Journey to the altar
Diary Excerpt 1: It really isn’t that easy, although everybody says it is. This is getting too tricky for my liking. Nothing could have prepared me for this but the pressure is serious. Big sis always says don’t make your husband despise your family and don’t make your family despise your husband. Really tricky!! I assumed that since dad is clergy and a really good marriage counsellor, my case should be pretty straight forward. I forgot this would be new territory to him and his reactions are so foreign to me. I don’t know this guy, cos this ain’t my Daddy!
Diary Excerpt 2: I haven’t written in a long while because a part of me doesn’t want to remember these days. I have all sorts of worries. I worry that my husband to be will not respect my family because I have told him things he could use against me. I worry that my father will not give me his blessing wholeheartedly. I worry that my family think I have achieved nothing in all my years. This worry in probably the biggest as it influences a lot of other things. It really is a lot to be carrying on one shoulder. So, the first person who showed a little interest got an ear-full. If I was in a state of rest I probably wouldn’t have said anything at all. But at boiling point, things just spill out.
Diary Excerpt 3: Mummy has been bugging me all day to apologise to daddy. Lord you know I don’t have a problem saying I’m sorry but what am I sorry for? I’m not entirely sure what I did wrong. Its obvious my father’s pride has been hurt but now he has given me more memories that I wish I could erase. Family meeting again tonight. I need to put on some armour so that I am fully prepared for this war. ‘crocodile tears’ my father called them. Do I have to bleed before they see my heart? Anyway, that’s not the issue anymore. No one cares as long as daddy is not moody, except my babies of course. Life is really crazy a lot of the time you know.
What a rant! That was over two years ago but reading through it now brings back many interesting memories. The journey from ‘Yes’ to ‘I do’ would be different for everyone, but I’d like to share my experience along with some of the things I have learnt from others. I remember praying to God on my 13th birthday saying I didn’t want to be a ‘problem teenager’. I had heard that teenagers always think they know everything, so I told God that I know nothing at all, and I needed all the help I could get to be good. I felt the same way about finding my partner-for-life. On the day this wonderful guy proposed, I didn’t know what to do. I did not say yes, because I wasn’t expecting a proposal at that time. I didn’t even look at the ring! I did tell him I would think about it. I had no doubt he was my husband, but I just couldn’t imagine walking into my family home with a ring on my finger.
I had always known what my Parents expected of me in terms of a husband, and for a long while, I tried to find people who would tick their boxes, before ticking mine. The guys I dated would have won my Parents over instantly, but deep down I wasn’t at peace with them. When I decided to tick my own boxes first, I had my peace, but I then had to deal with my family. My chosen man was very different from the guys I had known or been known around. No, I have never been a player; but having a handful of brothers meant that there were always guys around. I wasn’t pretending around my family, but I just hadn’t met the kind of Man I needed. I got home that evening and paced in my room for a bit, wondering what to do. My family had seen me with this man for over a year, but nothing official had been said. I never planned to introduce any guy to my father as ‘boyfriend’ because I only ever wanted to introduce one man to him. Maybe that was my first error, but Mummy didn’t help either as boyfriend translated to ‘engaged’ in her book.
I told myself I had to let my parents know as I really don’t know the protocol for this. I went into their room very timidly and asked to speak with them. I then said I had just received a proposal. My dad said ‘from who?’, and I was thinking ‘who else?’. All I remember was daddy getting very upset and telling me to get out of his room! I don’t recall my father ever asking me to get out of anywhere in my entire life, so you can imagine my shock. I went to bed crying and thinking I should be bubbling with excitement tonight and instead I am crying into my pillow. What exactly did I do wrong? That was how the journey started.
There were so many things done in that year that did not make sense. I say ‘yes’ about four months later and collected my ring. I had it re-sized but still couldn’t wear it and tensions were still up in the house. Nothing I did seemed right anymore. I remember his mom coming to visit and I wanted to go over and say hello. My Mother was upset saying ‘that is not how it is done’. What are you on about? I just want to say hello, the same way I greet other people’s parents when they visit. It’s not an ‘official’ visit. I went anyway and thankfully there was no grief on his side. My brothers were happy for me and wanted to understand what my parents were not happy about. My dad was not acting like himself at all. I really couldn’t understand what I did wrong. Mummy had to be the go-between. When I tried talking to my Father own, he started asking my about a relationship which had ended about six years before then – I almost couldn’t remember who he was talking about! The man in question was already happily married with a daughter. He didn’t say a word about my current beau! Now I was angry.
While this was going on, I had chosen my bridal train and started hunting for my reception venue. I also started looking for my dress as I didn’t want anything to slow me down once the hassle was over. It seemed my Dad expected to be asked for his blessing before I had heard of the proposal. I realized that about 10 months after that fateful night! Please parents, let your children know if you have any specific expectations, especially surrounding this husband matter! I can’t even go into what my Uncle did. Pastor was simple and straightforward, no hassle. Once my father had been appeased, I could now wear my ring and be officially engaged.
Suddenly my Parents wanted a traditional wedding in Nigeria. I didn’t see that coming. My dad chose the Minister to officiate the wedding without my consent. I had to argue and come to a compromise on what I wanted for this one-time event. I must say that before the proposal, I had made up my mind not to marry without my parents blessing. This was why I did not wear my ring until I was certain I had secured it. It was a very stressful time, as the diary excerpts show. I had to stop writing for months because I didn’t want to record my feelings anymore. My Man was not enjoying the process either. His family had been eager to meet me and it seemed as if we were saying their ‘Prince’ was not good enough for me. I didn’t do a good job of keeping some of the comments made from him. So please learn from me; even though emotions are wild and you want to share everything, the bible says a wise woman builds her home. You start work on the foundation of your home when you say ‘Yes’. He doesn’t have to know that your Aunty thinks his English is not good or your brother said ‘look at his car sef!’. These are comments that can be used against you later when the storms come – and they will come! Thankfully my husband kept his family out of the loop. Planning the actual wedding is an epistle on its own, but for now, just remember to true to yourself. Don’t focus on the wedding and forget the marriage! Let’s be wise!