Paheja Siririka and Aletta Shikololo
The Covid-19 pandemic has wracked mayhem of everything in its path – from administrations of governments, movement of people, and a whole lot more, not to leave out some who are not receiving enough attention-marriage.
Entertainment Now! came across some couples who have been separated for as long as seven months since the lockdown was enforced, due to the closure of borders that ultimately led to the halting of flights across the world.
Dr Tiri Chiwenga*, a medical practitioner in Windhoek, said he has been apart from his wife for eight months now and things are never easy.
“We have been married for 17 years; we have three children. Our son is with her (his wife) in the UK and our two younger ones have been locked down in Harare. This is difficult for all of us, especially now that we have been separated from the kids,” he said.
Dr Chiwenga said his wife went to the UK for her PhD studies with their 16-year-old but technology has helped them stay in contact. “Video calling has helped us a lot. We have also been to psychologists to cope with the emotional turmoil. Plus being busy with studying and work keeps us occupied,” he admitted.
He hopes the disease will be dealt with so that he can be reunited with his family one day. “We are praying and realising there is nothing much one can do. I hope that this disease will be over soon and families will be together again,” he concluded.
John Munjoma, who has only been married for nine months was separated from his wife, who is currently in Germany while he is in South Africa; he is looking forward to seeing her again and has urged other couples who may be facing similar challenges to remain optimistic.
“My wife Mwenda is potentially returning home next month after 9 months of being away. She is currently in Germany on a trip that wasn’t meant to be too long at the end of January at that time. China was opening up more about the virus and most of us simply associated the pandemic with the Asian country. We had just been married for six months and never thought her absence would turn out so long.
He said it was after a couple of months in lockdown that their patience began being tested.
“My wife was still occupied with the purpose of her travel; the impossibility of her return became inevitable, as many airlines shut down. In our response, we turned to what we did best in the time of our courtship and started scheduling mutual activities. During the weekends, we planned to watch at least one family programme together on Netflix or YouTube,” shared Munjoma.
Whenever time permitted, they had “remote dates” where they spend time doing activities they mutually enjoyed when together. “We exchanged recipes and video calling while preparing meals. Much of the discussions dwelt on the reminiscence of the times we spent together and the assurance of being back together,” he shared.
It does not feel good to be away from someone you love for a prolonged time and Munjoma said it taxes on one’s emotions – and before you know it, one begins experiencing imbalances of emotional intelligence.
“In maintaining the patience and tenacity to remain connected to your spouse, daily communication is imperative and in safeguarding the union; for us, prayer and studying of scriptures gave us hope. To know and believe that even in the raging storms of this pandemic we’re going to overcome has been the greatest assurance of all time. It is this element that transcends any other activity we have done that has helped us to remain happy and full of hope even up to date.”
Although some couples are still coping with the distance, the pandemic has triggered ‘surge’ in couples splitting.
Sunday Swartbooi from Swakopmund said she broke up with her boyfriend who travelled to China seven months ago.
“We could not make our relationship work because of the distance. We used to argue a lot when he travelled and the sparks eventually dimmed,” she said sadly.
Speaking to Entertainment Now!, Local Counsellor Emily Shiguedha said a long-distance relationship during these hard times can be an uphill climb to some couples.
“Sometimes, people get anxious and jealous; however, the keys to powering through the pandemic are communication and patience. When you are patient with yourself and your partner, you make things easier for both of you,” commented Shiguedha.
* Tiri Chiwenga is a pseudonym