Love Life is a Zikoko weekly series about love, relationships, situationships, entanglements and everything in between.
Tunji*, 32, and Ezinne*, 28, knew they wanted to get married a week after they met. Now, they are engaged, but Ezinne’s father refuses to give his blessing to a Yoruba man. For today’s Love Life, they discuss how their faith has helped them through it.
What’s your first memory of meeting your partner?
Ezinne: It was a Saturday in June 2020. I was heading to work, and I sat at the back of the bus. Before I got down, he tried to strike up a conversation. It was a very hot day, so I was wondering how anyone could still have the energy to be toasting someone.
Anyway, we spoke for a bit, and he asked for my number. It’s not like he wowed me or anything, but I gave it to him. I honestly didn’t think it would lead anywhere.
Tunji: I will never forget meeting Ezinne for the first time. Some might call it coincidence or chance, but I know it was God’s divine orchestration. I was meant to go for an early meeting that day, but I ended up delaying it. We wouldn’t have met if I didn’t.
I can’t even call what we had love at first sight. It was more than that. After we exchanged numbers, we spoke non-stop; our connection was undeniable. We knew exactly where the relationship was going within a week.
Omo. Ezinne, was it this intense for you too?
Ezinne: At first, no. I wasn’t really looking for anything serious at the time; I just wanted to focus on God. After just a week of talking, however, I knew I wanted us to be together forever.
I’ve spoken to guys for months without it going anywhere, but in a few days, Tunji proved to be everything I’d been looking for. We also bonded over our Christian values, so it was very easy to go from there.
Where exactly did you guys go from there?
Ezinne: After that first week, the next move was telling my pastor about him. We had previously prayed about me meeting my spouse; I just didn’t know it was going to happen so soon.
It wasn’t even about meeting our parents for us, it was about meeting the spiritual authorities in each other’s lives. Then we started praying together. We’ve been doing that every night since July, except when we have a fight.
Tunji: After we met each other’s pastors, we went to meet our parents. This all happened within a month of meeting each other. It was an eventful couple of weeks, but we knew we wanted the relationship to go all the way.
How did your parents react?
Ezinne: Meeting his parents was awesome. They were so nice, I wished they were mine. Meeting my dad, on the other hand, was horrible. Tunji would never say that because he loves my parents, but my dad was awful to him.
He came alone for the normal “I saw a flower in your garden” visit, and my dad began to lecture this 32-year-old man that marriage is not for kids. Then when he found out Tunji is a teacher, he asked how he would be able to feed me and afford school fees.
My dad insulted his life and destiny. He seemed offended that Tunji would even come to indicate any kind of interest. It was hell, but Tunji was cool throughout all of this. He just promised to come to see my dad again.
Tunji: I really didn’t think his initial reaction was out of the ordinary. It’s something any father could do to protect his daughter. At some point, I thought the questions were becoming a little too personal for the first visit, but I still didn’t feel bad about it.
I figured he wanted to know if I was ambitious enough to take care of his daughter.
Ezinne: LMAO. Do you see? My fiancé is too nice about all of this. He is as cool as a cucumber. He’s the peace in the storm, while I am fire and brimstone. I think that’s why we fit together so well.
Wait. Your “fiancé”? You guys are engaged?
Ezinne: LMAO. Yeah. We never actually dated. There was no “Will you be my girlfriend?” moment. It was more like, “I want to plan my life with you.” If you ask him, he’ll probably say he proposed to me since July, less than a month after we met.
There was no ring at first. He didn’t see the need. He had made his intentions clear, so he didn’t think there was a point to all that extra fanfare. On my end, I had also started behaving like I was engaged.
Then for my birthday, about three months later, he planned an official proposal with my very close friend. He went on his knees, pulled out a ring and asked me to marry him. I honestly didn’t know I needed a ring until I got one.
Wow. Did your family think things were moving too fast?
Ezinne: To be honest, my father has given every reason under the sun as to why Tunji isn’t the right man for me. He was still using, “You just met this guy,” even after seven months of constant visits, but the real reason is clear: he isn’t Igbo.
Tunji: My family didn’t think it was too early. At the time, our plan was to get married between February and March of 2021, about nine months after we met, and they were in full support of that.
Ezinne, when did you find out what your dad’s real issue was?
Ezinne: If I remember my dad’s story correctly, he started out in one tiny room with no money. So, he was broke in the beginning — broker than my fiancé — but my mum still gave him a chance. That’s how I began suspecting money wasn’t the real issue.
Then one day, he called me to say he is just trying to protect me. He said Yoruba people don’t like us, and he isn’t going to be responsible for what happens to me if I marry one of them. That’s when everything became clear.
Damn. So, what about the plan to get married around March 2021?
Ezinne: LMAO. Plan? In fact, Tunji and I just came out of a very big fight because of this date. I was really looking forward to getting married in March — I had even started sewing my dress — but it’s not happening.
The last time Tunji went to see my dad, he ran to the bathroom. He didn’t come back out.
Tunji: I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve gone to see Ezinne’s father. I remember he was really upset the second time I brought up marriage, so I gave him a bit of space.
The most receptive he’s ever been was when I went with my brother. He wasn’t feeling well that day, but he was quite accommodating. That made me optimistic that he was finally coming around.
Wait. Ezinne, why did you and Tunji fight over the date?
Ezinne: I hate remembering the fight because it’s not like we’ve settled it; I just had to move on. Tunji had promised me that even if my parents didn’t consent, we would go ahead and get married in March.
So, I brought it up at the start of January, and he said we would still have to wait until my parents agreed. I was like, “If you love me, you should be ready to go to court and marry me without our parents.” I mean, we are both over 18.
He said he can’t kidnap me from my dad, and I was just there like, “KIDNAP ME, SIR!”
Tunji: I really believe we will get their consent in due time. I have faith that we will. I don’t want it to get to that point where we get married without their approval, but Ezinne and I will make that decision if the need arises. I just don’t think it will.
Ezinne, do you think your dad is warming up to the idea?
Ezinne: LMAO. That’s the funny thing about all of this. It’s almost like there is demonic activity going on. For Igbo families, there’s something called “knocking on the door” — the Iku Uka — before the introduction, and Tunji already did that with his brother.
My dad seemed very open that day. They even laughed and watched TV together. Everything seemed fine, but for whatever reason, he is back to being difficult. So, no, I don’t think I can say he is warming up to the idea.
Na wa. How has all of this friction affected your relationship?
Ezinne: It’s been tough, and the fact that we are celibate isn’t making it any easier. Whenever I’m in pain and crying about this whole issue, I just want to jump on him and have sex.
Oh? You guys are celibate?
Tunji: Yes. It’s a decision we made together. It’s been tough, but we know it’s necessary for the kind of relationship we are trying to build. Ezinne is a beautiful woman, and I’m very attracted to her, but I know it’s going to be worth the wait.
Ezinne: Before Tunji and I met, I had been celibate for a little over a year, so sex was the last thing on my mind. I had just gotten closer to God, and I was no longer interested in having sex before marriage.
Thankfully, he was on the exact same page as me regarding the whole celibacy thing. It was refreshing that I didn’t have to convince him to wait until marriage. That doesn’t mean it’s not been hard oh.
We used to make out at first, but we started counselling in my church and one of the rules is that we cannot go over to each other’s houses. That has definitely made it easier to stay in check, but it’s still tough.
What are the other rules in counselling?
Ezinne: They are pretty annoying rules to be honest. I mean, how can you tell me not to visit my man? LMAO. Basically, we are not allowed to be alone together. If we want to see, we have to go out on a date.
One time, I asked, “What if we don’t have money to go to a restaurant?” They were like, we should buy Coke and meat pie and sit down. Their major concern is that we avoid anything that could lead to temptation.
We also have to pray together often and listen to our pastors. They are currently praying with us that my dad will soon give consent, so that’s great. To be honest, the only hard rule is the celibacy one.
LMAO. Fair enough. How is this relationship different from your past ones?
Ezinne: It’s different in the best possible way, but I’m thankful for the past ones. All those failed relationships helped me realise what I wanted, so I wasn’t forming hard to get or being childish when Tunji came along.
He is also dependable and very sure of me, so I feel secure. I feel like if someone tells him that my nudes are trending on Twitter right now, he’d just shrug. I never have to question how he feels about me. It’s the best thing.
Tunji: I can’t even compare Ezinne to any of the women from my past, but I can say how I’ve changed. I’ve gotten wiser, and I now know how to appreciate and accommodate a lot more in relationships.
What are your plans for the future?
Ezinne: This question is making me smile because, for the first time in years, I’m excited about the future. I look forward to us having a beautiful family, great jobs, a nice house and premium nacks. Yes. I’m ready to unleash the dragon in the bedroom.
Tunji: LMAO. We hope to build a godly home where friendship, trust and respect are the top priority; where we can raise godly children and be of great support to those around us.
That’s really sweet. What do you love the most about each other?
Tunji: I love so many things about Ezinne, but let me try picking a few. For starters, she’s God-fearing — she has an unmistakable fire for the things of God. She’s also a go-getter. I just love how driven and passionate she is about her desires.
Ezinne: He is the kindest, most thoughtful person I’ve ever met. This isn’t even about how good he is to me, it’s about how kind he is to those around him. He cares about helping others.
He is also a hard worker. He is so dedicated to his students, and even though teaching isn’t the job he envisioned for himself, he still gives it his all. That’s why I know I’m marrying the right person. He doesn’t let his frustrations weigh him down.
He is also my biggest cheerleader. Honestly, I don’t know how I got so lucky.
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