How did you meet?
Peter: We first met at a lunch hour prayer meeting in my church.
Carol: My prayer partner had invited me to her church, which turned out to be where Peter fellowshipped. I did not think our friendship would ever amount to anything because I viewed him as extremely spiritual to even take interest in me, or any other woman.
How did you know you were meant for each other?
Peter: It was a series of confirmations from God, as well as intentionally praying for our relationship.
Carol: God confirmed to me on various occasions that Peter was going to be my husband. The first incident was during a prayer meeting in church. I remember I was busy praying and I heard an audible manly voice tell me that I would get married to a man of God. I brushed this off and continued living my life. God would affirm this on several other occasions. I even rejected the sign when God clearly showed me I would get married to Peter.
What do you mean that God showed you?
Peter: I had been praying and fasting for a wife for five days. On the fifth day, during overnight prayers, God told me that He had answered my prayer and that my wife was in the congregation.
Carol: Yes. God speaks and guides us if we allow Him. During the prayer meeting at Peter’s church, I remember God told me that He would reveal my husband that night. I was not ready and argued with God to give me more time. As I was praying, the Holy Spirit instructed me to look behind and I would see a man kneeling with hands lifted up. I looked back and to my surprise I saw Peter kneeling and lifting his hands up at a corner in the back.
Peter: We met after the service and it was during our conversation that I mustered the courage to ask her out on a date the following week.
Carol: I was shocked. I challenged God to orchestrate the next moves and bring the relationship to fruition. I continued praying earnestly and the rest is history.
How long was your courtship?
Peter: Carol was my first girlfriend and I was quite intimidated by her, to be honest.
We courted for five years. To me, the number five is very special as it represents grace.
Carol: (chuckles) We were a bit old school. Our dates were prayer dates. We initially prayed over our relationship for eight consecutive months. We would go to Arboretum every Sunday after church to pray and talk. We then courted for five years, all this time laying the correct foundation for our marriage. We weren’t intimate and we achieved this by purposely meeting in public.
Weddings require months of detailed planning; how did you manage to raise funds in three days?
Peter: Our wedding planning was a walk of faith. We had to trust God for everything because none of us was working at that time. We would set a date and something would come up causing us to postpone it. We also didn’t receive enough backing and support from our families as we expected. Our best couple, however, was phenomenal. They stood by us through thick and thin. They covered our outfits’ costs and after the wedding catered for our honeymoon at Gracia Gardens Hotel here in Nairobi.
Carol: We had postponed the wedding three times due to lack of money. All our wedding details were in place, from maids, to suppliers to our preferred honeymoon destination. The only thing that was missing was the financial aspect. Three days to the wedding, our pastor called and asked us to update him on our progress and budget. He then mobilised some few people who took up different commitments financially and in kind. By the time we got to the wedding day, we had everything in place. Our caterer, who also made our cake, told us he would only charge us for the food ingredients.
Why didn’t you seek support from your parents or relatives to help you plan the wedding?
Peter: First of all, my parents were not well off and so they could not support us financially. We also had to contend with tribal issues. I come from the Kamba community while Carol is Kikuyu. There was this negative stereotype that a Kikuyu woman would take all the property accumulated within the marriage if it failed. My family has since come to love and respect our marriage.
Carol: My parents were worried about my wellbeing and advised against marrying Peter due to his financial status. I totally understood why my parents and some relatives were a bit hesitant and skeptical with my choice of a husband. They had the best interest at heart and I am not bitter at anyone.
Having started off on a rough patch financially, how do you handle money matters in your marriage?
Peter: We have learnt to communicate effectively about everything including finances.
Carol: My husband is a very good financial manager. That is one of his strengths and for that I trust him with our finances. I feel more secure when he handles the money because I know he will do a good job. I also know he loves me and I always have faith and trust that he will plan our finances with the best interests of our family.
What kind of challenges have you experienced in your marriage?
Peter: Most of our challenges came from external sources. Finances have played the biggest challenge for us. We have also faced negative perceptions, stereotypes and unrealistic expectations about our marriage from outside parties. It was also challenging when my wife decided to go back to school to further her studies in counselling psychology. I had to take up roles like cooking, ironing and taking care of our children, which are normally viewed as women’s roles.
Carol: Like any other married couple, we have had our fair share of challenges in communication, personal differences, as well as finances.
How did you overcome these challenges?
Peter: We have learnt to agree and communicate effectively which is what has held us together. I can also attribute it to the fact that we have grown together as a couple. We have had to adjust to each other and have learnt to compromise in a positive way. We also involve God in all our challenges. We have learnt to budget and live within our means in all stages of our marriage. I understood that I had to support my wife in her academic pursuit and I would gladly clean and cook while she was in class or doing exams. Her success is my success.
Carol: No marriage is perfect. The reason our marriage is still strong despite all the storms we have been through is because we laid the proper foundation from the beginning. We purposed as a couple to cover each other’s weaknesses. It does not matter what I achieve in life, Peter is my head and I respect and honour him in all situations whether good or bad. That revelation gives me the humility and wisdom to navigate issues wisely. We deal with our issues internally. External influences break a marriage.
You have three adorable children; what tips can you share with other parents?
Peter: We create the right environment for our children – Sifa (11), Eliel (nine) and Amiella (four) – to thrive. We shepherd our children by not only providing for them, but also speaking positive words, affirmations and encouragement over them. We also teach them to confess and prophesy the word of God over their own lives. We are always present and inculcate proper values right from childhood. We have learnt that children emulate their parents so we always lead by example.
Carol: We take each of our children as individuals and choose which parenting style works for each of them. Our style is firm but loving. We do not entertain indiscipline but affirm to our children that we are disciplining them with their best interests at heart. Our children also know the importance of working as one unit in the family. From the eldest to the youngest, they know what the family believes and trusts God for. This is important as it helps us have one direction and voice in our prayers. We are active in our children’s lives; we never miss any school meeting or delegate our duties to house helps and teachers. We have also learnt to focus more on their strengths and positively affirm them, which helps them to grow up strong and confident.
How have you managed to spice things up and keep things fresh for 13 years?
Peter: We have many connecting points in our marriage. There are so many reasons as to why we are together and that is what keeps our marriage fresh. We connect spiritually, emotionally, physically and intellectually – all these touch-points challenge our marriage to be better. Over and above that, we are the best of friends. You can never be bored when you have a friend.
Carol: I avoid getting too familiar with my husband because I know whatever you become familiar with you can never respect or invest in. I am always intentional on looking for new things to appreciate and focus on in my husband. It does not have to be something grand. I am always keen to note and appreciate the smallest improvements in my husband. It makes me feel like I am conquering new things and I am always proud to see growth in him. I also never introduce Peter as Baba Sifa, he is my best friend and husband and that’s how I introduce him. I treasure him dearly.
What is your advice to single people looking to get married?
Peter: Set the right foundation. Make sure you do not withdraw more than you are giving. Make deposits of love, affirmations, time and emotions. Invest into each other. Sometimes it is with the small things and not always about money. Men also need to understand that supporting their wives is not a sign of weakness. I am a strong supporter of my wife. I am not afraid to get into the kitchen to cook. When you get married, you become one so everything you do should be based on love and progress. Since you are one, you cannot fight or hate yourself. The role of the man is to build up his wife and home.
Carol: The foundation of every marriage is God. There is need to involve God in all issues of life, even the smallest things, which you think you can handle alone. Pray and be led by God on your spouse. Women also need to understand that the husband is the priest of the household. He is the first prophet that God has entrusted over the family, so they should give a listening ear to their husband and stop giving preference to pastors outside.