings, and may have stayed in the dysfunctional marriage for the children’s sake, until they are numb. Our society considers those above 50 spent, but not anymore.

As my friend explained, ‘a man’s time with the boys’ has in the past been the women’s cross to carry. While the guy is having fun drinking or debating or cutting deals, the woman stays home with the kids and sits up late worried about her hubby. Because the guy has made this time so sacred that the woman dare not complain about it, she learns to adjust her needs with time, and demand less. There could be things she hates about this ‘time with the boys’ — the over drinking, the tendency to flirt with other girls, and even keep mistresses, of whom the boys will never tell her, or maybe the cutting of dubious deals that she can see failing, and the sheer fact that in the pretext of fending for them, the guy spends no time with his family.

Not whiny anymore

But if you think that women are taking it lying down, you are mistaken. Women have decided to turn the lemon into lemonade by making good use of the free time.

My friend has realised his wife has taken to reading self-help books and feeding off motivational speakers. Every time he comes from the club, he finds her dug into Awaken the Giant Within, The Secret or he finds her at TD Jakes’ feet, soaking up every motivational word. As years go by, her speech changes from the whiny “you don’t care about me” to the empowered chest thumping of people who have found the ‘secret’ to happiness and wealth. With time, the couple have become two different people, speaking different languages, and only brought together by the roof under which they sleep.

His time away from the family is no longer getting her on edge, and she is taking better care of herself with constant manicures and pedicures. She has even changed her spending habits and fattened her bank account. After work, she stops by the field for a jog.

He has also noticed that while he is away, he is missed little, because the girls readily take his place in arrangements called chamas. He is not sure what the women do there, but he knows that his wife has furnished the house single handedly with money from the chama. She has also bought a plot in Athi River, and bails him out every time his kitty runs out for school fees.

His friends have also noted a change in their mamas. Instead of being lame ducks sitting at home, they have gone back to school. Some are taking management Diplomas at KIM, while others are finally getting their undergraduate degrees at Strathmore or KEMU. Still, others are attending the online Success University. Where there was frustration and self-pity, women are flaunting academic papers to help them climb the ladder at work.

She builds family future

Still, there are those who have put up a shed next to their houses, called extensions, and opened kiosks to sell household basics: blueband kadogo and sukumawiki. There’s perhaps a hair salon as well, never mind that it opens with a blow dryer and just a single hair dryer. They are there every evening, overseeing its operation. As the guy breaks a leg at the club, sometimes literally, the wife is building the family’s future.

My friend says that the wife has also spent so much time with the children, that he has become alienated. She takes them out for dinner, watches movies with them and attends their school concerts. And the children, now grown up, treat the dad like the stranger he is. Their mother is the first person they go to for advice and share their secrets with.

So my friend has got a sneaky feeling that his wife will leave him at 50. If the alienation continues, they will not be on the same page on anything by the time he retires. While he will be coming home to roost, she will be spreading her wings and reinventing herself, and there will be no other way left for him but the highway.

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