Dear Tunji,

It is with assurance of the fulfilment of God’s glorious plan for your life that I write you. I am praying for you and I must say that you have grown into a fine man. By the end of this year, I would have been married for three years. It has been the best years in my life. The thought of sharing space, funds, thoughts, secrets, everything with a ‘woman’ didn’t initially appeal to me; however, now, if she happens to be away from home for some reasons, I’d rather work late than return home early. But you see, at the time when I had to decide whether to marry or not and whether to marry her or not to, it dawned on me that the hard part of marriage isn’t the rehearsal of how to propose to her or meeting her parents or even raising funds for the ceremony; the hard part was choosing her in the first place.

Every man (well, almost) looks forward to being married to the woman of his dreams. I said almost because I presume you are aware now that some men look forward to marrying the men of their dreams contrary to God’s prescription for marriage (See Rom. 1:27). Permit me to say that God’s glorious plan for your life includes her - your woman. And the responsibility to ‘find’ her isn’t God’s responsibility; it is yours. I’m sure you can learn a few things from my experience. At first, I was busy indulging myself into thinking my spouse would be someone else. Her name was Tomi (not her real name). I thought about her, talked about her and all the while, I wasn’t sure but wished she was the one; the end result? It turned out that she wasn’t the one. You can be the hindrance to your choosing a life partner. For example, if you like her to be tall, fluent in English language, fair skinned, very educated, from a rich family, submissive, soft-spoken, born-again and spirit-filled among others, you most likely won’t find such an ideal choice. You must reach a compromise by listing the characteristics that you can live with and the ones that are not negotiable. I really looked forward to having a tall spouse, but as you may know, Damilola (my spouse) is not tall. Yet I keep thanking God each day for opening me up to seeing and accepting His beautiful will.

Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t marry her only because God said so, I loved her as soon as I sensed she was God’s will. So, when God starts to talk to you about your spouse, your list must be subjected to God’s editing. For example, I wasn’t going to compromise marrying anyone who wasn’t born-again and spirit-filled. Of course, there is nothing wrong with marrying a wife that makes heads turn when she walks by; but there is evidently something wrong when that is all there is to that wife. If you don’t know this and accept it, you could waste precious time struggling with God over why it has to be her and not another sister. Tunji, before I met Damilola, I was in a relationship I sincerely thought (or wanted and wished) would result in marriage. I poured myself into that relationship and now, when I think about it, I can’t but ask myself, “Olumese, what were you thinking?” That relationship was beautiful on the outside and at the time but it was outside God’s will for me. Even though she was born again (I can’t attest to the spirit filled aspect) but she wasn’t God’s perfect will for me. You want to know the result? When she walked away from that relationship (let me spare you the details), she virtually walked away with much more than I thought: my trust was eroded, I felt empty without any more love to give, I felt cheated, I felt hurt and I didn’t ever want it to happen again. So, I built a wall! That wall made me appear like I was deep in God’s work and that I was so busy; I had no time for marital relationship. I made rules (sound principles) which were meant to keep me away from ladies because out of my own hard-heartedness, I learnt a lesson which the devil indeed wanted me to learn—“all ladies are the same, even the born again ones”. That became a challenge - a long gone relationship can mess with your ability to see correctly God’s will for you and then pour yourself into her. How did I break out of it you may ask; At a point, I couldn’t keep up with the drama anymore because God was coming to me with that issue time and again but I simply had a prepared answer, “let’s not talk about it”. Eventually, on God’s platform of mercy, I succumbed and God spoke just four words: “Son, let it go”. All the while, my beloved wife was around but I couldn’t see hher until I let go of that past relationship. I had to forgive her for walking away and forgive myself for acting contrary to God’s bidding. Only then was I able to properly discern God’s will for my life.

Then, there were my female friends. It was evident some were trying to catch my attention. For those ones, they fizzled away the moment they knew that Damilola and I were in courtship. I sent pings on my BB and persons that could previously chat me up all night now replied with one word at a time and most times a smiley. The same applies to you. You must get to the point where you have confidence to proceed with your convictions about who to marry. This means risking all your other female friends for I tell you the truth, the moment you name your spouse, it is like announcing “…and the winner is…” All the others go home. Your relationship with them will never be the same again. I know you may still want to hang out with them, go to the cafeteria with them… face it, your relationships with those pretty ladies will never be the same again. I wish I could tell you to relax because it is going to be easy; but I can’t because it is not going to be easy. Of course, you can still keep the relationship with your female friends in top gear and hang out for as long as you want to but that is if you don’t want your marriage relationship to work. Then there was Damilola’s friend who thought I wasn’t good enough for her friend. You may have friends that tell you she is not good enough for you. But in the end, you need to make that decision and be sure that by God’s leading is was your decision, not your pastor’s, not your parent’s, not your best friend’s, not your mentor’s for when all these ones have wished you a happy married life on the day you say your vows, you’ll be left all by yourself—you, your spouse and God in your bedroom.

By now, you will be wondering how Damilola became my choice. It all began the day I walked into class for the first time as an undergraduate student of building structures in May 2008. Ranti, a cute beautiful and anointed lady, greeted me in a familiar way. I taught her computer operations some time ago in Ikole-Ekiti, a town in South West Nigeria. She was with her friend, Damilola. She introduced Damilola and we had a brief chat. I discovered that she loved reading and writing just like I did. As days turned to weeks and weeks to months, we became close friends. Then, the four months strike that the lecturers of Nigerian universities embarked on in 2009 came. I couldn’t reach Damilola throughout the strike. Unknown to me, she was sick for those four months. When we eventually resumed, I couldn’t believe what I saw; she was a shadow of herself. She had become painfully thin and couldn’t walk. I felt for her, and so, every day I stopped over after class to assist her walk to a gate and back until she could walk all by herself. I really can’t tell when the bond clicked, but at a point, each time I thought and prayed about marriage, she just flashed in my heart. She was on the debate team of her department. As we were in the same faculty, we were supposed to meet at a certain level but she was so good that I couldn’t bring myself to debate against her department. I joined the soccer team instead. After classes, our group of friends (two guys and three ladies) usually walked to our hostel together. At such times, you could easily hear Damilola singing songs for children. I would think to myself, “God, she’ll make a good mother” and then I’ll scold myself. Eventually, it became clear to me, deep down, that she was God’s provision for me. Then, I started running away. Basically, because I felt it didn’t conform to the ‘religious’ setting around me and we didn’t want what that religious setting called a scandal. Eventually, I was sure within me that she was the one and so, despite all odds and those who felt it couldn’t be, I stepped into the relationship. I also met the spiritual leader and parents of Damilola for proper permission to court her. There is much more to say by the way of my counsel to you, but I must stop now to continue another time. In closing, let me share a phrase I picked up while surfing the web and it reminded me of one deeply seated desire I had for anyone God would permit me to marry: “I also told my kids; you need someone to go the distance with you, Someone who is willing to take the good and bad times and not skip out when things get rough.”