Many people do not pay cognizance to Seasons when planning ‘Holy Matrimony’ events. Whenever you ask me why I prefer the cold season, my response is simple: “Cold Seasons are Peaceful and have a special effect on the ambience of the hall and mood of the people. Cold seasons make wedding ceremonies more somber – and spiritual. Vows are taken with unimaginable solemnity and candour. Each “I Do” comes through sincerely, while songs sound like ‘covenants’ by each attendee with God. Everyone looks to the couple with admiration because open declaration of love is a BRAVE Step. The next time you attend a ‘Cold Season’ event, you will agree with me.
This episode is not about weddings and weather conditions; it is not about taking vows solemnly, it is about the mental conflicts of when loving is ‘right’ or ‘wrong’. Love is a positive phenomenon with an awesome feeling – sometimes light-headed and other times light footing.
For a human-interest reporter, the best of scoops can be picked up at wedding ceremonies. Early arrival and robed with the colours of the day readily grants you free access to ‘restricted information’ about the couple and family members. If you were gifted with a ‘nose for news’ and how to be a ‘news hound’ – with the appropriate familiar mannerism of a pretended ‘insider’, you would make your editors happy.
For a significant few, the need to probe hard for privileged family secrets is unnecessary. For, the best strategy is to dress the way you want to be addressed. My blessed mother taught me the importance of timeliness, and how to be distinguished – even when attired in ‘hand me downs’. She also taught me the virtue of attending only occasions that sits right with my spirit man.
Mary-Jane (MJ) and Kelechi (Kels) were to be married during my favourite season. MJ’s stepmother was excited about giving away her stepdaughter who had been a ‘thorn on her flesh’. MJ is the daughter (and only child) of her husband’s late wife and a constant reminder that her husband’s first love was MJ’s mother. Kels is a banker from a noble family – and deemed ‘overdue’ for marriage. His parents were excited that their son would finally settle down for good – but not happy with his choice. Kels has suffered many disappointments from ladies. They are doing what all parents do – support their son, despite their misgiving about the choice he has made. Kels was set to marry his ex-fiancée’s best friend!
On arrival at the church, I observed the rows were scantily occupied, while there were clusters of groups whispering – some in consternation and others enjoying mocking laughter. The reporter’s instinct whelmed within me. Dressed in the ‘Family Colours’, I walked to the rows dedicated for family members and sat confidently after exchanging pleasantries with others. Studiously, I read the program brochure, which was expensively printed. The lady to my right nudged me and asked, “Why do you people want to allow this marriage to take place? My grandson, Kels, is already engaged to this woman’s best friend. Why? This generation…”
I was taken aback by her brazenness and unbridled negative demeanor; I smiled innocently to observe closely. After some introductions, I realized that the woman beside me is the grandmother to the groom. I was neither here for the bride or groom. The bride’s stepmother is an acquaintance of my Auntie who ‘ordered’ me to attend on her behalf. A visibly worried Matriarch Eunice (Grandma) told me she was there to lay a curse on the ‘witch’ that wants to destroy her grandson. Kels is from a semi-priestly family and should live ‘a righteous life’.
Grandma continued: “My grandson brought a well mannered and spiritually nurtured girl last December. Her name is Stella. She is from a solid Christian family. My family loved her very much and blessed the union at the village with every family member visiting home at the time. During the Easter celebrations, my grandson came home alone; we enquired about ‘our wife’. He told us that he had a misunderstanding with Stella; I knew he was lying. I personally called Stella and she told me the truth about what happened. My grandson wanted her to get pregnant to fast track the wedding. My girl said, ‘NO’. She wanted courtship according to true God’s standards. That is all… The next thing I heard was that my grandson had set a date for wedding; behold it is Stella’s friend. And you think God will bless this union? Tufiaa…” (Expression of an abomination)
Grandma Eunice continued this tiresome tirade that made my stomach churn. I looked around the church auditorium for escape opportunity; finding none, I latched unto the old trick that works all the time – ‘need to use the bathroom’. Bathrooms have gossip milling machines. As anticipated, everything Grandma told me was being replayed in different varieties of colours and spices. Opinions differed based on relational ties, while many were clearly neutral putting themselves in MJ’s position. A dark cloud has been cast on the credibility of the ceremony.
I returned to my seat wondering what was delaying the commencement of the program. We were 90 minutes behind the scheduled 10:00 a.m. for the event. The church auditorium was half-filled with people; most of them had become very impatient and irritable. Grandma Eunice nudged me and said with a smirk: “I told you this union is cursed. My grandson has not come and the witch of a bride has been stood up for good.” Almost simultaneously, the coordinating minister announced that the wedding program had been called off. Mixed reactions followed, and Grandma shouted, “Praise the Lord, Hallelujah” waltzing to the exit door.
Upset by the turn of events, I called my Auntie whom I had come to represent to update her on the turn of events. She was livid with rage as Kels is her godson. We hooked up later to visit with Kels to understand the reason for ‘embarrassing MJ’ at the altar. Kels had locked himself in his room, terrified by shame and gossips arising from the incident. After minutes of persuasion, he opened the door for my Auntie, who held me closely like a clutch bag. Without any preamble, my Auntie asked: “Kels, what is the matter? I am not here to berate you. I am happy that you took this stand … Marriage is an Everlasting Covenant. So, honey, tell me what the problem is…”
Kels looked up and our eyes locked; I could see a visibly embarrassed young man – very ashamed of his cowardly act. Auntie reassured him that I was there to help him through the forest of emotional turmoil. Trust my Auntie to put me in a situation like this without prior briefing! Seeing him relax a little, I asked him pointedly: “So, tell us, why did you do it, Kels?” He asked for a shot of whisky; my auntie reached out and handed him half a glass, despite my weak protests. Thankfully, Kelechi took a sip, discarded the drink, and spoke almost in a soliloquy…
“Can love be wrong?” he muttered as he opened up.
“My problem is all because of my EX-Fiancée. Stella is a very enterprising and Godly young woman. We dated for about two years. From the moment we met, I knew this was the one I had waited for. She helped me curb my life of excesses and extravagance, and taught me financial planning – how to committedly save. As a banker, I should be the one giving her stringent controls on money matters. Stella is nothing like any of the young ladies I dated in the past. She does not pay attention to jewelry and expensive clothing. She believes in functionality and would always advise on the need to invest rather than consume.
“Months back, in my desperation to make her mine at all cost, I suggested that she could get pregnant because her parents had reservations about me. She strongly disagreed with me and stressed the need for Christian courtship. I sometimes even accused her of pretending and double dating because I thought that she was ‘too pious’. Unknown to her, her best friend MJ actually wanted her out of the way. MJ, who works as a Hospitality Officer in one of the big hotels, is at least three years older than Stella – and desperately desirous of settling down. She planted seeds of doubt in my heart and I gradually created a gulf between us and became very apprehensive of the relationship. MJ visited frequently without Stella during this period. My younger sister openly challenged MJ on her frequent visits and long stay at my residence. MJ had lied that Stella asked her to visit me to help mend the fragile relationship. Gradually, things went out of control and she became pregnant.
“My Grandmother was distraught about the development because Stella had stolen her heart – including every member of the family. My parents were very disappointed in me, but could not suggest abortion. However, MJ’s stepmother insisted that I should marry MJ, who is older than me. Can you imagine? Mum and dad bowed to pressure because of their positions in the church. Unfortunately, my courage failed me as I could not go through with the wedding. How can I marry my fiancée’s best friend? This cannot be ‘love’, and if it is, then it is wrong. This love feels wrong. Why do I feel so much burden of guilt?
“MJ confesses she loves me very much, but I have doubts. With the benefit of hindsight, I think that she orchestrated everything in their sequence. She started by dropping the poison of doubt about Stella’s sincerity. She criticized Stella whenever we had the opportunity to be alone. Each time I look at her, I see past her, with Stella towering above her. I have had nightmares; I have gone for confessions – including deliverance. MJ concluded that Stella bewitched me, but I know it is my conscience that is restless because the poor girl did nothing wrong in putting her feet down that she would not use pregnancy as the shortcut to making her parents accept me. Stella believed that with patience and prayers, her parents would accept me eventually. Stella’s parents said I am a playboy who would hurt their daughter…. See how right they are?
“Now, MJ is pregnant for me – according to her. I feel I need to settle my emotional confusion first. I am not sure about what I feel for her – love or lust. My dad said that marriage is NOT about sex; honestly, that is what I think MJ and I have. No marriage can be sustained by something as pedestrian as sex. I know I am a coward for not coming to church or facing MJ to tell her this charade cannot continue. But, I cannot raise my child in this arena of falsehood. I have succeeded in tying a noose around my neck. I need to deal with it….
“You know, sometimes I feel like I am being manipulated by MJ. Please tell me, is there a wrong time to love? How can you even tell when love is wrong? Love is supposed to be peaceful and fulfilling – that is what I felt with Stella. Do you think it is too late to return to Stella?”
Venting is good for emotional release. Kels had bottled so much during the course of his five-month-old relationship with Mary-Jane. He could neither speak with his parents nor siblings about his problems, while MJ mounted undue pressure on him. The ‘sudden pregnancy’ is another source of stress for Kels, thus, a rather subdued and confused Auntie turned to me with an ‘Executive Order’: “You need to find a way to fix Kels.” What my auntie didn’t know was that Kels was already ‘fixing’ himself up.
The most important step in resolving emotional confusion is going back to the root cause, establishing the enabling circumstances, and, identifying the variables that contributed to the situation. It is similar to walking back from the point of convergence to the solitary track. Emotional maturity is very critical in establishing the root cause when faced with a crisis situation such as Kels found himself.
While many may consider it a weak disposition, sometimes, the most important step to take is “DO NOTHING”. Proceeding with the wedding program could have driven a deeply emotionally unstable and depressed Kels into a state of near dementia. He was carrying emotional burdens of Guilt, Regret, Denial and Betrayal put together. The cocktail of negative expressions encapsulated him and made him a prisoner to his mistakes. He had no clarity of purpose in accepting the ‘love’ dished out to him by Mary-Jane. He vengefully wanted to ‘show’ Stella that she could easily be replaced, incidentally, he fell into the warm embrace of a ‘bride in waiting’.
Further interactions with Kels revealed that, “MJ has always felt that Stella overshadowed her. Many within their circle of friends always identified her as ‘Stella’s friend’, and she hated that.” Kels’ friends, Somto and Michael had major disagreements with him over his ‘choice of love’. They tried to dissuade him from his chosen path, but no one can direct the heart how to love and who to love. Now, his friends left him alone to bear the consequences of his action of ‘loving wrongly’.
Three weeks after the botched wedding, defying the heavy June downpour, I visited Kels to know how he was healing from the crisis. He was with his friends and seemed more self-assured. He had resolved his misunderstanding with Michael and Somto. His mother had just called everyone to the dining table for lunch when a visibly pregnant MJ walked in. She was sobbing laughed and was threw tantrums – walking straight to where Kels was sitting. “Why are you doing this to me? Is it wrong to fall in love with you? Do you want us to have our first child out of wedlock? Why, Kelechi, Why?…..”
To everyone’s consternation, Kels remained very calm all through MJ’s hysteria. It was very mature and confident Kels that was a very distant image of the young man who was suicidal a fortnight ago due to depression. Truly, time is a very effective balm. Kels took MJ in his arms and guided her to a comfortable sofa, while asking his mother to prepare MJ a glass of fresh fruit juice. Time ceased as the silence in the living room could make the sound of a pin echo like a thunderbolt. Kels reached out for the glass and handed over to MJ, requesting her to relax.
Everyone held their breath as Kels spoke in a tone depicting finality and judgment. “Mary-Jane, we have made mistakes, and I hold myself totally responsible because I am the man. We cannot believe that this is love until we have removed fleshly desire called lust. What happened to us is the result of feeding our biological hunger. I was sex-starved in my previous relationship and embraced your affection. It is not fair, but it is now clear to me that I was on a rebound. I am sorry about everything, but our child will be provided for. If it is the Will of God that we will marry, nothing wil stop it. Please, MJ, let us step out of the current situation and focus on our innocent child. Let us build on the friendship we have and see what the future holds for us. These last couple of weeks has been hell; I am trying to put the pieces of this puzzle together without success. Please bear with me…”
Kels shocked everyone, including his parents. Mary-Jane cried uncontrollably. The room was filled with mixed emotions as she muttered repeatedly, “I should have known…Oh, my God…” Kels mother walked towards MJ, signaled me as she pulled her into her arms and guided her to the guest room, assuring her that all would be well. At this time, only a mother’s love can cushion the impact of the scenario that played out earlier.
As she continued to cry, Mary-Jane could not but come to terms with the fact that sometimes our emotions can be deceptive. The intensity of the emotion does not translate to ‘love’. True love is nurtured and constantly weighted. Is there a time love can be wrong? Clearly, the answer is NO; however, the thin line between love and lust can be confusing. While feeding on fleshly need, lust has intensity capable of confusing the most experienced relationship experts.
Emotional Piggy Bank
The greatest emotional baggage to any relationship is getting involved with your best friend’s ex fiancé/fiancée. To be successful under that circumstance, deception and lies must be ruled out and placed on a pedestal of transparency.
Emotions and feelings need to be constantly weighted when taking actions that will impact one’s future or that of an innocent child. True love can occur at any time. It does not have time limitations or hurtful. True love is never wrong, rather it is rewarding, as it is also responsive and responsible. Nevertheless, players must ensure that they understand the context of every emotional display to enable them apply some checks in order to secure their hearts.
We need to constantly put a lien on our emotions after a separation or divorce. Unchecked emotions may inadvertently lead one to a rebound effect, which can be more hurtful than the actual separation. The wise one says, “Keep your heart with all diligence; for out of it springs the issues of life”. Proverbs 4:23
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