How we nurtured our love through university chaos

What you need to know:

There are friendships that graduate to courtship and pass the test of time to see marriage vows exchanged.

The dating culture in university is often viewed as frivolous, filled with fleeting hookups and devoid of commitment. Some, however, manage to forge relationships that outlast college and lead to marriage.

University is the literal home of character development, and if most adults would open up about their experiences, you will hear tales of untold heartbreaks, funny circumstances of falling in and out of love, swapping of partners and other relationship dilemmas that can at best be used as cautionary tales. As a result, quite a number of relationships never make it beyond university.

But there are always exceptions. There are friendships that graduate to courtship and pass the test of time to see marriage vows exchanged. Four such couples talk about how they managed to protect their love through the stormy campus life, to end up tying the knot with their spouses.

Cleophas Oluoch and Nicole Omollo

The duo met in 2017 while pursuing their degrees at Moi University in Kenya. Thanks to technology, the couple found themselves in a common WhatsApp group where, upon noticing her, Cleophas decided to make the first move.
Cleophas best describes Nicole as a hardworking, prayerful, loving and decisive woman, who fully compliments him.
‘‘Nicole is silent, and in that lies great reasoning. She is a good listener too, which makes us avoid unnecessary exchanges as I talk a lot,’’ he says.
Nicole describes Cleophas as a loving, caring and visionary partner with a lot of potential, besides being supportive, quick to forgive and the best company.
Nicole is of the view that for a campus relationship to blossom, it is important for a couple to learn how to solve their problems without involving a third party or going to bed while holding a grudge.
‘‘Saying sorry is not a weakness but a sign of greatness. We have learnt to forgive as soon as we start an argument,’’ says Nicole, adding that prayer, faithfulness, patience and trust are the pillars of their relationship.

Irene Olwande  and Boaz Ongote

Irene, a communication and media technology student at Maseno University in Kenya, reached a decision alongside her parents to acquire additional skills to make up for her free daytime. She chose to take up French language classes at the Alliance Françoise. Here, she met another student, Boaz.
At the time, Boaz harboured a dream to become a Disc Jockey, and his desire came to pass. Irene, however, a natural dancer, took part in the musical productions that incorporated contemporary dance, acting and music.

Boaz, found her beautiful, and so made the first move, one that the reserved Irene turned down as she disliked his loud group of friends. But he was not the type to give up easily.

Six months later, after staging their productions, the team held a party to celebrate their hard work and milestones. As they walked home after the event, Boaz threw in a rather strange pick-up line. He cheekily asked for Kshs20 from Irene, which started their first hearty conversation that would lead to a relationship and marriage and two handsome boys. By the time they were staging their next production, the two had become an item.

Then Irene moved out of the girls’ hostels into her own house, where she habitually played host to her theatre group friends. Most of them lived with their parents and chose to relax at her house after rigorous rehearsal sessions. Boaz was one of them.
And when Irene raised concerns over insecurity in the area, Boaz moved in to protect her. That is how the couple moved in together.

The couple, who believe in the mantra, “never say quit”, advises young campus couples to learn to take time to understand and solve their issues and the need to draw boundaries on friendships that can threaten their union.
The duo says they are at a better place in life because of supporting and appreciating each other and fighting for their love.

Antony Kamano and  Lydia Mwathi

When Antony met Lydia, now his wife, in the company of a friend more than 11 years ago, it was love at first sight.

Although he did not make his first move then, he sought her contact from a mutual friend. His first call to Lydia, however, came with disappointments. She got furious and demanded to know where he had gotten her contact from before hanging up on him.

But as fate would have it, the two would bump into each other after a few days in a church choir. That marked the beginning of a relationship that ushered them into a happily-ever-after story.

While Lydia was attracted by Antony’s love and zeal for the gospel, he was awestruck by her physical beauty, humility and God-fearing nature.

A few months into their relationship, Lydia was involved in a motorcycle accident that had her hospitalised for more than a month and Antony moved into the ward to take care of her.

‘‘My boyfriend, now husband, called and assured my mother that he would take good care of me. By doing so, he won my parents’ hearts,’’ Lydia recalls.

Two years later, Antony introduced Lydia to his parents, who welcomed and checked on her frequently. ‘‘They sent shopping for two and called Lydia every time to ensure she received her package,’’ says Antony.

The relationship, just like any other, came with its fair share of challenges, including common disagreements. The couple admits that it takes deliberate effort from both parties to make a campus relationship work.
The couple made a habit of settling their differences each day before going to bed.

‘‘Forgiveness is one big lesson I have learnt over the years. Mistakes will always happen, but it is only proper if couples learn to understand and let go of some issues,’’ Lydia offers.

Her husband adds: ‘‘A relationship will also survive if a couple is patient and transparent with each other, not forgetting to put God first.’’

According to Antony, campus relationships also need a couple to be committed and learn how to balance time and class work.
‘‘One key secret to making a relationship work is effective communication. I remember we would call and text more than 10 times in a day, despite being in the same institution,’’ Lydia reveals. To date, she says Antony remains the most loving, understanding, supportive, God-fearing man.

Carolyne Omwamba Bosibori and Duncan Abuga

A Multimedia University students’ strike that saw the learners sent packing for nearly a month was a blessing in disguise for Duncan and Caroline. Their love story blossomed into a beautiful marriage of close to a decade now.

The two, who studied Mass Communication at the institution, were also neighbours living in the same compound off-campus. While Carolyne lived alone, Duncan shared a house with two collegemates. The four often converged at Duncan’s telling stories and many a times, sharing a meal in the evenings

Duncan had the privilege to be the campus head of the institution’s radio station and he used the priviledge to teach Carolyne the ropes of radio production.
This camaraderie would go on for a while until a mutual friend let the cat out of the bag, informing Carolyne that Duncan had a crush on her.

She did not think much of it as she was seeing someone else at the time. Weeks later, Duncan approached Carolyne and laid bare his intention of having her as his girlfriend, an overture that she respectfully turned down.

This, however, did not dent their friendship. Their routine evening wind-downs continued, and months later, she parted ways with her boyfriend.

Around the same time, the school administration sent the students away for nearly a month due to a strike.
With a lot of time on their hands, the four neighbours and friends spent a lot of time together. Slowly, the embers of love that had been suppressed sparked into a flame.

At the beginning of 2016, the couple moved in together when Carolyne got pregnant. Duncan had graduated the previous year while Carolyne was in her final year at the university.
The couple took up online writing jobs to keep their young family afloat. Fumbling through and picking life lessons first-hand cemented their bond and the resolve to get married.

The couple now has two children. They advise dating college students that are hoping to get married to be patient with each other because the phrase that marriage is not a bed of roses in the reality.
Respect and compromise, they say, are necessary in the face of hardship.