My Bro is a biweekly Zikoko series that interrogates and celebrates male friendships of different forms.
There’s nothing surprising about two lawyers being friends, but a married guy and a single guy? Now that’s an interesting dynamic.
In this episode of My Bro, Chuma and Soma, two men who have been friends for over 10 years, talk about navigating a friendship where one of them is married and the other is not, understanding each other during major arguments and why their relationship is nothing without their shared faith.
Where we began
Chuma: The first time I noticed you was in church, right about when I’d just moved to Abuja in 2011.
This guy drove a big car, so he was very noticeable. Our paths didn’t really cross until a mutual friend mentioned you in relation to something I wanted to do at work. I remember you drove to my office, and that was the first time we spoke to each other.
Soma: It wasn’t the first time we spoke. LOL. You’ve forgotten the meeting we had at that restaurant where we ended up talking about work, church and life? I think that’s when we actually got to know each other.
Chuma: Yes! We even found out we lived close to each other and you invited me to your house, but I kept dodging you. LOL.
Soma: Mr likeable! I used to hear about you from our mutual friends, and it was like you were everybody’s chum-chum friend. You were always so put together, and then when we actually had that restaurant meeting, I realised you were also grounded and had strong convictions.
It’s hard to hang out with you and not take something tangible home.
Chuma: Soma, don’t lie. You’ve never told me this thing before.
Soma: It’s true. There are people you’ll meet and everything goes. But I noticed you were quick to share your likes and dislikes. For example, you’re always prompt. If you say you’re going to be somewhere at a certain time, you go out of your way to make it happen. And that’s the same level of dedication you put into anything you say.
Chuma: Like I was on time today and you weren’t? These are the problems in our friendship.
Soma: LOL. But I really liked that you were someone who kept to his words. And let’s not forget the gist. You’re my E News.
Chuma: The first thing I noticed about you when we started talking was how calm you were. You also dress well, which is important for someone like me who also knows how to dress. People may say these things are superficial, but they’re the qualities I’d notice meeting someone for the first time.
Getting to know you, I realised that you’re really intelligent and not just book smart. Even though we don’t always agree on things, your arguments always have some thought-out truth. And finally, just like me, you understand the value of family and friendship.
Navigating life with my married friend
Chuma: Let me start by saying I don’t like saying I’m single; I prefer to use unmarried. People are always dragging that word “single” like it’s a bad thing, which makes me cringe.
Chuma: I’m not lying. Anyway, back to our friendship. You came to my house first, and I avoided coming to see you every time you invited me over. I did all of that because, mehn, you’re married with kids, and I didn’t know the dynamic in your house. You know how it is when single guys are friends with married men. I didn’t want a situation where if you did anything wrong, your wife would be like, “Is it from that your Chukwuma friend you’re learning this thing?” I wanted to stay in my lane.
Over time, I realised you were persistent about this visit, and I remember you mentioning that your wife wanted to meet me. I found that interesting. This meant that beyond our interactions, you cared about our friendship enough to talk to your wife about it, and in turn, she was nice enough to invite me over.
Maybe it’s how I view family, but it’d take a lot for me to let someone into my house because it’s my personal space. We’d only known each other for a year, but you invited me to meet your wife and hang out with your children. Now I have a permanent seat at your dining table. LOL.
Soma: Hope you know meeting my wife was the final test?
Chuma: Test again?
Soma: Women can easily make an accurate judgement of someone’s character, so meeting my wife was a test you had to pass. I feel women are the ones who complain most times when friendships like ours happen, so it was important that both of you clicked. She could see that you were a sincere friend, so it wasn’t a problem for her.
I know wisdom is not a conventional word, but I use it for you a lot. You know how to act around the guys when we’re out having a good time, and with the family, you’re always playing with my kids and gisting with y wife. These days, both of you even make plans and I don’t find out about it until later. You guys are buddies. And now my kids are always asking of Uncle Chuma.
Chuma: Of course.
Soma: I also feel like society places these structures where nothing gets to flow freely. How can you say that I shouldn’t be friends with a single guy because I’m married? It doesn’t make sense to me, and I don’t like giving in to societal pressures.
Chuma: I’ve had friends who got married and we stopped hanging out like before. It doesn’t mean they’re not my friends, but that’s because their marriage changed our friendship dynamic.
I’m cautious about married people because there’s this famous saying, “You’re probably gist in all your married friends’ lives.” I didn’t want that. But the more I got to know you, the more we formed this mutual respect where I could trust you to take things concerning me seriously. And that’s how I opened up to this friendship.
Plus, your wife and your kids give me a perfect picture of what a family can look like. It doesn’t mean that I’m under pressure to get married o. LOL.
No matter how hard we argue, we must talk the next day
Chuma: We’re both lawyers, so it’s not hard to imagine how chaotic our arguments are because we both speak with a level of certainty. One thing I like to say is: “Perpetual peace is bad.” You have to rock your relationship once in a while to strengthen it. As long as no one is disrespecting the other person sha.
There are times when both of us have argued to the point that your wife walked out so we could fully get into our thing. I remember how we argued a lot leading to the 2019 elections because we supported different candidates. I didn’t understand it at all. It’s like the way I like Asake. I expect my friends to also like him, so when a friend doesn’t, it’s confusing for me. LOL.
Soma: I remember it used to get so heated during that period. I think it’s because we’re from different generations thats why your stand tends to differ from mine, even though I’m not that older than you. LOL. Even when we’re on different sides, we try to see from each other’s perspectives. I’m always quick to say you’re right when it turns out that way.
Chuma: And I was right during the elections. LOL.
I like that we can always resolve our differences. There’s no day we’ve had an argument, no matter how heated, that we didn’t talk the next day. The core of our friendship is not threatened by our conflict. If it’s awful, I’ll share how I feel, and you do the same. We apologise when we need to.
We’re never getting to a point where we’ll let everything go because of a disagreement. Too many people are invested in our relationship at this stage, from my mother to your wife. It has extended beyond both of us, and there’s too much at stake.
He came through for me
Chuma: There’s a reason I call you my come-through commissioner. A recent event that comes to mind was when I lost a close family member early this year , and you followed me all the way to my village.
My family was shocked when I told them you were coming because my village is in a distant place in the east. It wasn’t the most comfortable situation or place, but you managed and didn’t put me under pressure to take care of you while I was mourning. Showing up like that meant a lot to me.
Soma: It wasn’t anything for me. I see you as my family, so coming with you for the funeral was the least I could do. You’re always there for me too. I love how thoughtful and deliberate you are with your friends. Your concern for me extends to my family because I remember when a family member was ill, and you regularly called to check up on them.
Not every friend shares the love and respect they show you with your family members.
What holds our friendship together
Soma: I believe God created friendship so we could have certain people that play important roles in our lives. With you, I have someone who prays with me and for me, someone I can talk to and someone I can share ideas with. It’s important to me that we share the same faith and belief. You also always have the right words to inspire me.
Chuma: People in my office know the workaholic side of me and people on social media see a side of me that’s laid back but still serious. With you, I have that friend I can be my real self around — all the different parts of me. I can also talk to you about anything without feeling uncomfortable.
I also feel our shared values and faith play an important role in our friendship. I don’t think we would have a non-transactional relationship without God. He teaches us how to love, how to be giving and how to be kind. These are the core pillars of a solid friendship. We’ve grown in faith individually, influencing how we treat each other with mutual respect.
I want you to know
Soma: I love that you always tell me the truth. You don’t try to sugarcoat things or twist the situation to make me feel good; you just say something like it is, and I appreciate it. Outside of my wife, I don’t think anyone else is this honest and sincere with me.
Secondly, I’m grateful you’ve taught me how to face conflicts head-on because my reflex move was always to avoid confrontation. LOL. Now it’s easier to be open when I feel offended.
You’ve also taught me how to be intentional when it comes to my friendships. What do they like? How do they want to be treated? And things like that. I appreciate this too.
Chuma: Ah! I just learnt a couple of weeks ago that being brutally honest in friendships is not the best idea, so I’m trying to cut back on that. I’m always going to be honest, but the brutal part is going away. LOL.
I want you to know you’re special to me, and I’m thankful you can accommodate my different sides. You understand me on the days when I’m overly boisterous and on the when I just avoid everyone.
I also love how you always present my best version to the world. I never doubt you have my back, which means a lot to me. Thank you so much, Soma.