Kwaku has been my best friend for the past eight years since our days in the university. He was the kind of friend who woke me up at dawn to study. When I had difficulty grasping certain concepts, he patiently taught me. He gives me a listening ear regardless of what I want to talk about. Our closeness made people wonder if we were more than friends. I didn’t know if he had feelings for me and I didn’t care to know either. What I cared about was that he was my best friend.
In the course of our friendship, I met men who expressed interest in me. Whenever I told Kwaku about them, he made jokes and teased me. Once, we ran into one of the guys in town and Kwaku poked me, “Look at your husband. He is a nice man. The two of you will have beautiful children.” This was something he did most of the time. Sometimes I joined in the jokes. He knew me enough to know that I wouldn’t be offended. Actually, he knows me better than anyone does. Somewhere in the third year of our friendship, I met someone that I liked. This guy’s name is Douglas. As usual, Kwaku teased me about him but this time he said, “If you want to be with him, I’ll pray so that you two end up together.” That made me smile. Underneath his teasing, he wanted me to be happy.
It didn’t take long for Douglas to shoot his shot with me. I already liked him so I accepted his proposal and we started dating. He was handsome, and a complete gentleman. We attended the same church so everyone in my circle approved of him. One of the comments we received from friends was “You two look good together. Your children will look very beautiful.” I was happy to finally be in love and with a perfect man moreover. As our relationship progressed I noticed that something was missing. I didn’t need to think too deeply to know that it was Kwaku. He had withdrawn from me completely. The realization made me quite unhappy.
I remember reaching out to him, “Why have you withdrawn from me? Did I do something to offend you?” He said, “No we are fine. I’m just giving you space to enjoy your first relationship. I don’t want your boyfriend to get jealous because of our closeness. If you ever need me, I’m here for you.” I tried to reason with him, “Don’t do that. You and Douglas can become friends. That way he’ll know that he has nothing to worry about.” He wouldn’t budge. It felt like I had exchanged my best friend for a boyfriend. It didn’t feel good. I had no choice but to live my life without him. When my relationship was a year old, I introduced Douglas to my family, and they approved of him. He also introduced me to his family, and they loved me. On the outside, we were the perfect couple but on the inside I was unhappy.
Douglas put a lot of pressure on me to do things I wasn’t ready to do. When I resisted him he complained; “Have you noticed that this relationship revolves around you? I am always following your timelines and your values. You don’t want me to hold you, and you wouldn’t even kiss me. When will my needs start to matter?” I always felt bad when things got to that point. But I wasn’t ready to get intimate with him and I know that it all starts with one unholy touch. The day we had our first kiss, I felt like I had done something wrong. It happened in my apartment. I remember how much I cried after he left because it wasn’t something I wanted to do. After that first kiss, he wanted to do more. This became a constant fight between us. He stopped visiting me because according to him, “What’s the point of coming to see you if you won’t let me do shuperu?”
At some point, he cheated on me. It hurt but I forgave him and stayed with him. I thought we could work things out and move past our differences but he didn’t feel that way. One day out of nowhere he texted me; “I think we should take a break. I need to figure some things out.” I replied, “I think we should break up instead.” He didn’t see it coming. He tried to convince me to stay but I realized I realized that I didn’t want to be with him anymore. It took me so long to learn that as long as our values don’t align, we would always have problems.
All the while, Kwaku was in the background. He wasn’t in my life but he was not out of my life either.
After the breakup, I took some time and did a deep self-reflection. The only thing that I wanted to do was to mend my relationship with Kwaku. Without him in the picture, my life felt like a lighthouse with no light. It just didn’t make sense. It took me five months to finally reconnect with him. We fixed a date and went out to talk. That was when he told me, “The reason I kept my distance when you were dating is that I am in love with you. And it broke my heart to see how happy you were with him.” I seized the opportunity to also tell him, “I was not that happy with him. I thought about you the entire time. I missed you so much it hurt. Being with Douglas made me realize that you are the man for me.” We all lay our hearts on the table that day.
That day we talked about our plans for the future and the love brewing between us. We gave ourselves three years to settle down. When we made those plans I wasn’t sure that they will come to pass. I was afraid that I would mess things up with my bad temper. However, Kwaku believed in us. We had conversations about everything including our finances, children, relationship with family, and intimacy. Kwaku’s values are even stricter than mine so I was the one who initiated our first kiss. Nothing had ever felt so right as that moment. I am happy at the slow and mutual pace we have taken things.
It’s been three years since we started planning our life together. And it has been the most peaceful and happiest years of my life. Our wedding is two months away and I can’t wait to finally call my best friend my husband. I may not be marrying my first love but I am marrying the love of my life. I am happy that at the end of the day, I didn’t compromise my values and my beliefs just to make Douglas happy. I have come to learn that relationships don’t need to be stressful and dramatic. Things are effortless when you are with the right person.