One January 24, Simon Peter Ssenyondo’s girlfriend was born, and this date has often been celebrated by the couple.
But unfortunately, this year, the date slipped past unnoticed, because Ssenyondo was too engaged in his work to remember this most important of days. He is a journalist and a financial assistant at Global Media Enterprises Limited.
“All my jobs are demanding. I got so busy at work and I left work very late. That is how I forgot about the whole event, just like that,” he says in a regretful tone.
Although Ssenyondo says his own birthday is obviously the most important, he always makes it a point to remember his girlfriend’s as well.
“She likes trendy clothes and I get her a special outfit every year. One time I bought her a book and noticed that she wasn’t impressed. So I’ve had to resort to the usual gifts trendy dresses, ice cream and birthday cakes,” he says.
And she was waiting for the same, or even more, this year, only to be disappointed. She did not speak to him in the usual loving way for close to three weeks. Ssenyondo forgetting her birthday was the last thing she expected of him.
On why he didn’t write a reminder somewhere: “I just don’t think it is very important for me to write these events somewhere. It shouldn’t even really be a big deal when a man forgets days like this,” Ssenyondo grumbles.
Ssenyondo is not alone. Many a man has to contend with his lady frowning upon his all too often forgetting of the key days in their lives. However, for men such as Dr Samuel Sekiziyivu, a lecturer in Education at Makerere University, their minds never seem to lapse over events they considers special in their lives.
“I am computer literate, but I don’t store these special events in my phone or computer. I try to remember quite a number of my special events,” he boasts.
Sekiziyivu, in his early 50s, prefers memorising the important dates in the traditional way rather than relying on modern technology.
“No one can take my brain away. But something like a computer or phone can easily be stolen. Ultimately, you end up losing your property and also disappointing the person whose day you forgot to celebrate,” he opines.
Sekiziyivu says it is not only his wife, but most women from his generation, and earlier, who did not regard some events to be so special as to be remembered by their partners. That is, save for Christmas and Easter.
“My mother always expected a gomesi on these days and she would be unhappy if she didn’t get one. But for birthdays, that meant nothing to her,” he explains.
He adds that events such as wedding anniversaries were followed by elders in the village.
“Events were communally celebrated and men were relieved of the burden of remembering them alone.”
A 2014 study in Norway found that men were more forgetful than women, regardless of their age. The study, done by Prof Jostein Holmen of the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, asked 37,405 men and women, aged 30 years and older, nine questions about their memory.
Candidates were asked questions such as: “Do you have problems remembering dates or what events happened a few days or years ago?”
The results revealed that approximately half of the participants reported memory problems. For eight out of nine questions, men reported the most problems. In the study, men reported more trouble remembering things that women regarded as important.
Names and dates were the most common things people had trouble remembering, with 89.7 per cent men and 86.5 per cent women registering failures.
And, even for people like Sekiziyivu, who try to remember every important date, there are sometimes other people involved in keeping them updated. His 20-year-old daughter will remind him of any special day that is up for celebration, including his own, her mother’s and her siblings’ birthdays.
Forgetting is normal
Patrick Mwase, a Psychology lecturer at Makerere University and a counselor, says it is normal for all people to have difficulty in remembering some things or the other. While men are usually put to task by women for forgetting certain things in life, Mwase says the way women treasure and give focus to those things may not be true with men.
“Naturally, women want everything that matters to them to be recognised. But this may not be followed by men, and women just don’t realise this,” says Mwase.
He explains that women are more communicative than men, and for this reason, things that matter to them will always be discussed with friends and others. This therefore always keeps their issues current, which isn’t the case with men.
“Women will talk about things they like most, and it doesn’t matter how they bring them out or how many times they talk about them. But, men will mostly downplay some of these things, even if they may add something to their lives,” says Mwase.
He adds that the kind of beliefs that men hold also affect their memories.
“Men are likely not to a have quick memory on some things that cause them mental pain, for example. So, they try not to think about them. But for women, whether something is painful or not, they will talk about it. That is why they remember many events very well,” argues Mwase.
He however urges women like Ssenyondo’s girlfriend to prompt their partners early enough to avoid important dates going unrecognised. In his book, His Needs, Her Needs: Building an Affair-proof Marriage, Dr Willard F Harley Jr, a clinical psychologist and marriage counselor, argues that ignorance often contributes to a couple’s failure to care for each other.
While Mwase aises women to prompt their men, Dr Harley asks men to try and understand and thereafter meet the needs that women value, and vice versa for women towards men.
“The right needs are so g that when they are not met in marriage, people are tempted to go outside marriage to satisfy them. But aside of the risk of an affair, important emotional needs should be met for the sake of care itself,” reads the book in part.
Mariam Nankinga expects her man to remember their wedding anniversary and hers, his own and the children’s birthdays.
“This should be an additional benchmark in our love. If my events are forgotten, I feel the percentage of his love for me has dropped, which breaks my heart,” says Nankinga.
She adds that reminding her husband of the day they tied the knot, for example, would irritate her quite a bit.
“One time he forgot my birthday, yet I had reminded him about it two weeks before. This raised so many questions for which he had no answers,” remembers Nankinga.
Agnes Nakintu, a businesswoman, says men are so forgetful to the extent that some even forget that their parents exist.
“Men amuse us womenfolk a lot. They focus so much on the women in their lives that they sometimes even forget about looking after their parents!” says Nakintu.
She thinks men have their priorities all wrong. She points out that they could easily forget to pay their children’s school fees but never forget to pay the Dstv subscription, just because of the importance they attach to football.
“They think their lives depend on that rather than looking after their families,” observes Nakintu.
Source : The Observer