When Derrick and Mariam Kyaterekera got married in 2007, they embarked on a journey that was new to both of them. Mingled with the bliss were several hurdles, the biggest being time.
“Because of my work demands, I was never home. Imagine building a home and not being there to enjoy it. I also missed my wife a lot and lost touch with many people,” Derrick says.
Mariam recounts their first year saying, “We hardly spent time together because he had a field job and would only come home on the days he was not working.”
Although the couple would utilise every minute of the time Derrick was home, Mariam knew that he would still leave her for long periods of time and this forced her to become independent.
“I would do things my way, forgetting to consult Derrick, simply because he was not around. He would only get to know about something afterwards because it was usually then that I would remember that I was supposed to discuss with him,” Mariam says.
This rubbed Derrick the wrong way. “As a husband and head of the house, I felt that I was losing relevance and my home was slipping out of my hands.”
However, Mariam says that the one thing she loves about her husband is that he always speaks out when there is anything threatening to hurt or break the family.
“We had a talk about me not making decisions on my own, but I was set in my ways. But the next time, he asked, “How would you feel if I also started doing the same, or should I do the same?” This spoke to my heart and realised I had to change,” she says.
Mariam says she has learnt that in marriage, this kind of independence is not good. “It creates or brings about a sense that the other is not needed. Therefore, I had to change,” she says.
The adjustment called for her becoming intentional at involving Derrick in her life and decision making despite the distance. “This meant that as soon I had something to do or an idea about something, I would call and inform him. If he was busy, I had to be patient and wait until we discussed it,” she says.
“We worked on it as a team, praying together whenever we could and I believed that one day, I would leave the field and be home. This also pushed me to work hard,” Derrick says.
The couple met in 2003 when Derrick was in second year at Makerere University. “We met at a hostel on Sir Apollo Kaggwa Road where Mariam’s father was the landlord and I was a tenant.
When I saw her, I knew she was the one for me as her kindness and innocence attracted her to me,” he recounts. However, while he was a Born Again Christian, Mariam was a Muslim.
This did not deter him because he had never wanted to marry a woman from church. “I wanted to bring one to church,’’ he says.
On the other hand, Mariam, who was in her Senior Six vacation, preferred Derrick as a friend because he was kind, respectful and helpful. “Since my mother owned a restaurant at the same place, he was always there to help offload foodstuff and also help where needed,” she says.
Derrick, after months of seeing Mariam, expressed his interest in being more than just a friend. “I did not say, ‘no’ for I thought to myself, “Let me say, yes and convert him to Islam,’’ she says.
Both were bent on converting the other that Derrick set a target and sought help from God. “I told myself that if she does not convert within a given period of time, we would not get married.
So, I spent nights asking God to convert her.” Derrick won the contest and they went on with the courtship. “I actually received Jesus and converted from Islam to being a Born Again Christian. I would want to say he played his cards well and here we are, 13 years and counting,” Mariam says.
After graduating from Nkumba University in Entebbe, Derrick and Mariam decided to get married. “Young and broke but desiring to make things right before God, we had a simple and small church ceremony in 2007 at a cost of only Shs80,000.”
Having a small wedding was not well received at first but Mariam’s mother agreed on condition that they had another when they could afford it. “We had another wedding on August 29, 2009 and this time, all our family members and friends were invited.”
Learn to be patient:For that woman whose spouse works far from home, Mariam says, do not just sit there and do nothing. “An idle mind is the devil‘s workshop, so use your time to seek God and establish a relationship with your Maker by praying, reading the Word and learning more about God.”
“Use that time to grow in your career, discover gifts and talents you had never thought you had. Thereafter, pursue them relentlessly,” she adds.
For those that want to make marriage work, Derrick says, put God first.
“It is He who gives you the grace to handle.” More to that, communication is key. “Call, sms, email, whatever is convenient for you. Let your spouse be in the know of what is going on in your life. Even if you are apart, communication bridges the distance and helps to build trust,” he says.