Last week I wrote about holidays and taking time to bond with our loved ones. On our holiday to New York earlier this year, my hubby suddenly took my hand and held it firmly as we walked down 42nd Street. I trotted beside him, a beatific smile on my face. Why? My Naija man never held my hand in public.
We walked along for another minute or so, hand in hand, before he dropped my hand as instinctively as he had picked it. I looked at him, mildly perturbed by the abrupt end to his romantic gesture. It turned out that he had noticed a dangerous-looking hobo looking at me and my bagat the last store we stopped at and then noticed the man following me and wanted to dissuade the man from attacking me by showing him that I wasn’t alone. So much for romantic gestures!
Why are Nigerian men so unromantic?
Who knows? I think it might be a cultural thing but I do know for sure that women would like more romance in their lives. Let’s start with some home truths:
Men are not born romantic
It is important for men to be romantic and
It is easy to learn to be romantic and it doesn’t have to cost a fortune.
Many Naija men think romance is corny and too much trouble to bother with in an actual relationship. They give it their best during courtship but soon give up on the concept altogether once they are married. True romance, not the clichéd type you see in movies, is crucial glue that helps you maintain the spark in your long term relationship/ marriage; reassuring your partner that you’re still attracted to her and interested in pleasing her.
So, to help our men up their game and make us smile more (after all, this is one of their fundamental roles in our lives!), I’ve searched the net and asked friends and come up with a beginner’s guide to romance for Naija men, including what Naija women find romantic, with a few ideas on when to turn on the charm for best effects.
Have a secret look she understands
There’s nothing that creates a feeling of ‘oneness’ than being able to talk to her through looks. Create a secret look that means “You are so hot right now,” “I’ve got you, babe,” or simply, “I love you.” Wink at her at parties, over family meetings when you know she is nervous, or during an important discussion with business partners. She’ll love you forever for being her rock.
Hold her hand
I know this isn’t very ‘Nigerian’ but there are still times you can hold her hand in public without being labelled a ‘woman-wrapper’. Choose to sit beside her whenever you are out in public and hold her hand and give it a meaningful squeeze. Do it when she is least expecting it and it reassures her that you are thinking of her and you want her to know that you adore her.
Text it, write it or give her a quick call
Send her a no-reason, just-because-I-love-you text message. You can also write her a little note and leave it in her bag, her makeup purse or even stick it to her mirror. If you know she listens to her phone messages send her a sweet ‘I love you message’ to brighten her day. She may also return the favour.
Do brag about her
The Yoruba say that if you have a thriving yam crop you are wise not to make it known. This doesn’t apply to keeping quiet about how lovely your wife is. She makes the best dodo-gizzard? She is well organised with the kids? She has great inter-personal skills with neighbours? Bring it up—subtly but loud enough that she can hear—whenever you can. Praise her in front of people. If you have children, tell them “Your mum is great. She is so beautiful, so organised, or such a great hostess, etc…” Celebrate her little achievements. Don’t always wait for the big ones. She was able to negotiate a good price with the bricklayer to fix a leak in the bathroom? Praise her for it.
Always look into her eyes when she’s talking to you
‘Oju ti on soro’ literally means ‘the eyes that talk’ in Yoruba. Looking to her eyes means that you are listening to her and that she also has your full attention. You can also communicate how you feel for her by looking at her eyes. Touch her gently on the nose, cheek, ears or hair (taking care not to displace a likely wig!) when you are talking to her to show affection. Most women bask in gentle physical contact.
Call her a secret nickname only she understands
Calling her the secret nickname in the presence of other people re-establishes a connection that no one can interfere with.
Buy a Gift for No Reason
We’re not talking jewellery or anything expensive here—it’s the little things that matter. Give gifts randomly and not when you are asking for forgiveness. Buy her a book or magazine you know she likes, a shiny pen because she lights up your life, a packet of her favourite sweets or chocolate – just because you know it will put a smile on her face.
Finally, put all of this together. Make it a priority to bring all of these tips into your life as often as you can, not just for a few weeks or on special occasions. Don’t be romantic, live romantic. These little gestures will never get old as long as you mix them all up. They will always make your relationship feel young and fresh. The best part is that you are guaranteed to get these gestures in return from your woman.
It has been said that true love stories never have endings. Romance should not cease after marriage. Love is not only something you feel, it is something you do.
If you are a man and still don’t know where to start, why not text your lady these words from John Keats, an English romantic poet from the 18th century: “I love you the more in that I believe you had liked me for my own sake and for nothing else”
Ladies reading this: print this off, share on social media or email to your husbands pronto. Go!
Writer – Abi Adeboyejo lives in Birmingham, UK with her two children and her fabulous man, who by the way, prefers that his wife writes down her thoughts than listen to her musings on almost everything.