When I tell young women what I went through with my husband, they usually look as though they are going to faint.
I met my husband when I was only 20 years old. He was 25 years old and was already working in a bank. On the day we met, I was at the bank carrying out some transaction when he stormed out of his office and stumbled into me because he was on the phone (with his then-girlfriend).
Because he had spilled the opened bottle of Fanta I was carrying all over my white shirt, he invited me to his office to ‘please sit while I try to find a way around this. You can’t leave here this way.’ The rest is…our history.
William and I got married five years after we met; I was 25 and he was 30, and that same year, he lost his job at the bank.
At first, everything was alright because we were newly weds, best friends, and I was working an okay job that still allowed us our basics. But after 7 months of joblessness, William not getting the ‘kind of job he wanted’, our marriage began to slither down the sink.
One day, he came back home after hanging with his friends and declared that he didn’t love me anymore. It was weird. I remember it so clearly; we were both in the living room – he was playing a football game and I was working on my computer. I looked up when I stopped hearing the voice of the commentator and saw him squinting at me. Before I could ask him what was up, he said slowly, ‘Ayomikun, I don’t think I love you anymore‘ It was like a soft wind had given me a hard slap. Dizzy, I opened my mouth to talk but he continued, ‘I just look at you and I start wondering what we’re doing. What are we doing Mikun? There’s no love again between us. Admit it’
This second slap seemed to reset my brain as I suddenly remembered something my mother had said in one of those dreaded morning devotions. So, I smiled at him and said, ‘I understand William. I still love you though. Very much.’ And I continued working.
Yet, another day, he came back home late at night, tipsy. Immediately I asked him how he was and where he had been, he landed 5 slaps on my face and smugly said, ‘Easy tiger…’
My mother’s words came to me again and I said, ‘I’ll run your bath and let you stay on the bed alone this night. You seem tired’ That was the last day he hit me.
But his punishments continued. From cheating to lying to deprivation, to verbal assault, to emotional blackmail, to threats, to outright bullying… William’s situation kept getting worse.
But everytime I felt like I couldn’t take it anymore, I remembered my mother’s words during that devotion, and I did opposite of what I felt.
That was 20 years ago… And William and I have had 18 years of not a single fight or friction. Now, I get too many requests from young women to ‘teach them how to build a lasting happy marriage’ One young lady actually called me and said, ‘I don’t want to ever marry a man and feel like I made a mistake; I want to be just like you and daddy William, happy from the beginning all through to the end’
My reply to this young lady is the same reply I give to anyone who comes to meet me for the ‘secret’.
I say, ‘I don’t have the answer for you, but my mother does. Her words to me and my obedience of them, kept me. And the words were: ‘Rejoice when you realize that you no longer have the strong feelings you used to have for your husband, for it is only then your journey to true love begins. How can we say that we love someone who our feelings and desires already adore? We deceive ourselves. For love is not a feeling, it is not a tingling, it is not hypnotism, it is a clear-headed, open-eyed decision to care for a person and stay committed to that person without expecting anything in return. When you love a man or a woman, you must rid your heart of any expectation for reciprocity – for true love is not commerce; it is not a trade by barter, it is solely your choice. If you love a person because you believe he or she can give you certain things or make you complete, make no mistake, your love is not true.’
Till today, I have no expectations of William (except to join in taking care of our children). I’m simply loving him as I have chosen to do, and if he decides to do anything in return, my expression is always ‘Oh? Thanks honey…‘