Sometimes true love stammers

My husband is a stammer. He came my way as a friend for about a year. I realized he liked me but lacked the courage to tell me. I wasn’t so sure about him so I tried not to give him the chance to tell me what was on his mind. One evening, he came to my house looking for me. I saw him coming and told everyone to tell him I wasn’t there. It was my step-dad he spoke to when he got to the house; “…gu..good evening Da, please I’m lu……loooking for Asantewaa.”

My step-dad gave him a chair and asked him why he was looking for me. My dad thought he was harassing me that was why I ran from him. He told my Dad, “Sh…sh…sh…she’s my friend and I have so…so…so…something for her.” “Have you called her?” My dad asked. He answered, “Sh…sh..she doesn’t pick my calls.” My dad said, “Maybe she doesn’t want to talk to you or see you that’s why she’s not picking your calls so why don’t you ignore her?” He responded, “Ah…ah…Asan…Asan…Asantewaa is like that. She’s a very good friend and I…I…I can’t ignore her.”

I looked through a hole and saw both of them sitting there talking. From the look on his face, he wasn’t comfortable. He was struggling to put words together to answer the questions my dad was putting to him. I started feeling uncomfortable so I got out and went to meet him. Immediately my dad saw me, he said, “I thought you said you were not there?” I held his hand and pulled him up, “Don’t mind my father, he’s trying to pull your legs.”

I took him to my room and we spoke for about two hours. He asked, “You told your dad to tell me you were not there? Am I bothering you?” I told him, “Don’t mind what my dad said, he was only teasing us.” He said, “You’ve been a good friend and a good person, that’s why I want you in my life. If you say yes today, we’ll be married a year from now. No jokes. Pure love.”

The mentioning of marriage got me triggered. “I don’t want to marry. Well, not now. Not in a year so if you really want to marry in a year, then look elsewhere.” He said, “I’ll wait till you are ready. I’m not in a rush. I only wanted you to know how serious I am about you.”

I realized one thing. He stammered badly when he was talking to my dad but all through our conversation, he never stammered. I said jovially, “You were afraid of my dad, that’s why you were stammering so bad?” He answered, “It’s too bad when I’m anxious. I’m not anxious when talking to you. When I’m calm, I can go a whole length without a stammer.”

A few weeks later, I said yes to him with a caution; “I’m not in a rush to marry but if things work well between us, who knows?”

He was patient and knew how to treat a woman right. One night I asked him about his past relationship and how it went. I wanted to know what failed so I don’t repeat it while we were together. He said, “The women I dated left me because of my temper.” I asked, “You have a temper?” He responded, “They say people who stammer usually have a bad temper but I don’t believe it’s something I can’t change. I get temperamental when I’m anxious about something. It’s better now.”

When you give him a chance to ask you a question, he asks questions about the future. He made me looked stupid for asking questions about his past while he kept looking towards the future. He asked questions like, “How do you intend to manage your personal money when married?” “How many kids, two or twenty?” What about managing finances together, would you have issues?” He was always forward looking and I appreciated that a lot.

A year later he asked, “How many years do we have before marriage?” I answered, “I’m still not sure but you wait, when I complete the part-time course that I’m doing, we’ll do it.” After the part-time course, he asked again, “Ready?” I said, not quite there yet, my junior sister is in school, let her complete first.” I was always looking for excuses not to say yes.

What was my fear?

I lived with an aunt who married three times and got divorced three times. All her four children have different fathers. She was a good woman. When my own mother got divorced, it was she who took us in and took care of us. Her heart was at the right places but when it came to marriage, her heart was all over the place. She never stopped speaking ill of marriage and men in general. “Men are time wasters, don’t fall for their tricks,” she will say. “When I die and come back again, I don’t think I’ll ever say yes to a man, they marry you in your youth and leave you when there’s no youth left in you.” Then she’ll say, “Look at your mother and what your dad did to her, be careful with men.”

Her advice got printed on my brains and created fear of marriage in my heart. All those excuses I was giving him was to make him go away and leave me alone. But he kept staying and sticking around me even when I’d given him enough reason to go away. One day he said, “Do you know you are the only one in this world I don’t stammer when talking to? It’s a sign that you’re the one. Don’t take this chance away from us.”

I remember developing cold feet getting to the day of our wedding. I saw a glimpse of his temper and that scared me. Something happened and he thought his junior sister didn’t talk to me well. He snapped out and screamed at her until words stopped flowing from his mouth. He was visibly shaking. I had to calm him down. In my mind, I was like, “Eiii see how he’s treating his own blood sister. What would become of me then if I offend him?”

I spoke to my mother about my fears; “Mom, he’s scary when he’s angry. I don’t want to live with a man I can’t deal with when he’s angry.” Mom asked, “Has he ever been angry with you?” I responded, “That’s the point. He’s never been angry with me so I don’t know how it will be like when he begins getting angry after marriage. Like aunt Beatrice always says, men, will pretend until they get you.”

What mom said calmed my heart and I’d kept it in my heart to this day.

She said, “You’ve allowed your aunt to put fear in you. She married four times and it all didn’t end well. Do you believe all the men she got married to were wrong and she was right all the time? She’s a good person doesn’t mean she’s good at everything. You father left me, I married again and I’ve lived with this one for almost 25 years. You think it’s because he’s perfect? No. The flower that blooms is the flower the gardener waters well. I’ve watered this marriage for twenty-five years, that’s why I still have it. If he has anger, water him and he’ll bloom out of it.”We got married. We moved to our own place and began life together. I was careful from the beginning, not to upset him or do anything wrong. I wasn’t myself around him because I was scared to commit any mistake. Then he started teasing me on the little wrongs that I did. I remember, I was cooking soup one late afternoon and my dress got hooked to the handle of the soup bowl. By the time I realized, the whole soup was down on the floor. I was lucky to be able to jump away. He heard the noise and came in. He pulled me aside and asked, “Are you ok?” He started checking my skin to see if I had any burns. He said, “Just rest, I’ll do the rest.”

He never does anything without consulting me and he makes me feel like my happiness comes first before his. For instance, he doesn’t like to sleep under the fan. It gives him cold and makes breathing very hard for him. I don’t like to sleep without the fan on, even when it’s cold. I’d rather put the fan on and pull the blanket over me than to sleep without it. It’s not about the air that comes from the fan, it’s that soothing sound it produces that put me to sleep. So what do we do? I told him, “We’ll keep it on today for me then tomorrow we’ll put it off for you. 50:50, we both win.”

The next day we put it off. I couldn’t sleep all night. I tossed and turned in bed for several hours. My eyes were shut tightly but sleep never came. And then at midnight, I felt this cold breeze on my face so I looked up and the fan was on. It had never gone off since that night. Talk about putting someone’s interest above yours.

November 7th will be our ninth anniversary. Three kids and two job loss later, we are still waxing strong as if we married only yesterday. On the night of our ninth anniversary, I’ll look into his eyes and say, “Thank you for giving me a story different from what my aunt made me believe. You’ve turned a nonbeliever into a believer and for your reward, I’ll always stay true to you and keep watering what we have so it keeps blooming in beauty and in strength.

—Asantewaa, Ghana

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