Meet Lydia Mbevi she shares her experience in marriage- from struggling to make her husband happy, infertility, being the sole-provider, living with her depressed and alcoholic partner, infidelity, hitting rock bottom and getting back up.

Meet Lydia Mbevi she shares her experience in marriage- from struggling to make her husband happy, infertility, being the sole-provider, living with her depressed and alcoholic partner, infidelity, hitting rock bottom and getting back up. 

My name is Lydia Mbevi and I was born in Nairobi into a Christian family of five children. I had an amazing childhood, very closeted in the things of church, even went to a Christian university for my first degree – Daystar University. I love swimming, reading, singing and dancing. I love good music and good food! I love having a good time.

I have 4 siblings and growing up I  had a lot of attention from my dad. Although he hoped I would be a son because he had a son and daughter.

As a family we have a very strong bond and this formed a lot of my character growing up. I wanted to be like my father and make him happy. He had a job in the ministry of lands his whole career and that’s the same stability I sought.

He was a strong Christian and didn’t seem to struggle with being a Christian – he just lived what he said. I had such a great childhood and I miss those days, of innocent fun and not having tough responsibilities.


How I met my husband…

When I started working, at first I worked in church and in Christian organizations. Then finally I got a job with an American NGO working with farmers. In the course of my work, I met Nderitu – he was working for one of our partners.

We went out about three times before we had a conversation we both had been wanting to have. He asked me whether I thought we had something serious because he didn’t want to waste his time hanging out with me if it was not going to lead to marriage. That was the same thing I was thinking. By then, I was 30 years old and I felt not only was my clock ticking – LIKE TICK TOCK – but I wanted to get out of the dating scene and settle down with someone.

In the beginning we were both very committed to making it work. We got married within about six months of getting engaged. Both families were very supportive – after all we were old enough to know what we were doing. It was a bit hard for me living in Kitale and Eldoret, but I tried to make a nice home for us. Sometimes I would miss java coffee so much, I would tell my sister to send me some on the Nairobi Eldoret flights but that never worked. Nderitu was working and farming, and I was also working with a bit of travel between Kitale, Eldoret and Nairobi.

We started trying to have children as soon as we got married – after all TICK TOCK was one of the loudest things we could hear. To our dismay – actually we were both devastated, the doctor said I had early menopause and could never have children. It was downhill from there. That is when he started drinking, and smoking. Things that I had never seen my dad do, ever! He started coming home late at night and we started fighting, about everything. That was months into our marriage.

We both made a lot of adjustments in the beginning. I was a city girl who had to get used to being with my in laws in a very rural humble setting. He had to adjust to my very loud, protective urban family. He didn’t come to Nairobi often though, but I went to his home a lot especially since his mum had died a month before we got married and I wanted to help take care of his dad. We had an absolutely lovely home in Eldoret which had a nice house and a nice farm so both of us were very happy living there.

From Bad to Worse…

At first I was totally against his drinking, and a lot of the fighting was about that. Then slowly I just stopped making noise about it and it became a part of our lives. The smell, the black outs, the fits of rage when he was drunk. I knew that this was not the kind of husband I wanted to be with and share a bed with but I just took all the garbage.

Year after year for nine years! I had always earned more than him, apart from when he was farming. As the alcohol increased he lost his job and even stopped farming. I became the sole bread winner. He would try and farm, but couldn’t follow through on anything because it meant making an effort to look for markets, or laborers to harvest. He was too depressed to do anything but sleep and drink. He also felt that when we met he wasn’t taking alcohol but since I was a social drinker, he felt that I introduced him to drinking.

Saving our Marriage…

We tried many things to save our marriage. When we realized we could not conceive, we went to my parents. To be honest I thought he was returning me home – which I didn’t mind at all at that point! My parents counselled us and my dad actually said he would be happy to take me back if that is what we wanted. Nderitu assured him that we would be ok with time. The next intervention happened when he cheated on me with a college girl whom he wanted to have a child with. That time his dad came to see my dad and promised that this would never happen again and that Nderitu was committed to the relationship. The next intervention came almost immediately because I now realized how much it meant to him to have a child. I agreed to try out in vitro fertilization (IVF) where we spent a huge amount of money we didn’t have, to try and get a baby. Not to mention the emotional and physical torture that this process was for me. IVF did not work for us.0.2

Unfortunately at this time, there was post-election violence and we had to leave Eldoret with nothing. This plunged him deeper into depression because he didn’t really want to live in Nairobi. I really insisted on Nairobi because that was where my support system was and I was also depressed by then. The situation deteriorated very badly after this, and we both knew things were bad. In a desperate attempt to save our marriage, my mother convinced him that adoption would be a good way of having a child. We adopted a beautiful baby girl and I thought now everything would be ok. It was not! Somehow, people – both relatives and friends – continued mocking especially him. Saying he wasn’t a man and that he had bought a baby. He continued drinking heavily and not working at all by this time.

Another intervention came when I wanted him to leave because the fits of rage were too much and I felt that he would become violent. I called his brother one day when the situation was particularly bad and he told me to sort out my own issues. I then called my dad, who came with my brother and sister and asked him if he would be willing to go to rehab. He said he had it under control. He was then asked if he would like to leave and go to Kitale and then come when he has completely sobered up. He totally refused all suggestions.

I tried to leave one time but only stayed away for five days and then went back. I just was not strong enough to leave. I really wanted to but I could not imagine doing that. I couldn’t bear the shame of having a failed marriage. I thought if I was nice to him, he would stop drinking. I tried giving him money whenever he asked for it, hoping it would make him treat me better. He just drunk it all.

My Breaking Point

Finally I decided that I could just not take it anymore. It was actually his sister that broke it for me. After Christmas, where we had been in the village and done a lot of back breaking work cooking for multitudes, she just attacked me so viciously and helped me realize that no matter how much I sacrifice, this family will never accept me. He defended me furiously, because she was trying to say that I had mistreated the other siblings. Something just broke and I was able to step back and see that this marriage has made me become such a shell of myself that I am willing to take abuse even from his siblings.

I walked out! I left everything, including my five year old daughter. That was one of the hardest and darkest days of my life. I felt that if I don’t leave, I will die. It was that clear in my mind! I stayed out for about a week. I didn’t want to take her with me because it would have meant pulling her out of school and I didn’t want her to miss school. Thankfully I have a great nanny who lives with us so I knew she would be fine. After a week, he called to say he had moved out. Then we started the divorce proceedings.

My advice to other women

Ladies, there are signs that we ignore as we walk this journey called life. First of all, I got married because of pressure, both from within and without. So it was not love! It’s hard enough making a relationship work with someone you love deeply, it is impossible with someone you are not in love with. Secondly, I should not have continued giving into that pressure and staying because society or church expects me to. I have been a shell of myself for the last 9 years because I was forcing myself to be something I could never be. I was actually enabling his alcoholism!

If you are going through what I went through…

You need to learn how to love yourself! Even in the airplane, they say in an emergency you need to put your oxygen mask before you can help anyone else. We need to learn to do that. Unless we love ourselves, how can we love anyone else? Also, don’t force it. Look around and see what signs there are that things are not what they seem. Don’t ignore that, please. Alcoholism and depression are diseases which need professionals, you can’t fix him. It doesn’t matter how much you love him or how nice you are. He has to want to get help!

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