Society tends to raise the bar high for couples serving in the church. In most cases, such couples are expected to live perfect lives to the point of expecting them to be superhuman. And on occasions they err, eyebrows are raised and judgment is passed.
Stella Brenda Kampame Akwech, an accountant, says although these are the expectations, it is humanly impossible to live a life free of any wrongdoing.
Stella is the wife of Rev Chrysostom Akwech, a priest at All Saints Chapel in Lweza, Kajjansi. Stella adds that it is impossible for one standard to work for all because each couple is different and when they get married, they find what works for them.
She says it is important that she lives her life as well and not entirely according to people’s expectations and standards.
Similarly, Rev Akwech says he never goes by people’s perceptions but rather, what God expects of him.
“There are times I may hold my wife’s hand or waist while out in public (actions which may raise a few eyebrows). But then, there is nothing wrong with this because before God, I am simply expressing affection for my better-half,” Rev Akwech says.
Stella and Chrysostom say they do this because their marriage is an inspiration to young people who aspire to get married, as well as other couples.
Chrysostom and Stella first met on January 1, 2015, at St Kakumba Chapel, Kyambogo University, during the daily morning service. At the time, he had just been posted as an assistant chaplain at the university while Stella served as an usher. After the service, Chrysostom was introduced to the congregation but one remark annoyed Stella.
“Every speaker would say he was a single man and had supposedly survived the clutches of many girls at the different universities he had served,” Stella says, adding, “They were showing him off like a gift, something that did not amuse me and from that day, I began perceiving Chrysostom as a proud man.”
Little did Stella know that she had caught the Chrysostom’s eye and over time, his feelings for Stella only grew deeper.
“However, I kept these feelings to myself and tried so hard to fight them off. At some point, I began showing her attitude with the hope that the strategy would help erode these feelings but this approach did not work,” he says.
Why fight these feelings?
“I thought they were creeping up out of excitement and I did not want to make mistakes,” Chrysostom says.
When the feelings refused to go away, he, from time to time, began asking Stella personal questions including whether she had a boyfriend and children.
“I would find these questions annoying. I used to wonder why a reverend would ask me such questions. So, as a way of trying to put him off, I would tell him that I had a boyfriend, which was not true,” she says.
The two became friends and Stella started seeing Chrysostom as someone she would spend the rest of her life with. Chrysostom finally asked Stella to be his wife, a proposal she accepted. The couple got married on January 9, 2016. They have three children; identical twin girls aged two and an older daughter aged three years. But like any other marriage, the couple has had their fair share of highs and lows. However, they say, whenever issues crop up, they normally sit down to discuss them and find a solution.
“We have disagreements and we get angry. However, we never get to certain limits such as violence when tackling issues. If our tempers hit boiling point, we both go somewhere to cool off and later converge and resolve the issue at hand,” Stella says.
The couple say they are fortunate to have older friends who they normally open up to and share different aspects of their marriage.
“Whenever we open up to them, they also share aspects about their own marriage, a habit that always makes us compare notes,” Chrysostom says.
Other than that, the couple advises couples to enter marriage with intention. “You must enter marriage with the mentality that no matter what happens, it must work out,” they say, adding that you must always be willing to fight to make it a success.
In addition to their regular jobs, the couple also offer counselling support to other couples.
To youth with intentions of settling down, Chrysostom says: “Do not get married out of excitement. What I mean by excitement is meeting someone, develop feelings for them and then you want to act on those feelings immediately.
Sometimes, when you rush to act on those feelings, you may make mistakes which you might regret later. So, always try to look past those feelings by studying other factors in place which may determine if the person is right for you.
Lastly, remember that marriage is a lifetime commitment made to one person. Do not marry out of peer pressure, especially because your friends have married or simply because you want a ring on your finger. You may not handle the reality that awaits you. ”