Lifestyle

Karabo Mokoena
Content producer
4 minute read
7 May 2021
4:42 pm

Cheating, divorce, separations: Tough week for relationships

Karabo Mokoena

Are human beings fighting a losing battle when it comes to infidelity?

What lessons can be learned from the public cases of cheating and divorce? Image: iStock

If there is anything this past week has reminded us is that relationships and marriage are complex.

This week alone, we witnessed the public cheating scandal of Prince Kaybee and the formal separation of the one of the wealthiest man in the world, Bill Gates. This is over and above the public separations of Black Coffee and Enhle Mbali, and Malusi Gigaba and Norma Mngoma.

It seems not to matter if you are a billionaire,  famous DJ, politician or regular folk. Connecting with and maintaining a relationship with another human is challenging. This is also regardless of how long you have been together.

Since Covid-19 was declared a global pandemic in March 2020, the divorce rate has increased globally. In South Africa, the divorce rate has increased by 20%.

So, what does Covid-19 and these past few weeks teach us about relationships?

Relationships are hard

The bit about two people who commit to be together till death do them part is beautiful. However, more conversations need to take place about what happens when money problems surface, or children arrive. Home schooling and financial issues have been among the two biggest issues contributing to the spike in the divorce rate.

Children, for instance, change the dynamics of relationships. The woman has less time to spend with her partner, her body changes, her libido drops and she survives on less sleep. When these issues are not openly discussed, partners may seek solace somewhere else, then the issues may begin.

Coach and practising non-monogamist Ndzalama Ngwenya believes that when couples don’t have open and honest conversations about the state of the relationship, or their feelings about the relationships, couples are enabling each other to misbehave with no accountability.

Would Zola have accepted it if Prince Kaybee told him that he met someone he liked and would like to explore that? They both will never know, because the damage has already been done. He lied.

Ndzalama asserts that people should be allowed to explore their feelings, both male and female.

Relationships and exclusivity

The seriousness of a committed relationship is a big game-changer for people. For someone who got involved with a person that is prone to cheating, like Norma, you expect trust and commitment to be elevated. “Marriage elevates the seriousness of a commitment,” Ngwenya says.

The woman also believes that after marriage their husband’s happiness is their job and no one else’s.

Ngwenya also believes people don’t want their partners to see them happy, especially if the source of that happiness is another person. That, for her, is the foundation of infidelity. For a short while, Prince Kaybee’s “mistress” made him happy, happy enough to cheat on his girlfriend.

Non-monogamy

“Human beings are inherently monogamous,” Ngwenya says, but human connection is inevitable. This is why a person can have a best friend and still meet other people and befriend them.

When your partner meets someone new that they like, or they fall in love with a colleague, the dishonesty that follows is what will make or break a relationship. Ngwenya calls this “pacifying the issue” because it is better to avoid the hard conversation than to tell their partner the truth, understandably so.

The complexities of the human condition may conclude that one partner is doing something wrong, or is not doing enough. Women usually carry this burden, blaming themselves for their partner’s infidelity.

This defeats the purpose, considering that the major reason why the man would lie about cheating in the first place is to “protect” the woman.

“Human beings are social beings and they should be allowed to explore what the connection they have with other people holds for them,” Ngwenya says.

Is communication the way forward?

Open conversations before a relationship commitment will go a long way for couples. These conversations should center around how couples navigate certain realities of relationships like kids, finances, sexual problems and meeting new people.

Couples should then create relationship rules in line with their open conversations. The health of the relationship is how honest we are about how we feel. If your wife’s libido is too low, is it easier to have sex with someone else, or have conversations with them about it?

Choosing the easier route is the biggest contributor to the breakdown of a relationship.