She trimmed down her list of qualities needed in a man

What you need to know:

James and Rachael made it a point to always meet and pray, aware that the devil fights marriages. This was because James’ family did not warm up to her. But that did not stop him from fighting for her and her cutting down on some of the qualities she had always wished for in a husband.

James Kiyingi and Rachael Namale Bisirikirwa Kiyingi met at St Kakumba Chapel, where Kiyingi was an old member owing to his long stay in Banda. On the other hand, Rachael was a fresher at Kyambogo University.

Rachael was interested in serving the children ministry where James was already a member.

But his inconsistency rendered him unserious in her eyes.

And that irked her.

“Joining a ministry that was short on teachers yet James was not consistent made him look uncommitted. So when the opportunity arose, I spoke my mind and ended up rebuking him,” she says.

Little did she know he was committed to the youth ministry.

“To me, all that mattered was the children’s ministry thus my reaction towards him.”

In return, while her argument was legitimate, all James saw was a new church girl who did not value him as an old church member.

“I started looking out for her negative side only and waited for an opportune moment to belittle her just to put her in her place. Unfortunately, despite my weird hatred for her, she did not mind,” he says.

After university, Rachael left while James continued with his four-year course. She later got a job that permitted her to continue coming back to church and minister.

Still invisible in his life, all James saw was a proud girl.

Divine setup

James also finally completed studies and later left for Nairobi for a few months. When he returned, he joined the career’s fellowship meant for young unmarried working people.

To his shock, Rachel was also a member.

This, to Rachael, seemed like a divine setup.

“I had loved sticking to a particular fellowship so for me, it was the children’s ministry. However, I felt convicted to join this particular fellowship. It was only during the next gathering that I saw James and it felt good to see a familiar face,” she says.

 After fellowship, people always walked in clusters to the taxi stage and it was then that James learned that he and Rachael took the same direction back home.

“Thereafter, it became a routine to walk back home together . I started developing feelings for her, having had a thorough discussion. I also realised she was very principled, did not tolerate unseriousness,” he says.

 Rachael loved the conversations on their subsequent walks. It is from these that she learned he was an interesting person and looked forward to them each time she came for fellowship.

With time, James decided to ask her out. 

“Our relationship must have been God ordained because I later discovered she was waiting for a sign from God for a husband,” he says.

Previously, Rachael had a list of qualities for her husband-to-be but came to realise they were unrealistic, forcing her to cut it down to one quality.

“All I needed was a person who believed in God and put Him first for such a person will definitely be fully equipped with all that most women look for; loving, caring, kind, forgiving, patient, self-controlled, and purposeful. When I saw this in James and knowing about his passion for God, it was really attractive.”

No sex before marriage

During courtship, they set rules concerning purity agreeing to wait until after marriage.

“To us, this was non-negotiable and one of the things I held with high regard. We also made it a point to always meet and pray, aware that the devil fights marriages,” he says, giving an example of some of his family members who did not like the idea that he was planning on getting married before constructing a house.

Some claimed he was still young, James was 26 and Rachael 24, and knew nothing about marriage.

Infact, he says they never hid it because the first time they met Rachael, on his graduation, no one talked to her. They later admitted to James that they did not like her.

“James had already told me about how his family felt about me, and I was not willing to take any disrespect from anyone or be bothered by their silence. All was possible because James protected me from them. He always encouraged me to stay positive and was willing to protect me whatsoever,” she says.

With such an atmosphere, prayer was their only source of comfort.

“But there was also room for fun, and to celebrate each other’s company. We also sought out for mentorship as it was very crucial for us in order to appreciate the subject of marriage better,” James says.

They had a few lunch meetings with their church elders who advised them and shared their marriage stories and perspectives with them.

The preparations

On the other hand, marriage preparations were a nice experience for the Kiyingis because James had been a regular member of wedding preparation committees, especially for their church friends.

This meant help came in readily.

“We also spaced our introduction date and wedding date by about a month and it greatly helped us have ample transition time. After the introduction on August 28, we looked for a house and I moved in,” Rachael says.

A week to the wedding, she went back to her parents’ home and only joined James after the wedding on October 12, 2019. The vows were exchanged at St Kakumba Chapel with an entourage of nine (best-man, matron, two groomsmen, three maids, two flower girls and a page boy).

Interesting, disappointing

Their first year of marriage was a little interesting as well as disappointing because their plan to have a full year of fun was cut short.

“Rachael conceived ushering in hormonal changes that brought mood swings, and sicknesses. We had to jump the enjoyment stage to prepare for a baby. Nonetheless, during this time, we learnt how to work together, help, tolerate and take care of each other. This created a deeper connection and we bonded more,” James says, adding, “The best news is we celebrated our first anniversary with a child, and thank God some couples have sought for children in vain. It also helped to reduce and silence the expected pressure from our relatives, especially mine who were really expecting a baby soonest; a son was icing on the cake.”

Any marriage suffers challenges and the Kiyingis have also had some though they look at most as micro; hard to remember.

“The pressing one was adjusting to a life with a baby; handling the night cries, and minimal sleep, especially because I had to work. At the end of maternal leave, the challenge was in deciding whether we opt for a day care or get a maid,” she says.


Marriage is beautiful and the best place to socialise. “Let factors such as age not influence your marriage decision, after all age is just a number. Despite our age today, we are very happy about each other and are growing together.”

James adds that sometimes, relatives might be the stumbling block, and it requires one to know what they want, and politely go for it.

“We also highly recommend that you get a mentor because every young person needs a mentor in various areas, even socio-emotional life. It ought to be one with whom you can freely share your hardships expecting to get solutions, one you can easily access and who can rebuke you without fear or favour. Additionally, depression is real, and couples should not die alone in silence.


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