I am part of a married women group that meets every month to discuss marriage, challenges, and how to make your marriage better. We start each meeting with the question, “What are you grateful for?” Every one of us has three minutes to talk about the things we are grateful for in life. Each time it gets to my turn, I say, “I’m grateful for my marriage and I’m grateful for the man in my life…”
Every day at meetings, I say the same thing. One day they changed the question to “What’s the one favorite thing you own in your life now?” All the women said their favorite things. Some mentioned jewelry. Some mentioned their new car. Some mentioned the new kitchen gadget they receive as a gift from their husbands. When it got to my turn, I said, “The only favorite thing in my life right now is my husband.” They all burst out laughing. They thought I didn’t understand the question. I thought they didn’t understand my answer.
I lost my job a year and a half after marriage. I’d gone on maternity leave and had returned to work for almost a month when they laid me off. It was a well-paying job that I never thought I would even resign from. All my dreams were to work up the ladder until I reach the apex of the organization but the powers that be cut my dreams short and asked me to go home.
I didn’t know what I was going to do. All my fears were boiled down to how I was going to land a role in another organization that could pay a good salary like my previous one. When I came home and told my husband, he was equally shocked. He asked, “How come? How could they do that? But you just returned to work?” I didn’t have answers to all those questions. The bottom line..? I was unemployed.
For close to a year, I went around distributing my CV and praying to God for a miracle. The closest I could get to being employed was being called to attend an interview. Nothing good came out of it. I didn’t sleep well. I didn’t eat well. I plunge into depression. My husband saw my frustration and said, “You deserve something better than depression. Let’s start something on our own.” I asked, “What something?” He said, “We can start something that can keep you occupied for the meantime and see how it turns out.” I asked again, “What something?”
That evening, we sat together and thought about all the things we could start with the resources available to us. We finally settled on breakfast packaging. We would talk to companies and submit a proposal for the delivery of breakfast to their employees.” It was not well thought through but we gave it a shot. My husband took some days off work and drove me around to submit proposals with my baby lying on my lap. We tried that idea for seven months and didn’t like the results so we stopped. One thing I liked about it was the fact that it made me busy and got my mind off the worries.
And then we started an online delivery business. You buy it and we deliver. That one too, the delivery was the problem. A few months later, my husband bought a motor bicycle and we got a driver to do the delivery for us. It was going well and we were making little out of it until the motor rider ran away with the motor bicycle. We reported to the police but nothing happened so we had to rely on the services of others to do the delivery. Soon the orders stopped coming and I started getting worried.
All that while, I was still on the job market looking for a job but to no avail.
Another evening, my husband said, let’s try something that has a future. “How about cake decoration? You can learn and start doing it commercially,” he said. I responded, “That’s not a bad idea.” He enrolled me in one of the best culinary schools around and three months later I was done. We started getting all the equipment in place to start our business. My husband will come home late from work and sit in front of his computer to design fliers and information cards for my cake business. In the church, he’ll ask the announcer to announce my cake business so church members can buy on discount. At his workplace, he made the announcement there for them to get a cake from me. He was all over the place promoting the business we just started.
Soon the orders started coming. That’s when the challenges also started coming and that’s when the bond between us got stronger. Slowly things picked up and for a whole year, I forgot to send my CVs to organizations. Two years later, he convinced me to add event planning. I didn’t want to because I thought it would be stressful. He said, “You need to grow from one to two. Add more and employ others to help. I obliged. I took a course in that same school I did the culinary. A few months later, I started seeing growth.
Six years down the line, I have a business I can call my own and I make several more than my previous employers were paying me. On my 36th birthday, my husband took me to Trinity Spa for a three day vacation. At our first lunch at the Nehemiah Restaurant in the Spa, I looked at my husband’s face as he gently chewed on his food. It was at that point I realized he had started growing grey hair at the side of his hair. I said, “Eiii you have grey hair now? You’re growing ooo.” He answered, “You don’t look at me like you used to, how can you know I’ve had grey hair for over a year now? But I can understand you. Business.”
He said it without malice but it got me thinking. For all the years that I was struggling to build a life for myself through business, I had unconsciously ignored him. I didn’t have time to even look at my husband and see him for what he’d become.
I started thinking of all the things I might have stopped doing because I’d allowed myself to be consumed by business. I had stopped cooking for him regularly and he had learned to eat what he could find without any complaint. I wasn’t home often when he came home. I was always at the shop he acquired for me for the business. I had stopped having proper conversations with him. You know, that conversation you have with your partner that usually leads to nowhere because they were all gossips? Yeah, we stopped having that conversation because I was consumed by work.
And then he said something that got me startled…
“Even s£x…our sex life has suffered over the years. You come home too tired to respond to my touch. Previously I could wake you up at dawn for s£x but these days, what wakes you up are the orders you have to fulfill. We have one child. We can do better but business…but then again, this is what God wanted you to become and I’m proud that you’ve become just that through hard work. Trust me, I’m a proud husband”
I got the point. My husband had brought me on a vacation to have a real conversation with me. I sat there and listened with my eyes fixed on his lips so I could catch each word as they fall from his mouth. After saying all there’s to say, he ended by saying, “I don’t blame it on you dear. Your mind was on important things. Building anything isn’t easy especially building a business from scratch as you’ve done. Maybe you can take your eyes off a little now and look at me sometimes.”
His words kept punching holes in my heart but the food was too good to cry over it so I kept the tears at bay and told myself, “I’ll be back for good.” But then I couldn’t sit without saying anything so I told him, “Thank you for bringing my mind back home. You’ve been a huge support for my growth. I don’t know how and why I stopped being that wife but watch me again. With new eyes.”
After lunch, we had a boat ride. And then we had a massage. The night fell and we went back inside. In a room where all you could smell is good scented candles, I decided to put on a show of my life. My body was at peace and my mind was back home. We turned off the light and switch our moaning on. We huffed and puffed and filled the room with the sound of our breath. As I lied next to him, soaked in my own sweat, I told myself, “I hope it’s a good show and he may forgive my sins.”
So that day when they asked me about the one favorite thing I owned, I could have mentioned the car my husband helped me buy or mention my businesses that were growing each day or I could have mentioned the memories I made at the vacation but none of these things could compare to the kind of husband that I have.
So I said, “The only favorite thing in my life right now is my husband.” They laughed because they didn’t understand that a husband who could love you still and not complain about your shortcomings should always remain a woman’s favorite thing.