Tumbleweed

Wikipedia describes tumbleweed as “the above-ground part of a plant that, once mature and dry, disengages from the root and tumbles away in the wind. Usually, the tumbleweed is the entire plant apart from the roots, but in a few species it is a flower cluster”. Now you may wonder why Project 44 is venturing into an agricultural angle (remember when we wrote about zero-grazing? ;)), but stick with me.

There is a lot of talk about how the rate of marriage is falling like a meteorite and the rate of dissolution of marriages is rocketing; I recently thought about all the pressure that some Eves and Adams are under to settle down and I was reminded of a comment that one of our guest writers and an avid fan said a couple of weeks ago in response to one of the posts by another guest writer. He said that “we must as individuals accept that the society is changing……………………….We cannot ignore that the so called development has had an impact on the family unit and by extension, the marriage institution”. (Charles, something else you said stuck with someone ;)).

Tumbleweed

I think that this societal change has also had an impact on the choice of whether to check oneself into the institution that is marriage, or even at the least, whether or not to make the choice to enter into any union at all. There are Eves and Adams out there who, probably on a brisk and sunny day with a little breeze blowing, decided that in life, they do not want to tie any knot with anyone. Then there are a number of Eves and Adams who may have reached that decision as a result of disappointments in their relationships gone; the past, as far as love and romance is concerned, is one that is heavily overshadowed by memories of cumulonimbus (remember those clouds that are responsible for rain, lightning and thunder?). Wherever they are coming from, they have arrived at the same juncture – they do not need to find the “burning bush moment” where “the one” will be revealed to them and therefore they have no intention of settling down. This is the point at which I thought about the tumbleweed – the maturity, disengagement and flying away in the wind – the free spirited-ness of it all.

There is a school of thought out there that believes that there is someone for everyone. There is also a school of thought that says that men and women were put here on earth to come together, be one, procreate and try to fill the earth. I aver that there is a school of thought out there that believes that marriage is not for everyone; that not everyone has to be paired up as was done at the time of Noah’s ark in order to flourish and survive in this world. The reason behind the pressure to settle down or marry is so that one is accepted as being capable of ‘holding their own’ as far as societal responsibilities are concerned; it is seen as a sign of maturity, never mind the double digits that one has covered in terms of years here on earth.

Often times, society’s perception is that it is those Eves who have made it career-wise that are not keen to settle down; the view is that, now that they have made it in the boardroom, conference room or simply behind the large mahogany desk, they feel self-sufficient and do not need a man to complete them. Somehow, this perception is usually less than positive. As time goes by, Eve will be known as a spinster and much as we try, that word cannot be mentioned or used without even a trace of disparaging inclination. If one is to flip the coin and look at a man who is well-off and has made his name in his trade, he is deemed to be positively unattached. The Adam who decides to live the single life and not settle down will be viewed as the eligible bachelor sought after by women. The world is not fair.

Noah's ark

Yes, companionship is great and no one wants to spend lonely days and nights alone but if certain Eves and Adams decide to live it out by themselves, I say they should be allowed to make this choice without pressure to fit into societal norms. It doesn’t mean that they are cynical about love and romance; it is just that they don’t feel that this recipe would work out for them. For the Eves and Adams who have made this choice, living with it is usually not a problem for them; it is those around them who find it difficult to accept and live with that decision and unfortunately, the Eve or Adam in questions probably has to undergo a lot of second or third degree treatment just because they chose not to go with the norm of society. As a result, some Eves and Adams in this category might find themselves in less than ideal situations where they have to come into some sort of arrangements in order to ward off raised eyebrows and unrelenting questions from society.

Choice is a great thing. We may not always agree with other people’s choices, but it is important to respect them all the same.

Have your say.

By Joyce

“Sometimes I wonder if men and women really suit each other. Perhaps they should live next door and just visit now and then.” – Katherine Hepburn

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The Song

I think I will not stand to be corrected neither receive any objection if I state here – categorically – that the nimbus phase is the only stage where Eve and Adam get together like a makuti house on fire. Nothing beats this phase of the relationship because everything is all bliss.

Exit this phase and the glaring differences between you and your love interest rear their heads and questions like ‘what happened?’, ‘why did he/she change?’ become the order of the day. We all know that maybe nothing happened; probably what you are now dealing with is a less active thalamus (smile), hormones have taken a back seat, the head (in the case of Adams, the one on your shoulders) is engaged and you are ‘sober’. Maybe the person did not change at all. It could be that you were so engrossed with your new love (or lust wearing love skin) that you did not notice that all was not as neatly woven as you had perceived.

Take for instance this episode of this Eve and Adam whose relationship seems to have subscribed to change, and not the kind that Obama promised  (isn’t the journey of love a bit like a series ;)). Between you and me, this Eve professed that when they first kissed, it was fireworks – I call it ‘self-combustion’.

Unfortunately for them, the nimbus phase was short lived but during this phase, they had covered a lot of ground in so far as relationship orientation goes and there was no sign of an alarm at this point; they seemed to have struck a chord, in fact chords on the D major scale (? :)) and no discordance was registered. Now after this short while, something appeared to have changed – drastically. A number of things which had earlier been discussed started to become bones of contention. Adam told Eve (mainly through his actions) that he was not sure about certain things and in others, he took a completely different stance from what he had said earlier on. I could identify with this Eve’s dilemma for I have been there too (confession time and no sign of the cross required :)). I have to say that in moments like these, it feels as though Hurricane Irene has hit and the centre is no longer holding.

Her Adam was acting strange, unsure about them, unclear about what he wanted – he was sending all manner of mixed and unclear signals. As I listened and shared with her, I concluded that a relationship can be likened to being a stage ready to deliver a duet. You both know the words, you know the tune and which genre it belongs to. You have both practiced it and there is no discordance. It was now clear, albeit for unclear reasons, that the song had been changed and she was probably wondering if she would get a script of the lyrics; instead, this Adam was telling her (with his actions) that she did not have to ‘sing’. This duet was no longer doing it for him.

Silence befell us and then she finally asked me what I thought the issue was. Admittedly, writing for Project 44 is one thing and pretending to know a lot about Eve and Adam and the dynamics that work for and against them is something else. So I drew from my own experience and told her that once upon a time, I dated an Adam (yeah, experience comes in handy) and in my view, I had thought our ‘duet’ was doing just fine. However, after a while, I was given a new ‘song’, whose lyrics I did not recognise; it sounded like techno to me (grin – I don’t like techno) – it was a deal breaker. She looked at me wanting an explanation, but this was no parable. It was her call.

Would you want to switch to techno even when all signs indicate that you really do not have to ‘sing’? ‘You are a big girl, you know what to do’, I told her.

So what do I think of this Eve and her situation? Well, I think her situation is not unique at all. If you have been in the maze, you know how this rat race can be draining. For that matter, I hold a position which is not different from what most Eves and Adams who know what they want hold – it is that human beings are not supposed to remain in inertia hence know that change is inevitable. One is allowed to take a different position from time to time; however, when it involves the fundamentals of a relationship or a complete departure from what had been communicated before, then there is a red flag at full mast and it is flapping furiously. You have been handed a new ‘song’.

The other position is that Eve and Adam need to get a point where he/she ask questions and does not relent until he/she get the answers that he/she needs in order to make a mature and informed decision. It is therefore up to the parties involved to try (I say try from experience (again!)); sometimes you never get to know what the real issue is/was -all you have to do is bolt from that stage before delivering a below average performance :).

Have your say!

By Fridah

The Art of (Wo)Manipulation

I am not an enthusiast of history; in fact, history sounds like a hive of bees droning in the space above and around me and unfortunately, it creates no buzz for me. As soon as I could, I dropped the history option in my O’Levels like a hot potato and said good riddance to the ennui of it all. History enthusiasts will differ with me but worry not, I am about to make history look a little bit sexy.

From the little I have read and watched about Cleopatra, there are many adjectives that have been used to describe her: a woman of great beauty (what about that large nose?), cunning and persuasive; some scholars and dare I say feminists will applaud Cleopatra for using her beauty, wit and knowledge to charm her way through life. Others might differ and say that Cleopatra was manipulative – that she used her beauty, wit and charm to wile others and get what she wanted. I am no historian or feminist, but I have heard it said that where a woman schemes, a man is seen to strategize and where a man commands, a woman is seen to manipulate.

Back to the present day, some Eves and Adams have mastered the art of manipulation – no, not the physical aspect (to handle or operate with the hands ;)) – but the psychological aspect: to adapt, change or influence to suit one’s purpose.

Manipulation plays to the psyche of a person in order to yield certain demands or reactions. Sometimes, when one partner is unhappy with something in a relationship or wants things to go in a different way, there is an inclination to resort to forms of manipulation such as pulling the waterworks (tears), provoking jealousy in order to get the ‘right’ attention, using flattery or exaggerated compliments, taking a partner on a guilt trip, withholding the cookie, silent treatment, etc.

Think of the example of a wife who stocks up the fridge and pantry with beer and nuts in order to get her hubby to stay home with her instead of hooking up with the boys. It would be difficult for her husband to explain why he needed to drink beer and pick on nuts in a bar. Apart from missing his mates (and the flirtatious waitress ;)), this man will feel manipulated into staying indoors and will soon feel asphyxiated. In essence, manipulation is an unfair way to get what you want and very possibly at the expense of another.

Manipulation involves a lot of mind games. Men can promise the world just to get a woman into bed but women can promise a man a lot in bedroom ways just to have things go their way. The truth is that in a game, there is always a winner and a loser. So whilst one partner may think they are having their cake and eating it, the danger is that the other partner may grow immune to such manipulation or even tire of the games. The likely result is that the relationship will have suffered more than gained.

One of the characteristics of manipulation in relationships is people who don’t want to deal with the truth – they are averse to tackling issues directly and go around in circles so that the other partner is left confused and wondering whether or not they have been involved in a witch dance of some sort. In the same vein, such people avoid responsibility in a relationship and always want to play – in short, things are always done ‘TO them’. Such persons may appear as very sensitive but in actual fact, they are on a constant unquenchable quest for empathy, mostly undeserved or unnecessary.
There are tons of tips out there, especially on the World Wide Web about how to manipulate your Eve or Adam and have your way with them. However, I doubt that there is enough advice on how to keep them after you have roped them in with your scheming ways but who knows, we can all get very creative!

I remember some time back reading a magazine article about manipulation in relationships and I have to say that I did not like what I read at the time. However, in hindsight I think that the article made sense and it was I who was not willing to accept what I was reading, or rather the realization of it all. The article talked about how people contribute to being manipulated in a relationship – whether it is at work, within the family or in a romantic relationship. People who manipulate others are good at identifying people they can control because there are certain characteristics that allow for that manipulation to take place. These characteristics are such as: people who feel loved or appreciated when they constantly do things for others; people who have a hard time saying no (and meaning it); people with low self esteem or who are constantly seeking approval, etc – you get the drift. The article was encouraging ‘enablers’ of manipulation to recognize these tendencies and do something about if they wanted their relationships to be less manipulative. This is what some people would call growth.

If you think of it, to succeed in manipulating the other, one needs a reasonable amount of thought to craft and execute the mind games. Wouldn’t it be better to put such thought and effort to work on open communication skills in the relationship that would more likely produce a win-win situation?

Have your say!

By Joyce

Getting It Right By All Means

The stories coming from our newsrooms lately have not been in the least inspiring; stories about men being battered by their wives.

The jokes flying all over the place either casting aspersion on the unmanly fellows or taking jibes at the nature of women from certain parts of the country are totally missing the point.

The virulent punditry that is currently going on regarding the matter are in my opinion way off the mark; they are addressing the symptoms of a deeply entrenched malaise rather than going to the root. It is the way with us, Adams and Eves of Kenya – always responding in knee-jerks rather than deliberately charting out credible path to workable relationships.

Why would an Eve want to batter her spouse? Why would an Adam want to do the same? Beyond the dynamics that informs the personality or individual characteristics of each person which would either predicate them towards a tendency to violence or peace-making, it should be known that the resort to violence in any relationship is a sure sign of total and complete breakdown of a relationship’s raison d’être – love.

Lack of love or its abatement in a union has it roots in a plethora of reasons which this article can not possibly tackle in a 1,000 words. Suffice it to say that wrong foundation for marriage, marital ennui, domesticity and pursuit of ‘excitement’ outside the confines of ‘marital jail’ will quickly erode whatever bases of trust or love that a marriage is enshrined upon. The consequences are what we are today seeing manifested as wife/husband-battering.

In my opinion, the understanding of the roles, duties and responsibilities of couples very much is at the heart of unraveling the ‘mystery’ of functional relationships.  Strictly speaking from a Christian perspective, every Adam has roles to play as a man (i.e. male), duties to undertake as a husband and responsibilities to attend to as a husband. Each Eve too has her roles, duties and responsibilities.

Before you consider this take as being either simplistic or being hair-splitting on the matter of roles, duties and responsibilities, consider the rendering of the functions Adams and Eves as we have always known them and the modern challenges that the reversal in those functions have created causing not quite a small amount of confusion never mind the heart-aches.

The man as I have said before has a role to play in order to redeem his manhood. My manhood, viewed from the Eve perspective will be strongly entrenched if I am capable of being tender and loving yet at the same time being firm in all the other areas where my authoritative input will be required. Tell me, which woman wants a sissy by her bedside? Again who wants a tyrant by her side? Balancing these acts will, believe you, define your manhood. Only, our Eve’s wont let us. The current trend is to make men understand that they have a feminine side to their nature and acceding to it is the right way out of many a life’s imbroglio. Tell that to the men at the helm of KDF who decided Al-Shabab needed a hiding.

The duty of loving a woman unbeknownst to the clueless will make or break a union. The last time I was here at Project 44, I stated that love for the woman is divine command. The practical side of carrying out this command makes it a duty; a heavy one. Say what you want but loving one woman as I have found out, giving out all that you are (and possibly all that you have) to the exclusive attention of her life is quite the chore. Trust me, I have been there and sometimes I have had to ask God why it has to be so hard to love a woman. Please, for a moment forget the mushy, lovey-dovey hormone induced fireworks that announces a relationship. Any Adam in a permanent relationship with an Eve today will bear with me about the uphill task that ‘love’ is.

Duties by their very nature are not pleasant. But they are duties nevertheless. And so loving her, come rain come shine, in weal and woe, till death do us apart is a duty I must faithfully fulfill if I want to make the marriage work. It is hard (and quitting is always not the best option) but fortunately it is not impossible.

Adam’s responsibilities in parenthood will ensure that the society gets to perpetuate itself through the upbringing of offspring who are healthy in every way possible. Generally, lawlessness and criminal tendencies are the offshoots of bad upbringing. Any Adam entering into a union with a woman and who is ready to create a human being out of that union should understand that he has God-granted responsibility to see to the upkeep of that child till it can fend for itself in adulthood. This might sound trite but the reality of our degenerating social norms points to the fact that men are not playing the father figure role that is naturally theirs.

Having said all that, let us look at the alternative being fronted as a cure to flailing relationship. Suddenly, single-by-choice motherhood is being fronted as a popular alternative to dead-a-life fatherhood. Career pursuit to the exclusion of everything else and the embrace of ‘friendship with benefits’ where no strings are attached to unions have also been touted and then there is the old tried route of divorce. All these can not and will never solve our troubled marriages. They are just that, alternatives. Unfortunately, the sanctity of human life and the brevity of our tenure on earth does not allow for such misinformed social experimentations. Not long after, we won’t even have a society to experiment with.

I truly, believe the Eves can tell us their side of the story of what they understand to be their roles, duties and responsibilities in a union seeing as I have not imposed my view on them by defining those for them.

As for me, I am convinced that the males being battered today can hack the tough jobs of redeeming their manhood. It is a hard task but as I said it can be done. Doing it will mean the end of a job for that joker at Maendeleo ya Wanaume nonsense!

Have your say.

By Jeff – Guest Writer