After my post “I’m Engaged”, I promised my ‘fans’ that I would update them on what was going on in my life with regards to my recent engagement. After a series of events and conversations I had with people immediately following my announcement, I decided against feeding the paparazzi since my closest family and friends were already “in the know”.
After some time to think, however, I am prepared to dish out all the good stuff in a series of blogs entitled “Inquiring Minds”. This is not a run-down or diary of events over the past few months. Rather, this is an exploration into my thought process, a glimpse into the exchange of two cultures, a critique of western ideas of marriage, and a little ranting, bragging, and transferring of knowledge. My thoughts are not original. In fact, I borrow heavily from Sobonfu Some’s book TheSpirit of Intimacy.
Judge me if you must, but at the very least, challenge yourself to read with an open mind!
JB and I met in person on March 3, 2012 in the Djemaa El Fna (the main square) in Marrakesh, Morocco around 4:00pm. As I wrote previously, we met under the guise of friendship and the purpose of our meeting was for him to show me around Marrakesh. We talked about many things during our first encounter and I vividly remember talking about our personal relationships whilst partaking in some hookah at a local café. JB is younger than I am by a few years and I was surprised when he told me he was ready for marriage. Although I was fresh out of a relationship, marriage and family remained on the top of my life agenda as well. We were already on the same page. No guessing. No games.
Many times, we attach ourselves to a person who does not share the same life goal. I am guilty. In my 20’s I spent close to four years with a person who told me when we first met that he did not want to be in a relationship. However, like many women, I took his no to mean ‘not right now’ and I clung onto the hope of a committed relationship. Eventually, an ultimatum turned into a relationship. Eventually, that relationship ended.
After spending a few weeks together in March, JB and I realized that we had an amazing spiritual connection. As we sat at dinner one night, we talked about Middle Eastern literature, specifically Ghassan Kanafani and Khalil Gibran. For me, that moment was akin to when Renee Zellweger said, “You had me at hello” in the movie Jerry Maguire (see clip below)
Sobonfu Some’ defines spirit as ‘the energy that helps us connect, that helps us see beyond our racially limited parameters.” I will also add that it is spirit that allows us to look beyond age, language, religion, culture, finances, and physical characteristics. One of the main differences between relationships in the West and relationships in other cultures is that in the West there is a greater emphasis on superficial things particularly romance and physical attraction. I will admit, when I first met JB, I did not find him physically attractive. Ask me how I feel about him now and I will tell you “my baby is FINE!” I acknowledge the importance of physical attraction and romance to a relationship, but it should not be primordial. Sobonfu describes relationships based on romance as those that start at the top of the hill. In this position, there is nowhere else to go but down. Spirit and purpose led relationships, however, start at the bottom of the hill, and work their way up to the top. The physical and romantic manifestations serve to strengthen and add to the relationship.
Before we met, JB and I put it out into the universe that we were not looking for a girlfriend or boyfriend, but a wife and a husband respectively. When I left Morocco the first time, I acknowledged that I met someone special, but I maintained that friendship was the only viable option. My main objection was the distance and age difference. When I returned to the U.S., JB fulfilled one of the most important qualities I seek in a man: consistency. He knew what he wanted and he pursued me. By the end of April, I was learning more about JB and my initial objections faded. When I shared with my family and friends that I was returning to Morocco, many asked me whom I was to going to see. I pretended that there was no one (I doubt anyone believed me). Although I was more open to the possibilities of a relationship than I was when I left in March, there was still some reservation on my end.
When we met again at the end of April, we picked up where we left off; we continued to make memories, shared, and built on what we started. He cared for me when I was sick and I witnessed the strong bond he had between his family and friends. We had a greater understanding of each other and my feelings continued to grow. After approval from his family and approval from mine, we were officially engaged (American style) on May 4, 2012.