AS A young boy,Stansilus Mugove,not real name,was reserved.His parents encouraged his peerS to emulate his character,humility and meekness.At church,everyone called him ‘pastor’ as there were traits that many saw in him.
Mugove,45,now a pastor with a local protestant church,has had a manifestation of changed behaviour traits.
His wife,Miriam,41,now frequently visits marriage counselors and other church elders so that they can help pray for her husband who is now lured by the ‘demon of prostitution’.Mugove now behaves like a drunkard hooked by Vodka.
What started as innocent Whatsapp messages by Mugove with female congregants soon gave way to more intimate conversations,which often continued till late in the night and subsequent meetings during the day.
His wife of 20 years had been growing suspicious about his behaviour and discovered his relationship when she scanned his phone history.
“Despite being a man of cloth,Stansilus has been cheating in our marriage for a long time.I have bumped into several messages in which he has been flirting with several women.
“We have an 18-year old son and at times I wonder why he fails to see that his actions are having a negative impact on our marriage.Things have changed and we are no longer a happy couple like we used to be.
I wonder how a grown up can be vexed b a phone,”narrated Miriam.It is no secret that marriage has been in decline in Zimbabwe but most people don’t realise how quickly it has been crumbling.The presence of men of cloth in the bracket of people whose marriage are teetering on a brink of collapse has been astounding.
Social media,particularly WhatsApp,is putting many marriages and relationships though the litmus test of infidelity.
Easy access to the past or to the desirable,even if it is virtual,has complicated real-life relationships.
Passwords-protected chats and the option to delete content have made many believe their mobile phones activity is safe from scrutiny.
Researchers have found that increased social media use in marriages leads to cheating or the failure of the relationship.This is despite the fact that conflicts occur regardless of how long the people had been in the relationship or marriage.
“People become too engulfed in what they are doing,and that takes them away from their other activities.Men of cloth have not been spared in the dynamics because they have been promiscuous.
“Several pastors are cheating their wives because they think they are being left behind in the social medial revolution which has taken the world by storm.I don’t think social media use causes relationships to break up
I think lack of trust causes relationships to break up,and social media sites are a place where this lack of trust can be quantified,”said marriage counselors Esnath Mushape.
WhatsApp,Twitter and Facebook have been viewed as the major culprits that have made many people lose trust and faith in their loved ones.Social media have further revolutionized the way people interact.It also means that partners expect each other to make a call,SMS,poke or send a message on WhatsApp.
“We have been expecting pastors to be leaders in their communities,but it seems they have failed.The reason they give when they are caught on the wrong side is ‘I am a human too’.
“The thing is these pastors go to college without God’s call.
The majority are too young to hold off the temptation brought by women.These young men want to work for God yet they are not strong enough to fight the devil and his cunning temptations. Remember the Anglican priest Father Mandirahwe who was asking for se_xual favours from a congregant,”said Thomas,a parishioner at Father Mandirahwe’s Church.
According to Indian psychologist Himani Chaphekar,the real problem is the illusion of wellness that chatting with others creates.
“Through WhatsApp,we develop a superficial closeness with people who we may not be truly close to and thus find it easy to share all aspects of our life even without judging them.There may not be a face interaction with the person for a long time,and our mind creates an illusion of a perfect person,or relationship.When compared to the stress of our day-to-day life,including the strains that both husband and wife go through,the relationship developed on WhatsApp offers a solace of someone perfect to go to.
“I have dealt with cases of married women getting lured into WhatsApp chats with male friends who then abuse the friendship for perverted intentions.Even before they know it,the women are trapped,though they may think they are enjoying it,”writes Chaphekar.
Couples need multiple rounds of counseling to help them resolve their problems.The habit of incessantly using the mobile phone,though,takes a lot of time to go away.
With WhatsApp increasingly blurring the limits of what is acceptable,both men and women need to understand the implications of their behaviour.
In the face of marriage collapsing,some are willing to give each other another chance,but most end up saying the trust is eroded.