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What a broke Valentine’s Day taught me about treasuring my wife

Wednesday February 14 2018

Joseph Liali and his lovely wife Isla Ambiyo. PHOTO| FILE| NATION MEDIA GROUP

Joseph Liali and his lovely wife Isla Ambiyo. PHOTO| FILE| NATION MEDIA GROUP 


I couldn’t get my wife anything special for Valentine’s Day in 2017.

“It’s okay,” she said when I told her so. I knew it was not okay.

 As she walked away, I wondered what could have been going through her head. Clearly, her heart was troubled. I wouldn’t have blamed her if she felt a little upset. This was our first Valentine’s as a married couple. It had to mean something, at least to her.


She had always known I’m not the overly romantic type. She understood that, and her expectations of me had never once felt overwhelming. She appreciated the little efforts I made. She never once compared me to other men, or envied her lady friends for their husbands’ or boyfriends’ heroics.

I guess she saw other great qualities in me and deliberately celebrated those. Even so, this was still was our first Valentine’s Day as a married couple. Few words were said in the hours that followed.


Her disappointment became too apparent to hide. She didn’t even change her outfit to something homely like she routinely would. Maybe it would help busying herself in the kitchen. I found myself something to distract me also, but occasionally would be interrupted by cries coming from her direction.

No matter how many times I apologised, not a word was said back. She only kept saying “I’m fine”, even with her eyes swollen and voice hoarse from crying. That felt awful. I hated that I caused that, but I also wished she would understand my position. We had barely a thousand shillings to meet our every need with no certainty over when next our account would catch even a whiff of money.

Scarcely three months into marriage and with more needs than we had the resources to meet, were we yet to find our financial footing.


February 2017 was particularly bad also because a number of partners who generously give to keep my family and ministry thriving had delayed to send their support. That naturally set me up for a losing battle with the most dreaded date on any man’s calendar.

All day, I debated between buying my wife a surprise gift and betraying us into the hands of lack for God knows how long, and letting the day pass without a gift in the hope she would understand my situation. I wondered if I should get her “even just a simple pair of earrings”, but economics and the grandiose Luo within me just wouldn’t let me buy my ‘a girl baby’ something that cost so little.

Ultimately one persuasion won, and Isla’s tears proved which one. Not the tears she cried while half-heartedly preparing that food we both struggled to enjoy. I’m referring to the tears she couldn’t hold back when she found an unfamiliar sling bag on the bed with a pack of her fauvorite chocolate and a note inside after I asked her that we eat from the bedroom.

The gift had all along been lying pretty openly in her closet, but for some strange reason she chose not to change her outfit as she customarily would, and even when I sent her to fetch me something from there, she still missed it!

I didn’t plan to make her cry the entire evening. Her prolonged hurt bothered me, but I guess God didn’t mind the fun lasting a little longer; and the lesson driving even deeper. Isla didn’t stop being mad upon seeing the gifts.

Her disappointment didn’t stop. She only shifted targets from me to herself.

It upset her worse that she could throw such a huge fuss over not receiving a gift on a day we both don’t even place as much emphasis on. She didn’t like something about her heart, turning down the gifts because she felt she didn’t even deserve them.

Of course I calmed her down and gave them to her anyway. She deserved them not because she was my wife, or because it was some special gift giving day, but most precisely because she thought she didn’t.

Her humility made her most deserving.

My wife and I both learned precious lessons we hope to carry with us throughout our lives that evening. We learned to treasure each other more than any gift in this world. She cried because she felt for a moment this wasn’t true of her heart. After Christ, we have become each other’s joy and greatest earthly gift.

We also learned to treasure each other with gifts. Because I treasure her, she’s worth even the most irrational sacrifice I could make to make her happy. She’s worth the insanity of risking lack to buy her a gift.

We didn’t lack by the way. Apparently, my actions weren’t foolish. They were of faith and God rewarded them by supplying more than we needed in the days that followed. Feel free to try them at home.

And feel encouraged to treasure your mate well.