Clare was my first and is now my forever

What you need to know:

  • Mark grew up in a male-dominated family and did not have too much experience dating.
  • The men around him did not provide a better example either.
  • Although Claire was his first love, he knew she was the one and they are now happily married.

When Claire Joanita Naggita finished her Uganda Certificate of Education exams in November 2016, she decided to take on guitar classes at the Worship House in Nansana, Wakiso District, to keep herself busy during the vacation. It is during this time that she met Mark through his friend who happened to be Claire’s guitar teacher. At that time, Mark Benjamin Katamba was in his second year at Makerere University and had just published his first poetry anthology, The River Banks.

“My friend introduced me to Claire, who was also a budding writer and poet. Shortly after meeting, I read some of Claire’s writing and I was immediately impressed,” Katamba reveals, adding, “I became her editor and we quickly became close friends.”

Their centre of attraction

A few years before the two met, Mark says he had written down specific qualities that he desired in his potential woman and he would from time to time pray for this person, long before he even ever knew who she would be.

“When I met Claire, it took me about two years to realise that  she  was the  one I had prayed  for,” Katamba says.

However, Claire was never attracted to Mark until he asked her to be his girlfriend two years after their first meeting. Before this, she was convinced that Mark was already in a relationship. But when she eventually began noticing how much they had in common, she started confiding in him.  She realised he was intelligent, handsome, and responsible.

The turnaround

According to Claire, many times men would flirt and express their interest in her but without even waiting for a response, they would go around telling everyone that she was their girlfriend.

“I hated this character in many of them and I somehow thought that all men were like this. But when I met Mark, he was respectful, never imposing, and a great listener. He was more focused on building a friendship and developing me as a person,” she says.

Mark says since he had been brought up in a male-dominated home, he had not really interacted with women that much. He believed it would be hard to find a girlfriend or wife, especially since many men he knew believed in dating many women before finally settling down. He did not want to do this.

“Little did I know that my case would be completely different. Claire was the first and only woman I ever dated, and now we are happily married. This has totally demystified my initial perception about love and affection.

Point of commitment

A few weeks after Mark declared his intentions, he made it clear to Claire that he did not just want to date her and gave her time to think about being in a serious relationship with him. He emphasised the fact that he was looking for marriage.

“This made me believe that he was the man for me. I even approached any potentials to let them know that I had found the one and asked each of them to quit the chase,” she shares.

The proposal

“It was beautiful,” Mark recalls, adding, “I had purposed to do it on December 12, 2021, exactly three years from the day I asked her to be my girlfriend. So, a few weeks before the day, I told a few of my close friends and hers about it and they helped me plan the surprise party. On the D-Day, I told her we should dress up and go for an official dinner date to celebrate our three-year dating anniversary. When we reached the venue and the door was opened, she was thrilled to see the many familiar faces welcoming her with big smiles and flowers. When she turned around to ask me what was going on, I was already on one knee. She let out some tears of joy before saying YES and hugging me so tight. It was such a magical moment for both of us,” he says.

Her reaction

“I was definitely excited and happy, but also overwhelmed. We had been dating for three years but this time it felt real,” Claire says.

Marriage

The couple, who married on November 26, say although they were excited to get married, they were scared about it failing given the fact that they had both grown up in broken homes. But when they realised that God was doing a new thing in and with them, they set out to create a marriage that has no regrets. The couple say they complement each other in many ways.

“Mark loves working with computers and I enjoy baking, so we always encourage and support each other in pursuing our individual hobbies and passions,” Claire says.

“I appreciate the fact that we have physical and mental chemistry. Even when we fight, bicker, or joke, we still love each other at the end of the day,” Mark says.

How they make it work

For this relationship to thrive, Katamba says it has been a combination of several factors, one of them being their interest in growing the friendship since day one. They have done so many things together; from taking evening walks to publishing a poetry book; A Twosome Legacy, and have both come to a conclusion that nothing beats being best friends as partners.

Lessons learnt and tips

Claire: For those who are dating, focus more on the journey, not the end-goal of having sex. Focus more on cultivating your friendship and finding ways in which you can work together to develop and support each other’s ambitions.

Mark: For those who are still single and searching, always ask yourself, “Would I marry me?” If your answer is always no, then take time and purpose to cultivate a better version of yourself, because, like Jesus says in Mark 2:22, no one puts new wine in old wineskins.

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