According to an article written in the New York Times more marriages dissolve before the age of thirty. This trend is growing in Africa. How many young people in their twenties do you know who are going through separation or divorce after less than 5 years of marriage? What are some of the underlying factors contributing to such a growing trend? Feint & Margin had the opportunity to speak to a young twenty something year old about her marriage and divorce. Kate Nkansa talks to Miss T* a twenty seven year old woman from South Africa who is divorced and under thirty.
Below is our conversation.
Kate Nkansa [KN]: How did you meet your former husband?
Miss T [MT]: Through friends. At a BBQ one night
KN: How long did it take before you started dating? Did he pursue you for long?
MT: Not too long. We met at the BBQ and then hooked up at a party about a month later. We basically just carried on seeing each other from the party. So ya, he didn’t really pursue me.
KN: Did you have any reservations about him in the beginning?
MT: Yes. Wondered if he was just another guy that wanted to use me but it turned out that he didn’t.
KN: Explain that. Use you in what sense?
MT: for Sex…
KN: Was that your previous experience with men? Picture Above: Miss T
MT: That they just wanted sex and no commitment, not that I slept with all of them!
KN: Were you looking for a commitment?
MT: It would have offered me more security.
KN: How long did it take before you realised that your ex-husband wasn’t in the relationship to use you?
MT: About two weeks or so, I can’t really remember.
KN: Was it something he did or say?
MT: In my opinion, actions speak louder than words so it was what he did, he visited and phoned often.
KN: How long did you date him before he proposed?
MT: It was about four and a half years.
KN: Did you think he was husband material? Did you talk about marriage?
MT: I did think he was. The only issue I had was that he wasn’t stable when it came to jobs. But more issues arose nearer to getting engaged. He became rude and arrogant. We only spoke about marriage about three months before getting engaged.
KN: Did he have a plan for his life? Did you discuss your future plans?
MT: He always wanted to start his own business but didn’t really work to earn money to achieve his goals. We did talk about our future plans things improved a little.
KN: Was he employed when you started dating?
MT: Yes he did
KN: How long after he proposed did you get married?
MT: It was about 6 or 7 months I think.
KN: When did you start having doubts that he was the right person for you? Did you go through marriage counseling?
MT : it was about a yr before we got engaged. Ya, we went for pre marriage counseling and after we got married
KN: Why didn’t u break things off when the doubts started?
MT: Because I was weak in my opinion. I thought the problems were my own issues that I had to deal with and work on.
KN: Please explain, what were some of these issues you thought you had to work on?
MT: I was insecure. When I confronted him on problems I had he’d turned it back on to me and made me feel that it was my fault. I only realised that it wasn’t all my fault when a friend said to me one day that it you can’t always be wrong Miss T.
KN: Were there it issues of infidelity? What was making you feel insecure?
MT: Some infidelity, but also when he spoke to me in a certain way that I didn’t like or if he did things that I didn’t like. Also if I confronted him on his unemployment issues he’d turn the blame on me. He made me feel like I needed mental help! It was like he was never ever wrong. . I also think it’s the way some men respond to you – aggressively or calmly. Aggressive as in extremely defensive.
KN: Ok so you decide to go through with the marriage even with all these doubts. What were you telling yourself to keep the doubts away?
MT: Yep, I went through with it. Like I said there was also outside pressure, people were saying that we were the perfect couple etc. I just told myself that I was insecure. Why wouldn’t it work? He is a good person, I didn’t think I could get someone better, he had a good family. I also thought I had some doubts because of my parents relationship failing.
KN: How would he respond to you when you raised issues you were concerned with?
MT: He would shout at me and always turn it back on to me that it was my fault. I think he got from his father because his father is like that.
KN: How long were you married for? How would you describe your first year together?
MT: I was married for four years. I think our first year was the worst because he didn’t do anything to bring in an income and that was also when the confrontational issue was bad. I guess the money problems also added more pressure on him it’s probably why he was even more defensive. I wanted a divorce after the first year.
KN: What made you stay? Was your family aware of the issues
MT: People told me that the first of marriage was always the hardest so I gave it a chance and we went for a bit of counselling.
KN: Did you tell him in your first year that you wanted a divorce?
MT: I can’t remember. I think I did
KN: Did the marriage counselling help?
MT: Yes, for some time.
KN: Who’s decision was it to divorce? Which events led to the divorce?
MT: It was mine. I was tired of trying to work on the marriage and not seeing any change. We just kept going round in circles.
KN: Did he try to fight the divorce?
MT: No. Was kind of a mutual decision. But he did try to get me back after about two months.
KN: Did you take your marriage vows seriously? Was it an easy decision to make?
MT: Yes, I did. I put up with his nonsense for four years [she laughs]. I prayed. I told God that if he didn’t get a job within six months and if the decision was mutual then I would know that it was the right decision. It wasn’t very easy. But I’m glad I went through with the divorce because I’m so much happier and I wouldn’t have met my boyfriend I have now.
KN: Did you meet your boyfriend soon after your divorce or were you separated for a while?
MT: Yes, I’ve been separated since May last year 2011.
KN: Do you have any regrets about your experience and decision to marry your ex-husband?
MT: Yes and no. Yes because I feel like it damaged me to a degree and feel like I wasted time but no because it taught me many life lessons.
KN: Can you share with our readers what some of these lesson where?
MT: My divorce and marriage has taught me how important it is to communicate well. It has also helped me understand men a little more.
KN: What would you say to a young woman who’s about to be married but is having doubts?
MT: I would say, grow the balls to hold off the wedding for a while and only go ahead with it when you’re completely at peace and you’re 100 % sure you’re marrying the right person. It’s a lot easier than going through a divorce later.
KN: Can a person ever be 100% sure about marriage?
MT: I’m not sure. No one is perfect but at the end of the day, if that person makes you happy and has most of the qualities that you are looking for then hold on to them. But don’t be with a person if others think this is the person that suites you. Know who you are and who you want and what makes you happy.
KN: You’re not the only women to be married and divorced before 30. Do you have thoughts on this growing trend?
MT: I think woman are learning not to take crap from men and men are maybe not appreciating woman as much anymore. But at the same time woman are losing their respect for men. There used to be less divorces when woman used to be house wives or stay at home moms and the men used to be the bread winners. There were also less messed up kids. This generation is an insecure generation that pushes people away so that they don’t get hurt.
KN: Why do you think women are losing respect for men?
MT: I don’t think they’re getting the same respect in return.
KN: Do you mean that men too are losing respect for women?
MT: More than likely. I think that woman have lost respect for men and in return men lose their respect for woman because they’re not getting the respect they think they deserve.
KN: What do you think men should be doing in order to get their women’s respect?
MT: Treat them with respect. Treat them like ladies, don’t chase other woman. Not be ‘dogs’. Woman are softer and gentler than men and women are more sensitive to issues they don’t see as a big deal. Be aware of these sensitive issues.
KN: Describe life after your divorce? You mentioned earlier that you feel like you wasted your time. But you’re under 30 and do not have any children remarrying is highly likely. Is that what you want? Does marriage still appeal to you?
Mt: I’m definitely happier. And I am extremely happy we didn’t have kids. I’m still young but it does feel like I’m ‘labelled’. I’m very wary of getting re-married but wouldn’t mind it. I most certainly don’t ever want to get divorced again. That’s why I want to be sure with my future husband.
KN: What would you say to women between 20-30 year old who are thinking about or going through a divorced or are already divorced?
MT: That when one chapter ends, a new one begins and that they should be excited for a new beginning. They can shape the rest of their future.
Thank you Miss T* for being so open about this issue. I know that there are many young men and women going through the pain of divorce. Very few are willing to talk so candidly about their experience. Feint & Margin wishes you well on the new chapter you’re embarking on.
*Miss T is not her real name.