File photo: Couple

My wife just walked up to me on the sofa, raised my hand up and put it around her neck and lied next to me on the sofa. I’ve been on my phone for so long typing this story and this is her way of drawing attention from what I’m doing to herself. Not only that, that’s also her way of asking me, “You’ve been quiet for so long on this phone, I hope there’s nothing wrong with you?” She does that a lot and it always makes me feel seen and cared for.

I didn’t know what I was getting the day I married her. Yeah, she was a good girl and cared so much for me during our three years of dating but I kept asking myself, “Is that all I need in a lifelong marriage?” My mind told me I needed more but I didn’t know what more meant and what I needed to see to realize that was all I needed.

Then life began for us under a single roof the day we married. Her true colors came shining through.

November 2015, I was seated at the hall watching TV when I had a call from my junior sister, She said, “Mom died a short while ago, you’ll need to come home quickly.” I sat in at the edge of the sofa motionless for several minutes until she walked in, sat next to me, lifted my right arm and put it around her neck and asked, “You look tense, what’s the matter with you?” I responded, “Ekua called just now. My mom died.”

She got startled. Seconds later she was crying and that got me crying too. Mom had been sick for so long her death was expected but it came at the wrong time. It came at a point I had no money and even struggled before paying rent. I’m the eldest son of two children. A lot was expected of me. My wife already knew the situation but she said, “It shall be alright, we got this.”

In a family where women are not allowed to talk in the presence of the elderly, it was my wife who led the way like a lioness, fixing everything and negotiating on all transactions so we get the best deal. Where we needed money, she pulled surprises and made some important payments. At the end of the funeral, my senior uncle told me, “Your wife is a very tough woman. Keep her well, she’ll help you.”

If I didn’t know what I was getting myself into after marriage, I knew from that point onward what I’d gotten myself into and it was a good thing. This is a woman who always looks into my eyes when talking to me and sees the slighted sign of change or the faintest trace of worry and asks me, “Are you ok?” It’s like magic, she has never had to ask me that question that I’ve answered, “Yeah I’m ok.” I asked her, “How do you always know? Am I so predictable?”

She’ll say, “No you are not but I know you too well to know when something is wrong with you.” She’s like the guardian angel who knows everything about me and because of that, I’ve never had a reason to hide anything from her. We talk freely about everything because with her, I feel safe and I can bring my worries out knowing I will get the help that I need.

When we got married, people said we were of the opposite kind. My wife is very expressive and outgoing. You’ll introduce to someone right now and the next minute, she’ll relate to the person like they’ve known each other for so long. I am very reserved. I’d rather allow things to die naturally than to talk about it or fight about it. Those who said my wife and I opposites also said, “The way you’re quiet if you don’t take care your wife will run over you. It turned out I needed her attitude and forthrightness to be able to make certain decisions. She doesn’t like to wait. “Let’s do it now, why wait till later?”

We disagreed a lot from the beginning and most times plunge into minor fights but the good thing is we fought only because we cared. We learned to fight fair—no bad language and no name-calling. After each fight, the introvert in me will come out. I will coil into a corner and try to be alone. That’s when she’ll walk in, lift my arm up and put it around her neck and begin to say something to make me laugh.

And I’d come to expect it so whenever I’m alone and I see her coming, I’ll lift my arm up and she’ll coil under it so we begin talking.

“How would life be without her?”

I asked myself this question on our fifth anniversary and the answer scared me. Life would have been empty without the woman whose only desire is for me to be happy and without problems. I would have gone through life without the friend who knows me too well to sense the little change in me and vow to make it alright. Without her, I would have fought life’s battles alone and probably lose most of them. My arm would have hung in the air without a neck to drop it on—without her.

When she walked up to me on the sofa a moment ago, raised my hand up and put it around her neck and lied next to me, she asked, “Who are you chatting with that you’re wearing such a long face?” I said, “I’m writing the story of us. She laughed and asked, “Since when did you become a writer? Let me see what you’re writing?” I turned down the screen of the phone and prevented her from reading it. She said, “Liar!” She then got up and walked to the kitchen.

She thought I was lying but here is the story of us and I hope she reads it.   

—Kingsley, Ghana