The rings on Mr and Mrs David Kinyanjui Macharia’s fingers have been there since 1972.
While the rings symbolize their commitment to stand by each other till the end of time, they also serve another purpose, they remind the couple that their marriage has passed the test of time.
David, 78, and his wife Rosemary, 74, from Section 58 Estate within Nakuru-East Sub-County, say that though they have been married for half a century, they’ve yet to run out of topics to chat about and dispel the notion that marriage is boring.
On December 9th 1972, the couple tied the knot at the St. John’s ACK Church Elburgon in Nakuru County.
David was a Canon at St John’s ACK Church when he met Rosemary in 1971, when the latter was posted to teach at Michinda Primary School in Elburgon after graduating from Mosoriot Teacher Training College.
The couple has three children namely Dr. John Macharia, Beatrice Njeri and Dr. Sarah Muringa. This couple, whose love has endured for 50 years, are the proud grandparents of six– Adelina, David, Rahab, Mugure, Wambui and Mutana.
Yesterday was yet another big day for David and Rosemary as they renewed their nuptial vows at the All Saints ACK Section 58 Parish in a refined and decorated ceremony.
It was pomp and colour at the church as hundreds of guests and congregants awaited the arrival of the ‘bride’ and ‘groom’. A troupe of choristers was busy entertaining the eager multitude leading them through the ACK hymnals both in Kiswahili and English to uplift them spiritually.
The ceremony hit its crescendo at around 10.30am when the elderly couple ambled into the magnificently built church, followed by a military like marching band performed by a retinue of well-dressed and eye-catching men, women, young girls and boys.
As Mr Macharia walked down the aisle with the love of his life, he waved ecstatically to the attendees who excitedly waved back, with the ‘bride’ complementing the bliss with a radiating smile.
ACK Bishop for Nakuru Joseph Muchai, who presided over the ceremony, read the renewal vows for the couple who in turn recited the same amid ululations from those in attendance.
Mr Macharia, who looked collected, was all smiles as he and his ‘bride’ signed the certificate to officially renew vows of their union according to the rules of the church.
Rosemary then reached for the microphone and revealed to the attendees that the quality she admired most in her husband was his affection and his ability to admit his mistakes and offer an apology, an attribute that she noted most men did not have.
“He is still handsome,” she says with a wide smile, adding that David takes good care of her whenever she is taken ill.
Even though she has a house-help at hand, on some days, Rosemary prepares a meal for her husband.
“I still want to play that role of a caring wife even though sometimes age makes it difficult. Food is the way to a man’s heart and David is not any different,” she says.
So, has there been a fundamental shift in marriage since ‘their’ time?
“Nothing has changed, the marriage vows that we took in 1971 are still the same ones that will apply to couples getting married in the future. Whatever year you got married, the rules remain the same,” says David.
He maintains that if a couple wants their marriage to weather storms and intrigues, then they should embrace each other, even when situations change.
We catch up with the couple during a reception within the church’s precincts, where Rosemary expresses concern that in this day and age, most young people tend to harbour destructive attitudes about marriage even before they get married. This, she is certain, is what is stifling the marriage institution.
“The depressing information young people are persistently receiving from the media, and incidences of broken marriages among people close to them are influencing them in a negative way, how then can they not form a distorted image of marriage?” She questions.
Rosemary feels that the mistake couples make nowadays is focusing only on the financial aspect of marriage, while neglecting the social and emotional part of the marriage.
“Money is important, but if you spend all your time chasing, talking, and arguing about it, your marriage will suffer – money alone will not make you happy; a happy marriage needs balance,”
David chips in: “If used well, money is a faithful servant. If not, it can damage a relationship.
In marriage, money should be seen as a tool to help you live a comfortable life and achieve goals like education and solid investment for the future, nothing more,” he quips.
According to the couple’s daughter Sarah, relationships in today’s world have gone through major transformations due to social media influences. It’s a different world, with mobile phones and other electronic gadgets taking the place of socialization within families and even in the community at large. Married people, she notes, have not been spared the intrusion by electronic gadgets.
Sarah says that she has learnt from her parents’ experience that marriage is a long walk that will be a difficult one if there is no love. For it to work, she adds couples should seek to continuously love each other more than you love yourself.
“Living as a married couple for 50 years is no mean feat. But it is possible if you pay attention to each other’s problems. This can only be done through constantly talking to each other. Ignoring a problem will not make it go away,” she noted.
Sarah warns that if you don’t make time for each other, the devil will find a loophole and sneak into your marriage. This devil could be in the form of a friend, colleague, neighbour or even relative out to destroy your marriage. Rosemary’s definition of marriage is straightforward.
“It is a time of nonstop discovery with your partner as you care for each other and nurture your relationship.”
David concurs, and adds that marriage is a life-long relationship that is nurtured by loving each other every day, not on special occasions.
He describes love as the binding factor that has sustained their marriage in times of conflict, which they term “normal”.
“Where there is love, marriage will last, no matter what,” he says.
The biggest threats to modern marriage, they are certain, is money wars, and conflicting roles of husband and wife.
Kiambu Women Representative Ann Muratha who has been passively following the interview wades in and declares, “I have known David and Rosemary for over two decades. To wade through challenges of marriage and cross the other side unscathed, requires a positive attitude, and a determination to keep their marriage.”
The Woman Rep adds, “If you go into marriage with a positive attitude that it will work, then you will be willing to do whatever it takes to make it last.”
Muratha notes that it is important to agree on roles and responsibilities right from the onset of marriage.
The couple stated that in order to plan for a comfortable retirement, they started saving immediately after marriage.
“We began saving a little right from our first month of marriage – this has helped us to live comfortably in our old age,” David says.
From their savings as well as well thought out loans, the couple was able to invest in real estate over the years, which afford them financial security for the rest of their life and even their children and grandchildren.
“If you plan how to use your money together, you will never quarrel over it, and you will use it wisely,” advises Rosemary.
Rosemary retired from teaching in 2008, whereas David retired from canonical duties in 2012.
They spend most of their time at home, though they dedicate a lot of their time to church activities.
Though David is normally up by 6am, he says their day “does not start early”, when asked what time they get up, now that they don’t have to rush to work.
On a typical day, they have breakfast and then catch up on the day’s news on television and from the newspapers.
Afterwards, if there are any church activities that need their attention, they attend them, if not, they relax indoors watching television or basking in their backyard. David and his wife still “go out.”
Even though they cut a figure of that settled couple who know each other like the back of their hands, and whose marriage is deeply rooted, David reveals that they are still working on their marriage.
“Yes, we have lived together for 50 years, but we don’t take each other for granted. Every day presents an opportunity to make our relationship better,” he explains.
Rosemary adds that they still wrong each other, but when they do, they are quick to apologize.
“We use polite words such as ‘I am sorry’, ‘forgive me’, and tell each other ‘I love you’” says David.
Esther Njeri Murimi, a parishioner who has known the couple for over 20 years, says they have taught her that only a man and his wife can find the solution to marital problems, and adds “therefore sit down, put your heads together, and look for a way out. That is why God gave Eve to Adam.”
Murimi contends that it is paramount to believe in a supreme being even if one is not a Christian.
“When you have the fear of a supreme being; then you tend to honour marriage. This is because in every religion, the expectations of a wife and a husband are clearly spelt out,” she points out.
By Jane Ngugi/ Dennis Rasto