He was like tattered denim when I found him. He had lost his bearing in love and was going about with a mantra that said, “Love will kill you if you drink too much of it.” I didn’t understand his hatred for love until he told me his story. It was through his story that we got connected. All my life I thought men don’t get their hearts broken. They hunt for women, hit them with an arrow, and do to them whatever they please. They don’t have a heart that’s why they never cry when love is over. “How could they cry when they are the ones who call things off?” Armah’s story was different. He stated, “I cried my lungs out when she left.”
I was like “You did what?” He said, “I did worse than cry my lungs out. I didn’t eat for days. I didn’t talk to friends for weeks. I felt like dying. My world came to an end that day when she finally left.” I asked, “Ain’t you a man? I heard men don’t cry when love is over. They just move on and meet another woman they can establish camp with. So why did you cry, a man like you?” He answered, “Then you’ve listened to lies for so long. We break down too. Ain’t we humans?” “SO tell me. What happened?” I asked him.
He dated a girl for five years. He was ready to marry her just after a year together. But the girl wasn’t ready. When they were two years together, he made another attempt and she said they should give it another year because she was too young. He waited for her to turn twenty-five years on their third year together and proposed marriage again. The girl said, “Wait until I’m twenty-six. I would be a woman then and have no excuses.” So he waited, believing everything was going to be alright the following year. But he started picking signals that the girl was seeing someone else. He said the girl’s own brother told him but he didn’t believe him.
“I didn’t believe him because the girl was always with me. Her parents were aware of the relationship so she could come to my place and spend the weekend with me and her parents wouldn’t say anything. I invested in her school. I paid medical bills for her parents. I even ran errands for them when they needed me to so I had the full assurance that everything was going to turn out for my good.”
One day the girl asked him, “Are you aware that not all love stories end in marriage?” He didn’t know the basis of the question so he responded, “Oh yeah, it happens all the time that two people would be in love for years and still not get married.” Then the girl asked jovially, “So what if ours end the same way? What if it’s not God’s will for us to end up together?” His answer didn’t matter because the girl had already decided that they were not going to end up married. That very day, the girl told him, “I don’t want to marry you. You’re a good person and all but I don’t believe you’re my soulmate. When we marry, we’ll have a lot of problems so it’s better we don’t.”
He asked, “We’d dated for close to five years and never had a fight so how could I not be her soulmate?” He called on her parents asking them to speak on his behalf. He thought her parents would help but they also gave him cold shoulders until the girl stopped picking up his calls and warned him not to get closer to her again. “While I was breaking down into pieces, she was arranging to be married to another man abroad. Less than a year later, she got married to a man who wasn’t present at his own wedding. They used a photo of him to represent him. After their marriage, she flew to be with the man.
When he finished telling his story I asked him, “How long has it been?” He said, “Two years. Last month was exactly two years when we broke up.” I asked him, “Are you still in pain? Are you still in love with her?” He answered, “No he’s dead to me. He’s another man’s wife. I can’t think of another man’s wife. I would need my own wife.”
And I became that wife. He didn’t make me a wife right there and there. It took some time for him to propose. It took me some time to come to a place where I could see through his heart and say yes to his proposal. To love a broken man isn’t an easy task. He comes to the relationship with the burden of the past. They expect to find the good side of their ex in you while expecting you to be the best woman they’ve ever met. They judge you by what their ex took them through. And they always see a snake in just a passing worm. I faced those issues countless times but I gave him time to know me better than just another woman who could be his ex.
He talked about his ex a lot and I brought it to his attention. I said, “Armah, that girl left you at the bank of the river, why are you still carrying her around? She comes into almost every conversation we have. You talk about her memories as if she’s living between us. You bring her to bed with you and wake up with her. When are you also going to drop her and pick me up?” He said he wasn’t aware he was doing that. He told me he was sorry and it wasn’t going to happen again. I pardoned him and told him to stay conscious when speaking to me.
For a while, he stopped. It didn’t seal the hollowness in him but it was a step at the right direction. Two years later, I didn’t go to him to ask if he knew that not all love stories end in marriage. Two years later, I was still with him regardless of all his troubles. When he asked me to marry him, I didn’t call for another year. I didn’t ask him to wait until I’m twenty-six years because I was twenty-eight. I said yes to him and a few months later we got married.
And then the girl came back to the center of our marriage. On our honeymoon, he said, “This was where we were going to spend our honeymoon. It’s her place of choice. I don’t know what is here but she talked about it with this sort of happiness in her eyes.” I should have been angry and asked why he chose a destination of his ex’s choice but I wasn’t. I tapped him and said, “Hey, I’m the one here with you so why are you talking about what didn’t happen? I happened. Let’s talk about that.” He said, “It’s not that I’m thinking of her ooo, you know I spent five years of my life with her so no matter where I go, that five years would still stay with me and come up every now and then. I’m sorry.” I accepted his apology in the spirit of a honeymoon. No one fights during their honeymoon—the period they have to be happy.
We got home and it got worse. I would cook his favorite meal and that would bring memories of when the girl cooked his favorite meal. He would talk about it without shame and expect me to listen with rapt attention. Something was definitely bringing these sorts of conversations up so I dug to find out. After a few attempts of digging, I realized that he was in contact with the girl. They started talking when he posted our wedding photos. The girl congratulated him and the conversation picked up from there. He said, “This could have been us but you chose someone else.” She responded, “Awww forgive me. Your wife is also beautiful. She makes a perfect bride.” He responded, “Is there anything perfect than you?”
I had enough so I stopped reading. But I wasn’t going to make an issue out of it because it didn’t sound like they were coming back together. He was only expressing a dream that would never come through. Days later I asked him, “It looks like you haven’t moved on from that girl after all these years. Is there something I can do to help you move on? Is there something I’m not doing?” I even offered myself as a living sacrifice to appease the gods of forgetfulness to descend on him but he said, “You don’t have to do anything because I’m over her long ago.”
On my birthday, He wrote a long message on his Facebook timeline and even tagged me in it. He thought it was lovely but I found everything wrong with it so I untagged myself from the post. He came at me asking why I removed myself from his post. I told him, “It’s my birthday and you’re making a post of appreciation. That’s alright but where from your ex’s issue? That statement, “She is not my first choice but had become everything I prayed for…” You think that statement is alluring? In fact, it’s an insult to me. And I’m glad some of your female friends drew your attention to it.” He said I was listening to people who don’t understand his story instead of listening to the truth in his write-up. We fought. We stopped talking to each other for a while. We later made up.
On our first wedding anniversary, he committed the same mistake. What hurt me the most was seeing his ex react to the post. I wasn’t going to take it so I asked him to pull the post down. “It’s better you don’t write anything if you are going to bring your ex into the post.” It turned into a fight. He called me jealous and called me a possessed witch. He said, “If you can’t deal with my past then why did you agree to marry me?” We fought on a day we should have been happier all because of a girl who left him to marry a better man than he is.
At any given opportunity, he tries to remind me that I wasn’t the woman he intended to marry. He says it often when we fight. The last time he was very plain with me. He said, “You should be grateful to her for leaving. Do you think we would have been here if she agreed to marry me? You should be grateful to her instead of abhorring her memories.” I responded, “From the way things are going, I would continue to abhor her for not marrying you. If she did, I wouldn’t have found myself here in this circus. Do you know where I’ve been? The kind of men I’ve also been with? I don’t talk about them because they are not here. I have stories too. Or you think nobody wanted me until you came along?
He continues talking with the girl. I read their messages. He makes the girl feel like the most important thing in this world while he plays me like a broken record. The last time we fought, we ended up in front of our counselor, the pastor who officiated our marriage. He was very straightforward with him. He told him to stop thinking and talking about the girl. I didn’t even tell the pastor about the messages but he said, ‘If you’re in contact with her, then break that contact and focus on your marriage. This is what God has given you and you need to till it until your dying days” .
We left the counseling and got home. That evening I read his messages again and they had chatted on messenger. I’m fed up. Is there anything I can do to change my situation? I don’t want to hear about that girl. I don’t want him to continue talking to her. I don’t want to be that girl who was chosen because the first choice escaped. What do I do next? .