Growing up, my worst fear was marrying the wrong man.
Haaaay God! I feared the thing more than the apocalypse. I never said anything about it to anyone because I wasn’t sure they’d get why a teenager should be worried about such a faraway thing, but it was a very real fear for me. Of course we know that a failed marriage, though traumatizing, is not the end of the world, but in my teenage mind, marriage to the wrong person was the end of one’s life. As far as I was concerned, it was all downhill from there, a nightmare from which one could never wake up.
Then one day in my third year, a medical student from my fellowship to whom I had never said more than “good evening” visited me to deliver messages from God. As he spoke, I sat quietly with my eyes closed, thinking of how all of these wonderful things would be gone with the wind once I married the wrong person. At that very moment he said, “God says, ‘stop worrying about marrying the wrong person because as long as you walk with Me you CANNOT.’” What?! My eyes flew open… and then I entered into peace.
Six years later. I had been in a relationship with a nice guy for two years, and I had recently accepted his proposal because, why not? Whom do you marry if not the person you’ve been dating? I soon realised this was a poor reason to say yes to a proposal. I had never really considered what marriage to him would be like, and how it would affect my life’s purpose and my fulfillment. I had pushed aside my misgivings about his financial values, ignored how dissatisfied I was with his inclusion of me when we visited with his family, turned a blind eye to the fact that I couldn’t really connect with him on the level that life partners should, suppressed my worries about his attitude to my own family, and generally allowed myself to enjoy the good things; in him I had a shoulder to lean on, someone to gist and hang out with, someone to love. Yes, given time, a certain kind of love can grow regardless of the foundation.
The proposal was my wake up call, but when I said I was ending the relationship he wouldn’t accept it. He made promises, and I had to give us a second chance. I steeled myself and forged ahead. We bought a wedding dress (I didn’t want a ‘white wedding’ but he really wanted one) and even bought cards. In the midst of it all I suffered awful anxiety attacks. At night I would toss and turn, heart pounding, unable to sleep. He was a nice person, so why did I have the unshakeable sense that I was making a big mistake?
One night, totally at the end of my rope, I remembered the promise from five years ago, and I said “Well, You promised. Give me clarity. Let me know what exactly I should do.” And He did. The next morning I was on a bus from Obalende to Oshodi, from where I would connect to Alagbado. The entire trip was going to cost me N200. As we waited for the last passenger to fill up the bus, I suddenly realized it was an Ikeja bus! Anybody else would have gotten down immediately, but I was too afraid. Afraid the conductor would insult me for not paying attention, afraid of offending the other passengers who would have to deal with the disappointment of waiting for another passenger…so I stayed on the bus and paid N200 to Ikeja, from where it cost me another N200 to Alagbado. As I sat on the bus seething at no one in particular, I suddenly had a knowing: “If you marry this guy, you’ll still get to where you’re going but it will just cost you twice as much.” Suddenly, my fears about breaking his heart, disappointing our loved ones, and what people would say, evaporated. I knew what must be done.
It was an uncomfortable decision, but one I have never regretted. Even now that I know there’s no “The One”, I know that it is indeed possible to marry the wrong person. For any person there are several people who could be the right partner, but there are also many potentially wrong partners. Marriage is not a walk in the park, but you can marry someone who will make it even harder — or downright unbearable. Some people should never be together. Few things are more painful than seeing two good people suffering in a marriage they had no business entering.
To be single and free to choose is a powerful thing. Don’t blow it.