One of the highlights for me travelling to London is Church service on Sundays. I love me my St James Church. There’s just something about that Church. There’s no happy clappy Praise Worship sessions or Praying in tongues, binding and loosing and all the theatricals that make for my usual Church Service in Nigeria, but the Anointing is something else.. Very real and strong.

This last Sunday, the elderly couple in front of me was Nigerian. Quite old. I’d say they were octogenarians. What struck me about the old couple was that they were together but there was absolutely no warmth between them! You would say their relationship felt frosty. It doesn’t help that it looked like they just packaged the husband to stand still but there was no love lost between them two. This is in a Church that at the mention of the declaration of ‘The Peace’ (An Anglican thing) all the couples both young and old, lock lips even some tongues…. Okay I exaggerate, but they might as well! Anyhow back to my old Nigerian couple. Even though our parents are not prone to PDAs this couple was cooold! The rest of the Service my mind wondered. ‘What could be their situation?’ I questioned. Perhaps Baba had left her for several years for a younger woman who’s now fled and due to pressures from Family and Children she’s now had to take him back, old and needing packaging?….

Why Logo White copyCould they have had an argument that morning?’.. Over what though? That man didn’t look like he could say much! Did he cheat on her and she just found out??? How??? Now ‘Yemisi’ behave!!!
And even our parents, though there was no display of affection the oyinbo way, our mothers make the effort to show our elderly fathers are well taken care of and there is always an air of long time bonding when they are together. This particular woman did ‘NOT SEND’ this man. She didn’t even look his way during the process. She simply turned to me to wish me ‘The Peace’ but trust me, she was not going to rope me into that bad behaviour!! I promptly grabbed her ‘packaged’ husband’s hand, did a courtesy, to which he smiled a little and turned to my other neighbours.

Seriously though it was sad. It now got me thinking. In an old couple that was sad. In our generation, Marriages are just crumbling left, right and centre. Many spouses now actually behave like they loathe one another. Partners are ridiculing their partners and their relationships in ways that just didn’t happen before!
Many couples though for many reasons too still stay together but the marriage is dead.

The oldest ‘Yoruba’ Prayer which to my knowledge is still the standard Prayer when a couple is getting married is ‘Ki Olorun se won ni ore ara won’ which means may God make them each other’s friends. As old as this Prayer is, I wonder why that is the bane of most marriages today.
Couples are in love with each other, they love things about each other but they are not each other’s friends!!
A lot of couples do not even really know each other. I know so many couples that don’t know each other’s habits, and were they to know will not even be together. I know many women who enjoy a drink here and there, love to entertain and have the best stories many from their childhood but their husbands would swear they are quiet and reserved.
These women on a girls’ night out are the funniest and realest but at home they pretend to be Martha of the Lazarus’s sister in the Bible. If this girl was a product the husband could sue under the Sales of Goods Act when he finds out. The other side of this is that many men would love a partner or a wife who would unwind and relax like this with them… They too because they don’t really know their pretentious love cannot ask and rather than chill at home and relax drinking together would go out in search of a chilling partner outside… You see them and they are completely different characters when out on their own and then when they are together. And that’s how the cheating starts. The other side too of this is that our Society is very judgmental and hypocritical and even though a man may not mind, Society and Church have taught such a man to believe a woman that drinks and smokes is a prostitute or she is loud hence when in need of female companionship to unwind instead of relaxing in the comfort of his home and the company of whom he loves, Love goes in search of a friend. You see married men ‘chilaxing in the homes of single ladies. I always wonder what the hell they are looking for. Another side of this I have also seen is where a woman even if she neither smokes nor drinks refuses blatantly to relax and enjoy her husband’s company whilst he unwinds and enjoys his wine and cigars or cigarettes because her Pastor will not hear of it… HELLO!!!!!! How about keeping him company and hearing about his day, his dreams, his plans and his fears..

Many couples may love each other but they do not communicate. Communication in a Friendship is key.
You talk. If you are each other’s friend you have a lot to talk about even though you live together. The same way you chat like a parrot to bestie is how you should be able to chat and laugh with your other half. Laugh together and laugh at each other. That is a healthy relationship. Nigerian couples old and young will be at a function or even at restaurants on Valentine’s Day, not speaking to each other. Worse, each will be on their phones!!! Many will be on social media ‘liking’ posts instead of even enlightening or entertaining each other with whatever they are finding entertaining.
Husband and wife need to ‘hang’. You need to go out and do things together. You might not have the same interests but for things to remain sweet you need to enjoy things for each other’s sake or together. There is a reason some husbands know more about series like ‘Sex and the City’ and ‘Desperate Housewives’ than some other women!! There is no word to quantify the level of that bonding. Even when you do not have the same Religion you should occasionally be able to worship together where possible. You need to go clubbing together if you did that when you were dating. If you’re friends first and foremost before lovers there will be no need for this to be an argument. I remember my husband once telling a friend of his that i was travelling with him for a Board meeting. He explained the Company would be bearing the expense anyway and the friend looked at him like he was an alien. ‘It would never occur to me to take my wife’ he admitted! They are not friends…….Personally, I realised that lack of camaraderie in the relationship was the major reason for the loneliness in my first marriage. I soon realised that couples talked and laughed and gossiped together. I recall attending a Wedding Ceremony in Ijebu and seeing young couples many my age, having a whale of a time that weekend on their get away! Many of them like us had kids at home so they made the most of their ‘get away’ letting their hair down together. I knew then I was definitely leaving that Marriage. That life was too short and I too young to continue to live in that misery.
You need to trust one another. Now, now, many will go on here about how they have trust issues. I mean a different type of trust. If someone is your friend you trust him or her with your emotions. You need to be able to believe thus at all times that your spouse in whatever action they take did so first and foremost not meaning to hurt you or cause you pain. If you are able to do this, many things become forgivable. It is in the absence of this that negative babies of revenge and malice are born.

When a couple are each other’s friend then it is inevitable that they stand united against third parties. Infact when people see a couple that tight, contrary to the thought that jealousy makes people want to break them up, people tend to be cautious. They know their tales will be exchanged when the merry couple as friends start to play. I was at a dinner party last week and sat with a couple I just met. The wife had on this very busy dress with long tassels all over it. It meant the tassels caught on almost everything that the dress came into contact with. At some point the lady got up to go to another table to greet someone and it was a very tricky affair with the tassels catching everything and everyone having to stand up and lift their chairs off their path. You could see eyeballs of other women already rolling up in irritation, their husbands frowning at the bother, but when she finally got out and stood up one saw the dress was so beautiful and better still she had a figure worth all the fuss but her husband said it all… In all the fuss he kept holding the tassels out of the way and then looked around the table as though ‘I present to you my beautiful wife’. It spoke volumes of the relationship of a couple I just met 10 minutes before. The whole act said it all. They were friends’ first and foremost and then lovers.

There is another side. As always with every new post, this is an issue we have raised in conversation. **George  says he and his wife started as very tight friends at School. They didn’t have much but their love. They got married and over the years she got influenced by her friends and all that mattered was his worth and what he could bring in and not their love. **Bimpe says they actually were friends for years before they started dating. she said he learnt her his shoulders for enough broken hearted cries before they started dating and declared their love. She says after the second baby the weight that was always threatening made a play and he just retreated. Stopped wanting to be seen together in public, quarrelled each time she opened her mouth to eat anything and life became unbearable. To these and many more versions of this i say who says friendship doesn’t need to be worked at? If a friend does not move up with you your friendship would suffer.