Does your home feel like a matatu?
Posted Wednesday, March 28 2012 at 00:00
- If you exploit your spouse’s weakness or fears, you only amplify them and take away their self-esteem. This could also drive them away
A few weeks ago, I drew a comparison between our relationships and Kenyan roads. This week, I compare the treatment we get from matatu crews and how we treat each other in our relationships.
Before I go any further, I must point out that there are many matatu drivers and touts who treat their passengers and other road users with courtesy and respect.
Unfortunately, there are those among them that have no regard for traffic rules or those who make it possible for them to earn their daily bread. These are the ones I will refer to today. Here we go.
First, some matatu drivers thrive on the weaknesses and fears of other drivers. Their principle appears to be, “If you are not big enough, fast enough, or rough enough, you will be challenged at every turn, even when you have right of way.”
In relationships, exploiting the weaknesses or fears of your spouse is dangerous because it amplifies those weaknesses and pushes down their self-esteem.
Treated this way, such individuals are in constant search of approval and could easily stray from the relationship. Second, (those who travel in matatus know this one well) if you do not inquire before you board one, the fare is likely to be higher.
Information on cost is deliberately withheld, exploiting the naivety of users who do not know or do not remember to ask how much the journey will cost before they get in.
In relationships, this is a common mistake, especially if one of you is unable to contribute financially to a project or running of the home.
The common refrain when confronted is “You did not ask” or “I did not think it was important”. This leaves one of you feeling left out or short-changed and could lead to conflict.
For those who are planning to get married, concealing important information such as barrenness, existing children, or impotence is a recipe for failure of your relationship.
Third, once you are in the matatu, your interests do not count anymore. Try, for instance, to ask the driver to lower the music volume and you will be directed to a sticker that reads, “If it is too loud, you are too old!” Simply put, you do not count for anything anymore.
Likewise, in some relationships, the modern terminology of “putting someone in the box” seems to be applied literally and may be even taken further — to lock the box and forget about it. Most cases of infidelity, and indeed divorce in the early years of marriage, have something to do with this behaviour.
The fourth comparison draws from how matatu crews prefer to deal with minor incidents on the road — quick fix.
If you are involved in an accident with a matatu, (regardless of who is in the wrong), expect all manner of attempts to harass and intimidate you in an effort to force you to agree to a quick fix, most likely, in their favour. They want to bypass the legal process or anything that will make them take proper responsibility for their actions.
This, unfortunately, happens often in relationships, where one of you may use any advantage you have to intimidate the other into giving in, to evade responsibility, or to end a conflict quickly.
It could be the ability to argue persuasively (or loudly) or use of physical strength to win a conflict. The likely result of such behaviour is that nothing ever gets properly resolved and it piles up until the banks can no longer hold it in. What follows is an implosion.
The challenge today is for couples to treat each other with respect and dignity regardless of the perceived areas of your spouse’s weakness. You should support each other so that your weaknesses are not unnecessarily exposed or elevated.
The writer is a counsellor. Do you have a question? Write to email@example.com