This is a deeply personal story. I thought about whether to share it or not, but the pull to do so is undeniable. So, I will. I’m certain that there’s someone out there who will learn a thing or two.
A few years ago, someone planned a surprise engagement for me. I walked into a room and saw all our friends and family and I thought, “Oh, how nice of them to organise a get-together just because I’m in town. It’s so good to see everyone.”
That was my impression, until this man I was dating pulled out something from his pocket, went down on one knee and said, “Eketi,
will you marry me?”
And my honest-to-God answer was, “No!”
But I couldn’t say it out loud. I couldn’t hurt him so, not in front of our loved ones.
Everyone was shouting.
“Aww….see her face, she’s going to cry…”
Crazy people, my friends. 😀
So, I said yes.
Now, don’t vilify him. He was sure that we were on the same page. I was certain he was the one I wanted to be with. But at that point in time, I knew I was not ready to make a permanent commitment.
As my friend, he sensed that I was unhappy. But he said nothing until much later, when we were alone.
“Baby, don’t you like your ring?”
“The ring is fine.”
“Was it the surprise? I’m sorry about that. I thought you’d always wanted a surprise proposal.”
“It’s not the surprise.”
He paused and then sighing deeply, asked, “Eketi, do you want to get married?”
I couldn’t lie to him. “No. I don’t want to get married.”
“I’m not ready.”
He said nothing. I wasn’t expecting him to.
“Are you mad at me?” I asked.
“A little. But I’ll wait for you. Let me know when you’re ready.”
I told my mother how I felt. I wanted to know why I loved that man and yet was afraid to commit.
“Kokomma,” she’d said, “You worry things to death. You’re so afraid of taking a step until you can see the end from the beginning. Life is
not like that o! Sometimes, calculate the risks and then take a leap of faith.”
She also added that I’m living the life I’ve always wanted and have become very comfortable with being single—so much so that I hate to relinquish my freedom.
All she said was true.
But she said something else, something I believe is the most important thing I took away from our talk.
“It’s alright to be cautious and wonder if you’re making the right decision. But don’t let it be because of these stories of bad marriages that are now common. Good marriages are just as common, but people don’t talk about it much.
I don’t want you to worry about this matter. Relax and give yourself time. But at the same time, don’t relax too much o! 😂
Trust me, that day will come when you’re absolutely positive that you don’t want to stay one more day without waking up next to him every morning. That’s when you’ll know you’re ready.”
Years before, I didn’t understand why a friend of mine had a panic attack when her man proposed, why she screamed, “No!” and started crying. I’d thought that at thirty-two years, she’d be ecstatic.
But on that day of my engagement, I suddenly did.
Back then, her man was distraught but he gave her time. In that period, through loving words and acts, he subtly reinforced in her mind why he was The One.
Today, they’re happily married.
She once told me, “Nne, if I’d known how much I was going to enjoy being married to this man, I wouldn’t have waited at all!”
Why am I sharing this with you?
Because there are people who meet their prospective spouses and know at that moment that they’re the one and can’t wait to do happily ever after.
There are those for whom the engagement is a mere formality; they’ve been dreaming about their wedding for so long, that saying yes is the next logical step, one they take without fear.
Then there are those of you like me, who love but are just not ready. We’ve got our reasons and I want to tell you that it’s okay not to be ready. It’s okay to question, to doubt, to be afraid. Because marriage is a big deal and you’ve got to be absolutely certain that you’re on the mark.
Many days as a single woman, things are going so well in terms of career, business, spiritual and social life, that you don’t want to mess that balance up by taking on the responsibilities of marriage.
And it’s perfectly fine to want the status quo.
Don’t be pressured because “time is running out” as people are wont to say, or because your mates already have families or your parents are demanding grandchildren.
I tell you, that if you do and things go south because you can’t handle the responsibilities you weren’t ready for, these people will have nothing else to offer you than advice about keeping your home and enduring.
That said, don’t string someone along if you know from the start that you can’t be with them.
Don’t say yes out of pity because people are telling you how much he loves you, when you know you don’t return his feelings.
Don’t bow to the pressure of a public proposal; there’s no shame in calling things off if you’re not ready.
Most importantly, date your friend.
Because only a friend will understand that even if you’ve been together for two, three, four years, you may still need time to mull things over.
Eketi Edima Ette © 2017.