Married to Umurundi

When we are preparing for marriage, there are a lot of things that people tell us, they give us sound advice; we Google the 5 ways to have a happy marriage, the 10 steps to make a happy home, etc. but none of these things adequately prepare us to being married to “Umurundi”.

When you get married to Umurundi, endless lonely evenings come with the package. And surprisingly enough it doesn’t matter if the guy has studied abroad, that his dad was not like that, or whatever attribute made him seem “un-Umurundi”… at some point his people/friends/peers’ influence will be stronger – Believe me!

When I got married to my handsome Murundi I was so excited to spend my life with him… Goodness, how I love my man! I imagined spending every moment after work with him, having movie plans, walking dates, chilling home, going out, etc. In my head, the question was always going to be “what to do together” with the expectation that he was to be mine and with me 99% of his time.

BUT

Soon after our honeymoon, he would arrive home, and shortly after get a call from a friend who would ask to hang out… “Chérie, ndakumbuye abajama banje vraiment. Hinge nsimbe gato ndabaramutse nsinteba. Je reviens vers 21 heures.” Mbo aho aba ari muma 18h mwese muvuye kukazi. And of course I said yes… And of course he would come back muma 23 heures… Quand même aho yaba yagutelefonye muma 21 heures n’akajwi kari mielleux avuga ko ateba gato and that he is taking “a last one for the road”.
Avec le temps le scenario se répétera encore et encore – going up until 3 AM at times during the week – gushika aho usanga le même scenario iba nka 4 days a week, which means 4 out 7 days is the average… Some weeks ni 5 out of 7 days but other weeks it could be less.

My husband and I both studied abroad. We had incredible opportunities to travel and see the world and get a glimpse of what we want in life. Our parents’ marriages have been a huge source of inspiration for both of us, so there was no way I could have foreseen this behavior!

So what do you do during those lonely/solo evenings at home?

Well, here, ladies have a range of activities to choose from: work on their academic homeworks (kubakiri muri kaminuza), do some chores – they clean the whole house, cook; watch TV, do a series marathon, visit the neighbors, their folks, the ‘girls’, coffee plans with colleagues, work on personal projects, etc. But you know what? Whatever you do you reach a point where you get tired… The movies aren’t always interesting… et d’ailleurs ikibazo c’amatara kiralimita ama options… the cooking, cleaning, visiting friends, family visits, etc. birahera… Erega biragoye gutekera umuntu ataha waryamye canke ibitirotiro bikwishe… N’abagenzi at some point urarambigwa… You just want to go home and the only person you would love to spend time with is “fully booked”.

So then comes the “crying myself to sleep” part… You feel sooo miserable… Ariko rero in all that you do not want to dwell on your pitiful self – You know, I am a Gladiator! I can fix this!

So now the mupfasoni moves to action…

At this point the wife has mastered the pattern of her man’s going out behavior – it’s always the same. In general the fella goes home straight after work, checks that everything is okay and then the phone rings and off he goes.
At beginning you can tell him that you miss him and would love to spend some time together – he will stay, but the next day, it’s back to square one! Then you plead, try to convince… In short you play every single card you have to break the dreadful behavior cycle… ariko wapi… it could work once, twice, or three times when you’re lucky, mais à la longue it will be like you did nothing.

Worse, sometimes he could decide to stay home with you, but at the first sign or hint of a disagreement he will explode: “Erega nico gutuma ntaguma ngaha! Ehe raba wama ushavuye! Akantu kose uca ukagira a big deal!” Mamawee… Aho rero uca wumva wosara!!! As in, umengo n’ibintu vya enchère – Qui dit mieux! Genre je pourrais rester à la maison si tu me traitais bien, si tu riais quand je te fais une blague, si tu étais tout le temps attentionnée, si tu m’écoutais et buvais tous mes mots, etc. Feels like he would stay home with me if… and the “if” is all about my doings… “If” I do X then he would stay and be my date for the evening. But in my head him staying at home means talking projects, saving some money, and maybe a romantic weekend getaway in Muramvya or Ijenda – Why not?

After hearing my husband complain, I started feeling awfully guilty for not knowing how to “keep” my man home… I am known for being easy to live with, I am lively and I’ve tried my best to befriend his friends, serve, cheer, support and even anticipate my husband’s needs. Of course no one is perfect, but when I married him I knew that he knew I had the “I am here it to stay” psyche. But after repetitive complaints, you still feel like you’re a failure. You wonder how other women married to Abarundi like you survive this… After all ntiyinywana! You wonder which super power they have that you don’t… You wish there could be class for that – one that you’d enroll into and get this drama fixed…

It is hard to talk about these things around here because in Burundi, serious couple matters are few and limited to: “Yagukubise?” “Yakuvanze?” “Yataye urugo aragenda?” And if no is the answer to all these three questions then the verdict is: “Urifyinisha!” “Spoiled wives issues!” “Ivyo ni bito!” “Mureke azogenda atebe aruhe” “Amaherezo y’inzira ni muhira”… akanyica koko ni “Mbega umugabo wawe umuhora iki? Ko ataco akugoza?”
In short, “your issues are petty, he will come back eventually. He’ll get tired at some point”… or worse: “Woman, what are you complaining about?” from the married ladies with at least 5 years’ experience under their belt.

Really?!?

Ubuhoho hagiyemwo amasasu ni hatari… you call him and he’s like “Amasasu nayumvise hinge ndindire ahere. Agabanuke nca nza” Same old same old…

I read somewhere that if someone hurts you the same way again and again, then the problem is on you too. In the sense that if you allow them to hurt you again and again, then you’ve got a share in it. Chances are, you haven’t learnt from it or you don’t realize what is happening/hurting you, or worse, you’re in denial. Either way, after you’ve had your wake up call, things start to change.

In my case, I got used to the situation after sometime.

Uripanga bien! You plan your evenings and you start to like the new “you” without him. You still have low moments but it’s not the same. If he’s not going to be around anyway, I better brace myself and get over it. I started to check on him less and less, started doing everything around the house by myself WITHOUT complaining – I now know about plumbing, electricity, wall reparation, etc. When family passes by to check on us and he is not around, I always have an already made up excuse for his absence… “Ni ahantu akubitiye aca agaruka mu kanya” “Yagize une urgence y’akazi” “Duhejeje kuvugana ambwiye ko agomba ashike” No need to call him because I already know the answer.

And guess what? You start to enjoy your life. You become lively again. Joyful, so productive at work… It’s like you’ve found your inner peace, made peace with yourself… You are seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. You are happy and everyone can see it including your husband. When you kindly ask him to help you with something around the house and he says yes, you celebrate him as if he just got a promotion at work, and when he says no, you do it anyway, but with a smile!

And oh, the sex life changes as well! Before, during the week he could wake you up and sweet talk you into it at 1 AM with horrible breath, and you would say one word, bitter enough to drive him away. But now well, you are used to someone waking you at crazy hours so you’re mentally prepared to do it, and sometime you surprise yourself by liking it – Ibaze nawe!

Want to know what’s weird? After I went through all that, that sweet juicy husband of mine started to feel uncomfy with my newly found happiness. He felt abandoned, like my life didn’t revolve around him anymore. At some point he told me that my laughter annoyed him… that I should “pull myself together” – “Kanguka!”

That’s when I got lost… none ngire nte?

My ladies married to “Umurundi wa vrai” how do you do it?

Is there anyone out there who can feel me right now?

By Ndiho

P.S: Of course not all Burundian men are the same. This particular article talks about one category only. Sorry if others may feel offended. It’s just a much needed girl talk though!

(Photo and painting by Nelson Niyakire.)

57 thoughts on “Married to Umurundi

  1. Pingback: Introducing you to the ”Black Republican Men” world – CURVY ROYAL

  2. Bravo d’être si franche nibaza ko bifasha abatari bake kubona ko they are not alone.
    One advise I could give is to be you,enjoy being you,do not make excuses for who you are.
    Simvuze ngo ugire amanyama mais je veux dire don’t let what he or anyone says about you (i.e your laugh ) affect you negatively.
    Let’s look at things in a rather blunt way.Marriage is a major event in someone’s life.And like major events,it triggers some change.
    Now what do people do during time of change?They adapt. So both the husband and the wife try the best they can to adapt to the new situation,and yes they do change (both of them).
    For some the change comes very slowly and for some it comes real fast.But they will change.That is a fact.
    No how does one deal with their new status is ultimately up to themselves.

    So try and embrace the new you,and the new him.If your life doesn’t “revolve around him” anymore,then maybe it wasn’t supposed to anyway.(to be honest,why should someone’s life revolve around someone else’s?Aren’t both lives important?Why should one take presendence?) So understand that he may be having a hard time accepting the new you (ico umuntu aba amenyereye gihindutse,c’est normal qu’une alerte sonne dans le cerveau:-)),the same way you had a hard time accepting the new him.
    But also,remember that eventually with an open mind and especially LOVE (the kind that is determined to keep trying,keep believing,keep praying for),eventually you will both find your marks.

    So thank you so much for your honestly and wit.You are not alone and you definitely should not be lonely.Embrace the wonderful you,at some point,he will too.

    God bless you both and guide you through this wonderful (and yes full of bumps) journey called MARRIAGE. 🙂

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  3. Thanks for sharing about your life Ndiho. I salute your courage. It’s sad but true that most burundians live that way.
    I am married, with a burundian… But thx God my life doesn’t look like that (on the staying out late) but still, we have our issues (subject for another article maybe) and I totally feel you on what burundians think are couple issues (beating and cheating)… I can only give you 1 advice… Live your life. I came to be convinced with time (after reading tones of pages on spirituality and awakening) that we are responsible for our own happiness! Your happiness should not depend on him… So keep enjoying life as much as you can, your way, with him or not . Tell him straight how you feel and how loneliness hurts, without expecting him to change. Take whatever you can handle but don’t accept what you can’t. And let him know clearly what u can’t accept. Communication is key as many said but more important is to not expect any outcome coz it hurts even more. If he changes thank God. If he doesn’t, live that life as long as you can take it. When you feel you are done, walk away. Your life first, you happiness first and it’s all up to you. Don’t let anyone affect it, even if he’s the love of your life. I am probably one of the rare persons who think that we don’t necessarily have to live/stay with the love of our lives.
    Praying for him… Why not? Am a christian but I don’t get why women are requested to pray for their husbands (us Catholics even have formal prayers) but not the other way round. We should love our neighbors as we love ourselves, not more 😉
    Good luck.

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    • Hi Di,
      Thank you for your constructive comment.
      I have a question for you 🙂
      What do you mean by “We don’t necessarily have to live/stay with the love of our lives”? Can you elaborate please. Because that is a heavy statement which could use some enlightenment (or so I think). I always thought that the whole point of falling in love was so that we could find “the one” and stay with them forever…
      Thanks

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  4. Mesdames, ndiko ndiyumvira ama solutions nobaha mugabo pour l’instant ndabasavye ikintu kimwe:

    Je suis plus que déçu de cette manière que vous avez prise en catégorisant des hommes étant immatures en les associants à cette phrase “Married to Umurundi” parce que certains d’entre eux sont nés au Burundi. Mbega mesdames, vos pères que vous célébrer si souvent le jour des pères, sont tous comme cet homme dont elle parle?

    Si la réponse est non, veuillez changer ce titre et mettre autre chose comme être marriée à un irresponsable.

    Uyo muntu muramwita umu immature mais pas généraliser son cas en associant son comportement au nom d’un pays et que vous n’avez pas eu la chance de rencontrer la bonne personne au Burundi.

    Bon ako karaheze. Ninatora inyishu kuri ivyo bibazo vy’ayo ma couples nzobabwira.

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    • Mr
      Turazi k abafataneza leur femme muhari, kandi turashimira Imana ko muhari, mais si elle générslise c pcq plusieurs (au moins 75%) sont un peu comme elle raconte. Minorité ibirwamwo malheureusement

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    • Cela m’attriste que vous soyez déçu mais si vous aviez lu l’article en entier, y compris la partie “P.S.” à la fin, peut-être que votre réaction serait différente.
      En tant que femme Burundaise qui a vécu au Burundi pour pas mal de temps, j’ai eu ma dose de contact avec les hommes burundais; que ce soit à travers mes amies, tantes et cousines, ou même par expériences personnelles. Mugisha a bien raison, la majorité d’hommes burundais ne valorisent pas leurs femmes. Et ce comportement nonchalant commence toujours après le marriage. En faisant la court, les burundais sont, à mon avis, un des hommes les plus charmants des toutes les cultures que j’ai rencontrées. Cela donne une fausse impression à leurs partenaires, ce qui résulte en déception et une vie de marriage dépourvue de bonheur.
      Il est vrai que nous célébrons toutes nos pères mais je dirai personnellement que j’observe ce même comportement chez, non seulement mon père, mais aussi mes oncles.
      Encore une fois, je ne parle que de la majorité ici; le peu d’hommes burundais qui reste attentionnés à leur partenaires, même après le marriage, nous vous apprécions et souhaitons vous rencontrer un jour.

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  5. Chère Ndiho,
    Je me joins à toutes les personnes qui ont salué ton courage d’avoir partagé ton expérience avec honnêteté et d’une si belle plume! (nayisomye nka 3 fois)
    Tu es exemplaire. Uri intore cane!
    On sent bien que tu as essayé tout ce qu’il est imaginable de faire en pareille situation sans jamais perdre de vue ton objectif: continuer ton chemin avec le partenaire que tu as choisi.Pour moi, tu n’as absolument rien à te reprocher tu as fait tout comme il faut, en mieux.
    J’ai trouvé quelques commentaires un peu malvenus (comme ceux qui te conseillent de faire encore plus kugira ntaje ahandi ou ce M. qui prétend que c’est la culture burundaise qui veut que tu sois seule dans ton mariage et t’en accomode ou ceux qui pensent que tu lui as trop laissé la bride au cou). Mais bon! J’espère ko utabifashe nabi. J’imagine aussi ta frustration ugiye guhanuza bagaca bakubwira ko wifyinisha. Le tact na twebwe abarundi c’est pas souvent conciliables?

    Maintenant, tu demandes comment s’en sortent les autres. Je ne prétend pas te répondre, je ne suis pas mariée et j’aime ma vie ainsi -iyo muga yoba sujet y’iyindi article. J’ai juste un point de vue à prendre pour ce qu’il vaut,iy’uwuri hanze y’ikibuga,aguma araba ama “matches” menshi.
    Rendus au point où vous en êtes, ton mari après les remarques odieuses risque de devenir soupçonneux voire jaloux (mbe uwo muntu atuma yama agyohewe, atakimpamagara no kumpamagara ngo yumve ko ngihema ni nde?) ben ouais si il n’est plus le centre de ton monde, c’est forcément que tu en as trouvé un autre. Ou alors chercher à se rassurer, tester son pouvoir de séduction ailleurs kwa ka ka intern bavuga.

    Que faire? La prière va te rendre plus forte pour continuer à vivre cette situation, ni vyiza cane. Mais lui fera-t-elle prendre conscience qu’il a sa part de boulot pour vivre une union heureuse? Sinzi!
    Je crois en le pouvoir des mots bien choisis, et dits au moment opportun. En bref, la communication. Parles-lui comme tu nous as parlé, à coeur ouvert, montre-lui tout le chemin que tu as fait, des grands espoirs que tu nourrissais pour vous aux désillusions que la vie ensemble t’a apporté. Ce que tu ressentais quand il sortait au premier prétexte et fuyait votre foyer. Ta bataille en solo pour aller bien. Dis-lui bien que ce n’est qu’un choix par défaut et que ce serait beaucoup mieux avec lui. Bref dans cette veine-là. Si ça se trouve il n’a juste pas idée yivyo vyose erega ngo les “hommes viennent de Mars” et pas nous.
    Et ils disent souvent que les femmes ne savent pas ce qu’elles veulent, ou ne le disent pas clairement. Niyo wamuganiriza dans ce sens, hama ntagire nakimwe pour changer nuko azoba adafise envie d’une vie plus épanouie à deux. Uraca ubandanya iyo plan B, aussi longtemps que tu pourras être heureuse comme ça.

    Que la Force soit avec toi!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. First of all, I would like to commend Ndiho for her courage and raising one of the most important issues that our country and our world is facing today.
    The main reason why we are facing failing marriages is because of beliefs, money problems, parents pressure, expectations, fears, insecurities, traumas,etc. So, the work that needs to be done is tremendous, and it has to be done by both the husband and the wife. The problem is that we get into such an important commitment with all these baggages on ourselves and we both put them on the table to be shared, and most of the time we don’t like the content of these baggages, and we are not ready for them. In fact, how can we deal with the other person’s problems when we haven’t delt with our own?!
    The most important issue is that we get married when we are not ready. We are not mature enough to understand what such a commitment is about. We do not understand what such commitment is supposed to teach us.
    This might come as a shock to most people, but marriage is there to teach us to LOVE OURSELVES. Marriage is there to help us GROW. It is there to help us deal with our issues, and realising that your partner will not fill your void for you. He will not fulfill all of your expectations until you can fulfill them for yourself. We have to stop pointing the finger at the other person and point it back at ourselves. Our ancestors were wise in that way. By saying “NIKO ZUBAKWA”, most people think that they meant to say that marriage is suffering. It is true because growing comes with a price. The pain that you go through is supposed to help you love yourself even more. It is supposed to bring out the best in you. In the case of Ndiho, it is not until she hit rock bottom that she rediscovered herself and started loving herself again. God created us to be happy within ourselves. It is only when you love yourself that you can spread that love around you. Nugukunda mugenz’awe nkuko w’ikunda muga ntuzomukunda nawe utikunda. So, my advice to you Ndiho is to keep on learning the lessons that your marriage is teaching you. It is blessing in disguise. Did you notice that when you started loving yourself, you started even enjoying having sex with him?! That is not a coincidence. That is a sign of the endless love that you can have once you start loving yourself even more. However, don’t go around laughing in his face. Stop judging him, nagging him, blaming him.
    Accept him the way he is, the way God created him to be. However, you should not accept being abused, but that also comes with loving yourself. Over time, he will start respecting you and loving you. Then, you will start to see the changes. That is the gift of UNCONDITIONAL LOVE.

    Good Luck!

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  7. Girl,

    For being a murundikazi married to a muzungu,i can completely understand how you are desperate.Some of our brothers,they behave like in 70’s when umugore yari uwo kuguma mu nzu,umugabo nawe azunguruka igisagara.Now,i married somebody from a different culture and i learned what a PARTNER means!!!He is the one who asks if everything is fine,if i want to go out just the two of us so that we can share the same moments we used to have before we get married.Le probleme avec certains maris,c’est qu’ils prennent leurs femmes pour un acquis ou bien se marient parce que la famille yabagondoje….eeeh ngo bamere nk’abandi.What i have learned from my husband culture is that you never do anything if it isn’t planned just to please your family.So,when you decide to marry someone,thinks twice because that person will always be the FIRST in your projects,your mind and your life!!!
    Hama ivyo kuba umupfasoni,uribuka ko biva mu kirundi ca kera ‘gupfana isoni’
    Je pense que donner son opinion dans un couple c’est la moindre des choses surtout quand tu es censee etre Partenaire pour la Vie!!

    Cheers!!!

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  8. Bonjour chere soeur! Ton article est vraiment interressant. Ca parle de la realite de pas mal de foyer Ici a Buja. Ariko comme tu as termine uvuga, abagabo bose si bamwe (j’en temoigne).
    J’aimerais te dire aho nibaza benshi binanirira ivya mariage, nuko dushaka ku biba mwo nkuko Twakuz les parents, copines batubwiye “urugo” rumeze ariko tu ki bagira k hariho uwa ru concevye pour nous kandi afise uko ashaka ko turubamwo maze tukaronka amahoro. Et ca C’est Dieu. They say most of time that when you fail installing a gadget get the manual and it will be easy. Same in marriage, we have the bible that teaches us to build as God entitled it.
    Ico ndakwifuriza nokumenya la verite de Sa parole qui t’affranchira hama ukabaho une vie epanouie.
    Back to the founder!

    God bless you

    God bless you!

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  9. merci!tu m’a ôté les mots de la bouche!! c’est cette façon burundaise de voir les choses, de voir la femme qui me révolte toujours:genre utitayeho umugabo wawe, asha kazikawe!! abandi bazomufata neza!! Saaa?? comme si ni avertissement !! et si vyogenda dans l’otr sens! et si cette femme s’en allait voir ailleurs! je suis sure d’ailleurs k derrière cette murundikazi bien éduquée, cette intelligente et forte tête, se cache une belle femme qui ferait retourner la tête plus d’un sur son passage! et si elle décidait d’aller ailleurs, je suis sûre k’elle manquerait pas nawe uwumufata neza!kndi benshi!ariko yaragumije ubuntu! alors le gars devrait s’estimer heureux d’avoir une telle perle à la maison!

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    • Did u check the market recently reka reak ni akaga kabisa ..reka basha kuba muhendana les jeuene fille qui arrive sur le marche ni ibiyo kandi tres jeunes .

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  10. Un fait abagabo bari kune bari gutanu ntanumwe ameze nk uwundi. ico no muhanura ni ukugira son role de femme atanakimwe asimvye akamukunda akamusonera eka tout hanyuma agatsinda ishavu ntiyame ashika amutuka akaza aramuhanura buhoro buhoro.
    Kandi akaguma amwereka ko amukunda malgre ce probleme.

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  11. My comment is for burundian men. Marriage is supposed to be a glimpse of Heaven don’t let it be a glimpse of hell . In order to be that glimpse of heaven there must be two people willing to work on their marriage. In my opinion men tend to take their wives for granted in our country as if she has nowhere to go. They forget that nowadays women work, they get paid,sometimes more than their men.She can move out anytime.She is not there to be a piece of decor in the house. She needs attention, affection, quality time, it is vital for your marriage. And oh You’re not the only one who has an attractive coworker. Maybe somebody else is willing to give her the attention she lacks. Please be careful ntuze wibuke kuyora washeshe. Unto you my dear Ndiho prend courage, pray for your man that is the best advice i can give you and when you feel that he is in a good mood talk to him about it or write a letter to him if you can’t say it. Do it in a respectful and humble way. Men are very sensitive to respect. Then he will know what you feel and maybe he will do something about it. Take care my dear.

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  12. Hello,thanx for this article,I was married to my honey that we meet in College back in the 90;s.
    After graduating,we went back home,got married,and worked both in Bujumbura.
    We had a good life,good job ,everything was fine,then came this I will be late,I have my old cousin…my old friend,umubanyi wanje wa kera..etc,on the top of that no kids in the picture…
    It took me 5 years to release that I was still in the college and university life,but the difference we were married…
    Now I left him,I divorced him,I left Burundi,and all I know is that abagabo babarundi ni abandi bantu hageze ambiance.
    Ubu ndi focused on my life.

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    • The article is great. At least some who talked her heart. As for this comment, bad example to follow girls. When we decide to get married we are there to stay unless there is violance in the picture.

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