Couple shares secret to long marriage

They walked down the aisle to renew the vows they made to each other when they first got married 50 years ago.

Memories of the event that took place at Anglican Church of Kenya (ACK) Kiamunyeki in Nakuru County came flooding back for Michael Ndonge and his wife Sarah Wambui.

“We first exchanged our marriage vows in 1971 in this same church. Our 50 years as a couple came with a fair share of challenges, but we overcome them,” said Ndonge.

He said they dreamed to celebrate 100 years together.

Ndonge, 78, and Wambui, 75, walked into the church in calculated steps. They held each other’s hand, and their eyes lit with excitement.

Tom Kinyanjui and Hellen Moraa, whose wedding is in three weeks, were at the church to witness. With the rising cases of homicide, divorce and separation, Kinyanjui and Moraa said the celebration was a testimony that marriage could last a lifetime.

In the event marked with pomp and colour, youth had opportunity to grab wisdom. “The secret to a successful marriage lies in the ideals of tolerance, mutual understanding and patience, which have become rare in today’s society,” said Ndonge.

While such values were mainly instilled in young couples by their parents, the father of seven said young people should consider the changing tides. “The values needed to keep a marriage together are the same that have bound us. The only difference is that today we have professional counselling, which youth should not ignore,” he said.

Wambui said they met when they were students at a teachers’ college. She cited being honest, respectful and committed to one person and their common dreams as recipe for their happy marriage.

“Living with a person you are not related to by blood for half a century is not easy. It has been made possible by perseverance, open communication and forgiveness,” said Wambui.

Marriage counsellor Njoroge Githaiga said many young couples in today’s society considered counselling when it was too late. “It is never too late to seek professional counselling. But late counselling exposes disgruntled partners to damage, which at times becomes irreparable,” said Githaiga.

He said the environment was dynamic, thus calls for different approaches to the same marital challenges. “Solutions to one family may not work for another. This calls for an open mind approach on challenges in a marriage,” said Githaiga.

He underscored the need for churches and county governments to initiate and sustain counselling services.

His sentiments were echoed by the Reverend George Kagima, who emphasised need for more counselling centres, where young couples could meet and share experiences.

“By sharing their challenges, they have an opportunity to relieve pressure on themselves and brainstorm on how best to address them. Suffering in silence often culminates in domestic violence and sometimes spousal murder,” said Kagima.


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