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

How did you meet?

Comfort: In university. He was this tall guy a year ahead of me who owned a food business everyone knew about. Every student was jealous of him and other business owners like him who were very clearly making money and getting it right in life while the rest of us were confused.

Obinna: I thought I was making money too until I graduated from that school. Tears.

Comfort: Don’t mind him. He’s being humble. 

Anyway, I knew him right from 100 level in 2016 because his small chops and barbeque business was already going well by then. He used to sell them to students, with his elder brother and a non-student they hired. I, like everyone in school, patronised him almost every day. 

By the next year, we’d started exchanging pleasantries, and he was always willing to add one extra BBQ chicken to my small chops pack. See me smiling like an idiot anytime he did that. But it was all random. I don’t think either of us was thinking romantic then.

Obinna: I had a girlfriend at the time, but I considered becoming friends with Comfort very early on. I just didn’t act on it.

Comfort: At that point in my life, I believed thinking about boyfriend was unserious. I was 15 then 16. My focus was first class.

So when did you realise you liked each other?

Obinna: It wasn’t until final year in 2019. My business was still going strong, but my brother had graduated so it was all on me, and it was challenging to run alone. It was my first real taste of how tough it was to be an entrepreneur, dealing with vendors, keeping my server in check and all that. Things were crazy in terms of inflation that year (little did we know what 2023 would bring sha). 

Long story short, my girlfriend since 200 level broke up with me — something about me being too scattered. The very next evening, Comfort came to patronise me. I just remember seeing her and immediately getting in a good mood.

Comfort: The way he said “Hi” actually took me aback. He had this bright smile on his face, so I asked why he was so happy. He said, “Because God is good all the time.” I just started laughing. He served me and my friends personally, but he was also very upbeat and friendly when he greeted them, so I didn’t really think he liked me. When I got to my room though, I was still smiling and thinking about him. His brightness made my day.

Obinna: I wanted to ask her out so bad, but I didn’t know how to go about it, so I just waited for a natural opportunity.

Comfort: I kept thinking of a way to have a proper conversation with him, but I told myself it wasn’t because I liked him but because I was curious about how he was making his business work. I’d tried at least two businesses by then, but they all crashed. It wasn’t like I was broke, but it was the in thing then to want to be an entrepreneur. 

Anyway, God made a way for us to connect. He planted it in my heart to invite him to our campus fellowship. When I invited him, he agreed without argument, and I saw that as a good sign. The last thing I’d do is try to force people to attend my fellowship when it’s clear they don’t want to.

What happened at the fellowship?

Obinna: I’ve always had a strong spiritual life, but in university, I stopped attending anything that wasn’t Sunday service. I saw her invitation as God reminding me I was drawing back a bit. Also, I was at a low point in my life mentally, so I didn’t mind anything that would enrich my soul. 

Also also, I’d been waiting for a chance to get closer to her. This was obviously the golden opportunity. Attending fellowship together any chance we got drew us closer than ever.

Comfort: He integrated so easily and deeply into the fellowship that in just a matter of months, it didn’t even seem like he was new anymore. He got along well with our youth pastor and was very helpful with outreaches in particular, thanks to his food business. 

For us, we got to spend more time than ever after classes. And I was excited that he was helping me spend more time in God’s presence, even though half the time, it was because I wanted to be in his presence too.

Obinna: I got to know her and see her through God’s eyes, and that was the best thing. We talked about the ministry and made grand plans to focus on that and business after school.

You graduated the next year, right? How did that work out?

Obinna: Pretty well. I got funding from an angel investor, expanded to jollof rice and chicken/turkey and fully set my food business up on Instagram and Jumia. Our relationship also survived because I chose to be posted to our university’s state and served in the school.

Comfort: Life pretty much went on as normal during my final year, if you ignore the project and convocation hustle part. He worked as an office assistant in his course department but was mostly free to run his business.

Obinna: I also had more time to spend helping out in our campus fellowship and was made an assistant youth pastor two months in. I was tasked with leading the NYSC division in the school’s local government.

And when did you both know you’d fallen in love?

Comfort: I’d suspected so for a while, even when he was still in final year. But watching him and joining him to minister to his fellow corpers made me fall in love fully. I recognised his fire for Jesus and resonated with it. I still think he should be a pastor, but he insists God wants him in the background. 

Also, my parents are both pastors, so I introduced him to them as soon as things got serious between us, and they immediately saw what I saw in him.

Obinna: The day I knew I was in love with her was when I asked her out on a date when we’d just started getting to know each other. I texted her that would she like to come out to get something to eat, and she replied with such excitement. I think she texted, “Yayyyyyy. YES. When and where?” Something like that. And when I called her, she couldn’t contain her joy. 

It’s so small, but I’d gotten used to having girlfriends hold back their emotions just so you don’t know how much they like you or not. Because we think when we show it, we’ve lost some game. I’m guilty of that too. But she? She didn’t care. She was overjoyed to be invited to hang out with me and wasn’t afraid to show it. I just knew I wanted to be with someone so brave and genuine.

Comfort: Wow. I’ve actually never heard him tell that story like this.

Obinna: That’s why I asked her to marry me when she was about to go for NYSC and they posted her to Niger. I knew she’d still redeploy, but I didn’t want to lose her in camp. I almost took it back when I remembered she was still 19.

Wait, what? 

Obinna: Don’t worry. I was 22. I was also too young.

Comfort: But I didn’t think so at all. Our ancestors married much younger. I was absolutely sure when he asked me to marry him that I wanted to be his wife forever, and I didn’t see any reason why we should wait. I was sure, and I’m still sure.

Obinna: In the end, we married because we didn’t want our passionate love to lead us to sin.

Comfort: We didn’t want to ever be tempted into pre-marital physical relations of any sort. Because up until that moment, we’d done nothing more than kiss. I was a virgin, and while he wasn’t exactly, he’d chosen to be celibate for us.

But how did it happen? Were you still 19? What did your parents say? I have so many questions

Obinna: Her parents are pastors. They were the first to tell us that the spirit of God was eminent in our relationship. I’ll never forget her father telling me the Holy Spirit guided us to decide to do the right thing early. He told me that we should count ourselves lucky for getting things right so young, and I think he’s right. 

It was my parents who were resistant.

Comfort: I’d met his mum before then, but I didn’t know his parents the way he knew mine. Obinna visited my home freely and even started attending our church when we were home for holidays. But I felt too self-conscious to visit his home.

Obinna: When she went to camp, and I told my father I’d proposed to my girlfriend, he laughed at me. He asked me whether it was because he was giving me money anyhow that I thought I could sponsor a family of my own. He didn’t care that my business was doing well when I hadn’t gotten a job four months after passing out of NYSC.

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How did you guys cross that bridge?

Obinna: I didn’t do anything about it at first because I wasn’t in a hurry, but when she redeployed to Lagos, she made it clear to me that she was ready for us to marry right after she passed out at the end of the year. By that time, she’d be well into 20 years.

Comfort: I was excited about getting married. 

I’m the first of my mother’s five children, so I practically raised my younger ones and loved it. One of my major dreams — besides having my own business and preaching the gospel regularly — was always to raise my own family. I just never imagined it would happen sooner rather than later. 

My parents are my safety net if we ever struggle financially, which I knew we won’t because my husband is led by God.

Obinna: I had to ask my elder brothers to accompany me to talk to my father again. They mocked me but agreed to go with and even talk for me. My father respects my eldest brother a lot, so he accepted to bless my decision. It helped that my mother loved Comfort from the start. She was reluctant to the idea of us marrying early, but she didn’t hate it.

Were either of you scared you were making the wrong decision?

Obinna: Yes, of course.

Comfort: Nope.

Obinna: I was scared because my father put the fear of God in my heart about how hard it was to take care of a family. I kept imagining myself broke and unable to pay school fees.

Comfort: God forbid. That can never be us.

Obinna: Well, her faith and my love for her helped a lot. The last thing I wanted to do was develop cold feet and abandon her at the altar.

Comfort: God would’ve never let that happen though. I’m His favourite.

I agree. So how did the wedding go?

Comfort: We planned it while I was serving, and it was both exciting and frustrating. My zonal inspector made my life hell, but I thank God I don’t look like what I’ve been through. 

We went to Ikoyi Registry the week after my passing out parade in October 2021, and our parents were there as witnesses with one of my younger sisters. The church wedding was a month after that. I cried during that one and ruined my makeup. 

Before he lies, you should know Obinna also cried.

Obinna: I did. No one tells you how intense the church ceremony gets. I also think we were both tired from all the activity that led up to the day. It was a big ceremony. She even invited NYSC officials to the reception.

Comfort: We’d saved up from my alawee and his business to spend a weekend at a nice hotel resort on the mainland. So we were able to rest it all out and just be alone together — our version of a honeymoon. 

That was actually when we discussed some important things like how many children we wanted. Don’t worry we’d talked genotype, living arrangements and a financial plan while I was serving.

That’s right. How could you afford your own place in this economy?

Comfort: Oh, we had help, I must confess. My parents paid for two years’ rent on a two-bedroom. The original plan was to live in his parents’ house for some time, but my dad was vehemently against it.

Obinna: That expires in about two months, so we’ll soon be on our own. Luckily, we took our rent savings seriously last year because 2023 has been rough for business so far. We’ve only just stabilised operations.

Comfort: And our family church has been helpful — funding here, patronage there. That’s one good thing about being faithful with our tithes and offerings.

Do you remember what your first major fight was about?

Comfort: By God’s grace, we haven’t had a major fight yet, but we do argue from time to time. 

Obinna: The recurring one I can think of is when feminism comes up and she denies she’s a feminist. She hates the label just because of the bad rep it gets, but she’s always the first to speak up when she or any woman around her is treated badly in a way that’s obvious it’s because of her gender. She does everything a feminist would do, but the moment I call her a feminist, she gets upset.

Comfort: You said it already. I don’t like the label. I’m a humanist.

Obinna: That sounds exactly like “All lives matter”.

Comfort: I don’t know about that one o. 

I won’t say men and women are equal; we’re not the same. I also don’t need to get aggressive or behave like a man to prove I should be treated with respect. There’s feminine energy, and it’s much different than masculine energy. Let’s stop trying to compare or covet someone else’s place.

Ah, sorry. What’s the most unconventional thing about your relationship?

Obinna: Hmm. We wouldn’t really know. No one knows for certain what goes on in other people’s relationships.

Comfort: What even makes up a conventional relationship? Isn’t everyone, and so, every relationship different? 

The things about us that take a special place in my heart though, is how much praying harmony we have. We always move in the same frequency, we spur each other on during daily devotion and trust me when I say that’s a blessing. 

Also, how we let each other be young. My only fear coming into this marriage was I’d get too old or mature too fast. I’ve always been seen as too mature and even boring for my age, as a firstborn. So I thought one day when I’m like 25, someone would see so much marriage weight on my head and shoulders and think I’m 35. 

But we allow ourselves to think, dress and behave young.

Obinna: We even made a decision to not start having children till either me or her turn 30, depending on which feels most natural to us when we get there. We are religious about birth control, but if it happens by an act of God before then, we won’t put a stop to it, of course.

Comfort: We hope God would be merciful enough to honour our wishes though because we’d have to grow up fast once children enter the picture.

True. But don’t you get the usual pressure to be “fruitful” now that you’re married?

Comfort: We do, but the only good thing about the current situation in the country is that people can hardly put that kind of pressure on you with their full mouth. People don’t even visit or call these days because are you seeing the price of fuel?

Obinna: Everyone has sort of quietly agreed that this isn’t the type of economic situation to bring a baby into. The last thing my mother said on the subject, earlier in the year was, “Obim, just take your time. Nothing is chasing you.”

Comfort: My parents only had to be told we’re doing family planning, and nothing was wrong in the fertility department, to drop the subject — at least, for another two or so years.

Got it. How would you rate your love life on a scale of 1 to 10?

Obinna: I want to say 10, but I don’t want to be too proud.

Comfort: Yes o. Perfection is for Jesus, so let’s just humbly say 9.

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