“Baby, can you please help me get my red scarf on the bed? When you’re done, also help me check the stew I’m warming on the fire. I’m still trying to get my bag ready.Thank you.”
“Love, is it everytime you want me to always do something for you? Can’t you just get yourself together and help yourself sometimes? I’m tired of your constant help me do this, help me do that. Learn to sort out yourself sometimes o.”
“Honey, is there anything wrong in asking you to help me? Why all these you’re saying now?”
“There is nothing wrong, but your own is just too much. Every time, help me help me.”
“I’m sorry o. I never knew you were pissed off already.” I said, walking out of the room, hurt boldly inscribed on my face. “I’ll learn not to ask for help in subsequent times.”
The loud silence that accompanied us on our way could make a child deaf.
It’s been barely a month since Tolani and I got married. It was the talk of the town as people from all walks of life were present to grace the occasion. Our love story started when I was stranded by the road side on my way back from work. The vehicle I had boarded developed a fault along the way, the driver leaving the passengers to sort out ourselves after giving back to us half of the transport fare.
Standing for almost an hour without hope of any bus coming to my aid, I waved down private cars to see if anyone would be willing to be of assistance. Tons of cars passed by, and while I was giving up on finding help, a red Camry car stopped by my side.
The guy behind the wheel was a dark complexioned man, with an average height and breathtakingly handsome. He had an afro on with a clean shave.
“Hello, young lady. Come in.” He said, flashing his perfect white dentition. The dimples that sat comfortably on both sides of his cheek, enhancing his beauty was capable of making any lady trip over and over again. Without giving it much thought, I helped myself into the car.
“Thank you, sir.” I said, trying to adjust the seat belt. “I’m grateful for this your kind gesture. You should have known how long I’ve waited. God bless you real good, sir.”
“It’s my pleasure, lady. By the way, by what name can this beauty be called?”
Blushing. “I’m Tomilola Dahunsi, but you can call me Tomi.”
“Wow! A beautiful name that matches a beautiful face. Call me Tolani, but my full name is Olutolani Williams.”
“Great! A lovely name too. Accept my gratitude, Mr. Tolani.”
We discussed all through the journey, and he made sure we exchanged contacts before he dropped me off at the junction of my house. Getting home, I sent an appreciation message and the relationship kicked off on a rather sweet note. My heart was moved by the act of service Tolani rendered. This was my strong point. Anyone who wants to capture my heart should just do things for me, and voila!, I’m gone. Little wonder my popular song was always “help me do this, help me do that.”
Tolani, a perfect gentle man was a perfect helper, tending to my every need all through the period of our courtship. My heart was completely and perfectly lost by his assistance. I’ve found my soulmate, I rejoiced in my heart.
“What could be happening?” I wondered, bringing myself back to reality. This was not the Tolani I married. My Tolani was a willing helper. One who never complained of my constant request to be assisted. I wept in her heart, but my eyes were to weary to convey the message. My husbands “I’m tired of helping sounded like “I don’t love you again” in my ears and it kept ringing out loud in my head.
Little by little, we began to drift apart. Anytime I was tempted to ask for help, I always called myself to order. This continued for months and I was already sick of my one month old marriage. Funnily enough, Tolani noticed that I had stopped seeking his assistance in doing things around the house, and he seemed to glad that I had given heed to his words. However, he wasn’t comfortable with the coldness and tense air in the home, but he was too ‘manly’ to be bordered. Farther and farther apart we drifted till I could no longer help it.
On a Monday morning while we were preparing to leave for work, I confronted him and asked him how he could be so comfortable with the state of things between us. He ignored, but I pressed further.
“Woman, you can see that I’m running late for work and you’re bringing up such an inconsequential issue at this time?” He said, raising his voice.
This was the last straw that broke the back of the camel. I had tried to keep my emotions in check all along, but his statement that morning added fuel to the fire. I felt so unloved and began to wonder what attracted me to him in the first place.
Frustrated and fed up, I sought help from Frederic, Tolani’s friend, who was also a marriage counsellor. Frederic was a direct opposite of Tolani. He was light skinned and lanky. He stood in place of Tolani’s best man who could not make it to the wedding. All through the period of our courtship, he was readily available to give us good marital advice. He has been married for two years. I felt safe in letting him in on the recent happenings in our home, at least, he should be able to speak some sense into his friend’s head.
“Fred, to be frank with you, I don’t know what has come over Tolani.”
“What’s the problem, Tomi?” He asked. “Don’t tell me Tolani has not been treating you well.”
“Fred, it’s a really long story. I don’t even know where to start. A lot has happened in the past two to three months.
“I believe long stories have a beginning, so do you mind if you start from the genesis of the issue?”
I narrated all that had transpired between Tolani and I. How he had told me he was fed up of how I constantly asked him to help me do some things, which sounded like I don’t love you anymore to me. I babbled on and on, digging up all my buried emotions, and how far we’ve drifted apart as newlyweds.
“Tomi,” Frederic said, holding my hands, “you’ll be fine. I’ll call my friend and have a tête-à-tête with him. Be at rest, dear.”
“Thank you, Fred. I seriously hope things change for good.” I said, leaving his office.
“Tomi, what is your problem. While will you go and tell a third party what is happening in our home. The other day, my friend, Frederic called me saying he wanted to see me urgently. He told me everything you discussed with him.”
“Honey, not exactly. He is not just and ordinary third party. He is a marriage counsellor and your friend. At least, if I’m tired of the things going on in my home, I should be able to speak out to a marriage counsellor if my husband has refused to listen.”
“Can you hear yourself? Marriage counsellor indeed. Well, you’re the one who has decided to be cold and unreasonable in this house, so, you’re the one in need of a counsellor. Make sure you do all your counsellor instructs you to do.”
Things were not getting any better and I had even started regretting my actions in talking to Fred. I should have just kept quiet and looked for other ways in resolving the issue, or I should have just exercised a little more patience, waiting for things to work out by itself.
At least, if Mohammed will not come to the mountain, the mountain will go to Mohammed. Fred decided to come after his friend, since his friend had bluntly refused to answer him. It was on a Saturday evening, Fred and his family came to pay us a visit. He suspected he would meet both of us at home, but his suspicion was wrong. Tolani had been out all day. About thirty minutes after Fred’s family came, Tolani arrived home. He and Fred spoke at length, and Tolani agreed that we’d come to see him on Monday.
“Welcome to my humble office the T’s”
“The T’s bawo. Where did you get that one from?” My husband responded. “At least, the last time I checked, my last name is Williams.”
“You’re funny o, Tolani. Is your name not Tolani? His hers not Tomi? See your life outside. You can’t even do a little mental sum.” Frederic replied.
“Whatever, man! Let’s go down to business. You know I have a lot of things to catch up with.”
“Tomi, please excuse us. We want to talk man to man.” Fred said, facing me. All the while, I had been a forgotten in the background. While they discussed, I waited at the outer room that served as the visitor’s room.
“Tolani, what has been going on. You’re not looking as radiant as you used to be. Tomi has also lost the sparkle in her eyes.
Slouching. “Fred, to be honest, I’m tired. All I’ve been doing is just putting up a farce because I’m afraid on confronting the issue on ground. Even when Tomi brings it up, I look for ways to ignore her,”
“And you’re comfortable with it?”
“Bro, you should understand now. How can I be comfortable with such thing. I really love Tomi, and I try to do things to show it, but everything I’m doing is hitting the rocks. It seems to have no effect on her. She just remains cold and unreasonable.”
“So, what do you think is the problem?”
“I don’t know now! If I had known will things have gotten this bad?”
“Calm down, Tola. You know the other time I called you and mentioned this thing to you, do you remember there was a statement I made to you?”
“Well, how do you expect me to remember. I was to infuriated by her actions to keep anything on my mind.”
“I’ll call her. Probably, she would be able to say the genesis of the problem you’re facing in your home.”
After about twenty minutes of their discussion, Fred called me over the phone to come in. It was time for arbitration and mediation.
“Tomi, I’m sorry for keeping you out for so long. Can you tell your husband that statement you made to me the day you came to my office?”
“Hmm. Ok, I said his words ‘I’m tired of helping’ sounded like ‘I don’t love you again’, and his actions afterwards further proved it.”
“So, that is the reason for all your coldness and unreasonableness. So, all that I’ve been doing for you did not hold water because I told you of how fed up I was with your help me help me song, right? How preposterous!” My husband responded, his neck veins bulging. I had never seen my husband that way before, and my heart sank as I blamed my self for my irrational attitude.
“Tolani, you have to calm down. Outburst of anger will not solve the problem at hand” Fred said. “Moreover, from the look of things, you’re in the wrong.”
“Fred, stop all these rubbish now. How can you be supporting such senseless statement?”
“It is not a senseless statement. It is your senseless ignorance and arrogance that is affecting you. Sorry, I’m sounding harsh, but that is just the truth.”
“What do you mean?”
“Have you read the book ‘5 Love Language by Gary Chapman?”
“What has that got to do with this?”
“Can you see why I said it is ignorance that is affecting you? If you’ve read it, you would have known that the statement your wife made shows that acts of service speaks love to her more than any other thing you claimed to have been doing.”
Reality dawned on my husband as he payed closer attention to what Fred was saying.
“Different people have their different primary love languages, and if their spouse does everything but that one thing that speaks love to them, all efforts will be in vain. Acts of service is one, and the lack of it in your home is what is driving a wedge between you and your wife.”
“Hmm. I should have known earlier. Things wouldn’t have gotten this bad.” My husband, being more sober this time.
“This is how it plays out,” Fred continued. “Your wife always wants you to help her out around the house. Doing these things for her even if you have to go out of your way to do them will speak more love to her than when you buy her things or spend more time with her. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t get her things or spend time with her. It simply means that the primary way you can show love that will be appreciated by your wife is when you do things for her. Doing this will also make her go out of the way to make sure she does things you love.”
“Hmm. But I found these things easy to do while we were courting. In fact, I can remember she told me that was one of the things that endeared me to her. I just find her too demanding now that we are married.
“Well’ that is not something new. According to Gary, ‘what we do before marriage is not an indication of what we will do after marriage. The reason is this. Before marriage, we are carried away by the ‘in love’ obsession. After marriage, we revert to being the people we are, guided by the model of our parents, perceptions of love, emotional needs, desires.’ When things like this happen, we have to consciously and intentionally apply our minds to do the things that make our partners feel loved.”
“Tomi,” Fred said, turning towards my direction. “I understand that act of service is your love language. Quite alright. However, you also have to understand your husband. Though he is obliged to help because that is what speaks love to you, you also have to be careful not to be too demanding. You also have to watch on your manner of approach so your husband does not see it as you bossing him around. Do you get?
“Yes, thank you. I appreciate you Fred.”
“Thanks man. You’ve saved my marriage from crumbling. My gratitude, man.”
“It’s my pleasure, the T’s. It’s my duty to help when I can. What are friends for.
“Tomi,” Tolani said, facing me, his eyes misty. “I’m sorry for all the wrongs I’ve done to you, and the pains I’ve inflicted on you. Accept me back into your heart. Would you?”
Teary eyed. “You’re forgiven, my Love. I love you.”
“I love you too. Thank you.”
We discussed at lenght, settling matters. When we had talked to our hearts satisfaction, Fred escorted us to the park. We talked on as we journeyed home, eager to implement what we had just learnt.
Things changed over the next few months and we had our love back. In all that we did, we struck a balance. I became less demanding and Tolani was ever ready to help.