For many married couples, falling in love and saying “I do” was the easy part. Living happily ever after is the part that takes a whole lot of work. Marriage for a fact is good and depending on the self, everyone should get married. It is religious but even the traditional societies have taken on the institution to be important. Couples after dating for some time make a legal and spiritual decision to spend the rest of their lives together till death does them part.
As such, love stories are always popular to recite as either a point of reference or advice from those who have mastered the art of living under one roof. While many may draw an romantic image that boils down to him buying the dress and she the rings, the build-up of a relationship before it gets to the alter and the life after the big day is always something unique.
It is not about how far the couple has gone but how they have taken on every day to love and keep the flames burning to see the next day.
The love life of couple Patrick Kafuka and Jennieke Kafuka-Bolier is one that many would place question marks on in terms of time but not even the barrier of time could keep them from exploring what laid ahead of them. The couple got married on 23 December 2013 and about three years now in marriage, the flames remain high.
Their story is what they termed ‘funny.’ It started with Patrick giving Jennieke the eye at church but was not as confident to approach his silent crush. Now and then he made deliberate efforts to be noticed, to which Jennieke said she never paid much attention.
At some point when Patrick went Switzerland for studies, the two were still nothing but mere Facebook friends. It was in 2012 when Patrick, then abroad and Jennieke in Windhoek, asked if there was someone flying to Europe such that they could bring a package from Namibia. Lucky his crush was willing to help and the contact started.
It started from a lengthy Skype call and it became a routine. Patrick was all in his gear to get the women he deemed fit to be his soul mate and Jennieke was more concerned to play her cards right, now conscious that there was a mutual feeling. Patrick tried to propose with intentions of securing a foundation by the time he comes back home to Namibia.
While distance and time are known to be the remedy of all evil and the dissolver of all affairs, Patrick and Jennieke did so much together during their eight months of long distance relationship than many couples deem unnecessary. It was the little things that candled an affair that was soon to tie the knot.
“We did things together. I was over 30 and I knew what I wanted. She was not only beautiful but she was working in the community- something I love. I pursued her and being in different places, we had to find ways to keep the flames burning especially being conscious that long distance relationships don’t often work for many.
“It was also like a test. We started off as friends and we used the time to get used to one another. We would watch movies online together. I would let her choose a movie and I would find it online. We would start the movie together and we would chat while we were watching. We would also Skype and have long talks on almost everything. We would go for a walk and take pictures of what each saw in their environment,” Patrick narrated their love story.
After the 8 months of a long distance relationship, Patrick came back to Namibia in December 2012. With already a strong foundation built, they got engaged five months later and married six months after that.
“We spoke about so many things that gave us more knowledge of the other. The thing is, once you know, you just know and marriage is just a mutual commitment from both parties. It was just clear,” shared Jennieke.
Entering the gates of matrimony is a step many advice should take an informed and conscious approach. Primarily, you must keep in mind that the choice you make will shape the rest of your life. This is because marriage is intended to be a faithful, exclusive, lifelong union of a man and a woman. A good choice will go a long way in ensuring your future happiness while a bad choice will suck out all the joy, peace, and life out of you. Marriage is therefore not to be taken lightly but advisedly and soberly.
As such, individuals keep their checklist. Whether it’s written down or strung together in a mental daisy-chain of ‘must-haves,’ people build up expectations for their future spouse. To Patrick and Jennieke, this exercise received no exemption.
“I used to have a checklist but did not feel the need to have one any longer. I came to a point where I was like, it is better to be what you want. Do not look for the right person or a checklist – be the checklist that you are looking for,” said Patrick who’s choosing was also influenced by this religious upbringing.
However, as a man, Patrick shared that there were three things that he had to work towards attaining before even thinking about marriage. Firstly, he is of the opinion that a man should have a vision in life and at least a plan with his life. Secondly, he is of the opinion that a man should work and be able to provide for his family. And lastly, a man should have a place where he plans to bring his wife.
“Sometimes work gives us value. It gives us a sense of purpose for life when you wake up to do something. And that goes with your passion. For me those were the areas I focused on before I thought of marriage such that I at least had two of those. It is really just logical and no father would entrust his daughter in the hands of a man who has no vision and does not work.”
Jennieke shared the same sentiments saying the fact that he had a relationship with God was enough to believe in him. She is of the opinion that while someone can be in favour of every criterion on a checklist, the same person can still dump you at the end of the day.
“The most important thing is for him to love God. And I also really just had to make sure that he loved me so I had to be a bit difficult. And that is one thing I really loved about our relationship because he really knew how to pursue me consistently,” said Jennieke.
She added, “as for the place and the job, it’s good to know that he can take responsibility. Because if he is not able to lead his life, how will he lead mine. As long as there is some sense of responsibility and purpose in his life, that was it for me.”
After an abstract checklist, it all boils down to being sure that there is a mutual feeling and commitment from both sides. Both parties in this case wanted a spouse who feared God and that just played out well.
After the Wedding
The true strength of a marriage starts right after the wedding. Living happily ever after is every couple’s goal. Everyone wants to live with their significant other with no tension or anything that might cause the couple to turn their backs on the other. As such, the journey after the wedding is said to be the true test of how strong the couple can stand every new discovery and how they approach things.
It is after the wedding that couples find out things they might not have known about the other. It is after the wedding couples now have to team up and master the “us” as opposed to “you” and “I”, and as such, enjoy each other’s company. Comedians joke that one needs to get married to someone who they are willing to annoy for the rest of their life.
Two years later, Patrick and Jennieke are still solid and loving each other each and every day. “Life after the big day is very exciting. It is even more than what I expected. We became a team and take decisions together. I do things halfway and she comples them. And because of this, I really thing I married someone who understand my heart and makes me happy,” said Patrick. Complacency and living out things that couples used to do while ‘just dating’ is said to be one leading cause to marriage breakdowns. Often couples are caught up with new responsibilities and forget to keep the marriage candles lit. For, Patrick and Jennieke, the garden walks and movies never came to an end.
“When we were dating, we did a lot of activities together and we carried this habit into marriage. It helps us grow together. We were very determined with what we wanted. And regardless of a few people who said marriage was tough, I thought that there could be ways to make things work,” said Jennieke.
As marriage folklore goes, the idea that it is imperative to settle every disagreement before day’s end is pretty well entrenched. And society have accepted the premise that if we do not address disputes at once, all that unresolved conflict just festers inside us and we will wake up angrier each day, until someone finally explodes over a misplaced TV remote.
Ideally, of course, we would all be able to truly forgive every slight and make up before bedtime. But we have also accepted that no one is that perfect. And, in reality, most spouses do not solve problems well when they are mad.
“There will always be conflict but the most important part is how you react to it. Do you allow it to come between you or do you take it as an opportunity for change and to dialogue to find a solution. I thought she was a very neat girl before we got married but eish, I got surprised. But at the moment she has changed and has understood that we are sharing a space and we need to make this space comfortable for both of us. It is a lifetime space after all.
“However, there were instances where she just didn’t give me the opportunity to lead. Now remember that before we got married, she was independent and it was difficult for her to allow me to take the lead. So we really had conflicts with this. We approached a couple for counseling for help. We had to go back to the drawing board and find a solution to this problem. The nice thing about conflict is that once you get through it, you really feel like you have conquered something and you feel stronger as a team,” narrated Patrick.
Communication is key. When a marriage hits certain speed bumps, couples need to remind themselves that when they come out on the other side, their relationship should be better and more evolved. Just like Patrick, some conflicts came as a surprise for Jennieke but she always had a positive outlook.
“When we were dating, we never used to fight and I remember when the first fight came, I was like – ‘Oh my word, I did not sign up for this.’ But you must not be too scared to ask for help. Sometimes your partner will just see their viewpoint. So it helps to get a perspective from outside people you trust. We have also learned over time that we need to assume the best of one another. When something goes wrong, I shouldn’t assume that he meant it bad. I just ask him such that he has a chance to explain. Because if I come with a negative outlook, he will respond as such.”
Jennieke is of the opinion that couples need to make sure the tough times lead to improvement, and if they keep making the same mistakes, they should reevaluate why. She adds that couples also need to read their significant other’s love language to avoid unnecessary conflicts.
Be the best Partner
Keeping a marriage compacted requires individual efforts from both parties. Most couples who come to a marriage stand-still attribute their individual frustrations in the relationship to their partners’ failings. Though this may be their perception of the problem, the actual source is very different.
While the reasons we fall in love are often a mystery, the reasons we stay in love are far less abstract. There may be no such thing as the perfect partner, but an ideal partner can be found in someone who has developed themselves in certain ways that go beyond looks and charms. And although we each seek out a specific set of qualities that is uniquely meaningful to the individual, there are certain psychological characteristics both partners should strive for that makes the relationship much more likely for lasting success.
“You need to learn to love unconditionally and be consistent. If I used to look after myself before getting married, I still need to continue in marriage because these might have been the qualities that attracted him to me. But I have also learned that as a woman, one needs to give in and let the man take the lead. Even if I think I know best of something, I need to allow him to take the lead,” said Jennieke.
For Patrick, being the best husband is more about taking responsibility and loving his wife each and every day. “You need to stand for your family at all times because you are the head of the family. You need to be visible as a husband. You need to know that you are with someone’s daughter and you must protect and provide for her. And in the long run, always take initiative as the husband.”
Besides that, Patrick helps out in the kitchen and the couple has adopted to have a date night every Wednesday when both their schedules are not packed. For them, marriage is fun and an adventure. They are best friends, a team with the same belief system and the best couple they could ever be.
By Fikameni Mathias