How long have you been married?
Where are you from (Country, City of birth) and where did you get married?
Monrovia, Liberia; Coral Gables, Florida
What made you realize that you could spend the rest of your lives together? Were you scared at all?
I realised I could spend the rest of my life with my husband because I could truly be myself with him and know that he would always love me; he is truly a good and loving person – he showed me this from the first I met him and has consistently shown this to me not only in how he treats me but also in how he treats others; I knew that I could also trust him to take care of me, be loyal and a stand up kind of person. I was however scared just before the wedding as this was such a big step and I wanted to be sure that I wasn’t making a mistake. Of course you can never be sure but I ultimately realized that I was sure of everything that I could be sure of and that the rest I would have to leave to God. Basically the fundamentals were right and I trusted that God would get us through the rest.
How did you know your spouse was the right one for you?
See above about how comfortable I was with him; we had the same values and family background; culturally we were very similar and our temperaments matched. We had fun together; he was Francophone which I’ve always wanted in a spouse; we were both Africans with experience living in the West but who were committed to coming back to live on the continent. He cared about family – his existing one and building one together with me. I knew he would be a good, caring, strong and dependable Dad. All the important things were right.
Is there anything you would do differently after more than 14 years of marriage?
I would probably spend more time thinking about our joint financial future and how we would build that together. I’ve spent much of our marriage focusing on being able to have financial security by myself instead of really getting into the details with him about how we would do this together and what that would mean for both my career and his.
What is your advice to someone who is trying to keep the faith that Mr. Right is really out there?
Be open and don’t keep pre-conceived notions in your mind about what the perfect man is. Focus on his character and what’s inside and whether he supports you emotionally, accepts you exactly as you are, will be there for you even in hard times rather than the external trappings of money, job, position, status, looks etc. Those things aren’t unimportant but at the end of the day you want to be happy and feel loved and the rest you can either take care of for yourself or build with a good man that you chose to love and build a future with. You have to know that such a man is out there for you and like any goal you need to focus on achieving it.
What was the best piece of marriage advice you ever received?
Learn to remain focussed on what’s really important (that you love this person and made a decision to be married to them) and let the little things that come up in daily life slide. Compromise is important – do you want to be right or do you want to maintain your relationship? Learn to pick your battles – everything is not worth putting strain on your relationship. Also always communicate – if you have a problem, talk about it and don’t keep resentments or hurts to yourself. Be open to hearing what the other person’s saying and work on how you can help them feel better about it.
What are the most important attributes of a good spouse?
Loving, loyal, consistent, reliable, sense of humour
How did you both manage to grow as individuals yet not grow apart as a couple?
We are best friends, care about each other and enjoy being together. We focus on communication so if either of us needs something we talk about and deal with and figure out how to move forward.
What is your fondest memory of your X-year marriage?
The birth and early years of our children and how loving and supportive my husband was as we moved through this.
Does communicating get easier with time? How do you keep your patience?
Yes it becomes easier with time and as we get to know each other even more. Patience is not one of my strong points so I can often be impatient and snap in the moment. However, I am also quick to apologize when I need to and reach out to my husband to resolve where feelings have been hurt/problems have arisen.
How did you cope when you had to be physically separated for long periods of time?
Lots of talking on the phone; lots of reading
At the end of a bad relationship day, what is the most important thing to remind yourselves?
That we love each other, that we love our kids and we can’t imagine not having this amazing family unit that we’ve built.
Is fighting important?
What’s important is ensuring that you deal with difficult issues, express your feelings, not hold things back but always be mindful of the other person’s feelings. But we try to do this as respectfully and calmly as possible; neither of us believes in yelling, screaming, being verbally and certainly not physically abusive.