Blending In Love

Aidy Thomas

Can we please learn to resist the temptation of acting as best couples of our time?  Oh yes, people just keep acting, giving others the impression all is well in their  relationships while the reverse is actually the case. Marriage or relationship is  not all about what people think of you but how you really feel when there is no body  around.

Some years ago, my friend invited me to a marriage seminar. Why I finally decided to  go was the publicity she gave the programme. All she said about the resource person  seemed interesting and sounded out of this world, so I checked through my itinerary  to be sure no other appointment was taken for that day. We made our way to the venue  early enough to get a good place to sit (which was her idea).

The resource person turned out to be someone I’ve known for a long time with  traumatic family life. This heightened my anxiety as I wondered what exactly she had  to say to the huge audience. At first, I thought she was going to share with fellow  women what she was gone through in marriage and how people have supported her in it,  but she started her talk by raining praises on her husband as the most wonderful and  loving man she had ever seen or heard of in life, while the children were presented  as well groomed and obedient. Examples of good and romantic marriage pointed to  hers.

I sat quietly and put my face down all through the time she was giving the talk  because I didn’t want to her to see me at all as I was uncertain how my presence  would destabilise her. In the end, I walked up to her, greeted and said “that was a  well packaged presentation of your home.” She took what I said as a compliment and  replied “thank you my sister, what do you do, after crying inside? You wipe the eye  and smile to the whole world as if you are on top. Such is life.”

Yes, there is sense in what she said to an extent, but I totally disagree with the  idea of pretence or misrepresentation. There is a great difference between what we  know is right and what we are actually experiencing in our relationships. Some of us  had expectations, fantasies and dreams of how sweet and cosy our marriages would be,  but it never went that way. Must you remain grumpy and weepy all your life or paint  fake pictures? No, move on.

People should learn to face the fact; you don’t necessarily have to speak highly of  your relationship to others when you know there is no truth in it. Instead, work on  the areas of the problems and see how you can achieve success and live happily ever  after.

Good marriages are not always met, they are made and making is the process of  blending. Yours may take a shorter time while others may take a life time, but  appreciating the fact that two people came from entirely different backgrounds, we  should be patient with ourselves to allow time the chance of blending our values  through association.

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A new husband somewhere once told me, “I can’t stand my wife, when she’s brushing  her teeth, everything just goes white with tooth paste including the corners of her  mouth.” I looked at him and smiled and said “we’ve all gone through that before” and  he relaxed, giving me a shocking gaze. Then I told him, “you should actually go home  and praise your wife for her effort. Going by what you’ve told me about her, this  poor lady has lived all her life in a humble home though in the city, her parents  could not even afford to provide toothpaste when they were growing up, so all they  knew was chewing stick. Now tell me, someone who has been chewing stick for 28 years  and just started using toothbrush and paste a month ago, which one would she be  perfect at? Do you know if she also gives you a chewing stick to clean your mouth,  you would make a mess of yourself? You see, marriage is a very interesting thing.  The best you can do is try to understand who you married, then half of your problems  is solved.” Can you imagine my friend who just got married and went to join the  husband in America called me, weeping over the phone? I thought something was really  wrong but guess what? It was one of those things—food. They are both Africans from  the same country but different ethnic groups (different culture and food). She’s  lived most of her life in the UK while her husband had lived in the US for over 20  years. As she was preparing to become a wife, cooking was one area she paid  attention to as they say “the way to a man’s heart is through his tummy” (I don’t  know if it’s true, but I know that good food is good health).

She bought good cookery books, had some quick brush up from experts, thinking she  was really going to stun the guy with her nice western dishes, but to her greatest  shock, when she made him the first meal after honeymoon, he didn’t look as excited  as she expected (you know after all that looking in the cookery book to follow  recipe and timing, it could really be painful if he doesn’t like it, your effort  seemed wasted).

The following week, he drove her to a shop where she could buy all the African  stuff. Coming back from work, he met another mix and match of what he didn’t quite  understand. Then he spoke his mind, “please honey, can I get to eat ewedu (African  vegetable soup) and amala tomorrow?” The wife went quiet and later said “I’ll try.”  Do you get the picture? She was frustrated.

That was not what she had in mind and that was when she called me to sob-trust me. I  made her feel it was part of marriage and offered to help in any way I could but  funny enough, I don’t eat ewedu, so I told her to drop the phone for me to write the  recipe and read to her later on how to prepare it. Immediately she did, I rang up my  other friend who knows how to prepare ewedu, got all the information and passed it  to over to her in US.

She got it right and her husband was happy. Do you know the truth? Her husband lived  with his grand parents in the village and enjoyed local food before relocating to  the US and when he went, connected with the people who showed him where to buy and  eat home food, now how do you change this kind of a person overnight?

This is why I say that blending in marriage is hard work, but it is attainable. You  don’t need to change to be like your spouse, but just allow them to be who they  really are without pressure.

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