“What the heck is love? What does she want?” Benjamin asked me. You could see fiery venom shooting out of his ears, mouth and nostrils. His hands shook violently in utter frustration. “I provide her with everything that she needs. I just bought her a car. I took her to Paris last year for our marriage anniversary. She had both of our children in the USA. She travels at will, at my expense. Despite all these and lots more, she does not seem to be happy. Please tell me, my friend, what do I do to make my wife, Nkiruka truly happy?”
Benjamin stared at me; his eyes were fixated on my lips as though the fruit of life were destined to emanate from the space between them. I flickered through my head for words of wisdom. I had known Benjamin for most of my life and Nkiruka for long to, although not nearly as long as I had known Benjamin. Benjamin held a lavishly lucrative job with a consulting firm in Lagos. He had been asking me to stop by the next time I was in the country. Fate seemed too eager to place a wedge between us. This time around, I made it. I was staying with them for a few days in Lekki.
Quite frankly, I could tell that Nkiruka was not a happy wife – or shall I say, not a happy woman. “I have noticed that Nkiruka is somewhat, cranky; she seems to snap at the slightest infraction. I have a feeling something is eating her up,” I remarked. “Exactly! Kedu ife I choo ka m mee? (What do you want me to do?)” Benjamin asked. His arms were spread wide. A blend of bemusement and annoying frustration was etched across his face.
Nkiruka stormed into the living room. She was supposed to be at the bead with some friends, but for whatever reason, she chose to return home sooner than she had planned. “Hi Babe, you are back early,” Benjamin said. “I could not stand those girls anymore,” Nkiruka replied snappily. “They are a bunch of adults with baby brains.” “I like your dress, Nkii,” I pointed out. “Really?” She asked, stopping to showcase more of her dress. “You look smashing in that dress. And your braids, there are impeccable,” I added. I could see a fleeting blush zip across her face. She smiled broadly at me. “Thank you, Dike,” she said as she smiled her way to the living room.
The next day, Benjamin was at home with me while Nkiruka who worked for Globacom had gone off to work. “Ben, have you bordered understanding your wife’s love language?” I asked him. “Which one be love language? I told you all the things I have done for her, yet she is unsatisfied. What more do you want me to do? Speak in tongues to her?” “You are smarter than that, Benjamin. Did you not see the excitement and joy on your wife’s face yesterday evening when I complimented her outfit and hair?”
“No!” “Then, you are emotionally blind. They say the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach (food). The way to a woman’s heart is through your mouth straight to her. Besides, according to the book, the Five Love Languages (By Gary Chapman), every person has something they hold very dearly when it comes to romantic expressions. For some, it is gifts, such as you have showered on Nkiruka. For others, it is quality time – how much time you are willing to spend with them tells them how much value you place on them. Some would do anything to hear you tell them the finer words and romantic things of life. Some people want you to do things for them (service). They want to see you fix things for them, help them run errands, assist them with some chores. For them, that is what love means. And finally, some define love by how and when you touch them (physical touch).”
Benjamin stared at me as though I was speaking gibberish. “You think gifts and stuff are all Nkiruka wants. Maybe she wants something else. You need to find out what it is.” “Why does love have to be so complicated?!” he yelled. Actually, it is not. Besides finding your wife’s love language, every woman loves to be complemented. I could see that in your wife’s eyes yesterday. You have been married to her for some years now, yet you did not know that. You need to do better, my friend.” “I am not that romantic!”
“That is why you buy her expensive gifts and expect her to be happy. What did you do when you were chasing her? Did you just buy her gifts from day one?” “I asked her out first.” “How? Why do guys think the chasing game should stop once you have a girl in your bed?” “It is not all about sex, you know. I love Nkiruka deeply.” Don’t tell me that, tell her. She still wants to hear it. Those beautiful romantic and deep-felt expressions are not reserved for the early, chasing days of relationships. Chase after her heart even after she is yours. Tell her how beautiful she is. Comment on her ear rings, necklaces, clothes, shoes, hair styles…you just name it. She is dying to hear what you feel for her. After two children, you think she does not have doubts? Insecurities? Her body now speaks a different language than it did before. I wonder if she wonders if she is still attractive to you. Ben, please tell her that you do. Tell her tonight when she returns from work. Get back into her heart and explore her world all over again. Find out her language and speak it, my friend!”
“Dike, how many girls did you date before Megan?” “Just two. Why?” How come you know all these things? They do not come naturally to me, and my colleagues at work complain that they struggle on the romantic end too.” “They are not alone. Most men do. The good news is, we can all learn. I was once emotionally dumb and romantically stupid. When I found myself on the brink of losing the woman I love with all my heart and soul – Megan – I went to work studying the concept of love. I have learned a thing or two. Nkiruka still loves you. Learn to love her all over again!”
That evening, when Nkiruka returned from work, she was in a hurry to get in the kitchen to make dinner. “Babe, you look fabulous in that skirt and blouse,” Benjamin said. “Really? You like it?” she asked. “I don’t like it, Babe. I love it. I want to grab you from behind and…you know.” Nkiruka turned and stared at her. Her heart was pounding joyously. She stared intently at him like laser beams zeroing in on a target. “I have been dying to hear you talk like that. Are you alright, Babe?” She asked him. “I am fine honey. Seriously, you look hot in that outfit. By the way, you don’t have to worry about dinner. I made some rice and vegetable sauce. I already fed the kids. I would like to have a romantic evening with you. I want you to go out with me in that outfit. I’d like to see you in it all night…at least for another few hours before I help you take it off. We are going out on a date. I have a reservation for us.”
Nkiruka could not move. Tears began to cascade down her face. “What is it sweetheart? I just wanted to…” “I am fine. Please don’t stop talking to me like that. I want to hear more of it, Ben. You used to…you used to talk to me like that.” Benjamin walked over to her and took her in his arms. He wiped her tears and began to kiss her. She held onto him as though she’d die if she let go. “Never you stop talking to me like that!” She said, her voice filled with passion. “I won’t, sweetheart. I will never stop.” “I am not sure I want to go out to dinner. I want to make love to you now. I can’t wait.” “Then, let’s do it!”
Benjamin and Nkiruka are still happily married – passionately in love. Their love life has grown from strength to strength. Like ice in the spring, Nkiruka’s aloofness has melted away. Her ears are filled with words…sweet words of love that send her to a whole new height. Now, she knows she is loved and she gives out her love to her husband with stalwart passion and commitment. Their activity in the bedroom recently led to a new addition to the family. I think I understand love better now,” Benjamin told me the last time we caught up in France.
“Every woman is different. Gifts are great – by all means, give them. But if you do so without finding that singular or a blend of different languages that can unlock the treasure chest of your wife’s heart, your gifts are like water poured onto a rock. It bounces off, without making a significant dent. No matter the language, you have to speak volumes of compliments into your wife’s heart. Thanks for being honest with me, Dike. You saved my marriage,” Benjamin enthused. “You inspire me my friend. You took the little things I said to heart and went to work with them. A woman’s heart is like a gourd of water. If you do not fill it with water constantly, it dries out, and eventually, it will crack and break. So goes for a man. We all crave love, care, and warmth – let’s give what we want to receive in our relationships. Hold nothing back. Be lavish with your praise, my friend. Keep doing what you are doing.”
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