I know what you’re thinking.
That’s the ‘perfect’ relationship, right? That’s what plenty people want, no? Someone to love, cherish and be with – for always.
At least, I know that’s what I want.
So I ask myself; ‘Seun, do you have ANY IDEA what it takes to build a relationship like that?’
‘I don’t know, honestly. Should I google it?’
And I do google it. And the ever-helpful Google comes up with over 30 million responses, detailing ways I can have a beautiful relationship.
And I’m sure you can guess some of what would appear on a lot of those lists. Trust. Openness. Honestly. Consideration. Support. Romance. Thoughtfulness. Affection.
The list goes on.
What a lot of those lists wouldn’t tell, however, is just how difficult it is to fit all of those things into a relationship.
What I mean is this: we all have issues. And if relationships were as easy as checking off a list, we would almost all be living ‘happily-ever-after’ lives right now.
But it isn’t. And we’re not.
However, I believe strongly that a beautiful, strong relationship is possible – as long as there are two people who believe the same, want the same and are willing to work for it no matter what. Anything is possible when you believe.
Now, how do you find someone who believes with you?
I doubt that’s a question for Google. Looking inward always help, looking inward and knowing one’s self as well as is possible is a huge step in the right direction. They say ‘when the student is ready, the master appears’ and I strongly believe that.
I don’t think we suddenly decide to make friends; we open ourselves up to life, experiences and friends come along by way of that. A romantic relationship shouldn’t be the same way, I believe if you do the things you love, enjoy living, have fun with yourself and friends, you’ll attract that kind of person who may just be your ‘forever and ever’.
As I once saw on a T-Shirt; ‘GET A LIFE!’
Everything good will follow.
Going through the motions,
Shocked awake – rude emotions
A kiss so great
Quantities measured – memories treasured
Trust fragile; completely fractured
From duct to ticker tape to surgery scars
Picking shards of what was once a heart;
Like finding a sweet memory in old trousers,
That’s what I remember.
Her beauty; not the kind to start riots,
But definitely end them.
Her hands are so small, easily they fit into mine
When we talk, we rhyme
And in bed? At times all we do is mime,
Repeat practiced movements as old as time.
She is strength in my weak,
The strength in my week.
She toughens my limbs, makes the days better
Would have changed my life too; if I’d let her.
I did write a letter.
When she smiles, something in me jumps,
Got me wondering; ‘could this be love?’
Could this be – that mysterious feeling they sing about,
That thing that makes old men sing and shout?
She’s joy. She’s Joy. She’s my joy,
Something rare; exquisite
Something that breathes even when I squeeze it
A bright thing when other lights are dimming
But I’m sad.
I wonder why.
I lied to my wife last night,
Told her I’ll be with her for all time
Yet a few minutes before, I was in other arms
Yet I tell myself – what does it matter?
What difference does it make?
How can she or you know love without feeling hate?
100-carat diamond on her finger, yet what put it there is fake;
Still, what does it matter?
Let’s talk about death in relationships.
When the man-of-God who’s joining the couple says ‘till death do you part’ I’m sure he means death as in ‘Grim Reaper’ and related subjects. Death; as in the end of physical life.
But as we’ve come to learn, physical death is the least responsible for ending so many marriages marriages nowadays, no?
Let’s consider death in other forms – death of other things. Things that were once exciting – and suddenly are not as exciting as they used to be. When the sight of her body no longer sends you into the mindless frenzy it used to – when his snore and one-pack become the two most annoying things you know.
When we just want to say ‘you know what? This is no longer working for me’.
In recent times we’ve witnessed more weddings than university students around here have attended lectures. We also know of the tales of woe that abound – tales that make marriage sound like a badly written Stephen King novel. And little by little, slowly but steadily, a happy marriage is starting to look and sound like a myth.
We all know there are happy marriages – just as we know there are still virgins (word to Chidinma) but the thing is – these things hardly; if ever get celebrated. No one made the cover of The Daily Sun for being a faithful husband or wife! We’re more likely to read about ‘Pastor Impregnates Wife’s Younger Sister’ than ‘Couple Celebrate Twenty Years Of Marital Bliss’.
And even if we did read that, most of us will probably ‘yimu’ and go ‘na lie jo’.
Now, what happened to make us so disillusioned about getting married?
I think we happened.
WE. YOU and ME.
We simply stopped taking each other seriously.
Someone said something somewhere ‘If we took our romantic lives as seriously as we took our professional lives, we would be lots happier’.
Consider the picture.
Remember that Pacesetter novel ‘Death Is a Woman’?
But then, let’s keep moving.
The vow says ‘till death do you part’. The picture depicts one way death can come into marriage, right?
Now let’s consider the thought that ‘anything not growing is dead’.
Ever flipped through your CV and noticed that for a while, nothing new has been added to it? And then you thought about getting a new job, a new degree, a new experience – something to make the CV fuller and richer?
Can we think about our relationships in those terms?
Relationships in which both partners are individually and collectively thinking of new ways to grow; individually and together.
I won’t lie. I used to think the hardest part was ‘getting the girl’.
But then, as I grew older that part of it became progressively easier until – and then I had a reality check.
The hardest part is making her stay.
I mean really. I had to ask myself; why should she stay with you?
Do you know anyone on any planet or in any reality who likes stale food?
Men want to talk about how men are natural breeders and how men get bored with just one woman. Hello bro. Wake up and smell the coffee – you’re not the only one stuck with her; she’s also stuck with you!
Make it worth her while.
A friend of mine is taking belly-dancing classes. And when I asked her why, she said ‘you never know with men. It’s better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it’.
Okay. Maybe belly dancing is kind of awkward if you’re a guy (or maybe not); you can learn how to wash her hair. Learn how to make new dishes regularly. Take her to Dubai (these things are not as expensive as we think!). Be interested in her career – things that matter to her. Come home one day and say ‘I was browsing and saw this online course I think you would be interested in. I already subscribed for the brochure; but if you don’t like we can cancel’.
It’s far beyond ‘dinner and a movie’ these days o. Real.
It’s beyond lying-back-and-letting-the-partner-do-all-the-work. There’s as much competition for men’s attention as there is for women now. We’ve all heard the ‘sleeping-with-his-wife’s-best-friend’ story. Maybe the man was greedy and so on – but where was the wife in the midst of all that?
There’s more to infidelity than sleeping around. And sometimes, the sex is just a by-product; the visible results of some other things. We see the sex, so we just think it was lust. And in some cases it was/is just that. Lust.
But in some other cases…
If we spent more time enriching each other – our partners, friends, spouses – whatever people we have around us, don’t we think things would be easier for all concerned? Don’t we think we would have less of short-term marriages and actually have more people committed to improving themselves and each other?
In Social Studies we learnt the smallest unit of society is the family (or something close). Don’t we think that’s another place a better Nigeria can start from?
I’m just saying.
But I do know this – it’s impossible to do something nice for someone else and not be touched ourselves.
Let’s blow the dust off that record, folks. Let’s get to know each other all over again.
I’m Seun Odukoya. It is a pleasure having you here.
What do you think? What other ways do you think death come into relationships? Looking forward to reading your opinion!
Have a blessed week.
“How was work today?” Adaobi asked as she nervously puttered around in the kitchen. Hearing no response, she turned around in time to see Eze sneak a second piece of meat into his mouth; at the same time try to replace the pot cover quietly. She burst out laughing.
“Oga, at the rate you’re going there won’t be anything left for your son to eat o,” she said, still laughing.
Eze stopped chewing and looked at his wife with mock seriousness. “Me nko? I no go chop?”
The humor on Adaobi’s face vanished cleanly as if wiped off with a towel. “You…you want to eat…my food?”
Eze looked indifferent while inside he cringed. “Why is that news? Is it strange that a man wants to eat his wife’s food after a hard day’s work?”
Adaobi walked over to Eze and hesitatingly, touched her palm against his forehead. Eze closed his eyes, enjoying the cool feel of her hand. It felt so soft…so warm, as it lay there.
It felt like a stranger’s hand.
Her voice penetrated his closed-eyes-created darkness and warmed him gently and softly like a lover’s caress. “Nna, are you okay? Is something wrong?”
She was worried. Genuinely worried.
Swallowing the meat he was chewing, he opened his eyes and found himself looking into hers. There were a lot of things in there – things he did not recognize. Things that looked like they were running after each other in a race they couldn’t win. Suddenly he grabbed her arms and asked, “Adaobi, what happened to you?”
Adaobi shook off his hands so violently she staggered as he involuntarily let go of her. Reaching for the cooker to steady herself, she whirled almost immediately and stared at Eze angrily.
“What happened to me? What happened to ME?!” she started shouting, tears springing out of her eyes making her face look like an overfull pure water sachet. “WHAT HAPPENED TO YOU?”
Eze looked away guiltily. “Why are you asking me that?”
Adaobi, her chest heaving with an emotion he couldn’t – didn’t want to identify, responded; “Are you okay? What is this – what are you doing?! You don’t eat my food, you don’t touch me – you don’t even look at me for almost…” she stopped, emotions overwhelming her. “And then suddenly…. What are you doing? Who are you?!”
Eze felt ashamed. What am I doing? What went wrong with us?
But bros – you know na. Why you dey ask Jamb kweshun?
Damn conscience. But it was right.
“You never forgave me for Chika. And though I really tried to…” she stopped, quite sobs shaking her shoulders. “You said it was a mistake to marry me…” she stopped and wiped her face with the back of her hand. The gesture oddly reminded Eze of crying children – and he thought about the last time he had seen it.
There are no kids anymore o. They grow too fast.
And whose fault is that?
When she told him she was pregnant it was like everything became dark. He had suddenly realized how empty words like ‘I love you’ and ‘I’ll always make you happy’ were – easy to say; hardly ever meant.
He hadn’t been able to see that it was his fault as well as hers – in fact it was more of his fault. He refused to agree that there was a better way to have handled the whole thing. All he could see was that he had become a father overnight; a husband over the next few weeks – something he wasn’t ready for. Sure, it had cost him his job as a business manager, but they had not died, had they?
He thought about the cliché – that one about how loving their mother is the best gift a father can give his kids. He thought about the fact that he loved Chika, loved the boy enough to do anything to protect him. But is it fair to love the gift and not the giver?
He looked at her now, the mother of his son, the woman he had stood in front of before God and witnesses and promised to love, honor and obey. Even though he had spat out those words in fury – even though he had been eyeing the bridal train as he was making those vows, should he not have tried to be a better husband?
What kind of man am I raising my son to be?
Who cares? If you know say you sabi ask redundant questions, why you no go work for JAMB?
“Adaobi, I made a mistake…but it wasn’t by marrying you. It was by not trying. See, I blamed you so much – and it’s almost as though I needed an excuse for it not to work.” He moved closer to his wife and carefully put his arms around her. The iron rod in her back remained erect for a few seconds, and then slowly it unbent and became a human spine.
They held each other there, standing silently until Eze’s body started to inform him of some biological reactions. This is awkward; he thought to himself. I finally start to fix the holes in my life and this…this shameless thing just wants to plug a hole.
Adaobi sighed contentedly, innocently moving her hips closer to her husband’s. Eze’s sudden jerk back made her head come up from the shoulder in which it was nestled. “Is something wrong?” she asked. Eze had to clear his throat twice before he could speak. “No…nothing,” he said, heart thumping like a konga drum at work. It was enough she accepted him this much. It would be better if he did not push his luck.
Adaobi looked at him – Adaobi who, somehow within the past few minutes had gone from plain to being the most beautiful woman he had seen a while; smiled at him in that way that used to tickle his ears. “Nothing, shey?” she said.
Eze swallowed and nodded. He had no idea what was coming.
Adaobi suddenly wedged her left thigh between his legs and softly bumped her hips against his groin. Eze exhaled noisily and almost fell down. His wife steadied him, laughing happily.
“Hmmm,” she said when they were standing properly again. “Seems we have a dilemma here.”
“What dilemma is that?”
“Your body is saying it has missed mine – but your mind is saying you’re moving too fast. And you don’t know if you want to go that far all in one night; you don’t know how I feel about it.” She looked like a kid with unlimited credit in the Shoprite sweet section. “Am I right?”
Eze nodded. “It’s…a lot to take in at once.”
“Well, here’s my feedback!” Adaobi said, and grabbed her husband’s most intimate part suddenly but gently. Eze’s knees became pap in a nylon bag and he fell on the kitchen floor, Adaobi sprawling across him and laughing at the same time. He kissed her throat; slight glimpse of her azure bra strap peeking from underneath her blouse testing his control.
“Mummy I’m hungry,” a voice said from the doorway. The grownups scrambled off their feet hurriedly to see a sleep-infested Chika rubbing his eyes.
“Okay baby,” Adaobi said, hurrying to the boy and hugging him. “Let’s get you eating.”
As she carried him past his father, she whispered in his ear, “I’m coming back for you, honey. Don’t think you’re safe.”
She winked at him and kept moving. Eze swallowed and smiled.
He needed a drink.
The nine year-old said “Me and Tobi have agreed. We don’t ever want to get married. Ever.’
The forty-two year old looked at the nine year-old, an amused expression on his face. “And why not?”
The nine year-old thought carefully. “Because marriage does not make people happy.”
The forty-two year old was shocked. “Who told you that?”
“Nobody. But Tobi says his parents argue and fight loudly – that his father likes breaking things and his mommy likes crying. I told him my parents don’t argue – they just don’t talk. And we both agree that both our parents are very unhappy.”
Eze turned back towards the road and gripped the steering wheel tighter, his face frozen in a smile. It shook him to his center to hear the words coming out of his son’s mouth – and for the first time in a long time, he looked in the mirror and was appalled at what he saw.
His son looked at him. “Did I make you angry, daddy?”
Eze rubbed the boy’s head. “No, Chike. You’ve made me think.”
The boy nodded and looked out of the window as the man continued driving. Out of the corner of his eye he watched the boy and wondered what today’s children were on. “My parents don’t argue – they just don’t talk.”
My God; he thought, what have I been teaching my son?
He felt ashamed to realize he hadn’t thought about his wife in a while. Adaobi. Trying to bring up her image in his head was some kind of feat; he found to his chagrin. What sort of wahala is this?
He felt a small surge of anger at his son. How dare he – but then, it wasn’t the boy’s fault. He was saying what he saw. He and Adaobi were strangers living in the same house.
A streak of cold sweat running down his back made him shudder suddenly, and irritably he pushed the AC control to max. Gritting his teeth in frustration, he pushed down the throttle.
Which kain wahala be dis? Which kain pikin be dis?
In fact, which kain afternoon be dis?
The plan was to get Chika from school, drop him off at home – and zoom off to the island for Champions League and Sandra’s with the boys. All of a sudden, after nine years of marriage he was having a crisis of conscience. He didn’t need that. Not now.
“I don’t need that now,” he said half-aloud.
“N..need what?” Chika asked his father. Eze looked at the boy to see him shivering. Feeling guilty, he turned off the AC.
“There. Is that better?”
“Yes. Thanks dad!”
Eze nodded and eased off the throttle as neared the junction to Ogudu. His turning into the road was fluid and smooth; the earmark of a professional driver – but it wasn’t smooth because he was paying attention to it. It was smooth because turning into that road had become second nature to him. He could do it with his eyes closed.
His mind was not on the driving.
Hope you enjoyed that! Please check for updates on Monday!
Have a fantastic week!