It is a myth that men do not talk about their problems. They do share what they are going through.
Maybe not with each other, but most times with faceless strangers online or if the problem involves their wife, they will share with another woman to get her perspective.
I happened to be the recipient of such candid heart pouring from the driver of a taxi I had hailed. He was visibly distressed as we were stuck in traffic. Out of the blues, he blurted: “How is a man supposed to know how to make a woman happy?”
I thought he was on the phone, but after five seconds of silence, it occurred to me that he was not. I was seated at the back, staring across the streets and wondering about all the new buildings coming up in Westlands and about all the trees that have had to breathe their last to give way to concrete.
I was thinking about the birds and about pollination and about the kind of world we shall bequeath my great grandchildren.
“Did you think out loud or is that a question for me?” I asked him. He was a young man who looked weighed down by 50-year-old problems.
“I mean...” he sighed, then glanced at me with an apologetic look on his face.
I smiled and said: “I am happy alright. I never let traffic get to me. There is so much to reflect on during traffic, especially when I am not the driver.”
He did not smile. He continued, as if I had not spoken: “I provide everything. But she has not spoken to me for six weeks now. What should I do?”
“You mean your wife?”
I told one of my girlfriends about this incident and she thought that I had made it up, which I had not. For some weird reason, many people share their marital woes with me—strangers and acquaintances alike—and then ask me to tell them what makes a marriage work. I have a standard response for all of them: “I don’t know, because I am also seeking an answer to that.”
But I did not tell this young husband that I did not know how to help. First, he was the driver, what if my response unhinged him and he decided to drive us into that steep ditch in Kangemi? Secondly, I sensed that he desperately needed to talk to someone who did not know him and therefore could not judge him. I prodded.
“Did you have a fight over something?”
We had a lengthy chat, at the end of which I gave him the contacts of a marriage counsellor, links for online reading, and recommended some books, and, of course, gave my perspective from a wife’s point of view. And yes, I prayed for him.
They were in their first year of marriage. I deduced that they were facing bigger problems than the typical adjustments of early marriage. Sex problems, not for lack of trying but for lack of knowledge.
They had been celibate before marriage and had never discussed anything to do with that aspect of their marriage before walking down the aisle, save for the agreement that she would be on contraceptives for the first year.
According to him, she expected him to ‘treasure’ her because she had saved herself for him. He did not know what to treasure her entailed and this made her angry and resentful.
As I said, I prayed for them because I did not have an answer after all.
What I have told my daughter is that it is honourable and right to be celibate until marriage, not for anyone but for herself. I have told her not to ‘save herself’ for someone but to do it for herself, because it will save her from a zillion heartaches.
Someone should tell that young wife that you cannot place a heavy burden on someone else for a decision you made about your life. No one should be expected to pop champagne for my unbroken hymen, but I should feel a warm glow of joy for upholding my values.
That said, I only heard the one version of this story and I highly suspect that it had nothing to do with sex. It just seems men are a tad paranoid about it.
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