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How I reconciled the break-up of my marriage & was better for it

Pawa Kenny Ambiasi
Pawa Ambiasi - "I did not cry because of a death in my family.  I cried for my kids and my wife"


PORT MORESBY – Somehow I survived 2013 and 2014, the worst years of my life. I proved to a world that believes broken marriages cannot be reconciled that I could reconcile and nurture my marriage.

This happened as I focused on the unseen world, the need to control my emotions and thoughts even though they were burning me alive.

My wife and I separated on 5 January 2013. Our relatives demanded it. My title as husband and father which I had worked at for six years was stripped off in a moment.

I was no longer husband and a father and I lived that life for the next two years.

The breakup happened on a Saturday. Many people had gathered at my village singsing ples, an area reserved for important gatherings. They came to witness my bride price ceremony. The people who contributed to the bride price plus my wife’s relatives made up the number.

In the process of exchanging the bride price, my wife’s relatives decided not to accept the combination of money and pigs I’d put up.

First, they argued, I should offer more because my wife is educated. The bride price of an educated woman in the Highlands of PNG is expensive. It can reach half a million kina.

Secondly they perceived that my immediate relatives hadn’t contributed much, which signified they really didn’t want my wife to be part of my life. Culturally, non-contributing relatives may mean the woman could be left by herself with no support from the groom’s relatives.

Thirdly, they argued that the way the pigs were lined and tied was not proper. They formed a V-shape that indirectly meant the woman was not worthy, and would not contribute much to my family and community.

She would be good only for bearing children, so the payment was only for her flesh, not her knowledge, skills and expertise to make a meaningful contribution to family and community.

So that was it, they separated us.

My beautiful wife and best friend and two kids were taken away by my wife’s relatives to their village. And that was the beginning of the journey of my single life for the next two years.

In this period all that enveloped my mind were fond memories: the replay of how my kids, my wife and I used to live together as a family. We had a good time, even though there were challenges. 

I was stricken by emotion. I did not feel well. All the positives in my life were gone. The negatives - regret, confusion, fear, doubt, anxiety - unfolded in my life.

I was unable to do something productive. I was suppressed, oppressed, wrecked. I felt it deep in my heart. I felt weightless - I was floating. I did not know where I started or where I was going.

It was like all my thoughts, words and actions were clumsy, unconnected to human nature.  I had less confidence and I was incompetent in everything I did.

Life is all about a good night’s rest, having three or five good meals a day, performing daily activities correctly and having close relationships with friends.

But when our family broke apart, I became undisciplined in all aspects of life.

Spiritually, I stopped praying, reading the bible, going to church and taking part in church activities.

Physically, I did not eat on time and the right kind of food. I did not sleep well and I was untidy.

Socially, I found it hard to have good relationships with people. Fear prevented me from approaching and talking to people.

Mentally, I was incompetent. I did the same things over and over again. I worked without target or goal. Even simple things were not in me.

Financially, I failed to budget my pay. Often I ran dry and lived on borrowed money.

This was not a good time for me to live and enjoy life on earth.

Now I believe the experience I went through is what many people who have broken marriages go through.

There is instability in their lives. They fail when they do something. They lack the foundations (courage, boldness and strength) to stand firm and move on.

Someone told me divorce is worse than death. A divorced life is painful and can’t heal as long as you live. It can be hell on earth.

One afternoon, I was sitting in a staff computer lab at the school where I was teaching.

I put my fingers on the keyboard and started writing the following words and uncontrollable tears came out of my eyes:

“I do not want my children to be displaced, abused and taken care of by others. They are innocents, victims of my actions.

“I want to raise, support and get them to where their wishes and dreams are. I want to provide the best care and support I can provide.

“And I want to be selfless and mindful my own thoughts, actions and words. I do not want to see my neighbours - my wife and children, family members and relatives - get hurt by my doings”.

I was actually crying. As other teachers were there, I crept out of the lab and went to the rest room and wept bitterly.

You see, I did not cry because of a death in my family. But I cried for living souls. I was crying for my kids and my wife.

Look, my kids are girls. And so when they grow up they perhaps will be vulnerable to be abused by men because they lack strong security from me.  Also their mother may be mistreated too.

This is what is happening in Papua New Guinea.  Men are good at abusing single mothers and fatherless girls. And so women’s and girl’s lives are always at risk if there is no proper security provided by their father and male relatives.

These are the thoughts which made me cry my tears away.

Reflecting on my life, some smart people will say that, “Pawa, as a Highlands man, was weak and unfit to handle situations”.

They will continue on to say, “why worry, just leave your wife and get married to another woman and start a new life. The sky is blue means there is a woman like this one or better than this one everywhere.”

This is what many Highlands men do. They presume getting married to another woman if the first is unsatisfactory is the way to go.

They are sort sighted. Divorce and remarrying another person is not the answer to your marriage problem. What they do is invite more problems not of solve any. They never realise that their later life can be worse than the former.

Highlands men, or any man, can be bold enough to divorce a wife. But who knows what is really happening inside him? The thoughts, feelings and emotions are crushed deep inside. Men can live a pretending life and act as if they enjoy life.

Having realised all this and feeling the pain, I got my cellphone and dialed my wife’s number. I was still crying.

Praise God, my wife hadn’t changed her phone number and eventually my wife answered. I told her on the spot that I loved and really missed her. She said the same, she and my kids missed me too.

So I propose that we reconcile despite the decision of our relatives. Our relatives live their own lives and they enjoy them. But when we allow their involvement in our family affairs we get deeply crushed while they do not.

So it was that I reconciled with my wife and kids.  I also changed some of my ways and changed for the better. And I now live peacefully and gratifyingly with my wife and kids.

Do you think I made a mistake? No, I made a perfect choice. God does not allow divorce to take place in marriage. He says each man must have his own wife and so must live harmoniously.

Yes you can find faults in marriage, you can divorce and remarry, but what will I say to God when He asks me why I abused my wife and kids or lost my wife and kids to be abused by others?

Take heed, we will be answerable to God. So take account of your thoughts, words and actions in your married life.

Marriage is a sacred thing so don’t play around. If you abuse it, I can tell you, you will live a very miserable life.


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Daniel Kumbon

Pawa, I continue to admire your writing. But this inspirational love story is not complete.

Is it possible you can encourage your wife to express how she felt when she and the two girls were forcefully taken away from their dad and husband?

How did they cope in the two years? What went through their minds?

Elders told us in the hausman that we had to treat our wives as we would want our own sisters to be treated by their husbands.

They also said a rich man's son will marry a poor man's daughter or a poor man's son will marry a rich man's daughter.

They were not talking about paying so much bride price but paying what could be afforded by the groom.

Your wife loved you so much to come back to you. She is the type of women a man in traditional times cut their ear lobes or smashed a finger when she passed on.

And it worked the other way round too. The woman doing the same - severing her own limbs and wearing white clay and strings of Jobs Tears for months when her husband died.

I write about all this in my latest book 'Survivor', in the third story, 'The Old Man, His Wife and the Young Girl'.

I request that you submit your stories to the two dailies - the Post Courier and The National - to publish in their weekend magazines to allow for more people to be inspired.

I wish you and your family more happiness and blessings.

Corney Korokan Alone

This piece is the kind of stuff that is sure to rain tears around many television screens, everywhere - not only in our beloved country.

Wonderful story! Interesting read too.

Oh, by the way, not all divorced/separated Highlands men take the first available flight to any second damsel. Family values and respect for life is not confined to any geographical setting in Papua New Guinea or any part of the planet.

Dominica Are

The beauty about challenges is that it helps us to grow and become wiser. It unleashes hidden strengths and power within us. It helps us to find the right sense of direction.

You have embraced these challenges and made the right choice.

Thank you for sharing another wonderful and inspiring story.

Caroline Evari

Dear Pawa, this is another beautiful reflection.

My husband is part Highlands and as a nambis women, I had no hesitation standing up for what I believed was always right for me and my kids.

I can only imagine how difficult it may have been for your wife and I applaud her for being strong in spite of all that has occurred.

I believe that love conquers all. And that is what you have demonstrated in your marriage.

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