Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Bola Essien Nelson - Believe the Best of Your Spouse Always

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Formerly known as the Desperate Naija Woman, Bola Essien Nelson now prefers to be called Salt, and blogs at the Salt Chronicles. She is the author of three instalments of the Diary of a Desperate Naija Woman (2009, 2010 and 2011). She says of herself, "I am not perfect. I am no saint.I am not Maya Angelou. Nor am I Einstein. I am just a working wife and mom stumbling along, trying to make my way to heaven. I must see God. I just must." Enjoy her marriage avowals;

How did you meet your husband?

I met my mgm (mighty good man) at the University of Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, Nigeria where we were both students. I actually remember the first day I saw him because it was in my year 1 and I was with a group of friends and one of them, Rita Ezedunor (nee Ajufo), shouted out loud ‘NEPA!’ as he walked by because he was so fair! I found it quite amusing that they were all going on and on about how tall and handsome he was because I was not impressed at all! I think it was the air of confidence he seemed to have that put me off. To me, he just looked ‘full of him-self’ as most ‘Lagos boys’ did back then.

As these things go, he eventually started ‘toasting’ me and after a long time, I agreed. I remember Rita ‘vexing’ with me for ‘pretending’ not to like him and then going off to date him. The funny thing is that much later I found out that he only asked me out to win a bet! Can you beat that? His friend Kingsley had bet him some money that he would not be able to win me over (I was known to be this ‘prudish, fat, Yoruba girl’). He being a ‘Casanova’ did not understand how anyone could refuse him. So he agreed to the bet for a laugh but as God would have it, he fell for me in the process! Yes, the Ibibio James Bond fell for the Ekiti Little Red Riding Hood. Poetic Justice abi? Lol!

How long have you been married?
We just celebrated our 20th anniversary on the 1st of May 2013 so that would make 20 years! I tell you Myne, it is purely a God thing!

How did your husband propose?
As much as I love to read about all the nice, romantic proposals, I did not have one. I think Henry and I had been dating for so long that the only question that came up was ‘When are we getting married?’ But you know there was this time in my year three when he had gone off to the University of Ife to do his one year practical or something. Something terrible had happened to me and I knew he was the only one who could comfort me. I travelled from Uyo to Ife to seek his comfort and when I told him what had happened, he was just so awesome in the way he took the news and treated me. I knew I was right to have gone to him.

The day I was to leave Ife, he accompanied me to the motor park. He bought me a ticket and as I got on the bus all teary eyed, the next thing I knew he was sitting beside me! He had, on the spur of the moment, bought a ticket. He was going to accompany me all the way back to Uyo! I tell you, in my mind, he might as well have just proposed to me because that was the moment I knew I was going to marry this guy!

What do you think is the “key” to a successful relationship and marriage?
From my experience, I think it is being ‘exactly’ who you are right from the start. I was not and I paid the price. I tried to pretend I could cook, I tried to pretend that’ I was happy with anything he said’, this was a lie so the moment the real me came out, we had issues. As God would have it, over time, I got to a place where I was cool with who I was and not afraid to show him. If he loved me for real, he would still love me, warts and all. Again, as God would have it, he did and still does. But to anyone out there, don’t risk it. Be true to who you are right from the get go. So that when your partner falls in love, they are falling in love with the real you.

But you know Myne, the main key to marriage is for it to be founded on God, the One who established the relationship in the first place. I personally believe that for a marriage to last and be peaceful and fulfilling, at least one of them, the husband or the wife, has to be a believing, practical Christian. A Christian who is committed to letting God have the final say. I say this because even when love is sure, money is flowing, mother in law is an angel and sex is awesome, there is no guarantee that all will be well. How come? Because the devil will still find a way to destroy your marriage for the simple reason that God established it. This thing goes beyond us. We are caught in the middle of a war between God and the devil. The good news is: God pass the devil anytime!

What is your favorite part about being married to your husband?
Just knowing that no matter how much he annoys me sometimes, he IS there for me. We still do not see eye to eye on some things BUT I know, without a shadow of a doubt that he loves me. Plus the fact that I know he will take a bullet for me and any of our children. Plus, I see now that he is better than me at saying ‘sorry’.

What is the hardest part about being married?
The ‘stooping to conquer’ bit of it. It works but it is so hard. For God to intervene my marriage, I have come to believe that I need to ‘stoop’ so that I can get out of the way so that God can reach over me and touch my mgm when I need him to. Nagging solves nothing. So I pray to God to touch him when I believe he needs to see things differently.

To do that, I need to ‘stoop’ and be patient. When I do, God reaches over me and touches my husband with his own wisdom. If I continue to stand in pride and anger, I block God from moving for me. But Myne, I tell you stooping is hard! To the world, stooping is the same thing as being a ‘mumu’, a doormat, a fool! Still, personally, looking at the stats of my life, ‘stooping’ has worked better for me than nagging or being proud!

Do you have children?
Yes, we have three children and we are so grateful to God for them. They are our three reasons for fighting for all that God has spoken over us as a couple and daily we take them ‘violently’ o!

How has this affected your marriage and how do you cope?
Having children saved our marriage! At some point, I believe we would have gone our separate ways but for our children. We might have lost sight of our love for each other but we never lost sight of how much we loved these kids and we did not want to inflict anything on them they did not deserve. At the very beginning, I messed it up a bit being so enthralled by my new status as ‘mom’ and I lost sight of my husband. Any new wife/mom out there, don’t do that!

As soon as the baby comes, carry your husband along! Involve him! Remind him that he is important too. Sometimes I have to remind myself that without my mgm, my kids would not be and that grounds me. Now, even at functions I am conscious of that and try not to let our kids sit in between us! I know, a bit extreme but you never know, a simple message goes a long way! In short, in the event that we stop listening to God, we look at the children he has given us and it brings us to our senses!

Was there a particular challenge that you faced as a couple?
Different libido levels! I am not sure how many times I have asked God if he is having a laugh! Why would he pair me up with this sex maniac! He is not really but compared to me, this is how I saw him. But the truth is that apart from money, the one thing that can negatively impact a relationship is sex or the lack thereof. I cannot lie, it is still a God assisted race for me but what helps me is the knowledge that I truly love this guy and if this makes him happy, then I can and I will. God helping me! Apart from this, I will say this as a warning and an encouragement. Once betrayal sets in, trust is hard to rebuild. But it is possible. So if you have not had to deal with it, Don’t go there! If you have already gone there, then trust me, you can overcome! But know that it will be hard and probably a forever task! Crushed Trust takes a life time to heal.

What do you do to keep the marriage relationship fresh and positive?
To be honest we keep saying it but not sure we have actually done it regularly. But we believe that if we had ‘real date nights’ it would help. Go out on dates and pretend to be meeting each other for the first time. Ask new questions. Dig deeper into each other. Just forget you are married and treat each other like a fresh catch! As part of our 20th anniversary, we are planning on going on a trip together, just us, no kids. That will help. No doubt. My first son was graduating from his A levels in South Africa and our trip to SA for his graduation was our very first alone with no kids. It was superb. We were like new lovers so we know it works! Try it! Often!

What is your advice to those dating or young couples?

Please be ‘real’ from the get go. If you hate the tooth paste being squeezed in the middle, say so! If you don’t like weave on or false eye lashes or the way she chews gum, tell her! Don’t pretend! Be real!

Read the Bible and Pray together. Every day!

Find out what he/she is into and get into it as much as you can. But be honest enough to show that it is not your cup of tea BUT your love for him/her makes you interested.

Talk, talk, talk! Hide nothing! Especially before you get married, discuss everything from the important (will we go to your church? Will we or will we not tithe? ) to the seemingly non-important (will the kids have English or traditional names? Will your brother or mom live with us right after the wedding or not?)

Live ABOVE the ‘Trust line’. This means believe the best of your spouse always. If he says the rice needs salt, the rice just needs salt. It does not mean he does not love you anymore or that you are a terrible cook! If she is running late, it does not mean she has ‘branched’ to spend time with that boss rumour has it is toasting her! Living above the ‘Trust line’ means you will believe the BEST about your partner until otherwise proven wrong.

Please if you are Christian, commit to allowing God have the final say. And remember, sometimes God’s final say will ‘piss’ you off but you need to stick with it! Trust me, he is the ONLY Marriage Counsellor you need. Keep your issues to yourselves. This is my humble opinion!

BE SURE. Be sure that you love ‘the total package, good and not so good’ of this person just as much and as unconditionally as God loves you! Or close!


  1. Great interview and beautifully written. An inspiration and a blessing. Thanks for sharing

    1. Yes, thanks for asking me to do this Myne. It was quite cathartic for me in some ways....

      And thank you Yvonne for your kind words!

  2. I loved it...learnt alot...God bless their union more and more

    1. Amen! Thank you for your prayers Nena Therestlessmind! I pray God continues to shine his wisdom into us all as we make our way through this journey called Life......

  3. Wow! Enjoyed every bit. She clearly has worked on keeping it real and that was reflected in the interview. Lol @ libido drive. Hmm.
    I've got a question though, did she not feel in the least bit slighted when she realised she was a 'bet'? I ask cos I've been playing the scene in my head, and err I'm not sure I like the feeling o! Yea it turned out all romantic-him fallling for her and all but then *shrugs* #justasking . P.S: adim very single and wonder how I'd feel if my intending tells me that.

    1. Chioma, reading your comment here again and I still chuckled to myself. First, thanks for coming by my blog and like I said there, I am not sure I was miffed and perhaps it was because I did not make it easy for him at all? So even if it was a bet, he worked hard! Lol! And then I might add that what I did then is something I have now come to understand as 'majoring on only the 'majors'. Instead of the minors. The major was that I had caught me a fine man who was into me *smiling*. The minor? That it took a bet to bring us together. You grab?

  4. This article went straight to my heart. The best so far for me of this series. She's so real and all her advice are so wise.
    Thanks Myne for sharing this.

    1. by the way lady, why did you take out the name and website option for leaving comments ehn? it was just so perfect for me..please bring it back :D

    2. Sorry love, I got tired of moderating anonymous comments, real and spam.

    3. I am so happy something in what I had to share 'spoke' to you Dee.

  5. At the risk of repeating myself, I looove this! Not because the two women (Ibifiri) and Salt Chronicles are my friends, but because of the frankness with which they spoke. Sister Salt, this bluntness wan kill me die o!!! #libido. LOL!
    Thank you, I have gleaned some wisenuggets sha...pray about 'everything' libido inclusive!
    Well down, Myne.

    1. Yes, my dear Zee, pray about EVERYTHING especially that because the ability to 'discuss' is vital. My love, if I cannot speak my truth, then I might as well be quiet.

  6. Awesome interview!!! Loved it! Especially given that it was honest and straight from the heart! Thanks for sharing Myne!!!

    1. I join you Ogor, to thank Myne for asking me to do this at all. A real privilege.

  7. Lovely interview and great insights too.
    May God continue to uphold your home *running to her the Salt Chronicles page*

    PS Myne, it would be nice for you and Atala to be featured as well :-) xx

  8. Lovely Lovely!
    This was so real and down to earth. And I loved It!!

  9. @ 1 + The One: Thank you for coming over to visit me! And amen and amen to your prayers! I totally agree with you , Myne should do one....or maybe she should hear from the hubbies......once in a while. i.e. the hubbies of the women who have shared.......

    @ Tamie: Thank you. I am just so thankful to God that something in my journey so far has the capacity to 'speak' to others. To add value somehow.....to season....to salt......

  10. My own sis B. 20 years is no joke at all. When I see godly role models like you, it gives me confidence that my own marriage will stand the test of time as well. Thanks for sharing out of your wealth of experience. There is so much to learn from you. Thanks for letting go, and letting God. That sure makes all the difference.

    1. Thank you Unyime. I have gone back over all the avowals, including yours, and the truth is there is much to learn from all our journeys. Myne, with this series, is providing a wealth of wisdom for married women, young and old. Each one just needs to mine through and ask God to show them which piece of advice will work for them........Cos like you said, it is not a one size fits all matter, marriage.

  11. This interview was a pleasure to read, very real and encouragement for everyone to pick from. Thank you for sharing with us and letting us into your marriage and your "real" advise on making it work for you!


    1. Thank you Lagosmums. The pleasure and privilege was all mine.....

  12. Oh wow!can't xplain all d emotions I felt readin this. "Stoopin 2 conquer"-smfn i need 2 work more on.U knw new wives like me;we usually find it difficult! Lol. Thanks 4 Sharin Salt.

  13. Good interview Bola. Twenty years in a marriage still waxing strong is just God. I should know, mine clocks 24 this September. Great talk about being yourself and knowing that God is the greatest counsellor. By His grace, we just must see Him at the end. No compromise. May His loving arms hold us firmly to the end.

    On a separate note, would you be available for our graduation again this year? July 11? It will be our pleasure to have you.

    Adeyoyin Adesina
    Corona School Lekki

    1. @Onyi: I am so happy you got something from this. Fear not, even for us oldies, it is still not easy....I find it becomes easier the more of God's heart we try to steal from Him *smiling*. God's heart beating in our own chests is the key.......Keep trusting him!

      @Mrs Adesina! Of course I would love! I cannot even believe you are asking me. I will inbox you. But come on! 24 years! To God be the glory for you and your mgm! And indeed your whole family! Cobgratulations in advance! God will hold the day down for you in Jesus name. Amen!

  14. i thoroughly enjoyed this interview and admire her honesty. most people sugar-coat their married life in such situations but not this lady.it takes a lot of guts to admit some of the challenges she has faced and i can only imagine how difficult it has been at times.i have met her husband several times and she is accurate in her description of him.
    i wish them all the very best in their marriage.it takes an awful lot of work, but it's worth fighting on for love's sake.

  15. Thanks for this interview Myne. Just read it today right when I needed it. I have been thinking seriously about ending my marriage because of difference in libido issue, and I have been too embarrassed to talk to anyone about it. But I guess nothing to be ashamed of, I'll pray for courage to at least deal and talk about it, and hope to conquer it. #hopeforanotherday

    1. Anonymous, I have not been here in a while but I really believe I came today just to read YOUR post. Please don't leave your marriage because of that. Take it from me, it can be sorted out with God's help. But it will take a lot of honest communication on both sides and a lot of prayer.......God is interested in our sex lives. He invented sex and wants us to enjoy it so talk to him....OK? I am praying with you and because its God, I don't even need a name. *smiling*

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