Are you trapped in ‘fake’ marriage?

By Sandra Wekesa
Friday, August 21st, 2020
Are you trapped in ‘fake’ marriage?
In summary

Sandra Wekesa @wekesa_sandra

If you are unfamiliar with the word ‘entanglement’, you are not alone. Well, while the Collins dictionary defines an entanglement as a complicated or difficult relationship or situation, sociologist Beatrice Nderitu says it’s simply a relationship in which everything on the surface seems okay, while in reality behind closed doors it is characterised by turmoil, ill feelings and two individuals living separate lives.

In a such a relationship, neither person needs the other to ‘complete’ them. Both people are awake to themselves, their feelings and thoughts as individuals.

Entanglements on the other hand may look like a relationship on the surface. You might spend a lot of time together.

“One of the clearest signs of entanglement is that it is hard for one person to let the other person tell the truth about their feelings.

Entanglements feel like you have to shut down a part of yourself,” she says.

Telling the difference

“You can begin to tell the difference between a relationship and an entanglement by checking in on how you feel.

Do you feel loved and cared for? Do you feel understood? Do you feel safe? Do you enjoy the company of the other person?

And does that feeling appear mutual? Does someone have to be right all the time? Does the involvement feel easy?

If you’ve answered ‘no’ to any of these questions you may be in an entanglement,” she poses. 

In as much as marriage should be bliss, Daniel Matheka says it is not always the case.

For him, his wife has more layers than an onion, which get revealed to him every day.

In every revelation, be it negative or positive, there is always an issue that erupts, and more often than not, the question is always why didn’t she show him the real her when they were dating.  

“While saying ‘I do’ you don’t necessarily think of the issues that may arise. But the thing is, you either grow together or inevitably grow apart,” he says.

He adds that divorce is an option when the going gets tough. But some couples choose not go through that route.

“That is when you find people getting into affairs, in the hope that their primary relationships will work out and things would fall back into place,” he says. 

“The thing is more often than not, we move from relationship to relationship without giving ourselves time to heal.

We go into relationships with issues dating all the way back to our childhood and somehow expect our partner to miraculously fix what is wrong,” says Nderitu.

Many surveys done globally suggest that infidelity is the number one cause of divorce. However, the US institute for Divorce Financial Analysts highlights that the leading cause of divorce is lack of compatibility. 

Research also suggests that some couples opt for open marriages. Nevertheless, studies show that 40 per cent of men and 25 per cent of women in monogamous relations would switch to a consensual non-monogamous arrangement if society allowed them to live in such an entangled world.

Changing world

Relationships look different from what they did years ago. And while couples are moving to more flexible arrangements, some are actually opting for a more silent way of seeing other people.

This actually begs the question, is entanglement an ultimate thing in today’s marriage?

Entanglement, Nderitu says, makes someone feel trapped in a relationship. “Relationships and monogamy are changing, and many couples understand that it can be challenging to find one person to partner with for life.

We are complex creatures and a lifetime is long, and expecting one person to stay the course is a big task,” Nderitu says. 

She adds, “However, I see many people using each other under the pretext of love, and throwing each other away when the feeling burns out.”

Dayan Masinde, a relationship counsellor says it’s sad that couples are finding themselves entangled in a marriage. “This is why spouses  are getting hurt,” he says.

According to Masinde, a marriage is a long-time commitment and any form of destruction shouldn’t be embraced.

He adds that marriage has gotten a lot of bad press in the recent past. Instead of people embracing the beauty of this union, they become self-seeking. 

Masinde says many people are marrying for all the wrong reasons such as societal pressure.

Others just make abrupt decision to get married without thinking over it. This then leads to one feeling like they got in the wrong union and hence entangled. 

On his part, Geoffrey Wango, a counselling psychologist says some people feel trapped in a marriage because of the vows they made, or other reasons such as if there are children involved. 

“Even in your worst, you feel like you just can’t get out of marriage because you are committed to each other,” he says. 

He adds that  spouses might not be sexually satisfied or get tired or the many problems that they encounter at homes, hence wanting to explore with other people  by having affairs.

Both experts agree that being in an entanglement should not spell doom to a relationship.

The two partners need to seek counselling the moment they feel that their relationship is drifting apart. 

For Masinde, interrogating your motive as a partner and asking yourself why you got married should enough to know whether you want to stay married.

 “It is essential that you set boundaries, know the things you will not accept and communicate your boundaries to others.

If people do not know your boundaries exist, you will always be violated. When we respect and honour ourselves in all we do, when we commit to being our best selves, then we can commit fully to a relationship with another person to the fullest extent of our being,” Nderitu says.