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Ayodotun Rotimi-Akinfenwa: Reflections From a Decade In Marriage

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My husband and I recently celebrated our 10th wedding anniversary and as a keen observer of life and the world around me, I couldn’t help but share my thoughts. Now, make no mistake, this is not a marriage expert’s view, thought leadership piece or a know-it-all piece, far from it. Take it as what it is, a reflective piece by an introspective writer who happens to be married.

Marry your friend

I know you have heard this about a thousand times before, time hasn’t eroded it’s truth. Life, especially adulting, comes to a cycle of challenges, fears, dreams, hopes, dark nights and of course, many happy days. You are going to need a friend through every phase and season. You will  also need a sounding board, a leader, a nurse, joker, a sponsor, a back-up plan, a co-celebrant, a soldier, a therapist on your way. Please note, at this point, the man or the woman can and will often play any of the roles at any given time. A man will need to nurse on a day of this journey, just as much as a woman will need to sponsor at some point. Ask people who have been married for decades, seasons change.

Beyond romance, sexual intimacy or procreation, you need someone who cares about you as person, enjoys your company, and with whom that feeling is mutual.  The romance fizzles, and you need to care enough to fan the flames nonstop. There are many days when the relationship between  my husband and I are not based of these 3 things and we are perfectly fine, goofing off in fact. You need someone to be yourself with, its the only way to really live. Let your marriage be built on real camaraderie and not whether you need to feel mushy, need to get laid or need a child.  Those are not strong enough to keep you together, and fulfilled for decades.

Your spec list

Everyone has a list for the kind of wife or husband they want, whether physically, digitally, or mentally. I had one of those on a bookmark. I pulled it out recently and I observed something so powerful. You see that list? God will respond to it with someone who has the seed of those traits in them, not the full-blown traits. You may be blessed to get someone who ticks all the items off your lists but it’s mostly not in the full state. Let me explain, in addition to God-fearing, I wanted a romantic guy, a sharp dresser, someone walking in his giftings and all that. I got a romantic guy alright, but I learned a different version of romance with him. While flowers and chocolates are good, romance can also come in intangible, thoughtful ways, like asking “are you okay?” many times in the course of the day or showing up at my work events unplanned just to check on me and cheer me on. Or helping me shoot my work tutorials and videos especially when it’s not convenient. You can already imagine my love language, right? Just being there for me hits differently – way deeper than gifts. He was an okay dresser when we met, if I had let that deter me, we would not be here. Now he’s 10 times trendier than me, and I have to catch up. “Can provide” was on the list of course, but when we met, I was earning more than him. Today, the reverse is the case, in multiple folds.

Don’t lose yourself, chase your own dreams as a man or woman.

You have a purpose for being on the earth and a good life partner will respect that. Single or married, we all have gifts, dreams that drive us, never let anyone take them from you. You need to be true to yourself and whoever will love you must respect and support your dreams. Your dreams will, from time to time, appear like they will interfere with your relationship. There will be scenarios like you are too busy for your family or someone needs to go to school abroad, or you need to take a fantastic job in another state, and you have children to raise and things like that, but you must learn to hold on through them all, find the compromise, find the balance. How can you be a great spouse when your dreams are being pushed aside? When you can’t be you or can’t find your place in the world? Resentment will gradually creep. Get that job, acquire  that degree, cut back on other things, the whole world will be fine. Again, choose your friend, it will be easier to make decisions together. Making the right decisions will help you with the back-up plan mentioned in no 2, furthermore, it  will make your better half respect you even more.

A good marriage is a gift from God

I have observed some people have done everything counsellors recommended and ticked all the boxes but still lost. Others have not done half of the stuff culture and religion have advised and they are thriving. I will not try to explain it beyond that because I can’t claim to know, but I will say this: when you get this gift, both partners need to take good care of it and the rest is up to God.

Leave culture fanatics, create your own culture and make sure others respect it

Culture, whether it’s African, Asian or American has many great virtues but it also has downsides. Imagine trying to fit lifestyle habits or choices created, and which worked well in the 1920s or 1950s or even the 1970s to today’s realities, come on now! Hubby once said: the bad aspects of culture are actually some people’s bad habits passed down through the generations. I thought that was so profound.

Marriage cannot fix your issues, don’t embark on it as a solution to your problems

I had a lot of issues before I got married, and I’m still working on them. My husband helps me because I’m in my feelings a lot and often battle depression but guess what, he is not God, nor a therapist. In the same vein, I cannot fix all his issues; I can only support and advise. Rather than burden our partners, a lot of us need actual doctors, life coaches, trainers, therapists and consultants to fix our career, money, psychological, spiritual or other problems.  

Every marriage is different

Every home is different – the dynamics are different, backgrounds are different, values are different. What works for your own family may not work for another’s. I believe partners should decide and agree on what works for them, and then  run with it.  Let your family and friends respect it. Everyone is different. Again, friendship is a binder.

Be humble, your story is still being written

Be humble and grateful for every milestone you mark. Some people have given up after 25 years and others have joyfully made it to 50 years. Just keep working on your marriage, keep minding your business.

Make God the centre

If you are a religious person, then make God the centre of your home. He’s the designer of marriages and he makes the difference. Ask Him what He thinks and act accordingly. If you are really listening to Him, and not just being religious, or going with what the society tells you, you will know what to do and you will be fine.

In the end, there are no perfect homes. Behind every public image are a set of challenges – some of which are temporary and others that never go away. It all depends on each couple, how they want to navigate and press forward. 




Image shot by @ahamibeleme

Ayodotun Akinfenwa is a Brand/Marketing Consultant with about 14 years of industry experience. Before starting Lifestyle Hues Brand Consulting in 2016, she built her career working on international brands. Today, she consults for companies and trains SME owners on the subjects of Marketing, Brand building, DIY Design and Content Creation. Her firm has trained over 10,000 indivduals and served several businesses. She holds a Masters Degree in Marketing. She is an Associate member of the Advertising Practitioners Council of Nigeria, (APCON) and Women in Business, Management & Public Service (WIMBIZ), a Member of the Chartered Institute of Marketing, UK and is a Canva Certified Creative.


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