Love Life is a Zikoko weekly series about love, relationships, situationships, entanglements and everything in between.

What was your first impression of each other?

Bode: I stumbled on her Instagram page by chance in 2017 when I’d just created an account. And I thought she was so gorgeous. I knew from some of the things she wrote that she was Nigerian, and I had to try to get in touch with her.

Ann: I’d only had my own account for about five months thanks to a slightly younger friend of mine who always made an effort to stay on trend. I was barely active on Facebook, but she had me believing Instagram was the place to be if I wanted to keep up with the world.

When Bode messaged me at first, I thought, “Aha, the creeps have come.” But I took the time to read his introduction, and it was well-crafted and poetic. I had to respond.

Bode: Immediately I got to find out we were in the same city, I set up a meeting — a date, really. And the rest they say is history.

How did this first “meeting” go?

Bode: Splendidly. We found out that it’s truly a small world, and on top of that, we had a lot in common.

Ann: Starting with the fact that he and my mum were from the same Egba town in Ogun state, and we’d both recently lost our spouses. 

His first wife died about a year before from breast cancer, and I lost my husband to a botched hip surgery four months before I met Bode. In fact, I’d only just decided to overcome the grief when I read his DM. After our first meeting, I felt guilty for days because it felt like such a huge betrayal to my husband’s memory to talk to another guy who wasn’t a friend.

Bode: We took a break for about a month before we talked again, and I told her I liked her a lot. I told her I wanted to take care of her and help her heal properly.

Ann: We had this long phone conversation where he told me all about how his wife passed, what it was like for him and what helped him recover. All I did was bawl my eyes out during that call, but it was also healing for me. It was some kind of therapy, and I appreciated that he was bold enough to initiate that kind of conversation with me. 

All my friends did was pretend the death never happened, even pretend that Ezekiel never existed, just so they don’t upset me. But I needed that good cry, and Bode did that for me.

So you decided to start seeing each other?

Ann: Yes. 

I was sad for a while after that call. But then, I was happy again and much lighter. And Bode was through my door with a basket of fruits, wine and baked goods the next morning. We had a pseudo picnic on the floor of my living room.

Bode: We talked for a while, about her family, about church, about how far apart we lived. Both our kids were mostly adults by then, and out of the house for college or work. She only had one son who had less than two more years left in high school. Now, he’s long gone, far away in Sydney.

Ann: From that day on, we became each other’s companions as Bode was nearing retirement. 

My friends were a little concerned at first because it was a rule for us to be careful around people who were complete strangers. We always had to befriend or date a friend of a friend of a friend, even if there were 1,000 friends between us. As long as someone somewhere knew the person, or at least, were coworkers or church mates. You can never be too safe in the US of A. But because Bode lived on the other side of the city, no one in my circle could vouch for him, and that made my people concerned. 

I decided to take that risk, and six years on, I don’t regret it. He’s fully integrated into my group now.

It’s been six years? Will there be wedding bells anytime soon?

Bode: It’s something we talk about time and time again, but we may never do it.

Ann: The memories of our spouses are still very much in our relationship today. We owe it to ourselves to completely heal from that before embarking on such a pivotal journey with each other. We’re taking it easy with separate and joint therapy and really just want to take this relationship at its natural pace.

Bode: Age might not be on our side, but we already had the marriage of our youth, so we’re not in a hurry.

Her separation from her husband was also quite rough. She didn’t get to have closure like I did. I spent years nursing Funmi, so there was plenty of time to let go and come to terms with the finality of her absence. 

For Ann, one moment he was in through the theatre doors to undergo a pretty routine procedure, the next? 

Ann: It was completely unexpected. I didn’t get to say goodbye. There were way too many things left unsaid. That’s a lot of baggage to bring into a new marriage.

Bode: I’ve had closure, but I haven’t quite let go of my wife either. Not sure I ever will. Her photos are everywhere.

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Would you then consider your current relationship romantic given the situation?

Bode: It’s very romantic. Trust me.

Ann: It’s a little unconventional, I know. We don’t live together, and we aren’t necessarily dating to get married, but everything else is romantic. We are the most important people to each other. Sometimes, I imagine I value him even more than my children. He’s my confidant and companion, and he makes me happy in other ways too.

Bode: The intimacy is very strong between us, and I’m grateful for that. There’s something we always do and that’s organise surprises on special days. It’s like a competition now. 

Since the day we got together, I’ve felt like I’ve entered a new lease on life.

How do your kids feel about your relationship?

Ann: My kids are super supportive, but they’re also mostly absent. 

I have four boys. They all left the house during college. My husband and I got a mortgage in a city that isn’t exactly prime commercial U.S. Every young soul is going to Dallas or Silicon. Let them go make money. I don’t think my boys care who I share my bed with.

Bode: I tell you, it’s girls that care about their parents. 

I have two boys and a girl, and after all my “I want sons. I want sons,” who stops by to check that I’ve not passed away in my sleep? Even if it’s just for the small inheritance they may get after, can’t they show concern? I only see all my kids on Christmas Day, but my daughter comes over at least three other times during the year, and I appreciate her for it. 

They’ve all met and adore Ann. What’s not to adore?

Ann: Honestly, I don’t know what’s more heartbreaking, being dumped by a significant other or by your own children. 

These days, I find myself calling home to speak with my parents — yep, they’re still alive — because now, I feel bad for having left them in Nigeria for greener pastures here. My only sister is in the U.K. as well. It must’ve been so hard on them. 

Sorry to digress. In summary, our kids are generally good sports about us being together.

Bode: The only time my eldest showed concern was when I sold the house I’d only just finished covering the mortgage on, to buy a smaller one closer to Ann. He raised eyebrows over FaceTime when that happened, but then, he casually said, “Well, it’s your life, Dad. I hope she makes you happy.” His flippant tone was the worst thing ever. 

Kids will break your heart, mark my words.

OMG. Have you two had a major fight yet?

Bode: Of course. We’ve fought over politics most of all. She’s a lot more conservative Republican than I am, and a lot less concerned about what’s happening in Nigeria. So it’s either I’m too understanding of the ongoing gender and sexuality topic, not Christian enough or I get too worked up over a country neither of us have been to in decades.

Ann: He’s American, born and bred, and only visited Lagos a couple of summers when he was a teenager and his grandmother was keen on seeing more of him. I actually lived in Nigeria up until I was 16. So I don’t get why he acts more concerned than the pope. Especially since there’s little either of us can do about the state of things there.

Bode: Who knows? We won’t know if we don’t talk about it.

Anyway, we also fought over therapy once. 

Ann: In 2021, our psychologist concluded that his casual drinking was becoming more insistent because it’s been his grief coping mechanism for too long. He stubbornly insisted he was no longer in grief, so why would he need alcohol to cope? 

I could see that she was right, but he couldn’t. It frustrated me because he was beginning to drink a lot and at odd hours of the day. Maybe he’d started thinking about his wife more, but he wouldn’t open up to me and kept insisting he was fine. 

Eventually, the whole thing blew up, and we had our biggest argument yet. It left me in tears. However, we came out of it knowing we weren’t trying to hurt each other. It was a hard period for us that lasted some weeks, but we were able to work through his feelings together, and that only strengthened our relationship.

Bode: I couldn’t have said any of that better myself.

I have no idea if I actually missed my wife or if it was just general disillusionment about life, but it was great to have a support system in Ann at that time.

How would you rate your Love Life on a scale of 1 to 10?

Bode: 10/10

Ann: Same. You came at the perfect time. You’re my Godsend.

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NEXT UP: Love Life: We’ve Drifted Apart, but Can’t Break Our Engagement



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