You’re twenty six, you still have illusions of Mr. Right. You haven’t been burnt enough to know that there is no Mr. Right. There are only people and people are not perfect. You think you’ve married him, you know, your Mr. Right. In fact you have an idea of exactly who he is and who he can become. They don’t make them tall dark and handsome anymore, so you compromised and you instead went for short, stable, with a slight beer belly who snores on Fridays. He snores on Friday’s because that’s when he goes out with his work colleagues for a beer and ends up having those mshikakis that unsettle his sinuses. You’re okay with this. You can overlook all those things as long as he’s pulling chairs for you and looking deep into your eyes as you unpack your emotions.
You’re in the honeymoon phase where everything about him is rosy: His jawline, the arch on his eyebrows. The single white hair sprouting on his mustache. He will drop something and proceed to pick it up and you will think for a moment, that, that is the single sexiest thing you’ve seen in a long time. (Sexy friends, how are you holding up?) You will wonder why he hasn’t gotten his own reality show where he just drops and picks up stuff. Even the annoying bits about him are cute: You like the way he leaves his socks unattended in the living room. In fact you consider it an honor picking them up for him and putting them away. This is your soulmate after all; short, with a beer belly, who snores on Fridays.
You’ve convinced yourself that your man (with a beer belly) is a hopeless romantic. You even defend him in front of your girlfriends when they start saying that Kenyan men romance is the equivalence of warm mango juice. You will say, “No, not my man, he is not like that, he is different; he calls me honey and tells me how his day was, he even buys me a bottle of wine and a box of chocolate from time to time.” It doesn’t get more romantic than that, especially coming from a man with a beer belly, your girlfriends will think and tell you how lucky you are because their men won’t even propose, the most they do is pick up their phone and tell them to come over for a home cooked meal, only to get there and realize it was a booty-call.
He will quit his job to start a new venture and the honeymoon phase will come to an abrupt end. Starting a new venture you will soon realize involves sitting on the couch—sometimes lying on it like an overfed pet and calling cold leads, most of which don’t amount to anything. This will take a toll on him and conversations will fizzle out and when you do talk they will feel painful like hot candle wax on your skin. Turns out stress is also not good for his sinuses and he will take up snoring from Monday to Sunday. The financial distress will start hammering your marriage and you will realize that you don’t have thick skin, you’re not a crisis general. You will realize that it was a big lie when the pastor said, two become one because you will start feeling very much like an individual. In fact you will guard your individuality with all you have and you will resent him and when your girlfriends talk about their relationships you will stay mum because like a worn out trouser, your love for him is around your ankles.
His venture will pick up and things will be great for a week or so but then he will start coming home late. You will watch him ignoring the dinner you made and you will imagine there’s another girl somewhere who is comforting him. (Side note: I’m a bad liar. I can’t ever imagine cheating on my wife. I imagine this is how the conversation would go?)
“Kev, are you cheating?”
“Cheating, on you? Wow.”
“What do you mean wow?”
“I mean for you to imagine that I can cheat on you, I mean, for the love of God I might have done horrible things in the past: I might have said you didn’t look fat in that dress when you actually did but cheating. Wow.”
“I mean, what do you take me for? Do you really think I’m going around sleeping with every girl that gives me her time? Wow.”
“It was Leah, babe (Leah’s are so crafty) it was her hips, they confused me, she gave me a small kiss and we did small sex, forgive me.”
“Which dress makes me look fat, again?”
Back to the story. You will ask questions and it will feel like you’re stepping on a live wire. You will go on the offence and throw cutting words at him, words you didn’t know you had in you and sometimes you will sit and wonder how much bitterness you have bottled up that allows you to publish such abuse? You will go weeks without talking to him even though the silence is punishing your soul. It will hit you like a bolt of lightning that this is not the man you had in mind, this is not the man you spent so much time scribbling on your diary so you will start tinkering with the idea of divorce.
This story might be real or fabricated—the dialogue bit especially. I was listening to this couple over the weekend talking about how much of a culture shock it was when they finally got married and realized how different they were. For the chap, his love language is acts of service and he would do things for the woman thinking he was loving her but the woman couldn’t see that because for her love was spending time together. They talked about the misconstrued ideas they had constructed about each other that almost broke their marriage and it got me thinking about the dreams we sell ourselves when we decide to be with a person. The stories that we sleep to that are sometimes fictitious and I realized a lot of us might not be ready for a commitment the size of a marriage.
I’m a young chap, my blood is hot and fast and sometimes when the wind blows a certain way I get an erection. I want to think that marriage will resemble the dating phase. That I will always be high on emotions and my object of desire will remain a demi-god who only has one side: a good side, a superficial side that wears thin, cotton dresses that hug her curves (which will forever remain delicate), and the cherry flavored perfume she wears? Yes, she will always smell that way, in fact it’s her natural scent. I don’t want to think for a second that there is a day I will open the door and she won’t look, smell nor behave quite as tasty. Try to push the thought that I just used the adjective, tasty to describe a woman out of your mind.
I never want to pause and think that things might get tough down the road. What happens when I look at her over dinner and see that her woman mustache is coming in? When I realize that love to her means gifts when to me love is touch and acts of service, something inexpensive, something I can get from a waiter in a seedy restaurant. What happens when I see this other side of her that I had not seen before, will I have it in me to sail against the wind, when I realize that she’s contrary to the person I had created in my head. Will I have it in me to appreciate who she really is or will I wreck myself trying to fit her in my imagined box? I want to think that marriage is an emotional roller-coaster, but it just might end up being mellow and it just might be me with my beer belly and my wife with her thinning mustache asking me to pass the ketchup and me telling her its tomato sauce and both of us smiling and raising our glasses to the beauty of individuality.
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I like to think of myself as a reader who writes, a Pan-African who thinks with the tips of his fingers, but when I’m not molesting the keyboard I’m usually destroying yogurt (not Frusion) or staring into the vastness of space.