Co-wives drama speaks to perils of midlife crisis

Jamal’s public family feud conjured the 80/20 rule in marriage

In Summary

• Showdown between wives of Jamal hinted you cannot have your cake and eat it, too

Amber Ray and Amira
Amber Ray and Amira
Image: Courtesy

The show Sex/Life on Netflix speaks to a universality of what we commonly refer to as midlife crisis. Simply put, this is when a person in their middle ages (around 40 to 60 years) suddenly goes through a personality change.

As they turn a certain age, they are suddenly overwhelmed by the routine of their unfulfilled lives and wish to do some quick wildin’ before they die. The term has been misused in recent years and is often colloquially used to refer to any type of dramatic changes in middle-aged individuals.

In the series, the leading woman is going through a nostalgic phase where she fantasises about her wild past and erotic sexual encounters. The reality the woman is running away from is a faithful husband, two young children and a beautiful suburban home. While the show is poorly written and has major plot flaws (read full review on Sasa Digital on Safaricom *550*3#), there is no denying that the subject matter hits close to home.

The subject of men or women leaving their stable lives in search of ‘greener pastures’ at a prime age is one we are all familiar with. How many men have we seen that have left their loving families to shack up with promiscuous 20-year-olds? How many married women have we heard of that keep a Ben-10 on the side? These outcomes result from the unmet desires that people harbour within them.

Have you ever heard of the 80/20 rule? The 80/20 theory states that one person cannot meet all your needs. A perfect partner does not exist, therefore a person is likely to marry the partner who gives them the most, that is, 80 per cent, of their needs. The remaining 20 per cent is what one learns to live without or learns to provide for themselves. In most cases, the 80 per cent represents good companionship, partnership, support, love and stability, while the 20 per cent represents adventure, fun, spontaneity and desires.

In the show Sex/Life, the main character knows her husband gives her the 80 per cent of what she needs but her former boyfriend represents the 20 per cent she wants. The reality is that these two parallel universes cannot exist simultaneously, but whatever choice she needs to make will come with a high price. Does she choose stability over desires? Will living the fantasy give her the stability she needs?  

More often than not, people will experiment with juggling these two worlds by either keeping a lover, picking up a dangerous hobby or adopting a more youthful fashion. Others will completely derail and pick what excites them over what supports them. Some will try to create a world where these two concepts would coexist.

Last week, Kenyans were treated to a free showdown between the wives of known businessman Jamal. Jamal’s story went viral on social media when he met and married socialite Amber Ray. The problem is Jamal was already married. Jamal’s first wife Amira is a woman of the same background as him. They married when he was just starting his business. Together, they built a successful and prosperous life; they started a family and had many happy years together.

Like most men, when Jamal was in his middle ages, he felt something amiss. He met Amber Ray and decided to marry her. Amber Ray is everything Amira is not. The contrast in his wives means that that it was these differences in personality that enticed Jamal to Amber Ray.

This public family feud is a good example of what happens when one person is trying to have the 80/20 at one time. Both worlds cannot coexist in harmony because the women might be married to one person but two personas.

At a certain point in life, most of us will start wondering whether we took the right path in life. Whether it was all worth it. Whether we feel accomplished in life. Whether we want just a little more… There is no right or wrong choice when it comes to a person’s need for fulfilment. However, whatever decisions we make, we alone can live with the consequences.