WIFESPEAK: Why squabbles are healthy for a marriage - Daily Nation

Why squabbles are healthy for a marriage

Wednesday February 7 2018

I used to think that after the teething problems in the early years of marriage, couples no longer have squabbles.

I used to think that after the teething problems in the early years of marriage, couples no longer have squabbles. PHOTO | FILE 

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I would love to be a fly on the wall of married couples’ houses.

Oh, the stories I would tell about each of them! It would help clear my suspicions about the kind of fronts we put up for the sake of outsiders.

I know I would get that sadistic satisfaction from the realisation that it is not just us who look like a postcard perfect picture of love and joy on the outside yet in reality we really are not.

It would be great to observe and write about the Mwauras, Otienos, Njogus, Nzolas and Rutos who, like us, are forced to put on (painfully) elastic smiles for a neighbour when the doorbell rings. Even if they had been in the middle of a heated argument five seconds before.

Maybe I would realise that I was not the only wife who had to hastily asked for forgiveness from the God when in church and considering partaking of the Holy Communion after subjecting the hubby to nil by mouth for something he did (or didn't do).

Nil by mouth is a childish form of passive aggressive behaviour that a couple who has serious communication breakdown result to. It simply means not talking to each other, for hours or days, unless strictly for mundane reminders like;

“Remember Junior’s play school starts at 5pm” and walking away as if speaking to nobody in particular. It’s healthier for your marriage relationship to have heated arguments than to result to nil by mouth.


I used to think that after the teething problems in the early years of marriage, couples no longer have squabbles. But I have since learned that couples who’ve been married for more than 60 years no longer care about public appearances.

There are no grey areas with an elderly couple. What you see in public is what you get in private.

A friend shared his surprise and subsequent merriment at his walking straight into a squabble between his grandparents. His grandmother was then in her late eighties and her husband was in his early nineties.

“When my parents fight, it distresses me, but walking into my grandparents in the middle of a heated argument, I was amused!” he said.

His grandmother saw him but she ignored him and with her voice more animated than usual, continued bickering with her husband, saying:

“I will pack up and go back to my father’s people!”

His grandmother said this with such finality that his grandfather looked like he was panicking.

“But first,” his grandmother had continued her verbal onslaught, now addressing both him and his grandfather.

“You must give me back my youth and beauty! I will only go back when I look as young and beautiful as I did when you took me as your wife.”

They were both speechless, which seemed to further agitate his grandmother.

“I’ve given you seven children alongside my youth and beauty and what do I get for it? Did you even go back to pay dowry after every ten years? No you didn’t…” she went on an on. His grandfather’s response was a standard deep sign, distressed expression and an ‘aaiii Karwitha.( Aiii, you girl).

It seemed that they had gone through this kind of fight a zillion times before and his grandfather had learned to take the verbal arrows.

“Why are you quarrelling?” he asked, trying really hard not to laugh after his grandmother finished talking.

His grandmother replied:

“Your grandfather accused me of leaving the goat pen open and letting the goats out. He knows I didn’t.”


And with that, she took another two minutes to voice her displeasure at the accusation. His grandfather at some point had found his voice and said that he too had a complain to voice: his wife often forgets to serve him tea. 

My friend played the mediator in between laughter. He says it gave him a fresh insight on what a marriage should be all about.

“Never put up fronts. We are all in need of a listening ear. We need to share the issues we are struggling with, because we all are.”


Karimi is a wife and mother who believes marriage is worth it. Do you have feedback on this article? Please email: [email protected]