A small insight into into my photojournalism project lives of note: Late 2016, I started collecting and sharing stories on my Instagram that I found interesting from people I encountered. The response was positive, and now that I have gotten a chance to continue with this project, here is the first story for 2017. I will post the 2016 stories in the coming weeks on the blog.
Editor’s note: I found this story interesting because there is such a negative view of marriage in today’s society, and to find someone celebrating 14 years of marriage with as much happiness as him is quite rare. I hope the story will help other couples enjoy their relationships too.
I met my wife in late 1999 at Chrisco Multi-purpose church in Kibera. I initially did not use to go to church, but when I got saved, I started attending and she was in the choir. We found ourselves on a cell group, one of each had about 6-15 people as the church had almost 1000 people. She was the leader of the cell group, and the things that drew me to her was that she was prayerful and committed to the things of God, she was always ready to help, very social and kind. And at that same time, I was thinking of marriage but the type of girls that I was seeing around scared me, because I wanted someone who could be my strength, who could take care of me, who could help me solve problems instead of creating them and someone who could understand me just the way I was and with whom we could grow together. But the most important quality was that I wanted someone who fears God, because that is someone with whom I could build a strong marriage.
I did not realize immediately but she helped me grow spiritually. As I kept leaning on her, I realized that she was very spiritual and I was becoming attracted to her. I was so scared, especially since she was my leader and mentor.
But when her mum fell sick, it so happened that I was the only one who helped her get some finances to travel. She appreciated. Later, when she fell seriously sick, I was visiting her often, so our friendship grew. Eventually I got the courage and one evening after work, we planned to meet at Uhuru Park and after relaxing for a while, I proposed to her. It was mid-2001. She told me that she needed time to think about it. Without pressurizing her, I waited five months for a response. After 5 months, she asked me out for a date at City Park, and while we had our picnic, she said “yes!”
We told our pastor and families about it, and our pastor advised that we pray about it for another 3 months. (We really are close to our pastor, and we greatly admire him and his marriage and so his input was and still is important to us). We did that so that we could be sure that we still wanted to pursue marriage. After the three months, we went back to our pastor who officially announced our engagement in Church, so now all knew that Henry and Sally were in a relationship. We decided to wait until our marriage. I observed all the traditional introduction and dowry rites. On 31st may 2003, our dream for being husband and wife became true. It was a great moment for my family too; my ill father traveled all the way from upcountry since I was the first in my family to have a church/Christian wedding.
Important lessons that I have learnt over the years
I realized that waiting and doing things the right way was good – I got to know her as a person first through communication, and we agreed on the things that we wanted and noted down things and how to handle them – finances, kids, who will take care of certain responsibilities in our new family and our extended families.
Rely on God – some of the people that you thought would be there won’t be there. For guidance, depend on God, your best couple and the pastor for marriage plans and especially after the wedding
It is important to talk about things as soon as possible, especially if things are amiss. You may keep something in secrecy and think that you are protecting the marriage, but you are destroying it.
Seek advice from the right people. Do not just speak to anyone. We first solve our problems, before asking others for direction. You should be willing to talk, and to apologize if you are wrong. Solve issues, and do not leave anything hanging. Especially do not go to bed angry.
The first year of marriage was challenging as there were unforeseen circumstances – the death of a brother, my father and my sister in law.
Another challenge that we had was that, naturally, for some reason, most of my friends are ladies, and while some come to me with ulterior motives, others have genuine friendships and my wife and I had to find a balance and to discern together.
The things that I have enjoyed in my marriage
She has been there for me through it all – when I am down, she helps me come up. She understands me, and a lot of other things, and she depends on God fully. She is a good mother to our two children, she is a good cook, and she knows what I like. We enjoy each other’s company. She is not perfect and neither am I, but she is good in many ways, we share everything, and so we are always growing together.
I also love that we protect each other from potential exploitation from the extended family. I also enjoy seeing our children grow well knowing that we are a loving family.
Wishes for the future
I want to continue being the husband my wife wants – to be her guide, protector, shield and even more Godly. And to my kids, the best father I can be. From my childhood, I always wanted to be a more present than my father so that I can mold them- the Bible says that a good tree bears good fruits. I also want my children to go further than I have. In short, I want to be a priest in my home, and bring them all close to God.