Unexpected: Long-distance courtship

For love, money, or papers?

Before I left Nigeria, I shared with Sayo what I thought would be potential challenges for our relationship and during our separation, these topics came up more than once and led to some pretty intense conversations. Near the top of the list was the fact that we were in different stages of life: I’d been in the workforce for over a decade, earning a salary that supported my life. I could meet my needs and Starbucks too wants. Sayo was still establishing himself after a ridiculously long journey to complete the requirements of his bachelor’s degree (thank you, Nigeria). He was legally hustling, doing whatever he could get his hands on to make a living while trying to find a good job.

Because of this, I was cautious. I had to make sure that he was interested in me for who I was and not for what I could potentially bring to his life. If you’ve been reading my blog for a while you’ll know that I’ve talked about marrying for papers. I’ve talked about shady men and their secret wives, I’ve asked why Nigerian men in Nigeria are looking for love with Nigerian women online (why go online when there are plenty of Nigerian women around them?), and I’ve answered a reader’s question about whether or not her Nigerian beau’s love was for real. I’ve blogged about immigration (more than once), and going home to find Mr. Right.

Now, are all Nigerians based in Nigeria dying to leave the country? Absolutely not! That being said, we all know someone (or a friend of a friend) who was duped, and the jury’s out on whether I was duped in a past relationship, so I’m sensitive to it. As a result, I hurt Sayo more than once by sharing my concerns about his “true intentions”, but I had to ask. And even when I got what sounded like a good response, I told Sayo many times that even a liar would respond as he had. So really, he couldn’t win.

The topic of money also came up during our courtship. I want my man to take care of me emotionally as well as financially. Even if I were earning more money than my husband, I’d expect him to contribute financially.

My current money mindset is a good one (if I say so myself!), shaped in large part by how my parents treated money. I need the security of a financial cushion and because of past experiences, I don’t always trust people when they say they’ll pay back a loan. Sayo and I have different views on some money-related topics and it’s one of the things that we need to sort out.

As our relationship progressed, we discussed our future, specifically, whether I would move to Nigeria or if Sayo would move to Canada. If Sayo moved here, I thought about how I’d feel being the primary breadwinner while he gets established (that wasn’t on my vision board!). I wondered if I’d be comfortable with the time it may take him to get on his feet and if he would take advantage of the situation (for example, being slow to find a job, or waiting for me to get home from work to make his dinner when he’s been at home all day—shudder!). I also worried that I might have unreasonable financial expectations of him early on.

And love. Sayo’s right: it took me a while to tell him that I loved him and after I said it the first time, I backtracked. For a long time, when he would say that he loved me, my reply was “Thank you”. My lack of reciprocity hurt him at times and he eventually asked me not to thank him for loving me, that me saying that I loved him was the thanks that he wanted.

This relationship has revealed to me that my concept of love is underdeveloped: I can say that I love the internet or candy, but it’s harder for me to express love for people outside my immediate family—my past experiences had closed me off more than I thought. Sayo brought me to my knees one time when he asked if I believed that someone could love me more than my parents did! Doesn’t that just get you? I couldn’t imagine anyone loving me more than my parents do, and I couldn’t imagine loving an “outsider” more than I love my parents.

I asked some people how they knew they were in love and most of them told me that “when you know, you know”, but guess what? I didn’t know! Most of my friends had married when we were a lot younger, and they hadn’t overthought the matter: they decided if they could “see themselves” spending the rest of their lives together and if the answer was yes, they got married. My sister said she decided to marry my brother-in-law because he was a good man and things felt right; my parents pointed to the character of the other person being a huge factor in their decision to marry.

I seem like a normal person but when I say I overthink, you don’t even know! I couldn’t trust myself so I even searched online for things like “how do you know that you love someone” (don’t bother; there’s no test you can take that spits out a result like “You love him 85%—take the risk and get married!”). I asked my dentist and her husband how they met. I also asked God to help me with my decision-making and to block anything that wasn’t supposed to work out. I think the constant noise in my head kept me from hearing from God distinctly.

And unconditional love! I’m really good at conditional love (heh), so having to think about if I would love Sayo if x, y, or z happened was hard! And then there was the emoji. I never told Sayo that I was deliberately using a purple heart in our chats but when I first used a red heart he noticed, and that’s how it has been in this relationship: me letting my guard down slowly and Sayo celebrating the small victories.

I have a lot of growing to do in the area of love and Sayo seems more than qualified to teach me.

Not everything about Sayo was to my taste; read on!

Click Page 3 below to read the last page.

21 thoughts on “Unexpected: Long-distance courtship

  1. Your openness and authenticity is what I love about you and your blog! I can relate on some level to a few points you have shared. Thank you for keeping it real :-) and sharing your journey with us.

    • Thank you so much, Highly Favored! I really enjoy your support in reading my blog, and I thank God for helping me share my story.

  2. Always love reading your posts! I laughed so hard at the correcting grammar bit because I can relate. Still correct my husband when he uses “Am” instead of “I’m” and “will” instead of “would” and things like that. Hahaha! Can’t wait to read the next one.

    PS: Like how you’ve broken up the post into pages. Keeps things interesting!

  3. Awww… love this post and such a candid summary of long distance relationship … I can definitely relate to some of the issues you discussed (hands up Fellow LDR culprit…. ) some of the issues eg money issues just make sure he is motivated enough and give him all the support … remember Rome wasn’t built in one day ! On the grammar issue … I won’t claim to be a grammarian but I still hack into my husband’s work email and personal statement to correct his grammar sometimes and tell him off … actually I become sarcastic in the process and say something like a whole masters student and u misspelt this or didn’t punctuate that or didn’t add pls or too harsh when ending a message etc … though the Jury is out on my own English in the last 2 years ( stay at home mum .. though my nursery rhyme knowledge is excellent 😊😊)….
    You can start small and then build things up when he gets to Canada or you return to Nigeria …forgive me for jumping ship but allow him to get a job or at least some income before starting a family … that way no matter how little at least he is able to associate and “get used” to the system … Love is sometimes not enough for a marriage but somehow you will figure it out within 3 years …
    ok I don’t know why Or how I became self prudent and Started dishing out advice 🤦🏽‍♀️🤦🏽‍♀️🤦🏽‍♀️🙄🙄🙄 so feel free to Ignore the above , tear the rule book and have fun together with Sayo … the sky is not your limit it’s all in our head there are no LIMITS 💕💕💕

  4. Now that I have some downtime, I just want to say I enjoyed reading this, because you hit so many important topics authentically. I really feel you on the whole parental vs relationship love thing. It has been two years and I am still learning to love my hubby with the kind of fervour that I reserve for my parents and siblings.

  5. Thanks for the series Jummy. Really appreciate your honesty. Funny enough already of the things you discussed came close to home because I also have high expectations of my dream guy… All the best in your marriage. God bless

  6. Jumoke,
    Such eloquent and straight from the heart words to bring your story to us all.
    I am truly happy and I celebrate your union, I saw pictures of the ceremony. Beautiful!
    God bless and be good and kind to one another.

  7. I can only get happier, knowing your insecurities are disappearing. I saw all of these and why I was doing my best then to encourage your “self esteem” and let down your ego bit by bit.

    Thank God for Sayo and I say a big congratulations to the both of you, wishing you the best life has got to offer.

    English grammar police!!! ……..lol

    Cheers!!!

  8. I often tell people I prefer watching TV shows. Oh! Breaking Bad! I followed it from the very first season. And that’s how I have been following this story.
    I know how exciting it will be reading about the third child and how this blog content slowly transforms from where it is to parenting. And then from parenting to knitting. And then from knitting to …

  9. This is just how things are for me right now.
    Travelled abroad, before things could even get so solid between us. And my parent are the kind of like… Study first. As if i will not get married one day.

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