A friend and an old schoolmate of mine, Josephine Shiaka recently celebrated her 10yr wedding anniversary with splendour and rewarding grace and I just had to have her share her secrets for getting this far in her marriage. In this age of high divorce rates, it’s a blessing to witness the flourishing marriages which are working. Personally, it’s a witness to the world of God’s goodness and love. She also has a message for newly weds and soon-to-be wedded couples.
Where did you meet your husband.
I met my hubby in London. I use to work in a pharmacy shop on London road in Croydon, and he worked 2 shops from mine , but it’s very strange our paths never crossed. And according to him he buys his toiletries from my pharmacy but we never met. The day we met was my day off, but my boss was going out of town for a conference, so he asked me to cover and run things at the shop till he returns. I believe our meeting was ordained by God .
How long did you date before getting married?
We dated for 2years, but he started talking about marriage 3days after we met. I remember telling him he’s insane and that I’m not a kid to be flattered by such words.He didn’t propose, as I mentioned earlier, on day 3 he told me he was going to marry me and that I was the one.
How was your first year of marriage?
We actually lived apart our first year of marriage. We spent 10days together after we got married and he returned back to his home country. We use to talk a lot on fon and send a lot of emails , there was WhatsApp then . I got pregnant 5months after our wedding on his visit to London. He stayed around for the 1st trimester and return back to Sierra Leone. He came back to London and the next day I went into Labour. So basically our first year was a long distance marriage.
Share the funniest time you and your husband have shared
I chanced upon an old album with pictures from way back ,during our dating and courtship period. We lined up all the pictures on the floor and them analysed one by one. We started teasing each other about our past features and fashion sense. It was hilarious. His shoes, and suits were out of this world🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣. I asked myself, why did I even marry u, what’s this I see. Some of the pictures made us realise how far we’ve come and how blessed we are. And how God can turn a hopeless situation around.
You have 3 beautiful girls did you ever want a boy?
Hmmmm, I love my girls and I’m very content. I have always wanted 2 girls and a boy. But unfortunately I lost my son 3yrs ago at 28weeks. It was horrible experience but I have come to appreciate the ways of God. My husband always says, God allowed it to happen so we can love and appreciate our 3rd princess. Our little diva. I’m blessed to have a man who is thankful for what God has blessed him with. For us we are good with our girls but society wouldn’t let us be. I teach my girls that girls rule and with God on your side you can achieve anything. I’m human so sometimes I feel like trying one more. But for now I’m ok with my girls, I can always adopt a boy if I want that balance, at least for the girls to experience how it feels like to have a brother.
The Secret of your 10yr Marriage
The secret of my 10yr marriage is the fear of God, forgiveness and communication. When God is in the centre, it’s very difficult for the foundation to fall. The fear of God is what guides your thoughts and actions. When you fear God you tend to treat your spouse in a loving and Godly way. The fear of God cause you to be selfless, kind etc. Communication is a good ingredient for a successful marriage. Good communication build trust and respect. Communication has to be open, and free of intimidation and fear.
My husband and I talk about everything, from our finances, to sex positions etc. We plan our entire livelihood together . We are on the same page when it comes to savings and spending. We work as a team. We seek each other’s permission before making any huge purchases
The last secret I will talk about is forgiveness. Learn to forgive and forget. We are all different, we have our individual frailties and challenges, and so don’t allow your spouse’s weakness to cause havoc in your home Forgive and help him or her to get to where you want them to be.
Pray and fellowship together .
Learn to appreciate and encourage each other. Don’t leave any room for any third party. Avoid running to your spiritual leader every other day to report an issue. Learn to resolve your own issues. Be selfless in all that you do for your spouse. And learn to be spontaneous. Improve yourself, be innovative, surprise your husband, don’t be an old boring wife. Surprise your wife as well and don’t stop dating her.
The last thing I will add is love his family. No matter what treat them like your own. Appreciate your spouse, don’t just say thank you when he does big things. Every little deed deserves a thank you. Example….when he helps in bathing the kids, say thank you. Respect and love him as the head of the family
Message for New Couples & Soon-To-Be Couples.
Let every challenge/fight you have in your marriage stay in your marriage. It’s not every issue that must go out to external parties. If however it’s something which is rampant or severe like infidelity, find a trusted person to confide in; someone who’s very matured and trustworthy. Sometimes not being wise about who we share our marital issues can backfire on us in the future, they will be same person reminding us of the past mistakes committed by our partner even after you have forgiven your spouse.
Pray about issues and forgive your spouse. God is the only one who can change the heart of the spouse who has erred. Just tell exactly what you want and pray about it. We also sometimes make the mistake of trying to change our spouse, sometimes you don’t need to change them. Let your own attitude towards them change and you will realise that they will start responding to your own changes as they occur. I remember some time back how I overheard two Sierra Leonean women talking about how I had used juju on my husband because he does everything for me. I wasn’t angry when I heard it. I was happy that they were seeing the fruits of my marriage. Never let anyone see what’s happening in your marriage but rather let the fruits show themselves. They would say anything about you but at the end of the day God knows the truth.
You don’t need to stress yourself with petty and little things rather pray about them. Whether your husband comes home late or shows behaviours you don’t understand, these are things you should not stress over if you are already doing that.
Be innovative and creative as a wife or husband.
Find new ways of doing things in the marriage whether it’s cooking differently or changing your wardrobe, decide on bringing exciting things into the marriage. I learnt how to cook new dishes because I realised I couldn’t be cooking the same old Sierra Leonean & Ghanaian dishes my husband was used to. He travels a lot which means he experiences different cuisines around the world so I had to also perk up my culinary skills. I started following foodies on YouTube and Instagram like SeeMyChow.Com and I realised whenever I tried these new recipes and he ate them, the way he would treat me would be so special!
Continue to respect your spouse
Don’t use the excuse of being married and having a ring influence you into mistreating your husband. How you serve him food, how you talk to her etc should be out of love and respect. Your tone of voice, body language and gestures can communicate disrespect especially after a fight or disagreement. For me even when I have a fight with my husband that’s when I cook the best dishes. I just think in my mind, ‘You think you are fighting me eh? I am gonna feed you!’ He will realise that I am upset with the situation not with him as a person. We should respect each other. When you respect the other spouse you choose your words well. There was a time when I slept in a bit late which led to late preparations of food for the kids. My husband came to the kitchen just when my daughter also came in asking for her hair to be done and he got upset and raise his voice asking about the delay. I also got upset but I didn’t shout back at him and later he realised his mistake from my quiet demeanour and came to apologise and we hugged. Peace. Assuming I had shouted back it would have led to a prolonged and unnecessary tension between us. In times of challenges, don’t just say anything. In the throes of an argument choose your words carefully because words once they are spoken can never be taken back even after apologising. It also takes a long time for others to forget about hurtful words spoken during a disagreement. Choose your words carefully.
Learn how to communicate with your spouse. Whatever plans you make, communicate with your spouse. If your parents are coming over for the weekend, tell your spouse early and not when they get to the gate. Share your dreams and visions together. Talk also about sex with respect to what you are comfortable with and what pleases you most. If both of you are comfortable with a particular sex position then go ahead with it. If a particular position makes you feel awkward communicate it to your partner so they can adjust or correct it to what pleases you as a man or woman. Your spouse cannot read your mind.
Thank you Josephine!
The real act of marriage takes place in the heart, not in the ballroom or church or synagogue. It’s a choice you make – not just on your wedding day, but over and over again – and that choice is reflected in the way you treat your husband or wife. – Barbara De Angelis
Here’s a snippet of their anniversary video.