January 5, 2010 – A friend of mine recently asked me what my plot for New Year’s Eve was.
“I will spend the evening with my wife. At midnight we shall say a prayer and toss to the New Year,” I said.
This answer shocked him.
“Mambo yako ni ngumu (Your story is complex)” was all he said.
That got me thinking about modern day families. To him spending time with my spouse does not qualify as the ‘thing’ to do on a day like New Year’s Eve. To him and many in our generation partying all night with friends, having a drink with pals or dancing themselves crazy at a party is more like it.
John’s perspective of life is one I have gathered from many in our generation. A modern day house is one of “everyone for themselves.” Family time remains the seldom elusive moment that is now a preserve of Christmas.
It’s a mad world where crucial family decisions are made in the bar after consulting one’s drinking peers (at the expense of your wife) or at a girls night out after listening to the opinion of the women (at the expense of your husband). Office relationships and flirting at the work place have become the norm. Such is our world.
When we are not out catching up with the boys or girls we are in the house watching the latest series or movies. It’s not surprising to meet the wife in the bedroom watching desperate housewives, the husband in the sitting room with his CSI series or catching up with the newspapers while the teenagers are in their bedrooms with the latest movies or hip hop videos.
The growth of the social media and the increased access to the internet has not helped matters. Facebook and Twitter are taking over the dinner table. They have become the favourite pass time.
A while ago I witnessed an embarrassing scene in a hotel where this social media craze seems to be the alternative to conflict management. A couple came in, each stuck on their phones. It was disheartening to see their son trying so hard to catch their attention. All he got for his effort was a scolding from the father who I guessed saw him as a bother.
The days when fathers used to get home early, help children with homework, have dinner together and share a prayer are gone. This looks like an ideal home which does not exist even in the rural areas.
Divorce rates are high, dysfunctional families are increasing and family values have disappeared. Such are the times we are living in.
Spending time with one’s spouse and or family has slowly turned to be “a favour” something your significant other, in most cases the woman and children, have to beg or keep hoping for. What used to be treasured is now dreaded by many.
It’s like the life of bachelors; going home with a ‘plot.’ Movies and pay TV form the list of the basic needs in the ranks of food.
Many of us are out there making money but it is sad that after amassing the wealth you will have no family to enjoy it with.
This reminds me of a recent incident when a friend of mine was shocked when I told him I was missing the bonding sessions with my dear one. He asked me what we talk about with my wife since we don’t seem to get enough of each other, yet it’s just the two of us in the house.
I am a firm believer that human beings, white or black, male or female share some basic humane characteristics. One of these is the desire to share our thoughts. There is an intrinsic desire to listen and be listened to. In most cases this need is best served in our most intimate and closest circles, but in some cases (which are now increasing) it is being attended to by outsiders. This could be our friends, workmates or the ‘mpango wa kando.’
Some people ask how they can sustain communication with their spouses who they see daily. I may not have stayed there long enough to have enough wisdom, but I know few of my friends who are making it. Talk about everything; your dreams, finances, career paths, memories, families and more so, your relationship.
Go for it. Talk about anything but make sure you talk. Communication is the sure way of keeping it together with your spouse!