|Waturi and I. (Dressing courtesy of House of Valentcia)|
On September 1st 2014, Waturi and I celebrated 2 years of marriage. Last year, I wrote a list of things I learnt in my first year in marriage. It was undoubtedly a post that drew many to ask if there will be one like it every year. As I expected, I received messages from a few asking what was on the list for this year. I hadn’t planned to write another list but the requests made me meditate on the past one year in my marriage. To my pleasant surprise, I had learnt quite a few things. So, here are five major things I have learnt in my second year in marriage:
1. Romance should be intentional
There was a time this past one year when Waturi and I got so busy doing things for strangers, our friends, our jobs but not ourselves. I was preaching and teaching in youth groups. She was meeting girls who needed to talk about relationship problems and she was about to start her new job whose preparations were bizarre. Life in the house took a robotic schedule. We were ticking off checklists and we were getting very weary. Our Friday night dates were bland. Turi slept in the middle of the movies; I slept in the middle of bedtime conversation. As a result, the romance became stale. We did like each other. We did like being together but we had traded the spark in the marriage for a busy schedule. That drudgery of an experience taught us that the only way to rekindle romance is to make it intentional. The spark won’t return magically. I cancelled preaching and teaching for over one month. Turi had to leave work on time despite the amount of work left. We cancelled busy schedules to be together. I learnt that you can live with someone for a while and yet they can be quite a stranger. Turi and I confused being together for spending time together. The two do not equate. Romance in our marriage was kindled when we actively and intentionally spent time together rather than merely sharing a table and pouring water from the same jug. Some may say that romance should be spontaneous and natural. I agree. However, to expect it to always be like that is to live a fairytale. I have learnt that if I miss someone, I should intentionally call them. If I want time together with my wife, I should get off the computer. If I want a romantic dinner in a hotel, I should save for it. I have learnt not to despise the intentionality of making romance work; love is not just a noun, it’s also (and mainly) a verb.
2. Helping around the house is a turn on for women
When Turi got busy at her new job, she was compelled to work a few extra hours. She would get home later than usual on some days. I realized that it was taking a heavy toll on her to work 9 hours a day and still get home and prepare dinner for us. She would work 11 hours on some days. I would get home before her on her busy days. I must admit, I was tempted to complain that the meal plans were not consistent. However, Christ tugged in my heart the need to be considerate to my wife and stop being selfish. Women don’t marry to cook for men; they marry to be companions. That means the man and the woman are a team. And if my team-mate was down, I needed to empower her. So I decided to do the unexpected for a series of weeks. I would rush home after work and finish up on pending chores. On days we hadn’t ordered for dinner, I would prepare food for the evening. When Turi got home each time that I helped her with the chores and the meals, she was always moved to tears. Men, you never go wrong when you help around the house. What profit is it? Well, let’s just say that helping around is a turn on for women (well at least mine). I also realized that whenever I help around the house, my wife is more relaxed and feels taken care of. Men, some free advice: If you want her to feel like a queen, I recommend that the kitchen is the place to start.
3. Past baggage can make you a lousy person
I have had to confront instances of past baggage in my two years of marriage. I will share one situation of what I would call “small baggage”. I was once doing the dishes while Turi was cooking when one glass tumbler slipped past my soapy fingers and dashed on the edge of the aluminium sink. I panicked at the broken glass and began apologising profusely to Turi. Turi smiled coyly and said, “Keep breaking them honey. We have seven of that kind left!” Anyone hearing her comment could tell that it was purely jocular. However, the comment was filtered through my baggage (which I will later come to explain) and sounded to me like a taunt or mockery or sorts. I was maddened by her comment and mindlessly retorted, “It was a mistake! Come on, give me a break!” Turi was taken aback by my violent reaction and went quiet. She resumed cooking and I resumed washing the utensils after clearing the broken glass pieces. While we silently worked next to each other, another glass tumbler slipped though my soapy grip and dashed against the sink, breaking into even more pieces this time. I froze and stared at the broken glass like I had murdered someone. The silence was now screaming at us and we both knew that we had to talk about the pink elephant in the room that I had let in. Turi is a very intuitive woman. She walked up to me and asked me what was wrong. For the first time in my life, I did a thorough self audit of my actions and discovered baggage I never knew existed. I found out that growing up, glass tumblers were reserved for special guests. Whenever guests would come, we would wash them and set them aside for the meal. If you happened to break one of the glasses, it was a big deal in the house. Once in a while, we got spanked for breaking the glasses. I was so conscious of disappointing my parents and our guests that the fear of breaking glass tumblers stuck with me. (By the way, my parents are the best parents one could have. I wouldn’t trade them for any other. I am who I am because they raised me well and lovingly). I narrated the history to Turi and she revealed to me how it affected the way I reacted unfairly to her previous joke. I apologised for the unfair trade of words. The Bible says in Proverbs 20:5 that “A person's thoughts are like water in a deep well, but someone with insight can draw them out.” Turi was that wise person with insight. I took time and prayed over that baggage in my life and asked the Lord to take it up for me. I also learnt that I need not make Turi pay for a past life she was not involved in. And neither should anybody for that matter. When I dealt with this baggage, I discovered that the saying is true: human beings may be products of their past but they need not be prisoners of them. We have the capacity to grow out of our fears and past pains.
4. Sexuality is beautiful in privacy
I always thought that once I got married I would have the bravado to kiss my wife in public. How wrong I was. The longer I’ve been married, the more I realize that the gift of sex is so special between a man and his wife that it is best reserved, best expressed and best to be proud of in the privacy of a marriage bed. It is sacred, holy and purest when it is kept between the two of you. The intimacy that comes from sharing a special sexual experience is so beautiful; it has strengthened our friendship and bond as man and wife. It is devoid of shame when honoured as God requires in Hebrews 13:4. The thought of public affection is a not a sinful idea. I hug and peck my wife in public. She does the same. However, there is always a tendency to blush after a public display of affection- that shows that the sanctity and privacy of the intimacy is speaking out. While movies may even blatantly show sexuality as a mere public exercise such as eating, the marriage has taught me otherwise. It is special. It is sacred. It is privately beautiful and it is worth waiting to have it for the first time in your marriage bed.
5. Men, if you’re not at home, you’re not at home
Early in the year, I was a terrible manager of my home. The evening devotions were not consistent. Friday nights were sporadic. 10,000 friends and family members required my time and there was only one Ernest Wamboye Wakhusama. I realized that I have a weakness for people. I found that I easily give in to requests from friends and family. It affected the time I had with Turi. I got home past 9:00 PM on some days and I was too tired to talk and enjoy her company. I was out counselling, teaching, preaching and discipling others and got home a woebegone tired man. When Turi got her job, I quickly realized through foresight that our time would even be more stretched out, so I decided to limit my time out teaching and increase my family time with her. I changed the discipleship meetings to once a fortnight as opposed to weekly. I decided to meet no one on Mondays and Fridays and I never met anyone I could easily see on the weekend. I have come to realize, Beloved, that whether I am out there spreading the gospel or peddling drugs, if I’m not at home, I’m not at home. I have learnt that as a man I need to be at home. I need to be around to help my wife. I need to practise being available for the children even though those children have not yet arrived. If I’m not at home, I’m not at home. No amount of spirituality excuses my role as a husband. I am learning that the world will not reach the brink of Armageddon because I didn’t respond to a few emails. My first ministry is my family then the world around me. I have learnt that if I place the rest of the world above my home, I ought to repent and ask my family for forgiveness. They need me at home. Leading Bible Study or robbing vehicles, if I’m not at home, I’m not at home.
So a blessed two years it has been and we are still looking forward to making it three with a lot to learn.