I think what I learnt most from Mr. Kwashie was what knowing your significant other afforded: a front-row seat to learning their Character, and building Friendship.
I jokingly told someone that not all relationships were held together by Love – “…some are held together only by Carpentry!” …and it Works!
Since time immemorial, people have gotten together in relationships and marriage for a slew of reasons – familial interests or edict, procreation to ensure continuance of a bloodline, peace between families or tribes, access to water rights, ‘legitimate’ sexual intercourse, bragging rights, boredom, “too long a relationship not to marry him/her” – I really could go on and on but I’m sure you get my drift by now.
I’d been walking around thinking that Love was the only bona fide reason why two people should get together – I blame Disney and Hollywood for this bit of brainwashing actually – until recently when I was forced to take a second look at things and had a lightbulb moment.
I’ve had the (?mis-)fortune of having a front seat to a number of young marriages which should not have been…seriously.
Jon & Frances got married after a 2-year relationship outside of university. Families, friends, everyone was in support of this one. It was a simply logical result of the relationship really. Photography by *CLASSIFIED*Gh was on point; the #MUA was specially imported from Accra; Catering was tight; Décor was tasteful; Honeymoon was not deferred – Dubai for 2 weeks and not an hour less – my friend, They Did ‘It’ Right. Trouble started just 3 months into wedded bliss when Frances traveled for 2 weeks to Kenya and Jon had to undergo an impromptu surgery 2 days into the trip. He insisted she stay and not come back (abi then love dey jorm am) and instead ‘imported’ his mother to take care of him – which Mrs. Arhin was only too happy to do. That should have been that really, until she spent an extra 2 days in Kenya – upsetting his mother’s schedule and a few other insignificant things that occurred during that time…like her deciding to postpone telling her husband that she was 3 weeks pregnant before leaving for Kenya but instead telling her own mother and sisters…who didn’t get the memo and mentioned it offhandedly at church to Mrs. Arhin…who came back to deliver 24 hours of a Cold War to her convalescing son before blasting him abruptly the morning after. Unfortunately on his part, he told her he knew nothing of said instance and begged forgiveness for his wife, promising to talk to her when she got back.
Frances came back to a less-than-warm welcome after a stressful time at both airports and let’s just say she didn’t take it too well when he broached the subject of the pregnancy. She said a few words alluding to attempts to meddle with and control her life by his mother, causing his shock at her aggressive stance to fade into hot anger. By the time he had released a few choice words citing her unfortunate choice of her family over him, the fight was on! A week, and then 2 on and things were still amiss at the Arhin household. Jon was upset and hurt for both good and bad reasons, whilst Frances was similarly affronted – and they both believed they were both right, and wronged.
Unfortunately on one cold morning 2 months later, Frances woke up to find herself lying in a small pool of blood and was rushed to the hospital by Jon – she had lost the pregnancy. Family on both sides came together to support them for a while but after a few weeks as they both lay in bed thinking the other was asleep, unbeknownst to them the same thought was running through their heads – “How did I get into this mess? And who is this stranger lying next to me?” They failed to allow even the tragedy to bring them together and within 3 months both were suing for divorce…
Love, as we know it, is really all you need – but it has never been enough. Love in its real form encompasses physical attraction, emotional attachment, goodwill, forgiveness, support, sacrifice, honesty, humility, understanding and friendship, amongst lots of other attributes. It’s easy to forget the ‘friendship’ part most times and focus on physical and even emotional attachment in a relationship. This can give a semblance of a ‘working’ relationship to convince you of compatibility until you hit a wall somewhere down the way when you don’t want a lover, financier, servant or benefactor – you need a co-conspirator, a friend.
Indulge me in this analogy of marriage for a minute: in case you’re unfamiliar with the fantasy adventure genre (think Lord of The Rings), there’s usually a Chosen One (you) who has to set out on a Journey (finding that One person) and on the way he comes across difficulties and obstacles he must overcome before he can progress further, a betrayal or two, maybe a loss even (that Broken Road) but he learns certain skills or acquires companions along the road (Friendship, Compassion, Humility, Love etc.) without which/whom he would be woefully inadequate to face the final Bad Guy in order to fulfil his destiny. Each lesson he learns has a purpose for later – even if they just teach him Patience! I believe the same applies here but the mistake we make is to major in some sections and wholly neglect others so at the end of the day we end up unknowingly woefully deficient in some arena – and then we crash and burn.
I could make a case for any one of the attributes I listed there but my case today is for Friendship. Love your Friend; Marry your Friend; Live with your Friend.
Earlier this year a marriage counselor told me that one of her red flags in any couple about to marry is when they ask them to list their best friends and either of them doesn’t have the other’s name on that list. I thought she was expecting too much because I was an avid believer in the Separation of the Affiliations (friends being friends only, spouses being spouses only) then, but I’ve come to realise that as far as we human beings are involved in marriage, it’s in our best interests to make every effort to accept that other person as nothing short of an extension of yourself. It’s an ‘Us vs Them’ situation, never (God forbid!) a ‘Me vs You’ situation, and Absolutely Never Ever a ‘Me & My Family vs You & Your Family’! I believe the fight to stay married is tough enough already without having to add unnecessary internal spats that can be solved with a simple, short “I’m Sorry” or “Forgive me” or “It’s okay”.
Mr. Kwashie set me musing on what actually keeps relationships together today that seems to be doing a poorer job of it than most of our parents’ and grandparents’ marriages. In fact, some of our parents’ extramarital affairs seem to be kicking the butt of our posh wedding-ed preceding marriages now sef – it’s disgraceful mehn! :’(
My belief that any and every problem under God’s beautiful sun has got to have a solution right here led me to 3 points I believe should be established before you even think of saying “I do.”
- Invite God into the mix.
- Choose your Friend…every time.
- Know why you’re doing it and make sure it’s for “Why?” and not “Why Not?”
Disclaimer: The author has not been married before and makes these claims out of a perceived understanding of underlying dynamics in the average relationship. He also holds no qualification – formal or otherwise – upon which to base his conclusions on the subject matter (apart from an overactive imagination and leanings toward human behavioural analysis). The reader is, however, entreated to put all these deficiencies aside for a minute and ask themselves whether they are true before shrugging them off as “Just another story”.
Let’s let love last…