HomeOpinion & AnalysisColumnistsSaturday dialogue: Dependents can ruin a good marriage

Saturday dialogue: Dependents can ruin a good marriage

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I hope you all had a wonderful and exciting Christmas.

Ropafadzo Mapimhidze

There is, however, a number of families who ended up in tears on this day as loved ones died in traffic crashes or other illnesses.

There is, however, a number of families who ended up in tears on this day as loved ones died in traffic crashes or other illnesses.

It is such a difficult period to fathom such sad events when everyone else is having fun associated with Christmas festivities.

My deepest condolences to all people that lost loved ones during this time and particularly to those that have lost a breadwinner.

Police reports claim that over 64 people died on our roads over the Christmas holiday, a figure that seems to go up every New Year.

The standard of driving on our roads is just appalling and I don’t think this is the best period to travel especially at night.

Anyway it is back to my topic for the day.

A neighbour visited me on Christmas Day, with his friend who confided in me that he had had enough of taking care of his wife’s relatives who were choking his space at his residence.

He had actually left his home in a huff just to have a breather in Westgate adding that his has been the norm for nearly 20 years of his marriage.

“I do not know what it means to be in private with my wife and our children. The house is always packed with her relatives including her sisters who are old enough to be grandmothers.

“I sent all her siblings to school, but now they think it is a right for them to live with me, but you see I am getting old and if this continues, my own children will find it difficult to eject these people when I am gone,” says the man from Hatfield.

What infuriated the man is that his brother-in-law, who is a civil servant, called him asking about maize seed for their mother who lives in Mhondoro.

“That is what angered me. Whilst I have an obligation to look after my mother-in-law, she is not my mother. And it’s not like she doesn’t have other children that can meet her day-to-day needs.

She sometimes stays for a year and during Christmas, my wife’s sisters and brothers, their spouses and children will all stay at my home until schools open.

“Surely this cannot continue because some of them are gainfully employed and can afford to look after their mother and extended family. Why me? I have to bring this to a stop and start the New Year on a new slate,” said the angry man.

The Hatfield man said he has lived with one of his wife’s sister for nearly 20 years after she was widowed and left with four children. He said he sent them to school and two now live overseas.

“But what riles me is that my sister-in-law goes to work and earns more than civil servants, but she does not want to move out and she does not buy anything. Not even toothpaste to clean her own teeth. She actually will complain if there is no soap to bath or margarine to spread on bread.

And yet my wife sees nothing wrong with that, but what she doesn’t know is that if we both die, these people will not leave the house and hence I have to act now,” says the man who is now in his 50s.

This case is, however, not an isolated one.

As soon as a couple weds and start a new home, parents immediately give them responsibilities of raising siblings from either side of the family.

While this may sound as a noble thing to do, this puts so much strain on the couple as these dependents begin to feel as though the couple has an obligation to meet their needs.

“Sometimes these relatives will sulk at you, not greet you when you arrive home from work and this creates so much conflict in the home. They make you feel as though you are an intruder.

“My wife gets home from work, starts cooking and cleaning the dishes whilst these people are sitting in the bedrooms watching movies or sending messages on WhatsApp. She actually takes the food to them and this irritates me so much.

“The problem is that my wife sees nothing wrong with that and hence I am the one suffering in silence. It’s her relatives and not mine. But when my sister visits, who is almost the same age with her sisters, she demands that she does the work,” complained another man from Westgate.

These men are caught in between a “good in-law” and a “good husband” and they clearly don’t know how to make a distinction of the two.

The fact is they married one woman and became one in flesh, but unfortunately, the other one still wants to remain “connected” to her parents and siblings and that creates serious pressure on the husband.

The dependency syndrome is sometimes reasons why some couples end up divorcing as there is too much interference from these people.

Some men find an easy exit door and find a comfort woman, popularly known as “small house” where they will spend quality time in a quiet environment.

“Surely how can I continue living with a woman who now has grandchildren who are also living in my house? Is that normal? My relatives are up in arms with me right now because I have never lived with any of my relatives. I have brothers who need my help but I assist them whilst they are at my mother’s home. Why can’t my wife do the same?

These are issues which most Zimbabweans overlook, but they have the danger of ruining a good marriage.

How long should an able bodied sister or brother remain dependent on his/her sibling? Is it proper for a widowed sister to live with her married sister, together with her grandchildren for over 20 years and not contribute anything to the day to day upkeep?

This sister only cleans the room she sleeps in and her grandchildren whilst ruining a good marriage her married sister does everything from cooking to shopping. She has to sometimes find a helper to assist her and yet she only has only one child. Is that fair?
Let us hear your views.

rmapimhidze@newsday.co.zw

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