Long-distance relationships: out of sight out of mind?

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HARARE — Rosemary Masvikaneko says food has lost taste to her since the time she learnt that her husband of nine years (name withheld) was being dragged to court for maintenance by a woman who accused him of failing to take care of his children.

By Byron Mutingwende
OWN CORRESPONDENT

“I only learnt that my husband had children out of wedlock when my friend and neighbour brought home a newspaper that carried the story about a woman who was claiming $1 500 maintenance from him for failing to take care of his children,” Masvikaneko said.

“The fact that my hubby has two children with another woman, with the other child eight years old now means that he started cheating on me soon after our glittering wedding and broke all the vows he made to me on our unforgettable wedding day,” Masvikaneko added.

In between sobs and coughs, Masvikaneko explained that she teaches in the remote areas of Mashonaland West Province while her husband is an engineer in Harare.
“There is an excess of 400km for me to get to my school and it costs $15 and over eight hours to get there from Harare using the conventional buses. I try as much as I can to pay my husband a visit once per month, but the road is dusty, bumpy and potholed. In short, the journey is burdensome to say the least.”

Masvikaneko says she was deployed to that remote area soon after completing her teaching Diploma from one of the teacher training colleges in Masvingo province.

“The lecturers made it clear to us towards our final examinations that we must apply for places anywhere else other than metropolitan provinces like Bulawayo and Harare since such provinces were said to be overstaffed. Eventually I was deployed to a dilapidated satellite school in remote Mashonaland West province,” Masvikaneko said.

Many teachers deployed in remote areas make frantic efforts to be transferred to areas closer to their families , but the process has always been difficult.
A teacher who requested anonymity for fear of a backlash from education authorities alleged that provincial human resources officers were demanding bribes from them to facilitate transfers into urban areas.

“The situation is so pathetic. We have tried to write anonymous letters to education authorities complaining against such corruption and abuse, but it was to no avail,” he said.

Asked for a comment on such allegations, primary and secondary education minister, Lazarus Dokora referred this reporter to the Public Service Commission which was said to be responsible for deployments and an official from the ministry who is not authorised to speak to the press commented.

“People should work closer to their spouses and families, particularly these days where sexually transmitted diseases and infidelity cases are on the increase as evidenced by increased reports of such cases in the media. Therefore as a government department we try as much as we can to solve such problems, but can not help much if there are limited vacancies at people’s workstations of choice,” he said.

Lucia Gunguwo commonly referred to as Mai Gunguwo for her expertise as a marriage counsellor and pastor said long distance relationships were at the mercy of breaking up and required involved couples to exercise great caution in safeguarding them.

“Issues of faithfulness come into play for partners in long-distance relationships. Human beings have biological feelings and married couples should meet from time to time for sex. That is healthy. Cases of infidelity occur when one of the partners in a long distance relationship ignores moral values that respect sex relationships and resort to quenching the thirst for sexual pleasure outside marriage and long-standing relationship,” Gunguwo said.

Renias Mushonongori, a Harare resident, differed on the view that long distance relationships spur infidelity.

“Issues of faithfulness depend on one’s mindset and distance does not have any effect on that. At one time I went to a workshop with a female workmate who stays with her husband in Harare. One week down the line, she fell in love with a friend of mine and the two engaged in many sexual escapades together from the time of the workshop, up to now,” Mushonongori said.

Social commentator Darlington Mbenguzana said that an increase in the number of maintenance claims that are collapsing after paternity tests exonerate men from responsibility as biological fathers meant that infidelity was not influenced by distance.

“In most cases men and women who engage in extra-marital affairs will be living together with their spouses. Unfaithfulness is a mental scourge and societal evil that calls for moral, social and spiritual paradigm shift in order to move the nation forward,” Mbenguzana said.

Others were of the view that economic challenges were behind most extra-marital relationships. This was evidenced by media reports that most men that fall prey to women in maintenance cases were businesspeople and well-to-do people like politicians and celebrities like footballers and musicians.

2 COMMENTS

  1. All my life I have been in a long distance relationships. For starters when I was boy and girl friend with my wife – we were 8 years apart whilst I was studying abroad. We got married in 1999, and my work keeps me apart from my family as I travelled a lot – at some point my daughter changed schools 8 times in six years. I saw the toll it was taking on the kids – we both me and my wife set and agreed that they settle and I do the travelling. Currently as I write this letter, I am in a remote African country and will be away from the family for 12 months.
    Yes you do get sexually feelings – but remember feelings are habits you cultivate they do not make your character. And you do not ever give in to your feelings. Its more fleshly – that is the problem we face in the world we are in. Its a fleshy world – what you watch or hear has explicit sexually messages telling you its alright to go my your feelings. Worse still – the church is the number one culprit in this fleshly crusade. What do I do – I watch what comes into my thoughts – you are what you think. If you six times watch a porn video – especially the same clip. You will enact what you have seen, try it. If you read a self help book on making money many times – you go out and try it out. In the end its about your mind – win the war on your mind you win the game. I have. Its possible.

  2. Long distance relationships are a possibility without any cases of infidelity but from my point of view a few people can sustain long distance relationships and it all starts with ones mindset.If you tell yourself you are not going to cross this line u will certainly try not to.As for infidelity its not about the distance its about ones character l know of many married couples who settle together seeing each other every day but still either the woman or man cheats on the other so there is more to infidelity than distance…its a complex matter.

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