This far, love and God has kept us going
During this month of love, John and Yvonne Waithera Musyimi are celebrating a decade in marriage. They share their ‘for better for worse’ moments as well as what has kept them glued to each other
John Musyimi and Yvonne Waithera’s love story started on Facebook. The two interacted on the social media platform on matters of faith, as they are both born again Christians, and work.
“We were just a brother and sister in Christ, who shared more about God and work on Facebook. Our first physical meeting was at a business dinner at the Kenyatta International Convention Centre (KICC) organised by a church, which Musyimi used to attend,” says Yvonne.
“Being part of the organising committee, I sent her an invitation as a guest. That was on the June 2, 2011. Seven months later on February 18, 2012 we got married,” adds John.
For the couple, there is something unique that attracted them to each other. “She has both inner and outward beauty. Topping this with the love and passion for God stood out for me and I decided she is the woman I would spend the rest of my life with,” John, a pastor at Rehoboth Open Spaces, Nairobi, and a supply chain expert for a humanitarian organisation, says of his wife.
“From our Facebook chats, I gathered he was a God-loving and principled man. When I met him physically, I saw a handsome man, who was naturally caring towards me. He was not pretentious. He was so passionate of his work and loved people,” Yvonne, a co-pastor at the church describes her husband.
Just like any other marriage, they have been through a fair share of challenges, which they say have made them love and appreciate each other more and increased their faith in God.
John offers: “I was hospitalised for more than six months and put on home recuperation for another six months after being diagnosed with cancer of the bone marrow. Even when doctors and people close to us gave up on our situation, we chose to stick together and trust God for restoration and healing. For most part of the six months, I could not attend to myself, including answering calls of nature. I needed support and my wife lovingly and dutifully stood by me through the whole journey. She was then pregnant with our son and stepped out of a lucrative job just to take care of me at the hospital.”
The couple shares how they became closer during this time. “The time we spent made us appreciate one another. We saw the hand of God through it all. I went to India for treatment. By God’s grace, I responded well to the treatment and came back stronger and heathier.
“Fast forward, it is nine years of testifying of God’s healing upon my life. It did not break us, but made us love each other more. Through this, we have learnt to keep on discovering the beauty of love in marriage through any challenge that arises,” adds John
Many couples struggle to become one. “We are not exempted considering that each individual needs to work on themselves. It must be a progressive walk, lest you get weary and the cold wars check in. Thus, we are intentional to have unity and openness, which builds trust and breaks any doubts one may have,” says Yvonne who hold a Diploma in Business Management and currently pursuing her undergraduate.
Relaxing and spending time together is one thing the Musyimi’s look forward to. “During our off days, we switch off our phones just to take time to learn new hobbies and have fun with each other. We love to mentor other couples and enjoy serving side by side in church,” they say.
The couple has two sons. “We have been working on ourselves to be intentional when it comes to parenting. Avoiding mistakes is every parent’s desire. We share a lot of life principles and we apply the same in bringing up our young ones, agreeing on disciplinary actions where needed,” says Yvonne.
Valentine’s Day for them is meant to be a day to celebrate love. “Our belief is that love should be celebrated daily at every given opportunity that avails itself. God commands us to love one another, thus Valentine’s Day is one of those opportune moments to celebrate love by sharing and enjoying a special meal at home or going out for a date. Being intentional to love each other and spice up our marriage with good memories is our goal,” says John.
Their word of advice to couples is: Learn from the best (God) on how to love each other genuinely. Having divine help goes a long way to stabilise marriages. Do not put unrealistic expectations on the relationship and on each other. Defend one another, build your own culture, avoid peer pressure and grow naturally in your marriage.
Grace Kariuki, a marriage and family therapist and founder, Harbour Counselling and Consulting says the empowerment of individuals and search for personal significance is one of the reasons there is dissatisfaction with the marriage institution. “We have moved from conforming to societal, religious, and cultural expectations and are willing to create lives outside of the expected lines. Women have become more empowered, especially economically, sexually, and gender-wise, that the conformity that was part of what kept the society stable, steady, and consistent has been questioned and is slowly fading away,” says Kßariuki.
She explains how it is important for individuals desiring to get married to gain social skills in communication, conflict management, people skills (empathy, compassion, respect, equity) and financial management. Those who are already married and wishing to strengthen their marriages can curve out weekly uninterrupted couple time with each other.
“If you are challenged when it comes to conflict resolution, stop fighting or avoiding issues and seek the expertise of a marriage counsellor. And once you go, please be specific on what you desire to work on. Do not wait until things get out of hand. Learn to catch problems before they get out of control or they become chronic,” says Kariuki.