Love Life is a Zikoko weekly series about love, relationships, situationships, entanglements and everything in between.
Kenny, 32, and Yinka, 29, have been married for three years, dated for two and were friends for almost a decade before that. This week on Love Life, they talk about their mutual crush in secondary school, stepping out of each other’s friend zone and not conforming to society’s rules on marriage.
What’s your earliest memory of each other?
Kenny: Saint Saviour’s High School in 2009. I was our biology teacher’s favourite, so she’d send me to all the SS 3 classes to write her assignments on the board. In Yinka’s class, her friend would tease her saying her husband was here. I would just smile, do my work and leave.
Yinka: Mine was when we went on an excursion to Silverbird Galleria in SS 2. I saw him and just admired his personality. He was jovial and talking to a lot of people. When we returned to school, and I needed to reach my mum, he offered me his phone to call her. I just thought, “This is a really nice person”.
When did you realise you liked each other?
Kenny: I attended a computer training school with my twin while applying to universities. Yinka joined the school at some point. She was still just a friend then, but I remember she used to dress very nice. She’s dark-skinned, and she’d wear all kinds of silver jewellery — necklaces, bracelets, whatever — that popped so well on her skin. It made her look very beautiful. Seeing her like that every day, I started to develop feelings for her, although we remained friends for many more years.
Yinka: While we were at the computer school, there was a particular day I had to go to his house — we lived in the same area — to wait for my mum to get back from work. I was so tired I just sat with him and his twin in their sitting room as they were gisting. I don’t even remember what the conversation was about, but I loved how he spoke and reasoned.
Kenny, why didn’t you just ask her out right away?
Kenny: Because we were friends already na, and that’s something too. It took about nine years before I even tried to go beyond that.
Ah. So when did you both know you’d fallen in love?
Kenny: As friends, we saw each other a lot. I was always moving around the country for work, but she’d try to see me whenever I was in Lagos or Ibadan. If I were anywhere else, she’d always reach out. She was consistent with her approach. One day, I was at my best friend’s house in Ajah, and after work, she took an Uber to visit me. She came with catfish, so she made us pepper soup and then did some cleaning. She took responsibility even though we were at my friend’s house and he was supposed to be our host. I think my love language is when people do something tangible for me. She slept over, and I asked her out that night in 2018.
Yinka: Well, for me, it was the fact that I like when people understand me. You know when something is happening, and you think you’re overreacting or going crazy. But you explain it to someone and they just get it. We were having a conversation once, and that happened. I think that’s when I fell in love with him. I knew with him I’d have someone I can always talk to who’ll understand things from my point of view. That night at his friend’s, we had a conversation about sex and how I wanted to wait till I was married. His response made me happy.
What was his response?
Yinka: He said he understood and respected my decision. He never disturbed me about sex after that till we got married.
Do you remember what your first major fight was about?
Kenny: We never fought as friends. But fast forward to after she became my fiancée in 2019. She visited me in Ibadan and my best friend was around. They went to a restaurant before I got back from work. I’d already told Yinka I wanted my food as takeaway, but somehow, my friend influenced her to order it to be eaten in and that I’d come soon. When I got there, I saw my food was already served, and it was getting cold. They’d already eaten, so I also had to rush the food. Plus, I wasn’t even ready to eat yet. I wasn’t happy with Yinka, and I told her when we got home. It wouldn’t have been an issue because I was just communicating my feelings to her. Normally, she would’ve apologised, but he instigated her, and the whole thing blew up into our first major fight.
Yinka: More like a misunderstanding. It wasn’t from either of us. It was a third-party influence. We hardly ever fight.
Goals. Meanwhile, fiancée? What was the proposal like?
Kenny: It wasn’t dramatic. Just the two of us spontaneously agreeing to forever, one day at my house.
How has this relationship been different from past ones?
Kenny: She’s been a friend for a long time, and we’ve been there for each other through the relationships we’ve had with other people, which is rare. Also, Yinka is a very peaceful person. Life gets stormy, but for me, she calms the storm. She’s always been there for me and is someone I can rely on to do what she says she will. Unlike other people who are mostly concerned with being young, silly and just fooling around, she’s a reliable partner. I can trust her with my life.
Yinka: When I lost my dad in 2013, we hadn’t spoken in a while because I attended Covenant University and phones weren’t allowed. But he was the first person to reach out to me, and he didn’t even know I’d lost my dad. He just called randomly and knew something was wrong from how I sounded. He keeps talking about my consistency, but he was consistent too. Even on my graduation day in 2015, he came with his friend all the way to Ogun state from Kano. Kenny is always there for me, and that support is key, even more than love.
What’s the most unconventional thing about your relationship?
Kenny: I’m a Muslim and Yinka is a Christian. Getting our parents to even agree to the marriage was a huge struggle. But for us to be able to build a relationship, marry and even have a child just proves we don’t care about labels. We’ve built on what’s most important to us: the friendship we had from day one, the trust we’ve built and our compatibility.
Yinka: Another thing is we don’t follow society’s rules about what a marriage should be like. We’re more like friends committed to a lifetime together. There’s nothing like gender roles; we share everything equally. We both work, take turns caring for our young daughter, cook, clean, run errands, etc. We’re just laid back about our marriage.
How has the relationship changed you?
Kenny: It’s my social life that’s changed sha. The rest has remained the same. The “bachelor” me can stay home seven days a week, 12 months a year. Meeting Yinka’s family, I adjusted slightly to their lifestyle. My mother-in-law is the life of the party, and I really don’t like partying.
Yinka: Me, I’m now a mother! I’m constantly thinking about my husband and child. But the most significant change is how I’ve become more active in pursuing my dreams and goals. Kenny always says, “You know you can do this. Go for it. Try it. But just even try first”. Then I come out successful. He’s like, “You see. I told you you can do it”. It’s so encouraging. Sometimes, all we need is a little push. Since we got married, we’ve successfully japa, and I’ve started my Master’s — things I’ve always wanted to do.
What’s the best thing about being married to each other?
Yinka: The fact that I’m naked. We know everything about each other. I tell him everything. We don’t find it difficult to make decisions because we understand each other so well. Many people tell me, “Wow, you and your husband are so in sync”. Of course, I mean, we don see each other finish. Also, we don’t conform to rules and roles. While I was pregnant, different members of both our families had everything to say about what I should or shouldn’t be doing, and we would stand up for each other. Kenny would tell me, “Don’t just disturb yourself o. Don’t listen to anybody”.
Kenny: Our understanding and sync make it so good. One time, I was at home, and she wasn’t. Her aunty asked her something outside, then got home before her to ask me the same thing. We gave the same answer. We always consult each other before making decisions, and that’s what marriage is about.
How would you rate your love life on a scale of 1 to 10?
Yinka: For me, it’s 10/10 because what more can I ask for? He’s a great husband, and we have a wonderful child together. He’s sweet, supports me 100%, good sex. Please, I’m living my best life.
Kenny: You’ve heard it from the horse’s mouth. I dey do my work well. So I’ll rate it 10 too, minus nothing.
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