Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Chioma Yvonne Mbanefo - Learn From Other Couple's Experiences

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Chioma Yvonne Mbanefo is an entrepreneur, writer, and member, Organising Team at TEDxEuston. She says about herself, "I have always been creative and entrepreneurial at a very young age, from making and selling ethnic ragdolls, crafts and even hairdressing in my teenage years. I am currently one of the Directors of an IT Firm based in the City of London, as well as a part time university lecturer." Yvonne is also a wife and mother. Enjoy her marriage avowals;

How did you meet your husband?

15 years ago on boxing day I was getting ready to relocate to the United States. The plan was to go, sort out where I would live etc, come back and get the rest of my stuff. On the eve of my departure, a friend asked me to come and hang out with her and also braid her hair one last time. As I was as her apartment, her boyfriend dropped by, and we told him we needed to buy hair extensions. Since the hair shop was near his friend's house, he decided to return the movie he borrowed from his friend.

We went to his house, and we got introduced. I was quite intrigued because the roast turkey he made and served us tasted wonderful and for me it was unusual that a single guy would take the time to make roast turkey with the trimmings. He was also the reserved and the quiet type and I am the opposite. Since I was packing all my stuff and travelling the next day, I looked anything but glamorous.

We then jointly decided to go to Chinatown for drinks and dinner and in the process myself and the quiet guy struck up a conversation. To cut a long story short, I still traveled to the US the next day but then turned it into a holiday. I came back to England after 3 weeks of long phone calls and that was the end of my plans to relocate to the US. Three years later, we got married.

How long have you been married?
We've been married for 11 years now

How did your husband propose?
He proposed at Heathrow Airport exactly 2 years to the day after we met, as I was about to get on a plane to visit Nigeria. He proposed in front of our friends, incidentally the same couple that introduced us to each other. We all sat at a table after I had checked in and were having some drinks. I needed some tissue and he made as if he was getting his handkerchief out of his pocket and instead produced a little box, and then popped the question. I thought it was a joke until I saw that it was really a ring. It was somewhat embarrassing as some people at other tables noticed what was going on and were egging me on to answer. I still tease him about being totally African by not going on one knee.

What do you think is the “key” to a successful relationship and marriage?
Honesty and realizing that men and women ARE wired differently. Also realizing that you cannot change the other person - If you cannot handle a habit or quality that they have, you should actually make a decision to either bear it or end the relationship and move on.

What is your favorite part about being married to your husband?
How our differences compliment each other. I'm a dreamer and the creative type and he is the one that gently brings me down to earth or reality. He is also very domesticated and can cook as well, if not better than me. From bathing our new born babies to packing our Daughters' hair, he fully participates in what's going on in the household. We can talk about stuff for hours without running out of topics and I value the friendship that we have. I am quite quirky and he does support and accommodate my quirkiness .

What is the hardest part about being married?
Trying to figure out what he's thinking sometimes. We run an IT consultancy business together here in London and being in the same office, then going back to the same house and bed can be quite challenging. Sometimes, because men are grunters and also tend to switch off, it can be a struggle trying to get him to listen to what I am saying. Some people do ask me how we manage with working at the same place. We've somehow learnt how to be very professional at work though we try have lunch together when work permits. Marriage is not easy, because two totally different people, from different backgrounds and different ways
of thinking, are merging together. Both partners need to work on their marriage to make it work, because it is so easy to take the other for granted. We try to be very conscious of this.

Do you have children?
Yes, we've been blessed with three wonderful children.Two girls and a boy.

How has this affected your marriage and how do you cope?
We were together for 3 years before we got married and had time to travel and do things together. We used to go clubbing, parties and hang out with friends but obviously don't have as much time since the children came. Now we try to have an hour or two together chatting when the kids go to bed. If family or friends are visiting, we also take advantage of the free childcare and go out somewhere. Because he travels quite a bit we make full use of smart phones and available communication tools when we are not at the same place.Also we try not to neglect the sex part of the marriage as that department usually suffers when kids come. So basically we do try to make out time for each other.

What do you do to keep the marriage relationship fresh and positive?
Doing things like sending silly text messages in the middle of the day, and finding things to laugh about. I've also seen that prayers have helped my marriage a lot, especially when we quarrel or run into conflict. We also try to listen to relation improvement programs - it is amazing what you can learn from other couples' experiences.

What is your advice to those dating or young couples?
Never go to bed with anger in your heart, and never bring pride into your relationship. It doesn't matter who say's sorry first, making up is really worth it.

Respect each other's views, see things from their own point of view and then find a compromise if need be.
Trouble will come, but how you handle each episode will determine how well the relationship will develop.

Also one superb advice My Dad gave me on my wedding day is this - "Nobody is worth you and your partner quarrelling. The person will go back to their house and sleep soundly, whilst both of you will be miserable and stay awake facing the opposite walls."

The Marriage Avowals is an interview series promoting a positive image of marriage and family. If you'll like to be featured, please email


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