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What Love Means to Me

When I saw you, I fell in love. And you smiled, because you knew. - William Shakespeare.

By Nathaniel BenjaminPublished 6 months ago 3 min read

A few years ago, I attended a Love Feast event with my parents. My experience and overall memory of the event were nothing short of beautiful. You think Nigerian couples don’t express affection or love each other? You should have been there.

I’m telling you, it’s real, and it’s beautiful. What amused me, even more, was that it was a Christian event, not any regular social gathering. And that didn’t in any way diminish the amount of love I saw on display that day.

Couples dressed in the same clothes (mostly traditional wears), holding hands, public expression of endearments, praying, engaging in meaningful conversations, and sharing food.

The event was about the celebration of love and marriage within the church and Christendom.

A celebration of marriage as God ordained it. As I write this, I can remember my dad saying to me and my siblings a few times: “Marriage was the first institution ordained by God, and so it is the most sacred”.

The event was full of games, fun activities, singing and prayer sessions, and celebrations which didn’t leave its central theme, Love.

One of the games they played was one I’ve seen in wedding ceremonies these days. I don’t remember the name of the game, but the game goes like this: a couple steps out, and sit with their backs against each other’s. They are asked questions about their spouses, it could be their choices or opinions on different things, this-or-that questions, and others like that. Basically, the goal of the game is to see if the couple actually knows each other deeply.

The first team to participate was an elderly couple, they did fairly OK, and to be honest it felt amazing seeing them smile while talking about each other with such kind words.

Next was this newly wedded couple, they also did very well, they got more questions than the first couple.

And then my parents were called up, question after question, they answered correctly. Word for word, they quoted each other. Everyone was surprised and clapped in awe of their synchronized minds. Somehow, I just knew they’d get every question right. They both always had that uniformity that I’d seen before I could even walk, that I believed was the norm in every household.

Nollywood kind of geared me from that notion tho. You’d see Daddy Bukola storming into the house all grumpy because he didn’t get a contract he’d been working on securing for months, only for him to get to the dining table to see Fried Rice and chicken when he thought Iya Bukola would prepare Amala and Ewedu for him that night.

My parents never had that kind of misunderstanding. Even down to decision-making, we would ask my dad for something we one hundred percent knew that my mom would never allow us to have, only for us to hear one of the sentences we dreaded the most growing up: “Let your mother come home first”. Trust me, it was heartbreaking every single time, but I think as kids, we all always have that bottomless pit of hope and resilience.

My Mom and Dad at the event.

My parents knew each other. My mother would say the hierarchy of virtues when seeking a partner is

1.) Love - do they love you? More importantly, do they love themselves?

2.) Respect - do they respect you? More importantly, do they respect themselves?

3.) Understanding - do they understand you? More importantly, do they understand themselves?

I saw these three things (amongst other important virtues) fully manifested in my household. My parents loved each other, they respected each other, and they understood each other.

In my adult life, I’ve caught myself now and then looking for understanding in potential love interests. I also noticed that the relationships I’d been in (especially my last one) started because we understood each other, and ironically ended because we didn’t communicate the happenings of our lives to one another. In other words, we lost the understanding we thought we had of each other.

It is now an active goal of mine.

And deep down, I know it’s going to be beautiful when next I find The Big Three in someone.

This is what Love means to me.


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