Love Life is a Zikoko weekly series about love, relationships, situationships, entanglements and everything in between.
What is your earliest memory of each other?
Blessing: Well, Uwem was annoying when we first met.
Blessing: Oya, tell me what you remember.
Uwem: The first time I saw her, we were at rehearsals. We were in the same dance group at Covenant University. You know Covenant University has many rules and breaking any of them is trouble. In our dance group, there was this gist of a girl that reported an issue that got another lady punished. I took the person’s side, because obviously, I had not met Blessing.
Blessing: Can you stop telling this story like this? I did not snitch.
Uwem: People were talking about it, and I wanted to know who they were talking about. Someone pointed her out to me as the person. That was my first memory of her, but then her ex introduced her to me because we used to be in the same dance group. I used to be everyone’s daddy — someone people felt comfortable talking to about anything. That’s what I remember.
Blessing: He wasn’t my school daddy for the record. He was just a daddy to everybody. Let me explain that story to you. I was the floor rep which means I had to monitor the activities of people living on my floor. The lady was on my floor, and she broke one of the rules. Her roommate reported her to the school authorities, but somehow I got accused because I was the floor rep. The whole thing was weird because the girl and I are cool.
When Uwem heard that gist, he didn’t know me, so it was easy for him to believe it but when we finally met, he realised I wasn’t that person.
The guy Uwem was talking about wasn’t my boyfriend yet, but he wanted to date me. He was also from the opposite dance group. He came to tell Uwem, our dance group daddy, that there was this girl he liked and wanted to talk to, which was me. That was how we all started talking — me, him, Uwem. Uwem’s ex-girlfriend was also there. He found out that I was cool, smart, interesting, fun…
Uwem: Hype yourself oh.
Blessing: Yup. After that day, every time we saw each other, we would just hang out and gist. We became each other’s confidant. He would tell me about the problems he was experiencing in his relationship at the time, and I would tell him about mine.
We moved to Yahoo Messenger and began chatting. His girlfriend broke up with him, we kept chatting. My boyfriend broke up with me, we kept chatting. He went back to his girlfriend, we kept chatting. We tried hooking each other up with other people, didn’t work out, but we kept chatting. We chatted for a really long time sha.
And during all this time, you people were not dating?
Blessing: It’s difficult to believe, but we were friends and never had any romantic feelings for each other. We just thought, “This person gets me.”
Uwem: My guy…
Blessing: Yeah. This was something most of my guy friends in school, even outside school called me. It annoyed me because I am a babe, but they were comfortable having “guy” conversations with me.
Uwem: You need to add that you had very few female friends.
Blessing: That doesn’t give you people the right to guy-zone me. I knew it was easy to talk to me. We could talk about football, Naruto and actual rubbish. They would share their problems with me, and I would give them advice. That’s how Uwem and I were. We were so close that our partners were always freaking out about our closeness.
How did you people make the transition from being just guys to being in a romantic relationship?
Uwem: It was awkward at first because when you involve emotions in friendships, little things that used to be overlooked become issues, whether or not it’s a problem.
Blessing: You are such a philosopher. How did you start liking me?
Uwem: I’m getting there. The shift happened at a dinner. It was 2016, and I was leading the Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurship Programme. The CEO then, Parminder Vir, invited me to a dinner and asked me to bring my significant other. Nobody in my office knew Blessing then. It was a top-notch event with important people. Sometime during the dinner, a conversation about Africa’s business development started and Blessing was just sharing her two cents with these people. These were people I revered, but Blessing was engaging them and it was fun.
That night when we got home, I asked myself, “What exactly is your plan with Blessing?” She is a rare combination of many things — she’s beautiful, street-smart and book-smart. That night, I asked her out. I thought she said yes because a big part of me wanted it to be yes but this naughty girl said she was going to think about it — I didn’t hear her. For a whole month, I thought I was dating her, meanwhile, I was dating myself. After one month, I sent her a happy anniversary message and this babe said, “Oh, we are dating?” LOL.
How did you guys move from dating to getting married?
Uwem: We dated about three years. I’m the kind of person that likes to build relationships that have end goals. My goal was to build a family made of me and her, build an empire and all that with her. One day I was like, “Why am I wasting my time when I can just propose to this babe?” During this time, Blessing was saying she didn’t want to get married. She wanted a partnership but not a marriage. She told everyone I was her partner, but I wanted something more deliberate.
So I spent about a month planning to propose to her. It was July 2018, I got us a private cinema and lied to her that we were planning a company retreat at my office and I wanted her opinion of the cinema experience. I made a short video of all the good times we’ve had together — like our trips to a number of countries and good times we’ve had together.
I invited some of our closest friends and her sister. We were just eight because I knew Blessing would like something small. Blessing was particularly difficult that evening. She wanted to wear shorts and slippers because we were supposed to be going to see a movie. Her friends were telling her to wear makeup and she asked if they were going for the Grammys. LOL. It was as if the devil was pushing her that day. Eventually, she wore something nice but still casual. At the cinema and just before the movie, she was surprised to see me on screen talking about how much I loved her, and when she turned to ask me what was going on, I knelt down and asked her to marry me. I felt like if I didn’t hold her, she would have run out of the cinema, but she said yes.
What’s the best part of the relationship?
Uwem: The fact that we can talk to each other.
Blessing: Yes, it’s the friendship for me. When I moved to Lagos, he was the only person I was comfortable talking to about my plans. I talk a lot, but I’m not great at sharing the important stuff. So when we started dating, I was worried that we would lose the friendship. We didn’t exactly know how to navigate that. We had to have a conversation about whether we were going to continue as friends or as lovers.
Uwem: Because our first fight happened when we started dating.
Blessing: Yup, so we decided that no matter what, we would keep the friendship. So far, I think we’ve done a good job.
Uwem: Even though you are annoying.
Blessing: You are the most annoying person in the world but I choose you. We recently agreed on a pact that no matter what, we would cuddle through the night. This is because when I’m annoyed with someone, I can’t stand being around them. I could be in the same room with them, but I can’t talk to them. I feel like that would be pretending we are fine but I also suck at malice. So when he is calling me baby, I’m like, who is your baby? But now, we’ve decided to cuddle it out even when it’s uncomfortable. I think it has helped our fights because after cuddling, we might as well just talk about it.
What was your biggest fight about?
Uwem: It has to be the couch.
Blessing: After Uwem proposed, we decided to move in together, so we got a house. We were doing marriage counselling at this time. Before counselling, we thought we were great at communicating with each other, but counselling helped us see that we weren’t finishing our conversations, which means we both leave conversations with assumptions.
A good example was the couch. We both wanted a sectional couch as the centrepiece of the living room, but nobody was specific about what kind of sectional they wanted. So when it was time to buy it, I showed him a minimalist couch that you can’t lie on because I really didn’t want people lying down on my couch, but Uwem wanted a thick sectional couch that was comfortable enough for sleeping. We eventually convinced each other that the other person’s couch might be a better choice. By the time, it was time to buy it, we had reversed roles — Uwem wanted the minimalist couch and I wanted the thick one. That started another round of arguments.
We also had these artisans who were working on the house. I don’t know how to pretend something is okay when it isn’t, so when these artisans make something off my specifications, I won’t manage it and I would deduct money for what I’m supposed to pay. Uwem will be like, don’t worry, we can manage it, but after a while, he will start complaining about the same thing.
There was a lot of tension around moving in, and at some point, I said I’m not doing again. Now, it sounds trivial, but then it felt like he wasn’t sensitive to how I was feeling and I wasn’t sensitive to him as well. We thought maybe we would have worked better if we were just friends. We went to tell our counsellor, and he laughed at us. He explained that we’re not finishing our conversations. He advised at the end of any conversation, we should ask each other what decisions we have made based on the conversation and the next steps to be taken.
He also helped us realise that we were reflecting our love languages on each other. I like acts of service and Uwem likes quality time, so he would be spending time with me when that’s not what I want. I don’t want you to sit down with me in the kitchen — I want you to relieve some of the burden by washing plates while I’m cooking so I will finish faster. It was a learning moment for both of us and Uwem is so supportive, gosh! I love it.
What is your favourite thing about each other?
Uwem: I love that Blessing questions the norm. I am a non-confrontational person, so it can be annoying when she gets contrarian, but it’s something I really like about her. I also think she has a good heart. An example is one time, we bought some electric products from a shop. When we got home, Blessing realised that we were undercharged and she made sure we went back to pay for the product. I remember thinking we had spent all our money buying these things and maybe this was God’s gift to us, but Blessing pushed until we went back and paid for it. That made me like her more. Plus, she’s good company.
Blessing: My favourite thing about Uwem is his quest for knowledge. He always wants to know what’s happening. There’s barely anything you ask him about that he doesn’t know at least one thing about it. Even when he doesn’t know, he’s always trying to research and find out.
I also like how he treats people. He respects people before he even knows them. In all, I love how he treats me. It sounds selfish, but he treats me really well. When he tries to be defensive, he always comes back to me to say, “Babe, it’s both of us in this relationship, both of us against the fight or whatever challenge we’re having.” That friendship is priceless.
What are your future plans together?
Blessing: We are trying to build assets. We have my money, his money and our money. We have the same structure for our savings, our investments and asset building. We’re focused on building assets as a couple and improving our relationship with each other.
Uwem: And having more experiences together.
Rate your relationship on a scale of one to 10 and why?
Uwem: 10! We joke about this when we are cuddling sometimes. I feel like she was made for me. We are not perfect because I have my issues and she has hers, but when we come together, everything works out. Sometimes I wonder why I am with this troublesome person, but at the end of the day, she’s the best person for me. I said this in my vows — she makes me a better person.
Blessing: Same for me. I like that we are not trying to force each other to be something else. We take each other as we are.
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