If you’ve been on X (FKA Twitter) in the last 48 hours, you’d have seen a range of responses to a user’s question “What’s your first reality check after getting married?”

I was looking to speak with married people to share their experiences when I found Gbemisola*(30). She talks about her struggle with conflict resolution and how being married now forces her to confront issues head on.

As Told to Adeyinka

I’ve been married for two years now, and it’s been a personal learning curve. The things you have to stomach for the sake of love? God, abeg.

I met my husband in university in 2015. We were in the same department but different years, so we saw ourselves a lot in school. But being around each other didn’t stop at that.

After we became official, I started spending more time at his hostel — I enjoyed his company and I didn’t even like my hostel. I had nosy roommates and privacy was completely out the window. The few times he visited, I had to talk my roommates into giving us some privacy, and I didn’t like that.

Because of my roommates’ situation, it made more sense to spend time at his place. I eventually moved to his hostel completely and only went to my hostel when I needed a change of clothes.

It was sweet in the early stages. We both did most of the cooking, watched movies together, read together and went to school together on days when we had similar schedules. Then, about six months into the relationship, the fights started to happen, showing me a version of myself I wasn’t aware of.

It’s hard to remember the details now, but our first fight was over something so insignificant. We’d gotten into an argument over school work, and I didn’t like the way he went about proving my argument was wrong. I felt like he wanted a “gotcha” moment at my expense. I kept to myself for the rest of the evening, even though he kept bothering me. The first thing I did the following morning was to pack some of my clothes and return to my hostel. While I was away, he kept asking why I left because of a little argument. But I stayed in my hostel for two weeks.

As our relationship went by,”running away” became my approach to conflict resolution. If we had any fight, I was out of his space that day or the next, and I made it a point not to return until weeks had passed. He hated this so much. He was always like “You can’t just up and leave because we have issues. Is this how you’ll do when we get married?” And my response to him was always “Well, we aren’t married, are we?”

I remember a similar incident that happened while I was serving in Lagos. At the time, I switched between his place and my sister’s. One day, we had a fight, and in my usual pattern, I kept to myself. By the next morning I picked out clothes from the wardrobe and prepared to head over to my sister’s. He noticed me packing my stuff  and he just said “If you’re leaving because of our fight, I won’t stop you. But just know that if you walk out of that door, you’re walking out of my life and I won’t stop you.”

It was the first time he reacted that way, so a part of me shuddered at the thought of “walking out of his life”. Obviously, the stubborn girl that I am, I didn’t concede. Instead, I lied and told him I only wanted to drop off some clothes at my sisters and I’ll be back at night.

I don’t know why but that experience — his words particularly — stayed in my head for a long time and haunted me whenever I wrestled with the urge to leave his place after a fight.

Now, what did I do?

I started spacing the time I left. Instead of leaving the next day after a fight, I’d tell him I’m heading home in a couple of days. We both knew why my visit home was happening at that particular time, but we never talked about it.

Fast forward to 2022, we tied the knot and officially became husband and wife. People have all sorts of worries going into marriage — Who handles the bills, who cooks, who should take care of the chores, etc. But for someone like me, whose coping mechanism during conflict was taking off, my only fear was the realisation that I couldn’t just take off as I wanted anymore.

It didn’t help that my parents, relatives, and other older folks made it a point to drum it into my ears. “You can’t run away from your husband’s house o. If you have issues, stay there with him until you resolve it”.

We barely had issues in the first year of our marriage. Everything worked perfectly, and there were hardly any major fights. Yes, we had minor arguments, but nothing serious enough to warrant my desire to flee.

Then we had our first big fight in the second year. It was money related. After we got married, we decided to save together without necessarily opening a joint account, and we agreed to save a minimum of ₦50k monthly. It could be more, but never less.

By the second year, we had saved quite a sum and I wanted some gadgets for the kitchen. My husband felt we should wait until we hit our savings goals, but I told him the items were on sale and it made sense to take the deal. He remained adamant, but I went ahead to make the purchase anyway. He was furious on the day the items were delivered and we had a little shouting match.

I was livid that night and wanted so badly to be away from him. I think I considered going to an overnight cinema just to be out of the house, but I couldn’t find any. We ignored each other for the rest of the day, and I cried myself to sleep that night. To be honest, it wasn’t the fight that made me cry. I mean, it wasn’t the first time we fought. It was the realisation that I couldn’t up and leave like I did when we were dating.

I suspected he also knew I couldn’t just leave if I wanted, and it slowed his eagerness to apologise. Back when we were dating, I’d have gotten calls and texts from him after I moved out, but in this case, he took his time before apologising.

To be honest, it’s a trope we’re both navigating and it hasn’t been an easy one.

Now, we are both intentional about finding ways to solve our issues as quickly as possible without the silent treatment or one person feeling like a prisoner in their home.  The truth is, I love my husband, and I miss him terribly every second I’m away from him during a fight or an argument. I know he feels the same way.

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