Last week, Saturday, I tied the knot with my heartthrob. I got married to the most exciting and wonderful woman in the world after two years of friendship and about a year of courtship. In my last post, here, I wrote about Miss Lily Cooper (Okpapi actually) and how deeply I love and cherish her. This time, I’ll share a medley of thoughts on what I’ve been learning through this most challenging season of our lives.
My wife and I tend to be countercultural in many ways, but this wedding has proved that these kinds of ideals have very few converts. Honestly, getting married in Naija is a lot of work. (I must state at this point, with a gun to my head, that Lily has the franchise on all the suffering and weight loss from the wedding planning). At the beginning, against better reason, Lily and I jettisoned the idea of an intimate wedding after we tried to come up with a guest list. We did our best to avoid the Aso-ebi trap, but lo, the Parents had great plans for the wedding too. We also felt that a bridal train spending so much on expensive gowns that would never be reused would be a waste. In exchange, we got quite an earful from the conservatives
There is a plaguing cultural undertone that sees marriage as the end all and be all. Definitely, marriage is a good thing, but not the ultimate. Beyond the memorable wedding this turned out to be, I want to enjoy the best married life I can have. Truly, most times I am super excited and happy about the life ahead with Miss Cooper; sometimes a tad anxious about whether I’m really prepared enough to handle this next phase where so many men have fallen.
Love is a beautiful thing, but it can come with thorns occasionally. I’m tempted to reiterate here that love is not enough after all, most couples who got divorced must have loved each other like Miss Cooper and I do. We all hear too often that it takes more than love to keep a marriage together and make it work. To this I can only echo the prayer of Mother Theresa, “God doesn’t give us more than we can bear, but I wish he wouldn’t trust me so much.” I believe we choose the kind of marriage we want, when we make that resolve, providence is mobilized in the form of God’s grace that is sufficiently deposited to strengthen that resolve.
When all the bliss of the wedding becomes a portrait on the wall, the gifts are unwrapped and then fantasy becomes fact, what will keep me coming back? I understood when some person said “getting married is a good thing; it’s the ordeal of living together that brings all the troubles and heartaches” yet without a doubt, there are benefits in marriage, in fact in the last weeks I have seen a little bit of it. You know that three lettered word, the very best part; you get to do it whenever.
My house has also gone through some kind of feminine makeover-a distinct touch in every space. But the adjustment takes time and effort. New rules apply; you need permission to keep late nights with your friends. You don’t spend your money the way you like; you would have some explaining to do afterwards. You would be forced to eat, even when you don’t feel like it. Some of this can be incredibly difficult. It can drain all the butterflies in your belly. I believe it’s a different kind of love we need at this point. Like Maya Angelou said it is that kind of love recognizes no barrier, it jumps hurdles, leaps fences, penetrates walls to arrive at a destination full of hope.”
I want to adopt this kind of love. Hollywood has not helped much in this regard; every romantic movie ends with finding true love and living happily ever after. What they don’t tell us is that the Prince and Princess lowered their expectations and live happily ever after and that is one out of every ten. I know Lily won’t always make me happy, she would do things that will simply be over my head and vice versa but my duty is to love irrespective of how I feel. Like they say, in the end, it is not what you feel but what you decide to do with your feelings.
While it is on the basis of love that marriage is consummated, it is on the altar of humility, commitment, sacrifice, patience, forgiveness, trust and hope that it will survive. Most of the things on this list, we struggle with but we have very little choice in this matter. These things reinvent love and keep the flames alive. Marriage never works until one person decides to love the other no matter what.
The biggest success in every marriage is forgiveness and by it we become masters of our fate. An Arabian wise man once told me to “Take all the blunders in one fist and blow them all away.” Let the wind take them away.
I have to be thoughtful in my new role as a husband. To her I owe unconditional love, to her dream I owe support; to her friends and family I owe acceptance. I should nurture her to be self-confident in every way and to bloom in my garden. She has to be Proverbs 31 woman, a woman of virtue and favour. I need to earn her trust and confidence in trusting my decision making process. I will protect my marriage from even my straying eyes. I must give my kids the opportunity to enjoy the sanctity of a stable home because when the chips are down, the blinds are down and you are all alone, family will always be there.
This is the task I have before me now I have said “I do.”