The past few episodes of Moja Love’s Uyajola 9/9 have shown young people caught in love triangles with many fighting (literally) to save their relationships while others finally realise that, maybe, it’s not worth fighting for.
But last night’s one-hour special of the controversial show told a different tale. Gift and Rose’s 31-year marriage had been full of lows and by the end of the episode it seemed it had reached the end of the road.
The episode began as usual with the accuser, Rose, asking Uyajola 9/9 to find out if her husband has been cheating on her. Presenter Jub Jub promised to help get to the bottom of things and to arrange the confrontation she needed with her husband.
Rose, Jub Jub and the crew drove to where Gift had allegedly been staying with his girlfriend of three years and staked out their house, waiting for them to come out. Gift then called Rose and Jub Jub, asking that they meet at his family home instead for the confrontation.
Once the couple were face to face with Jub Jub as the mediator, unlike many episodes were couples erupt into violent fits of rage, Rose and Gift initially remained calm and Gift was allowed to tell his side of the story – which he did with shocking clarity.
This is when the episode took a melancholic turn as he recounted how their marriage had crumbled over the years and how Rose had left him and their children multiple times to be with a lover. Rose didn’t deny that she had been unfaithful in the past but blamed her infidelity on him cheating with multiple women even before they were married.
It was at this point that Gift revealed that he had given up on their marriage and had served Rose divorce papers three years ago – which she never signed.
Rose then said she wouldn’t let him leave her for his girlfriend of three years. Gift begged her for peace and for their relationship to be over but Rose said she had invested too much time, money and years into her marriage and would not let it go that easily – even threatening to sue Gift’s girlfriend for “interruption of marriage” (something that can’t currently be done in South Africa).
There are many reasons why marriages do not work out in the long run. A Stats SA report looks at trends in divorce rather than the reasons behind it, so we asked divorce and family law attorney Bertus Preller to let us in on the main reasons estranged couples seek out his services.
The most common causes of a marital breakdown, Preller says, are infidelity, a lack of communication, religious differences, sexual incompatibility, clashing views on parental responsibility, finances and abuse – whether physical, emotional and/or psychological.
But these problems are the motivating factors for divorce. What leads to couples splitting up is their inability or unwillingness to work through the issues, Johannesburg-based clinical psychologist Sandra Brownrigg says.
Here’s a look at the top reasons for divorce – and what you should do if any of these issues are red flags in your marriage.
There’s no question that cheating is one of the main reasons for divorce and the reasons behind infidelity are numerous, Johannesburg clinical psychologist Riette du Preez says. People with certain personality types are more prone to cheating, but it can also happen because one or both parties feel unsupported or disconnected.
LACK OF COMMUNICATION
Poor communication can shut down a couple’s ability to connect with each other, Du Preez says. “For example, when someone is too critical or lacks empathy in the way they respond to their partner, this often leads to one party feeling ‘unheard’ and, as a result, they stop communicating their needs or emotions to their partner. It can become a vicious cycle.”
This problem is often worsened by couples not spending enough quality time with each other. “The excessive use of social media, cellphones and TV doesn’t help either, as it can prevent a couple from connecting with each other even when they are in each other’s company,” she adds.
Whether it’s verbal, emotional, physical or psychological, abuse is a relationship-breaker like no other. It’s usually rooted in deep-seated psychological issues that require professional help to resolve.
These are the most important things that make a relationship last:
BEWARE OF GREAT EXPECTATIONS
Don’t let your expectations of what marriage should be like ruin the actual marriage, warns Pretoria counselling psychologist Olga Molebatsi. “Maybe you expected your spouse to wake up every morning and make breakfast for you and when this doesn’t happen you feel resentful,” she says.
The advent of social media has compounded this problem as couples flaunt their seemingly perfect relationships online, leaving you feeling short-changed and unhappy, adds Johannesburg-based psychologist Tamara Zanella.
But don’t forget – even those seemingly perfect couples on Facebook have their issues. Making sure you have realistic expectations of your partner and your marriage – and being clear about these with each other – is vital if you’re going to keep your relationship healthy and happy.
“Intimacy – and sex – is very important to maintain a sense of connection,” insists Zanella. “At the start of a relationship these things come naturally and spontaneously, but often as a relationship matures and goes through phases, there’s an ebb and flow to intimacy. That’s when couples need to make an effort to revive that spark.” It’s about more than sex – it’s about remembering why the two of you fell in love in the first place.
DON’T BE AFRAID TO FORGIVE AND FORGET
One thing successful marriages have in common is a capacity for starting over, says Cape Town psychologist Robert Boulle. Couples who are able to thrash things out and then let them go and move on tend to be happier because they allow their relationship to change and grow, he explains. Molebatsi agrees and adds that although issues need to be addressed when they arise, couples should also engage in constant acts of forgiveness.
“People hurt each other, knowingly or unknowingly, people have misconceptions, and sometimes they don’t have good intentions. The only way to move forward is to master the art of forgiveness.”
BE CLEAR AND SPECIFIC ABOUT YOUR NEEDS
“Most people tend to express their needs indirectly or in a way that blames the other – you never buy me flowers, for example,” says clinical psychologist Larissa Ernst. “Others expect their partners to know what they want – this is usually expressed as ‘if he loves me he should know what I like/want’.”
If you want your needs fulfilled, you need to express them clearly, she says. An effective expression of a need has three components: what you want, why it’s important to you, and how you’ll feel if it’s fulfilled.
“For example, ‘I would appreciate it if you would make dinner one evening a week. I feel overwhelmed with all the household chores and it would give me a chance to sort out the washing a bit earlier’.”