It was a pleasurable moment sitting with Charles Kinyanjui and Veronica Mararu in Nakuru for this interview. This lovely couple shared freely the journey they have walked together in their 14 years of marriage, citing the good, the bad and the ugly without fear of ridiculing each other. Charles is a businessman and motivational speaker while Veronica works with Total Kenya, Nakuru branch.
Veronica: I was born and grew up in Taita in Coast province where I schooled up to high school. I then moved to Nairobi and lived with my father who worked with the Kenya Railways, as I pursued my college education. Upon graduation, I secured a job with Total Kenya as an accounts clerks dispatch officer and was posted to Nakuru.
I was helped by a friend to find a house in this town, which was new to me. I shared the house with my cousin. I started attending lunch hour prayer meetings at the Winners Chapel and I would also occasionally attend a weekly fellowship at Nakuru Happy Church. I travelled to Nairobi most weekends to be with my sisters.
Charles: I was born and raised in Nakuru. My parents served in the armed forces and my siblings and I grew up in the police barracks where everyone mingled freely. My parents gave us a good foundation and we lived in abundance. Despite my father being a good provider, I did not have a close relationship with him. I began taking alcohol and smoking at an early age due to peer pressure, a habit that went on until 1997 when I became a born-again Christian while working in Eldoret.
Working in Eldoret was a blessing because I was separated from my friends who were a bad influence. However, when the 1997 tribal clashes broke out in Eldoret, I fled the town and left everything I owned behind. Starting all over again wasn’t easy and so I returned to my parents’ home in Nakuru while I looked for a job. Luckily, I secured a job as an accounts clerk in Nakuru and moved out of my parents’ house.
I attended Winners Chapel in Nakuru town and it was there that I was divinely connected with my wife. The coincidences between Veronica and I were so many that in retrospect, I see it as God’s confirmation that she was meant to be my spouse. We often bumped onto each other during our daily lunch prayer meetings at the church. In addition, I worked in Nakuru’s Industrial area and Veronica’s office was a stone’s throw away from mine. The coincidences did not end there; we also lived in the same building.
The genesis of our love…
Veronica: My friend who helped me find a house also happened to be a friend of Charles, though I didn’t know it at the time. As I prepared to make dinner one evening, I realised I did not have a wooden spoon. I called my friend for help and coincidentally he was visiting Charles and so they came to my place together. I was to later meet Charles severally both in the church and near my work place but my impression of him was that he was a proud man because he didn’t care to know my name despite our many encounters.
Charles: By the time I met Veronica, I had made a decision to grow in my salvation and therefore wanted to keep off relationships for a while hence the reason I didn’t show interest in knowing her. I remember vividly one evening when we held a security meeting in our building and Veronica was not there but was represented by her cousin. Her cousin affirmed that Veronica would abide by all the resolutions reached at in the meeting. When she said that, I felt a leap in my heart and for no obvious reason, I missed Veronica. I started feeling a deep urge to see her and eventually started engaging her in conversations any time we met. With time we became good friends and started doing stuff together like going out for meals or picnics.
Veronica: Charles often told me he would like to marry a girl with my qualities, which I found ridiculous because he knew I was single and available. Despite being good friends and spending a lot of time together, it took him quite some time to express interest in having a love relationship with me. And when he did, I consulted my pastor who was of the opinion that he was a man of good character. I also consulted a close family friend whom I knew from Taita and his opinion was not different from that of my pastor. I felt confident to start a relationship with him.
Charles: I was drawn to Veronica by her integrity and love of God. I remember one night in December 1998 waking up feeling lonely and the thought of marriage crossed my mind. Then the image of Veronica started flashing in my mind and I knew without a doubt she was the one. Though we had only been dating for a couple of months, this didn’t stop me from proposing to her and to my utter delight she agreed to marry me. We put wedding plans in motion, first by informing both our parents who were very happy for us. Tribal differences were not an issue and we both enjoyed learning each other’s culture.
Veronica: We had a very short courtship before tying the knot on September 11, 1999 at the Happy Church in Nakuru. We got tremendous support from our family and friends and our wedding was a memorable occasion. I conceived soon after marriage but the pregnancy sadly ended in a miscarriage. I conceived again after two months and though I had a threatened miscarriage, the doctor detected the problem in good time and he closely monitored me until I delivered our twins, Mercy and Joy, on October 24, 2001.
Charles: Our two girls were a great reward from God. As we were celebrating their birth, I lost my job and this meant my wife became the sole breadwinner. We had to drastically trim our budget to accommodate two more mouths to feed and a jobless husband.
Veronica: This was a challenging time but we held onto our love. It took Charles two years to get a job and as soon as he did, I was transferred to Kisumu. Though it was heartbreaking to leave my young girls in the hands of a house girl and their father, we didn’t have a choice, as we needed our combined salaries to pay for the increasing bills. I came home every weekend and this kept our love and connection intact.
Veronica: I conceived again while still working in Kisumu and gave birth to our daughter, Nissi, in May 2006. I prayed that God would perform a miracle and have me transferred to Nakuru. And God was merciful because after working in Kisumu for three and a half years and just before the end of my maternity leave, I got a transfer to Nakuru.
However, the celebrations did not last for long as Charles again lost his job when his company was sold off. Desperate for an opportunity to make money and take care of his young family, my husband left for the UK in search of greener pastures. It was a very difficult time for me to be alone with the children. The twins were already in school. Though we spoke often, I longed for him to return home.
Charles: I returned to Kenya after six months and started a motor vehicle and property business, which is what I do up to this day. I also have a great passion for youth development and my wife and I are volunteer youth pastors who mentor the young people at Kiti Happy Church in Nakuru.
On finances and responsibilities…
Charles: My wife and I don’t share any secrets and we are open with our money, always looking at it as “ours” not “mine.” We have access to each other’s bank account and we share all responsibilities including taking care of our extended family members. I help my wife in all household chores. One thing that is unique to us is we always eat from the same plate, whether at home, visiting or in a restaurant.
Veronica: One thing my marriage has taught me is to value each other as partners and we make every effort to uplift each other. We serve God together and this draws as closer as a couple and has helped cement our love.
On conflict resolution…
Veronica: Conflicts are inevitable in any marriage and we try to iron out ours amicably. Since many people look up to us, for example the youth we mentor, we have to lead by example.
Charles: We had several conflicts during our early years of marriage and this took a heavy toll on us as we thought Christians were not meant to disagree. We argued frequently and fought over small things and we did not have any idea at the time how to resolve these conflicts. But because of the deep love we share and our knowledge of God’s word, we learnt to turn to the bible to help us resolve these conflicts.
God’s grace has taught us how to solve problems amicably and with great love. We now know when to let the other win an argument for the sake of peace. We also know its time to be calm when the other is angry and not a time to shout back. We always try to make deliberate efforts to ensure our life together is peaceful.
Veronica: Having gone through several challenges of keeping a house girl for long, I decided to employ one who would work for us from morning and then leave in the evening and this has so far worked for us. Charles loves his family and takes his leadership roles seriously. We plan for outings and fun activities as a family.
Charles: Our children are very open with us and I deliberately show them love and play with them. We teach them to love and fear God and we hold a family fellowship every day. Sometimes we purposely pay half of their school fees so that they don’t grow thinking those children who are always behind in school fees are different from them.
Sex in marriage…
Veronica: We do fun activities to keep our marriage lively. We also communicate throughout the day and this has kept us intimately bonded. Both of us love gifts, which we exchange often. I read many books and attend seminars that teach good values in marriage to keep my knowledge up to date. It is my duty to fulfil my husband sexually because even the bible reckons so. Creativity in the bedroom is of importance if you want to avoid boredom.
Charles: My wife has never used sex as a weapon to hit back at me. She is open-minded and we have deliberately purposed to enjoy our marriage. With time, I have known how to get to my wife’s heart and this works magically for us. Marriage is great but it is also a full time job.
From their children’s mouth…
Mercy: My parents are great role models and have brought us up in love. We talk to them about everything.
Joy: I love my parents. They are united and offer spiritual guidance to us and also help us with our homework.
Nissi: My parents discipline me with love. They have our best interests at heart and love us very much. We frequently watch movies together.