Unhappily ever after...
GLORIA says what she and her husband share is no longer a marriage after 56 years, the union having broken down over 20 years ago when he got involved with their neighbour.
Six children into the marriage and no trade to fall back on, Gloria says she was not about to walk out of the marital home not knowing how her life would pan out.
"After a while you realise that talking wasn't going to change the situation and that was my home. My children and my husband were my family," the now 71-year-old explained. "He was a Government worker in a good paying job and we met when I was fresh out of school. I dedicated my entire life to my family and my husband."
Gloria said she knew of the affair, in fact, everyone in the community including her children knew. He did not keep it a secret. When he was not home, he could be found at the other woman's house, even during the wee hours of the morning. And if she wanted to talk to him she knew exactly where to send her children to fetch him.
Today Gloria's husband and his mistress are still friends. He still lives in the marital home and still visits the woman.
"At my age I am not going anywhere. I was not happy in the marriage but I take great joy in the successes of my children who are all grown and on their own and I make certain to have my grandchildren visit as often as they can," she explained. "But in terms of my marriage, I have accepted it for what it is."
Counsellors will tell you that many women who have considered ending their marriages decide against it for various reasons. In some cases it's financial, in some cases they don't want to disrupt their children's lives, and some fear the embarrassment.
Carmen T's situation is no different from Gloria's, as for years she, too, has been enduring an unhappy marriage.
She admitted to knowledge of her marriage having ended three years after it began 11 years ago. Today she and her husband are living in the house they bought together, along with their three children, his girlfriend and her child.
"We don't have a relationship anymore. But I stayed because of the children and because it is my house too," she explained. "He took other women there many times before because I think he felt that would drive me out, but it won't work. All of them who come there have to leave me there."
Carmen says her husband moved in the other woman and her child a year and a half ago, one of the many he has fathered outside the marriage. But still she refuses to leave.
"I don't business with them. I go out and come in just the same. I don't cook for him since he moved her in and I don't wash for him. But I am not going to let another woman reap what my children should get so we are staying," she said bluntly.
Counsellor Reverend Andrew E Green from the City Harvest Church said based on statistics from persons he has counselled over the years, there are indeed a number of marriages in which persons are unhappy and seeking out, the main factor being for lack of communication.
"Because communication has broken down it causes mistrust and fosters unforgiveness," Green told All Woman. "And the eroding of the relationship causes mistrust."
"Lack of transparency could be something that happened in the early stages of their lives and they did not share it with the other party and now that it is found out the other person becomes frigid towards their spouse," the counsellor explained.
Should persons wish to turn around an unhappy marriage they must improve on their communication skills, he said.
"There are persons who have been married for 20 odd years and the same foot that they started out on, they are still at the same place," Green said. "If you are going to see any changes in the marriage it has to be within the communication area. Couples have to realise that they have to be good communicators. A good communicator will always speak clearly and understand what they want to put across. And they must listen and concentrate while listening to be able to hear what is actually being said by their spouse," he explained.
He said once the communication skills are improved in a marriage, other aspects will improve, while the trust will be rebuilt and unforgiveness will go over a period of time.