Friday March 18, was my husband’s and my 10th wedding anniversary. A whole decade, I can barely believe it. Ten years of wedded bliss.
Oh it’s bliss alright, but bliss comes in many varieties. The wedded kind isn’t identical to, say, the creamy, dark chocolate kind. Wedded bliss involves more struggle and growing pains and arguments about really stupid stuff, but the good times are amazing (however, like chocolate, wedded bliss can affect the size of the hips – but I don’t mind). I don’t think every marriage has wedded bliss, but a good, mostly healthy marriage is a lot of crazy work and lots of satisfying, happy times and that’s some bliss right there.
For those that don’t know, my husband and I have a pretty unique love story – here are the very bare basics:
-2000 become pen pals (him in Ghana, me at college in Alabama)
-2004 He asks me to marry him
-2006 I travel to Ghana for 5 weeks, we get married
-2008 He finally moved to the U.S. as a permanent resident (that’s a whole ridiculous, expensive process my gosh – and please note, I didn’t get to see him once during that full 2 years of working to get him here)
If you want more specifics, you can check out an article a friend of mine wrote about us over at Southern Bridal.
I like to reminisce on special days and I was thinking last night how, on whatever day it was in the year 2000, I received a fun letter from a guy I would end up pledging my undying love to 6 years later, and who would do things like annoy the absolute crap outta me and also make my heart grow patience and a servant’s attitude in ways I never thought possible. The guy who would make me roll my eyes so many times I wonder sometimes if they’ll get stuck that way, and yet who can literally still take my breath away with a single word or gesture. The guy who STILL doesn’t know that the small appetizer bowls go on the bottom shelf and the bigger cereal bowls go on the top shelf but can (and does daily) save people from death. Odd combinations but I’d never trade em.
Recently I had some extra questions come up about our story and I thought some of you might be interested in hearing the answers too.
Did you continue to write/call during the 2 years apart? – Yup. We called more than wrote. I had a decent-ish job and could afford the $15 – $20 a week on prepaid calling cards. How much talk time does a $20 card get you when calling to Ghana (back in 2006)? About 2 and a half hours, assuming you don’t lose the connection repeatedly (story of our lives). So we’d usually talk every Saturday morning and a couple times during the week. He’d call a little too, but it was mostly me doing the calling.
What was the reunion like when he first got to the U.S.?
I lived in Colorado at the time and he arrived in Denver. I paced the waiting area for over two hours while I watched the status of the plane go from
“landed” to “unloading” til I finally saw him. We grabbed each other and hugged and kissed and then he immediately had to go to another part of the unloading area I couldn’t go to because one of his bags hadn’t made it. And while he was dealing with the paperwork involved with that, I sat down and sobbed like a baby (I think I freaked out a woman sitting near me). I hadn’t realized just how stressful those two years had been til they were over. It was such a relief. Then he came back out and there was nonstop grinning for a couple weeks.
How was it finding work when he arrived?
He had to wait for the gov’t to issue a social security card and that was supposed to take 3 weeks but took 2 months. But we weren’t surprised, because the whole immigration process was supposed to take 6-9 months and took 2 years, so, WHATEV. His first job was at a 5-star/5-diamond resort called The Broadmoor. It’s pretty much the fanciest place I’ve ever seen in every way. He worked hard and well and that job made it pretty easy for him to get hired subsequent places – because he had such an amazing work ethic, he had excellent references.
Is he a citizen now?
No. To do that he would need to relinquish his Ghanian citizenship since there’s no legal reason why he needs dual citizenship (political, business, etc). And neither of us want him to do that. It’s not holding him back from anything too crucial anyway.
Have we been back to Ghana since he came here?
Sigh. Nope. It costs a LOT of money to fly to Ghana. And stay in Ghana. And miss work. So that also means the first two grandkids of his family haven’t seen their Grandfather and Aunts and Uncle and cousin in Ghana either. It’s been 8 years since my poor husband has seen his family other than skyping, 8 years since he’s seen his best friends and neighbors back home. 8 years. Previous anniversaries went by with little fanfare because they were so bittersweet for him, reminders that another year has passed far away from those he loves. I was a little nervous about this anniversary for that reason, but he was way more happy than sad this time. We’re really praying that this year a miracle happens and maybe he and our oldest can fly to Ghana this summer.
This took me a while to answer. There aren’t so many now so I had a hard time remembering, but yes, there were in the beginning while he was adjusting to being here and I was adjusting to… him. For example, pets. Majority of the population over there have none. Cats? Their jobs are to roam around killing rodents. Dogs? They roam too (and he doesn’t like them much anyway). I had 2 cats when he moved to the states and it was pretty comical to see him adjust to them. He was shocked to see that I spent actual money on food for them and vet visits and stuff. He did say there was one kind of pet he’d like to have and that’s a parrot (or some other kind of bird) but I really, really, really don’t want any birds, so, no pets for us. Well, he DID agree to fish so we might be growing our family by a few fins this summer. And Christmas trees! Yes honey, we pay money for a tree to be cut down and brought into our house and decorated and then taken down a month later and thrown away. What in the world. Church here lasts a specific amount of time. In Ghana, church can go for hours and hours and some just come and go as they please. He was amazed at how precise things are here. Events start and end at mostly specific times, things that cost money usually can’t be bargained lower and there are SEASONS (Ghana has 2 – rainy and dry).
What was your favorite part from when you visited Ghana?
Oh my gosh, what a time. I was so unprepared for so much, no matter how much I studied. It is HOT. You’ve never felt this kind of hot unless you’ve been south of the U.S. His town is super close to the equator – I’ve never felt sun penetrate my skin like that before. I’ve never before felt like I was drinking the air 24 hours a day (humidity like a BOSS). I was not prepared for the level of poverty I saw in many parts of the country I visited. But my gosh, that’s not even what I remember most vividly despite it being so prevalant. I remember the joy. I remember the hospitality. I remember how jovial and honest and full of life these people were. There were so many who had no idea where their next meal would come from and yet they were full of joy. It all came from Christ, of course, but I’ve never known how one can truly depend on the Lord they way they did. We, as 1st world citizens can say we depend on the Lord but very, very few of us know what that REALLY meams. Whereas, a majority of those in Samuel’s hometown (including his family) know EXACTLY what that means. Actual life and death, not just a loss of comfort. And the honesty! They could argue loudly and passionately with each other one minute and the next minute go back to being friendly and go get coffee and joke around. There was so little drama (unlike the U.S.), no one cared what you looked or smelled like (did I mention it was HOT?), and they all just genuinely wanted to spend time with each other and help each other and love each other and praise God together. It was beautiful. I think about that often – the liberty of just being yourself. Yes, a place without #firstworldproblems.
These 10 years are so little like I ever thought my 1st ten years of marriage would be like. They’ve been harder, and sweeter, and I’m a much better person because of them. Thank you, dear Lord, for this man and all that came with the “I do”.
“Oh how the years go by
Oh how the love brings tears to my eyes
All through the changes the soul never dies
We fight, we laugh, we cry
As the years go by”
-Amy Grant, Oh How The Years Go By