Nothing is as exhilarating as falling in love: whether you are starting a new relationship, marriage or starting over after falling out of love. The Parents team caught up with three couples whose stories demonstrate that you can find love the second time around.
Peter and Anne
It is said love is life and if you miss love, you miss life. Forty-year-old Anne Wanjohi relates well with the slogan having lost her first husband under mysterious circumstances at the tender age of 22. When she first got married in 1995, she did not anticipate that death was lurking in the shadow. “I lost my first husband, Francis Muturi Wambugu, in 1998 two years after getting married. He was working with Kenya Wildlife Service and was stationed at the Aberdare ranges,” says Anne. She says Muturi’s disappearance was very painful since he was kidnapped and up to date, his remains have never been discovered. At the time of his disappearance, they were living apart due to work demands. It was during her usual visits that she learnt of his disappearance. Her efforts and that of Muturi’s family and colleagues to trace him didn’t bear fruit. “After my husband’s disappearance, I was confused and angry with God. Muturi was a good man and I really loved him. I never thought life would come back to normal. I wanted to commit suicide but our two-year-old son gave me a reason to live,” she says.
The support she got from her family and friends kept her going despite the grim reality. During this time, she was jobless but after Francis’ disappearance, the organisation decided to offer her a job as a receptionist. She was posted at the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) station in Nyeri County where she worked until 2005 when she was transferred to Nairobi. Her life would take a new direction one morning while at a bus station waiting for a matatu to her workstation. She happened to see a tourist van, which she stopped for a lift. Little did she know that the man who gave her a lift would later become her husband. Anne says she knew the van was headed to the KWS station since there were no other tourist sites on that side. She recalls that for the next three kilometers, they didn’t exchange any word but upon arrival, the driver – Peter Wanjohi – requested for her number. A request she heeded without second thoughts. Wanjohi misplaced Anne’s number and so the couple never got to hear from each other for quite sometime. But the two would meet again in 2006 in Ongata Rongai in Kajiado County after Anne had relocated to Nairobi. It was here that their love would sprout and burgeon. They started dating in 2006 and in 2007, Anne introduced Wanjohi to her folks. Anne says after the disappearance of her husband, she had purposed not to love again as she was unsure if she would get somebody to love her as whole-heartedly as Muturi did. Her other concern was if the man she would fall in love with would love her son. When Wanjohi came into the picture, she didn’t have much choice as her son, Brian, and Wanjohi hit it off almost immediately. “I thank God for the restoration. Wanjohi has been my guide and source of inspiration. I am really excited to have him in my life. He proved to me that it is possible to find true love again,” she says.
She advises widows to purpose to move on with life no matter how slow the strides may be. But she is quick to point out that they need to have healed emotionally before taking that step. She urges widows to place their lives in God’s hands since He is able to heal their wounds. On his part, Wanjohi says marrying Anne has made him a better man at work and even in the society. He says that his stepson, Brian, who is currently at Nairobi University pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in computer science, has also turned to be a blessing to him.
“When I started dating Anne, I knew she had a son and God helped us to connect very well,” he says adding that Brian started calling him dad while he was still dating Anne. Anne explains that Brian was the one who requested to be calling Wanjohi dad instead of uncle as he was used to, a request Wanjohi was quick to approve. “I think he saw a father figure in him. Brian never got the chance to really know his biological father since he disappeared when he was two years old,” she says. In 2010, Peter and Anne were blessed with a baby girl who completed the brood.
Allan and Ann
In 2002, Allan Kefa was forced to come to terms with the fact that his marriage was done. It was not how he had envisioned his life to turn out considering he was a firm Christian. “My first wife and I got married when we were not born-again. However, two years into it, I got saved and my lifestyle, choices and how I spent my time changed. I believe this may have played a role in creating conflict between us. I cannot speak for my then partner, but in retrospect, I know I was not the most perfect husband and there are things I could have done differently,” confesses Allan who reveals that his wife moved on almost immediately. Despondent, Kefa, a pastor, put love at the back burner and concentrated on raising his three young children. “My life and business were going south. Joining Bible school kept me sane as my faith in God grew. With my children and ministry in tow, I did not have enough energy to be a fully present husband to a lady who was not my children’s biological mother and so I distanced myself from relationships,” says the quadragenarian. In fact, it was a sacrifice that Allan would propagate most of his single life as he admits that every time a woman made a move in his direction, he would flee in the other. However, all that changed six years ago when he met Ann Wambui in a Bible study fellowship group near his home in Uhuru estate.
“What stood out about Ann is her beauty, strength and easy-going nature,” says Allan. The couple sparked a quick friendship, which soon bloomed into an attraction. There was just one problem: Allan just never got around to saying he liked Ann. “He did not make a move and I started seeing someone else,” she says. It was not until 2014 when Allan got the courage to finally tell Ann he wanted to date her with the intention of marriage. Knowing Allan had children from a previous marriage, Ann admits the decision to fully dive in did not come easy. However, after much thought and prayer, she agreed. The couple agrees that the blending process has been slow and ongoing considering the children are all teenagers and pretty much set in their ways. “I love Allan and by virtue of that, his children too. Integrating into each other’s lives is a process. I work at bringing the children closer and visit them often and we have a lot of conversations. They have also started calling me mum which is a big honour considering we have never pressured them to do so. His 17-year-old son, who is also the eldest, is very social and has helped me to understand how to deal with his 16-year-old twin siblings who can sometimes recoil into their own world,” Ann explains.
According to Allan, who also offers pre- and post-marital counselling, there are lessons to be learnt from his experience.
“People do not ask people in leadership hard questions. They assume everything is alright. It’s even worse within our African setting where men are supposed to weather all storms, great or small. While I take full responsibility for my actions, there is no telling if someone had just offered to help, perhaps my marriage would have survived. We will never know,” says Allan who says despite all the upheavals, he is lucky to have found love again in Ann. “Ladies give love a chance. There is no one perfect man out there. What matters is that you get someone who loves, understands and can cope with you and sometimes that comes as a package,” concludes Ann.
Edward and Florence
When Edward Kobuthi and Florence Mugure walked down the aisle on December 14, 2013, they knew theirs was a testament of God’s unfailing faithfulness. For both, this relationship was a second chance at love. Edward, a businessman, doctoral student and lecturer, had been married before in what he describes as a happy 30-year marriage before death robbed him of his wife and life partner, Betty. “She had been unwell for 17 years. We were blessed with two sons and a daughter and we were quite a close-knit family,” explains the 58-year-old. For Florence, a banker, this was her first time to walk down the aisle. She was 44 years of age. However, Edward was not her first love. While in her late 20s, she got into a serious relationship that eventually didn’t work out. By the time she was in her 30s, she was still single and love seemed elusive. She had to contend with watching her friends and age mates get married and proceed to have children, which left her feeling stuck in life. She says despite these feelings, she looked up to God to bless her with a partner, a prayer that was answered when she was 35 years. “I met a widower who had two children; a boy and a girl and we got into a relationship that blossomed leading to an engagement. He travelled frequently as his job demanded and out of trust, he would leave his children with me, giving me an opportunity to get to know them better and even foster a relationship with them,” she explains.
With time, they began making arrangements to get married. And then the worst happened. On December 30, 2005, as they were preparing for an introduction meeting with Florence’s dad, thugs attacked them at her fiancé’s home in South C. They ransacked the house taking with them any valuable possession they could carry before shooting dead Florence’s fiancée and then escaping. These events turned her life upside down. “I was shocked and I went into denial for quite a while. I could not believe that my fiancé had passed away and the publicity the incident got from the media didn’t help the situation. I was traumatised. In addition, my decision to stay with my late fiancé’s children was received with much opposition from my family and friends. I loved the children as my own but the dissenting voices almost won. It was only after reading the Bible that I discerned God’s love towards widows and orphans and I knew I had made the right choice. I remain indebted to one of my cousins and a friend from my church who supported my decision throughout that very tough season,” she explains. Through counselling, Florence eventually overcame the loss of her late fiancé and even moved on. In 2009, she began silently praying to move from the mourning season and get a spouse. During this time, she sought books that could speak to her situation but found nothing that hit the nail on the head. Through reading the Bible, she was able to take down notes that formed the basis of a book she authored – The Staircase – regarding biblical characters given second chances in life by God such as Ruth and Esther. By December 2012, having prayed for a spouse for about five years and seeing no results, she decided to no longer make that prayer and she told God so. “I even forgot about marriage matters,” she says. She was an acquaintance of both Edward and his wife Betty, as they had been her customers at the bank where she worked. And so when Florence learnt that Betty had passed away in January 2013, she assembled her colleagues at the bank to go and give their condolences. She later kept feeling the burden to pray and encourage Edward’s family having gone through the experience of losing a loved one herself.
A phone call by Edward to Florence as the bank’s branch manager regarding a banking-related matter concerning his late wife inadvertently opened a door for friendship between them. As the friendship grew, the two shared about each other’s lives but even then, they did not foresee themselves becoming a couple. At some point when Edward shared that he wanted to move on with his life, Florence offered to introduce him to potential ladies she knew. But Edward was interested in Florence and she had also grown fond of him – prerequisites of a healthy relationship. All the same, it still took a while for Florence to admit it even to herself that she liked him. The rest, as they say, is history and today they celebrate two years of marital bliss. Edward says, “It is difficult to move on when you are a widow or a widower. You wonder how you will start dating again. But I strongly feel that when one decides to move on, they need to be proactive about their search and when they spot someone they are interested in, it is important to be forthright, respectful and discuss issues. You can’t date like you did in your teenage days, so don’t beat around the bush.” As we conclude this interview, the couple insists that the best advice they could give anyone is to trust and wait on God because in His time He makes all things beautiful.
Published in February 2016