Thursday, November 23

Case of the Ex

At first I wasn't so curious about Mr and his past escapades with ex-girlfriends. Like most people, we both had previous relationships and I had figured out, hey everybody has done some things they are not proud of. The important thing was to get to know each other at the early stages and the revelations would come later. But I didn't have to wait long before an incident prompted me to dig into the archives. The story goes like this:

One day Mr told me that he had been invited to a 21st birthday party at the weekend and asked me to come with him. He said he would rather not go, but he had promised the celebrant that he would be there. When I asked him why he was reluctant to go, he told me it was because he used to go out with one of the celebrant's friends, and the relationship had not been a good one and it didn't even end well. He was worried about meeting her or her group of friends there. I guess most of them knew about their turbulent relationship. I was wondering if he should go at all, or if I should go with him because I don't like going to parties where I don't know anybody. In the end, we decided to just go and "show face" for a short while. When we got there, the party was in full swing. It was a typical Nigerian gathering, with lots of people, food, loud music etc. Mr found the celebrant, we said hello to her, and then we went in to chill for a while. He started introducing me to people, and I could feel the eyes burning into me. I asked him if his ex was there and he said he couldn't see her. Soon a girl came to meet us, she said hello to me and started chatting with Mr. I didn't hear most of the gist because of the loud music. We stayed a bit sha and left the party. About 10 minutes later Mr's phone rang. He looked at me and said "that's my ex-girlfriend calling". I asked him if he knew why she was calling him, he said no. I said he should pick up the call. I listened to his side of the conversation but could not understand most of it. When he hung up I asked him what was going on. Then she called him again, this time, she sounded really upset and he sounded guilty. After she finally hung up the third time, he told me that some of his ex's friends were at the party and they had called her to tell her that 'her man' had brought another girl to this party, and was even proudly declaring that I was his girlfriend. So she had called him to confirm and spark. Apparently, him turning up at the party with me was a major disaster. He had embarrased her in front of her friends. She had hoped that they would get back together and she was already on her way to the party when she heard he was going to be there. But her friend (the girl that came to chat with us) had called her to say she should not come anymore because I was there. Mr was feeling guilty and was trying to calm her down. He told her that indeed, he had met someone else, and he confirmed that he had told her friend that I was his wife. I just felt really uncomfortable about the whole story. I guess it took a while for me to get the confidence to believe that it was over with that ex-girlfriend, and I was the one he had chosen to stick with.

After this incident, I sat down and had a talk with Mr asking him for every single detail about his past relationships. I didn't want any more surprises of that kind. What was more important though, was achieving closure with those exes, if need be, apologising and stuff.

For me, I wasn't on talking terms with any of my exes. I didn't even know where they lived or their phone numbers, so it would take a serious co-incidence for me to meet them. And anyway, I didn't think I needed to keep in touch with them. I would find it really awkward to be friends with an ex. Afterall, it didn't work out, so drop it and move on. If you are in a relationship with someone special, you don't need a cloud of past relationships hanging over your head. That said though, my second boyfriend is on my yahoo messenger list, but that's about it :-)


I remember the first time I told my aunt about my new bf. She smiled as she listened to me narrating how we met and proceeded to a relationship. Then she told me that she saw us the day we met in my church in April and she had known that there was something more at the time. I was like, seriously Auntie! What did you see? She said she saw the looks in our eyes and the way I smiled at him when we exchanged numbers. I thought she was kidding. But you never know! Anyways she said he seemed like a nice, decent guy and she knew his older brother, so she had no objections. She cautioned me not to get too excited, but I should take it one step at a time.

Mr on the other hand wasn't taking it easy o. Barely two weeks after we started going out, he started introducing me to his friends as his wife. Then I would get funny looks from the person. And a conversation like this: "Are you his wife?" Kind of. "How long have you two been going out?". Answer? Two weeks. "Two weeks! So how come he is already calling you his wife?". I don't know. He is excited I guess. The same thing when I introduce him to my friends. "Stop calling him your husband". Or "how are you so sure you are going to marry him?". Or "he is your boyfriend, not your husband".... etc. I would explain that our goal was not to break up, but we would be together till we got married. After a while I just stopped explaining. And I started calling him my boyfriend. I also told him to just call me his girlfriend. At least that would put an end to the awkward looks and questions from people.

About two months later, he said it was time for me to meet some of his family. He has two older brothers in England and both of them are happily married. He had told them about me and they were keen to meet this girl that their little brother was ranting about. So one day, Mr told me that he was going to pick up his brother from the airport, and I should come along. I was slightly nervous, but he told me that his brother was cool, so there was nothing to worry about. We got to the arrivals lounge and waited for his brother to come out, but the flight from Lagos was delayed. Eventually he came out, and Mr made the introductions. I greeted him nicely, and he smiled, said hello and offered a handshake. He said I should not kneel down, cos that would make him feel old. Throughout the journey to his house, brother was teasing us and making jokes. I liked him and he seemed to like me too. That went well! When we got to his house, I met his wife and the kids. His wife was very sweet and welcoming. The first thing I thought when I saw her was, she's beautiful! Then they asked the kids to "come and meet aunty". There was a 5-year old girl and a 3-year old boy. They liked me immediately and started chatting away, sitting on my laps, investigating the contents of my bag and playing with me. Even their mum was surprised that we got on so well immediately. It was getting late when we left their house. As we were leaving, I remember looking back and waving at them, thinking they were such a lovely family. On the way back, Mr said he was happy that the family liked me, and he was even jealous that the kids were all over me so soon.

Meeting his older brother was slightly different. The family had been on a summer holiday to Nigeria, where they were followed home by armed robbers. Everything they had was taken from them. They had just come back, and Mr decided to go and visit them, so I went with him. This time I was more nervous. His brother and kids were around, but his wife wasn't. They had guests and other family members around when we got there. As I got in, I greeted everyone and sat down. Everyone started talking to me at once, asking questions and stuff. It was a bit scary, but I soon relaxed as nobody was horrible to me. I remember some of the things they were talking about. His brother was saying to me, "I'm glad this my brother has finally brought a good girl to meet us, so that you would know he's got family...". One of his in-laws said to Mr, "I know it was God that gave you this girl, because left to your own devices, you won't choose a fine decent girl like this. You would have brought home one old woman singing in a pub...." LOL! I met the kids too, a 9-year old boy and 7-year old girl. They told me about their trip to Nigeria and how the robbers came into their house with guns to rob them of all their stuff. I got on well with them too. When we were leaving, they said they wanted to follow me home! I promised to come back to visit them another time, and meet their mum. (I later met her when Mr and I went to their house for his brother's birthday. She was so warm, we got on immediately. If she was my age, she's the kind of person that would be my best friend. So that went well too).
Some days later, I asked Mr about the verdict from both brothers. Thumbs up all the way. You just know that God is on your side when things go smoothly. Since both our parents lived in Lagos, it would be a while before we made the introductions. I'll continue in my next post.

Thursday, November 9

It's Official

Now we had officially started our relationship. I sent my friend EG a text some days later. She called me back at once. Screaming her head off. She was so surprised and happy. She was like "Wow!! The guy I introduced you to! How did you start a relationship with him right under my nose and I didn't suspect a thing all along!!" On and on she went, until I told her how it happened. She hung up and called our other friend, who also called me at once. More screams. We were due to resume for our final year at uni in a week, so we agreed that I would spill the beans when we met after resumption.

The next week, we went back to uni and they dragged me out. Over lunch I told them the whole story. Over the summer, "Mr" had graduated from our uni, so we wouldn't be seeing him around campus anymore. But that afternoon, he came to pick me up after lectures. EG was there and she told him, "You have just come to take my friend from me!". The guy just smiled at her and told her that he had his eye on me all along and he only used her connections to get close to me. (But till today she still takes the credit for hooking us up).

From day one, I knew this relationship was different from all my previous ones. So this called for a different approach from what I used to do in the past. For one thing, I had to define the relationship in my mind. Was this a "let's just see how it goes..." relationship or a "this is going to work out" relationship? In the past, I was involved in "let's just see how it goes" relationships.This meant that if it became inconvenient for me, then I would just end the relationship and move on. However, if I wanted this relationship to work out, I must be prepared to stick with it, even when it got inconvenient for me.

Another thing I did was, I stopped taking relationship advice from my girlfriends. Why? Not because they were bad people or I didn't trust them. But because I knew that they had the same level of knowledge and experience as me, so they could not give me better advice than I could give myself. I decided to start taking my relationship advice from people who had gone through this stage of life successfully and were now happily married. At least they could speak from experience, and their experience counts! So I appointed two married couples in my church as my mentors, and my happily married aunty as my relationship adviser. Over the years of our relationship, I gained wisdom from them, until I could learn to spot my past mistakes and avoid them. I remember one instance. At the beginning of our relationship Mr and I had a quarell. I asked my girlfriends for advice. I took their advice and things got worse. Then I asked my aunt, and took her advice. Things got sorted out! Go figure.
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