Your twenties. A time when you spend almost half of them wasting your best years in school for an overrated piece of paper you’re probably never going to use and the other half asking yourself where you went wrong yet you did everything right. A time when half of it is spent being told you’re not a kid anymore and that you’re not adult enough but still everyone expects you to be both. And the other half being told you’re not experienced enough. A time when you want to YOLO and live by YOYO (You’re Only Young Once) but you’re bankrupt and still have to fulfill the ten thousand responsibilities and expectations put on you. A time when you only have three feelings; depressed, directionless and horny. A time when you spend your entire relationship dealing with drama the size and weight of a couple that’s been married 80 years, have 20 children and 50 grandchildren, instead of the moonlit rooftop picnics and passion that runs deeper than the Congo river that we were all promised. A time when you’re only relevant if you’re ghetto or a rich kid. And you’re practically non-existent if you don’t have a million followers. A time of being overworked, underpaid and over exploited in the name of gaining experience and hustling. So before I make this entire post a rant about being in your twenties, can we just agree that songs, movies and our day dreams really set unrealistic expectations for us about being in your twenties. I for one cannot wait for my sweet 29.
According to the few people I had a chance to talk to, the only other thing worse than being in your twenties, is being in your twenties and married. For reasons that I am very sure that if I listed them here, you will be vigorously nodding your head yes all through the entire list. I mean, who doesn’t want the freedom of sleeping around, right? But according to new friends Adam* and Eve*, being married is the only thing making their twenties bearable.
Adam, 2 months shy of 25 and Eve, at odd 23 have been married for 5 years. Then there’s you, who cannot make a 5 month old relationship work. Well they are your basic, average young couple but I just found their story fascinating enough to write about. I really hope I did them justice. But I got no complains when I sent them the article for final approval so I’m sure I did something right.
Why did you do it? Did you want to get married young?
Adam: We got into this because of our parents.
Eve: We both come from a community that still practices this kind of thing and our parents are heavily traditional. I was a good girl, the one who never said no to her parents. So when my father said I was getting married, I never said no.
Adam: I have five older brothers and they were all married young. So who was I do to different. If I’m being honest, I am way too scared of my father to say no.
But you at least knew each other before all of this, right? You were friends.
Eve: Not even a little bit. Complete strangers. We don’t even know how our parents found each other because it’s not a case of our families were friends or anything of the sort. No connections whatsoever.
So your fathers just came home one evening and went all “You’re getting married tomorrow“
Eve: Something like that. It’s not like if it was an ambush. This was something I grew up knowing I would have to do at some point. So I knew my parents were on the constant hunt for a suitor for me. But yes, my father came home one night and declared that I would be getting married that weekend.
Adam: With me my father tasked my brothers with the job of finding me a wife. I rejected everyone I was introduced to. I was hoping if I was difficult they would give up on me and I wouldn’t have to do it. But then my father got impatient and he put his foot down. Said I am marrying whoever he picks for me. One week later I am married.
Eve: How our parents ended up finding each other is still a mystery to us.
Do you ever wish you did things differently?
Adam: I am far too scared of my father to even think of that. Like I know I have to make it work or this Kenya will be too small for both him and I.
Eve: In the beginning, yes. I hated my situation. I wanted to experience dating and love and romance like I had seen with my friends. And for the first 3 months of our marriage, we were just roommates. We didn’t even share a bed. Adam slept in the guest bedroom.
Adam: I would have made that my bedroom too but our parents were very much involved in our marriage the first couple weeks. We didn’t want to risk them finding out.
Tell me about the initial weeks.
Eve: They were the worst. Remember this is a person whose face I saw for the first time on our wedding. We weren’t friends, he was a stranger. We rarely ever spoke to each other. Neither one of us wanted to be there.
Adam: I remember the first week she only said three words to me; food is ready. I would make sure every morning I was out of the house before she was awake and came back late at night when she was asleep.
Eve: Not as if I had noticed he was rarely home. We both had these new businesses so we were pretty occupied. Both had school; night classes. So it was easy to avoid each other.
I’m looking at you right now and it is hard to imagine the couple you are telling me about. What changed?
Adam: We changed. Seeing my friends posting how happy they are all over social media, the things they do with their lovers yet my own wife and I can’t even sit at one table for a meal. I know they say to ignore social media, that things posted there are fake and staged. But the truth is, even when it’s fake, there is always a reflection of truth in there. You are only as happy as you let yourself be. Eve and I could be posting such pictures. I mean I love the camera, I have a beautiful wife, I didn’t have a good reason not to post such pictures. But we were so busy feeling sorry for ourselves instead of making lemonade from the lemons thrown at us. I didn’t want to have to sneak in and out of my own home for the rest of my life. And I’m a man, I have needs. I wanted the touch of a woman. Something had to be done. So I asked her to go on a date with me.
Eve: I want to say that the date changed everything for us but things were so weird. Awkward silences. We had just carried home with us all the way to two rivers. But I saw that he was trying so I also tried to make an effort. Little things but looking back now, I think they are what made the difference. It’s not always about grand romantic gestures. People really underestimate the power of simple greetings like good morning, how did you sleep and asking someone about their day.
Adam: It took some time but we were able to earn each others friendship. Things just grew from there.
Walk me through an average day for the two of you
Adam: Our days start at 6. She makes breakfast. We get ready and we are out of the house by 8. We both have our own businesses. I work with my brother at the furniture shop where you met us and she has this jewelry and perfumes shop. We don’t see a lot of each other during the days on weekdays. And then in the evening, she’s still not yet done with school so she heads to class. When she gets home I’m usually making supper. Eat as we catch each other up on our days and discuss things. If there’s anything that needs doing around the house we get it done. Otherwise we just relax and watch something or go to bed.
What do you guys find yourselves fighting about most of the time?
Eve: He is a spend thrift.
Adam: I am not a spendthrift, you are just a miser.
Eve: You have more beauty products than I do. More than half our wardrobe is your clothes. Nobody needs that many suits Adam.
Adam: I told you, once you get into management, you will understand the value of a good official wear.
Eve: I’m not getting into this with her sitting right in front of us. But I just really think we should consider our future. We talk of kids all the time. We need to be saving up for them.
Adam: And I agree with that. But even as we think about kids, we just need to act like twenty year-olds with their entire lives ahead of them. Live while we’re young.
Well clearly she’s the practical one in the relationship.
Adam: You have no idea. It’s like I’m living with my father only if he wore dresses and had longer hair. It’s a good thing though. She keeps me grounded. If it weren’t for her, I’d have lost my way a long time ago.
Eve: Well don’t make it sound like I have tried to change you. Not that I can even if I tried. My whole life has been about preparing me to be a wife. And I know you will say that that’s how it is with girls but with my mother and aunts it was intense training to be a wife. Adam has really helped me learn how to live life. He has played a very big role in helping me find who I am outside my wife identity. We are still on the journey to know who we are, but I think finding out together is what makes up part of the adventure in our lives.
Adam: We may have not wanted each other from the very beginning but right now, I can loudly confess that this was God’s plan all along.
You’ve said your parents are heavily traditional. Would you say you two are the same or you actively try to be different?
Adam: I thought journalists were straight shooters. That’s not the question you are trying to ask, is it?
Eve: You want to know if we would do to our kids what was done to us.
Adam: The answer is yes.
Eve: And assuming you meant what you were asking, the answer is we are traditional. Just a little more considerate. Yes, we will have our kids do the married young thing but they are going to have a say in whoever they marry. We will allow them to meet prospective suitors and build on friendship first before they face each other at elders’ and at the altar.
Adam: I don’t know who brought the notion that our traditions are to be done away with. Traditions are beautiful. I agree that some parts of it are primitive and inhumane but I don’t think we should be dismissing them just yet.
Are you against modern marriages or something?
Eve: But also no.
Adam: Yes, Eve is right.
Eve: We had a modern wedding after our traditional one. And I know, wedding and marriage are two completely different things but I still stand by what I’ve said. it is a yes and no answer from both of us.
Adam: Eve has told you, yes we are traditional but we are a lot more considerate. Like I don’t expect her to stay home all day cooking and cleaning as traditions dictate is the place and role of a wife. We see it in our parents and no. I did not want that. She’s not my maid. Modern marriages emphasize on wives being partners. We try to live by that. Like house work in our house is a team effort. And while I do expect her to be submissive to me, I also want her to have a share in power and decision making. She has got to be her own woman too.
Eve: But we do believe that modern marriages have nothing on traditional ones. Our families have been doing it for years and guess what? Never has there been divorce. Well, the fact that our traditions do not even have a divorce contract has a part to play in it, but I also really think that this modern age of being spoilt for choice and knowing you can leave anytime you want has really broken marriage institutions. On the case of abuse and infidelity, that’s a different case. But other than that, people just don’t put in the effort anymore. Forget even marriages. Just look at the quality of relationships there are these days. Helping my friends solve some of their relationship dramas that were supposedly born out of love really makes me appreciate my arranged marriage.
You seem to have this marriage code cracked.
Adam: We’ve had five years of practice.
Eve: And plenty of marital counselling from both the church and elders back home. It’s true what they say; marriage is hard work. Ask us, we know. Do you hope to get married one day Millie?
Millie: I thought I was asking the questions. That’s how these interviews work.
Adam: Just avoid the question but know this, the one advice I can give you that no body will ever give you, don’t ever think you know everything. Eti it’s your marriage, you make the rules. You’ll be lying to yourself. Constantly seek counsel. I’m not saying do everything they tell you to do. It’s true that it is your marriage, you make the rules. But this way, you will be in a better position to make a wise and informed decision.
Eve: And never go to bed angry. Scream it out at each other if you have to and solve it even before you get into the bedroom. And if you can’t, it goes back to what Adam said, seek counsel. But that thing I see people in relationships do, that you go for three days without speaking to each other because you are angry at each other? Don’t do that. The very first thing you think in the morning the minute you wake up should not be “I am angry at him”.
Adam: You look like you want to cry.
Moving on. I don’t have a better way to phrase this so forgive how crass this is going to sound. Do you ever get tired of each other?
Adam: No matter how much you love someone you’re still going to want time away from them. The cliché is true, husbands do get tired of their wives sometimes.
Eve: It’s natural. Seeing the same face everyday, it’s natural to get bored with them. What we do is, after some weeks, we plan a weekend where we spend time away from each other to do our own things. The house becomes a no-go zone. We literally kick each other out of the house.
Adam: But sometimes, it’s not that we are tired of each other. Sometimes, it’s we are tired of being with each other in the same environments. So we go someplace out of town where no one knows us and we don’t know anyone there. We come back feeling like a whole new couple.
What does your social life look like? Does it only revolve around family, work, school and church friends?
Adam: We find it’s better like that. All of my friends are Eve’s friends and all of Eve’s friends are mine. My father gave me only one piece of advice before he married me off. And that was to never put myself in a position where I can be questioned. Eve and I ended up making that one of our principles. So we don’t really have secret friends.
Eve: A third of our married life revolves around finding couple friends that are outside our social circle.
I don’t want to ask this question but I have to, married in your twenties and your sex life.
(They gave me weird looks here)
Millie: Don’t look at me like that. It’s natural to wonder. You two met each other at the altar. Do you even know whether you were attracted to each other? I mean the second biggest reason why people in their early twenties don’t get married is because they are chasing……
Eve: Lust. They’re chasing lust. Lust fades. And attraction is overrated.
Millie: But what about passion?
Eve: You work at it.
Adam: But to answer your question, yes, we weren’t even attracted to each other when we met. We’ve told you about the separate bedrooms bit. We couldn’t even have sex to keep boredom away. Remember the ‘twa twa‘ trend, it has nothing on us. And yes, I am bragging. Adventure has never stopped.
Eve: What he’s saying is we are open to trying new things. And I will try anything except a threesome. And yes, I have everything against threesomes.
Adam: What she’s saying is, having sex with one person might get boring. But only if you let it.
Eve: That is true but I think I meant exactly what I said.
You said something about kids, tell me more.
Eve: We talk about it. A lot. We plan, we save. I’m not happy with how much but we’re definitely moving in the right direction. But we are far from that. We agreed, until both of us hit thirty. It’s not really about not wanting responsibilities or feeling too young or wanting to enjoy what little freedom I have in my twenties. It’s more about wanting to have a solid relationship with my husband first before bringing kids into the mix. Kids are a blessing and all but they bring additional stress. And if your marriage can’t handle it, it won’t survive.
Adam: Exactly what she said. And I don’t care what age they start popping out of her, all I know is I want five of them. Whether all at once or back to back, I don’t care.
(Eve shakes her head and holds up three fingers to me when Adam is not looking.)
What would you say are some of the problems your marriage has gone through?
Eve: We’ve told you about money. His parents is definitely another. For someone who’s father wanted him married as soon as possible, his parents, especially his mother, is overly involved in our marriage life. Millie don’t make the mistake of marrying a last born. He will never truly be yours.
Adam: It’s not being a last born. She’s just concerned. Even though she went along with the idea of me marrying someone I didn’t know, she still wants us to be happy.
Eve: It’s been 5 years. Her window of concern closed a long time ago. Don’t get me wrong, I love my mother in law. But she’s just too ctitical.
Adam: That is not true. She has never doubted your wife abilities. She thinks you are amazing.
Eve: The last time she was wqith us she asked me why I am not feeding you enough. Adam, you have gained more than 10 kilos since we’ve been married.
Adam: Moving on, I’d say busy schedules really mess us up. We want to support each other’s endeavors and she has school on her plate too so at times, we find we are just too tired to do anything for ourselves. I said something about team work but team working is also a team effort. We have had many a quarrels about forgotten chores or responsibilities.
Eve: But we have the memories being roommates to scare us straight and force us to keep the romance alive and not lose the connection with each other. Another thing is poor communication.
Adam: That’s her. That’s all her.
Eve: Adam says it is a crutch but when you are an only child, you never have to explain yourself to anyone other than your parents. With husbands, it’s different. And learning that is still my biggest challenge. And it is both of us. Last born and only child combination is not a good one. We were both used to getting our way.
Adam: Her more than me. I have older brothers. No sisters. So I was never coddled. They all just wanted me to grow up. The list of everything that goes wrong in our house is a long one. Marriage forced us to grow up but still, we cannot deny that we are young and stupid. So we just try to remember that the other person is still growing and hopefully learning and trying to better themselves. And then you go take out your special hidden tequila and pray that some annoying habits are just a phase and she will grow out of it.
Do you secretly fear that you two might not last. You have talked about divorce not being an option, but have you ever questioned if at some point, despite all your best efforts and intentions, you will end up as roommates?
Eve: We did ask each other this question when we started dating. Even if we were married, we still dated. Still are. But we’ve never answered that question.
Adam: That’s just a door we don’t want to open. For now, we just deal with the bad and enjoy the good.
I want to ask about disadvantages and advantages but I think society has disadvantages covered for me. I’m a hopeful and a romantic, so I want to hear the benefits more.
Eve: We don’t deal with exes drama or complications. I have no one to compare myself to or compare him to. We don’t come with baggage and trust issues from past relationships. We didn’t waste our time, energies and emotions trying to make it work with other people. We had no expectations. We had a clean slate.
Adam: Adjusting was easy. We didn’t have already established adult lives and habits. We formed them together. Apart from the loneliness, joining our lives had very little friction. Almost none.
Eve: We grew up and matured early. Happily ever after doesn’t just fall into your hands. You work at it. We learned what the important things were early and became ingrained in us when we were still young and teachable. We learnt so many lessons early and the hard way but we’re wiser and happier for it. I can genuinely say that I am happy. How many people our age can genuinely say that.
Adam: No matter what happens, I know I will never be alone. I have a best friend, a cheerleader, a pillar, a confidant and a therapist all in one person.
Eve: We’ve built a life together. For real. I cannot count the memories and experiences I have with this man. And I am certain of my future. I cannot begin to explain the sense of calm that comes with having that certainty.
Adam: Not forgetting the economic benefits that come with sharing expenses with someone.
Eve: Even though all those benefits end up buying suits.
Adam: Don’t you dare start.
I’m sure you are thinking that they are the few lucky ones whose lives turned out great. That more young marriages end up in divorce. But I bet you you never looked at it in an Adam and Eve’s perspective. You read and hear enough bad news in a day so I made it my business to bring you some good.
Disclaimer: They are not relationship experts, they were just sharing their story and what works for them. Don’t get into an arranged marriage while young then say Adam, Eve and Millie talked you into it. We take no responsibility for your decisions.
Regardless, those two really opened up my eyes. Have I ever mentioned that I love my job. Talking to people is just hella interesting and fun. So keep your stories coming.
Millie: This was really fun you guys. Thank you for agreeing to do this.
Adam: It was fun. Thank you for talking us into doing doing it.
Millie: So I can use your name and photos?
Eve: No and we are not re-negotiating that. We’re happy with us and we are comfortable but we can do without the backlash we might get from people. It always feels like we are explaining our marriage to people. Everyone always has something to say, an opinion about us. We don’t get a chance to just talk about it, about us. So thank you. This was freeing in a way.
In conclusion, if you have to comment, be kind.