It started on one fine evening in the beginning of time; when the clock stood still for a moment and it occurred to me that this was THE one. He ticked every box (at least then) and it was clear in my head that this was the ‘IT’.
Over the next many months, I talked to him all day long; and spoke about him at every available opportunity- accorded and un-accorded alike. I am fine became a response of old and I quickly picked to… ‘The going is great, I am so in love and by the way I am also getting married soon🥰’. Depending on my own judgement of how much time you had for our chat, I would happily tell you about where it all started in the beginning of the end of my throne as the self-appointed ambassador of the “Men are trash” campaign. I would reintroduce myself as a pro bono advisor regarding the doctrine of ‘one true love’ and ‘good men still exist’ and ‘chivalry is not dead’. I stayed besotted, nice and doting on this Man who was showing me love and care in a way that I never thought I was deserving of; just a girl so gleefully optimistic of the promise of an unending love. Still.
Please go back and see the five words before I inserted, in brackets *at least then * in paragraph one above.
Does he still tick every box? Absolutely! But over and above that, he also came with some extras/accessories which, not few a times, rile me to the last bone. This compact set of flaws that I had not subscribed to. Hold that thought!
*9 August 2020.
Today is special! It’s experiential day. You may, or may not know, but we are currently undertaking premarital counselling classes. Me, mine: Another Five and Theirs. I don’t know about them but I am about to ‘my husband’ people to death. Let me consult with my husband, I will say. My husbae had a similar experience, I will chip into conversations unapologetically. Excuse me for a few minutes, my husband is calling me… my husband this, my husband that, my husband here and my husband there.
Anyhow, experiential basically means that we have a full day of being in a simulation of real life experiences as a couple.
To me, it is an exciting yet terrifying prospect. (The whole experience). I am excited about being in a space where I can get to know him more and ask him all the tough questions which he has either previously ducked or the questions that have been too difficult for me to voice out without risking my own vulnerability or debunking my own insecurities which -in johari’s window- remain in the hidden corner known to me-only. Most importantly, I want to know what marriage means and what it implies to be submissive yet vocal. I want to know how I can have a voice (because I am big on being heard) without coming out as emasculating or stubborn/dominating.
But I am also scared-big time. (Especially about today). Scared of the other couples being too perfect and having it all figured out; scared of the uncertainty of his reactions under pressure, under distress and under duress if at all. I am also dreading my own reactions to whatever situations will be thrown our way and worrying that maybe, my (exceptionally) competitive self will scream the hell out of my partner. I know myself well enough to know my reactions when I am on the edge and it is not necessarily pleasant. Of course, I want us to be (or at least appear to be) the sweet charming couple that loves beautifully, argues placidly, competes tenderly and encourages each other unwaveringly. That *aaaaawwwwwhhhhhhh couple next door or next table.
Feel free to insert a small laugh break because jokes are about to be on us. (all of us actually) at different stages of this experiential.
*Exercise one is pretty easy..Chasing your partner in a circle. Tapping them and them chasing you after the tap. In a small circle.
I enjoy this one particularly. It takes me back to the days in paragraph one when I was so hopelessly in love and my friend asked me if (at all) I was afraid. I mean, don’t you think that somewhere along the way you may meet someone better? Like are you sure you want to do this, to get married- to him and; not anyone else?!
Not at all, I said. I am not scared, and I know that I want to be with him-just him! See, the grass is only greener where you water it and two , until you make that choice to focus on one person, it’s practically impossible to give it your all. Plus, I want to have good days and great days with him. Maybe we will hit the rock bottom at some point; and that is fine too- with him. And even if he does not offer me the best now, I know that better days will come because that is how life is. Things get better with time, you know. (I am such a talker ladies and gentlemen , I know😂😂 )
Looking back in retrospect, I realize that I was making promises based on how I felt then, a love so deep. But the truth about feelings is that they change and the intensity varies depending on time and seasons. Therefore, there would come a time when all what I had said would probably be a lie (for that specific point in time) because I no longer felt the love as strongly as I did when I made the promise. Some days would be good, some great; and indeed some would be terrible. And through our relationship, I would learn how to stay in love despite. To love through flaws, to care selflessly, to dislike certain aspects of them without losing sight of what drew us to each other in the first place. I would learn how to focus on him because to me, he was all I had and our relationship was the one thing we were constantly chasing and finding new ways of nurturing…
Sorry, I digressed. What I learnt from the first experiment was that over and above setting the boundaries and tone for the relationship, (defined by the circle we were chasing each other in); you have to actively pursue your partner*and your partner alone. Without caring of who else was in the field and how well they were pursuing their partner.
It subtly reminded me that setting boundaries goes beyond the broad rules that we set. It means breaking every small dimension that is a grey area. For example, when we say that in this relationship, we are faithful: What does the word ‘faithful’ mean to each of you individually and what does it mean to you jointly- as a couple. Can I check someone out as long as I stay true? Can I accept a date or ask someone else out as long as I still come home to you? Is it exclusive intimacy and exclusive flirting, giving words of affirmation and exposing your vulnerabilities entirely within and not beyond yourselves. How far is too far? How high can your temper go and how much can you stretch budgets…
From here, life started going south for me and mine….
The next exercise was knight, Roundhead (I think) and something else.
It was a simple game of roles. The knight position commanded one person to carry their partner, the roundhead meant that one partner sits on the other’s back (I hope) and the last position whose name I cannot remember meant that one partner kneels with one knee up and their partner sits on the knee. Of course, this last one was the only one I could comfortably do.
*You’you carry me and let me sit on your back, then me, I will give you my knee for that last exercise. I said.
Of course feelings started being caught because this thing of me talking to him and him just being there quiet like I was talking to the open air was disrespectful in my frame.
But si I already told you guys I was ready to be the aaawwwh couple…so I assumed that my message was heard.
Up until we were the last two couples standing, everything had gone perfectly, and I was happy that he had taken instructions in his annoying silence.
The problem came when the last command was to assume that position which was mine* and I had already told him that the position was mine *and he had refused to acknowledge that he had heard me telling him that the position was mine.
We both went down on our knees and in that moment we lost!!
Rewind. First of all, ( let me just say it one last time ) I had told him that the position was mine and I simply could not understand why on earth he was assuming a role that was mine! Second, he had also not answered me when I told him that that was my position and therefore at the back of my head I had already packed the small fact there were signs and symptoms of disrespect because when someone tells you something you should respond. (never mind that we had perfectly played the roles to this last stage.)
Takes a break to sip some water.
In a real life scenario, this would have gone extremely south-like this:
“First of all, I have already told you that this is my role but you’you usually hear what you want to hear. Also, you don’t trust my ability to deliver because when I told you that this was my role (and you refused to answer), I owned it as my responsibility and I was going to deliver. Additionally, you jumping into my own role means that you are not being supportive of me because you are not giving me the opportunity to grow in this area. (and by the time I say the third point tears are already flowing effortlessly and he is also hitting the panic zone because he is yet to digest how fast this has escalated and why the emotions of yours truly are up the roof). Meanwhile, I am also silently asking myself if there is anything he did 7 months ago that I can quickly pull and link into this situation because all related matters must be addressed in this forum😂
On a serious note though, I was not happy with him until he was asked what went wrong and he said that he had figured that I was tired and decided to help. What I had taken as a belittling of my ability to deliver on my task was actually from a very caring point of him observing that I was probably tired and stepping up. (we can now ffffinaalyy aaaawh).
Many lessons from there:
- Seek to understand the intention behind your partner’s acts,
- While it is good to step up and help your partner, it is critical that you communicate the ‘why’ behind the decision because meeeen, the line between it being taken as a kind act and it being perceived as a belittling act is terribly thin,
- when your partner tells you something, it is your duty to respond ; even if it is just a ‘mmmh, eh, oh, really…’ and most importantly
- learn to separate the fact, emotion and the judgment.
We proceeded further South in exercise three.
Four stations: Skipping rope, 20 skips none stop, filling soda bottles with water fetched down ‘stream’ with our palms, throwing rings to a target and a forming a square out of 4 shapes.
Ropes went well after a thousand tries, let’s also say that filling the bottles went fine (because in my head I knew that even if he complained of the way I was just bringing two or three droplets per water fetch; he would still be the one to fill my bottle whether he liked it or not because we were one unit afterall. Rings were awesome because I am naturally sporty.
Enter square… if we made it through this one then we can conquer everything through Christ who strengthens us!
The rule was simple, that one partner would solve the puzzle and instruct the other partner on how to solve it.
Two things were clear in my head. That he would be able to solve the puzzle in a split second as the structural engineer that he is. But it was also clear that his descriptions of how to solve it would be as off as a fool misses the point. Buuuut, because he is mine and deep down I know that I know my person, I thought that I would be able to calmly sieve through his irrelevant stories quickly. (And I say irrelevant because B will be telling you how to make a soup and he starts with how he first got these ingredients from this market from this seller who is abcd and; then passed by the fruits guy who has certain new fruits and then finally he came home, picked the chopping board and started cutting onions into these very thin cubes (at this point he will pause to ask you if you can try cut onions and tomatoes into the size of mustard seeds the next time you are cooking and blahblahblah… ). But because we are still in the honeymoon stage, I will not ask him how on earth the market and fruits guy and the detail of the ideal onion cube size is related to this particular soup even though I am dying to. Now that is him for you ordinarily.
Back to the situation. His first instruction was that the white sides of the pieces were to be on top throughout; unaware that for my puzzle to be solved, one of my pieces had to be upside down. Remember, in my head, I knew that there was no way this one was going to pull any proper instructions. (Challenge number one- mind block). The second instruction was for me to place the arrow pointing to my right leg with some angle facing outside. At this juncture, I wanted to scream. Like outside where? when you say outside, do you realize we are already outside? What is the definition of outside , please? Insert a sarcastic undertone.
I don’t know what he said next but I remember placing both of my palms on my head because I could not believe that a human being could be so pathetic with descriptions, you know, just giving simple instructions for 4 objects.
With my temperatures above room temperature, my yellow chest almost turning red; and his tone/intonations above sea level he asked….
Do you even know what an arrow is ?
(Silently)… of course I don’t because (imagiiiiine) I was not born in the stone age of bows and arrows 🤓
Aloud… not sure now, is it the one that has a square/rectangle at the bottom?
Inhale. Exhale. Repeat. (See what I did there Annette & Ian😂)
Yes. He says. Now make sure that white is on top and that you have inserted the V using your left hand. After that, you will have two edges of the square ready.
I did as instructed and sure as sunrise, there were no edges formed. Not even one! (allow me to sip some water to swallow my frustrations)
By this time, it was already clear that he descendant of Abraham behind me was not saying anything sensible that required my obedience and that as per my earlier judgement he was a horrible giver of instructions and I was done using my hands unproductively and instead resorted to telling him the way whatever he was saying was not making sense because it was obvious that the pieces could not interlock in those steps he was giving me and maybe I have different shapes because at this point someone/something has to be wrong and it is not me. (please remember him in your prayers because that is my usual typical sentence in one breath )
He on the other hand could not understand how a grown woman of my age and calibre could not take such simple instructions.
But folks, like I said, there was no way my puzzle was ever going to be solved with the white side on top.
At this point, we are not calling each other by ‘My Boo-boo, or Baibe or Darling. To me, he is a descendant of Abraham and to him I am the slow biabe behind his back who does not know what an arrow is and where her left hand is (gosh). I am at a point where I cannot understand what is so hard about giving instructions and using proper English and he is at a point that he is realizing that it is like he subscribed to edge network while his peers are enjoying 4G and 5G and every other fast internet speeds that are there in the market.
Anywho, at the end of it all, this lovely facilitator drops a hint, that maybe, white should not be on top. And voila, I flipped one piece and there was the square.
Rewind, at the point that he asked me whether or not I knew what an arrow was; a lot went through my head. I wanted to ask him if he thought I was thaaat dumb, I mean, who does not know what an arrow is. I also doubted myself for a second, maybe his definition of an arrow was different from mine, maybe he meant the V shape…which could be an arrow if you placed it like this (>) . Predominantly though, I thought about the (uncountable) times in our dating life that I had asked him if something wasn’t obvious to the human eye/brain. The times I questioned his judgement in circumstances that to me were common sense or basic knowledge ( and in our small group I realized that this thing of women feeling that they know better is ingrained in the XX chromosome set and there is nothing we can do about it anytime this century).
We were back to talking terms in seconds, of course after me yapping my heart out and him saying sorry even before my lips parted ways. Thank you the Badili team for delivering the whole exercise so well and throwing in a wealth of profound pieces of advice about the marriage journey in a day; the amazing couples who made me realize that we are all figuring this out together and my every day human diary- this Partner of mine who introduced me to a kind of love that is so surreal. :-*