TWO YEARS LATER…CELEBRATING OUR TWO YEARS AS #SHENTELL
Two Years and counting… You are probably reading this thinking, “how in the world has it been two years since the start of #Shentell?” I don’t know what to tell you but we are two years down and already planning our Diamond Anniversary (75th) celebration.
Abott Kinney Blvd., near Los Angeles, California (December 2017)
It has been an exciting two years of marriage for Sheila and I. I’m sure there were some frustrating days early on as we settled into a life together but it has been a joyous two years as we have learned to live together, outside of our home environments and in a country that provides its own challenges.
A few people have told us “a marriage without children is not a happy marriage!” This is a very traditional (and African) viewpoint. I was talking with my driver one day and he told me that Sheila and I needed to have a child. I told him that Sheila and I had never lived in the same place together so we needed to spend a year just getting to know each other. He thought about what I said and responded by saying, “what happens if you get to the point that you don’t like each other?” I laughed at his question because to him, what was the purpose of being married if there were no children?
It is not like Sheila and I do not want children. It is just that we wanted to wait. We read many books before we got married about starting your marriage off on the right foot. Several friends who had children in their first year of marriage encouraged us to wait and spend time getting to know each other. A friend told me that because his wife became pregnant so early in their marriage, it took two years for him to differentiate between the mood swing of his wife’s monthly cycle and the hormones of a pregnancy.
We credit three books for helping us start our marriage in the right direction. The first book was “Things I Wish I’d Known Before We Got Married” by Gary Chapman. We really enjoyed this simple and easy to read book because it touched issues such as “love doesn’t pay the bills, that when we married our spouse we also married their family and sexual fulfillment is not automatic. The second book, “Right from the Start: A Premarital Guide for Couples ” by David and Lisa Frisbe provided real life examples of couples struggling to improve their marriage. The final book was/is His Needs Her Needs: Building an Affair Proof Marriage by Willard F. Harley, Jr. This is probably my favorite book in turns of good, practical information about what to expect from the other spouse. The chapters are step up based on what the husband/wife can’t live without. For instance, when a woman says she wants to talk, she doesn’t want you to say, “About what?” She is looking for you to share something about yourself. She wants you to be vulnerable. (But we men know how difficult that is).
Royal Crescent, Bath, United Kingdom
Sheila and I have read numerous books, listened to various sermons and talked with several friends about the difficulties of marriage. We learned before our wedding that a good marriage requires effort. In 2017, I was working in Dar Es Salaam on temporary duty and having lunch with office colleagues. The conversation moved to marriage and I begin to tell the staff how Sheila and I prepared for our marriage. One of the women at the lunch said, “that’s a lot of effort, people have been getting married for thousand of years. Why all the work?” I told her that if I wanted the same marriage that people have been experiencing for the past thousand years, then I would just get married and settle down. I wanted a marriage that was different then the status quo. I wanted a marriage full of love, mutual respect and joy. While we may be only two years into our lifetime marriage, we “seem” to be on the right track but keep checking in and we will let you know. Like any child, we know that we are only at the beginning…
Taking in the majesty of the Grand Canyon in December 2017.