LOVE TALES: How vulnerability made our bond stronger

Thursday February 8 2018

Wanjiru Ngigi and the love of her life, Mariga. PHOTO| COURTESY

Wanjiru Ngigi and the love of her life, Mariga. PHOTO| COURTESY 

By WANJIRU NGIGI

The memory of 2015 would be incomplete without mentioning how my love for fried chicken led me to the love of my life.

It was at my parents’ home. A friend had previously introduced us in strange ways and we talked on phone for a few days before deciding to meet. I figured if he turned out to be  horrible, then the people in my father’s house could easily “take him down.”

FIRST IMPRESSIONS

My initial impression of him was, “No thanks. I'll pass.” A good sense of style is important to me and he is the kind who shops once in three years. The man doesn't care for clothing at all.

On this particular day, he had on jeans in a style I hadn't encountered since the nineties, a t-shirt and converse shoes.

Looking back, I realise he was very nervous that first day because he hardly said a word. He told me he was somewhat seeing someone, had just lost his dad and was generally not in the mood for anything serious other than friendship.

This sounded perfect to me given that I had just decided to take a year off dating following my frustrations of dealing with men who couldn't keep their word.

DEEP, ENDLESS CONVERSATION

Cupid, having no respect for personal decisions, had other plans for us as we found ourselves engrossed in deep endless conversations. After the initial nervousness wore off, we both found a beautiful, calming, serene friendship in each other filled with laughter and epic dates

It all sounds fairy tale and Hollywood until this part: getting intentional about being vulnerable. I remember it was him who pointed out that instead of fighting about things or sparking arguments, or working to make sure the other person sees things our way, we should try to speak honestly about our feelings first.

EXPLOSIVE ARGUMENTS

In our past relationships, we had experienced explosive arguments, silent treatment and cold war tactics with our respective partners. I was not up for another bout of similar drama hence readily accepted this new idea of solving disagreements. Mariga and I spenttime to come up with agreed upon resolutions that created a much needed vulnerable space for our love to thrive.

In our agreement, we stated that we would allow the other to vent their frustrations about the relationship without getting offended, using deliberate language that told the truth as opposed to attacking.

We sought to understand each other and how we individually function instead of striving to gain converts to our way of thinking so as to ensure everyone felt they had space to themselves without any fear.

We vowed to treat expressions of love for the other person with uttermost reverence. For instance, freely admitting that we really missed the person, calling just to hear the other person's voice without feeling shy and asking for physical affection without any shame or fear attached.

To ensure safety within that vulnerable space, we ruled out any punishments regardless of how annoyed either of us was. This meant no silent treatment, no revenge, no withholding of any babe-privileges, no using hurtful words or gestures to make the other person feel our pain too amongst the many other things that generally come up case by case in every relationship.

MANY DISAGREEMENTS

We've had many disagreements over the almost three years we've been together. However, that vulnerable space we created earlier on in our relationship has been of much great help. It is because of the honesty and understanding in that space that we have learnt to say, “I worry about you. Please make a point of calling me whenever you get home from a date” as opposed to, “Why didn't you call me when you got home?” The latter comes off like an accusation and is bound to make whoever is on the receiving end defensive.

On exploring this vulnerable space, beautiful things have been revealed in the process. Personally, I began to see that many of the things I thought were intentional hurts against me could easily be explained and an apology would sort it out. Being tired, forgetting, needing some space or even fear of failure of fear to be judged are some of the issues we have continued to work out through open, honest and vulnerable conversations.

The hardest bit of our unashamed and vulnerable love however was learning to apologise. I mean, it is hard enough to take full responsibility for one’s action but acknowledging that the hurt I saw in Mariga’s eyes was my fault and vice-versa? Coming to terms with the fact that you did it wrong and there's no punishment, only an opportunity for you to do it better? That was revolutionary.

We both learnt to say, “I am sorry for... I understand that it hurt you because …. I'm sorry I made you feel …. How would you like for me to make it up to you?”

As the world all over celebrates love this February, I celebrate the love of my life, Mariga. I thank him especially for letting me know that it is okay, safe and correct to be myself and give others the freedom to do so. After all love is freedom.

 

 Would you like to share your own love story? Please e-mail: [email protected]