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When it comes to love, everyone has their own way to make it work. The same comes true in marriages. You have to do what works for you. There’s no cookie cutter way to have a perfect marriage. The purpose of the Believe in Love features is to provide some inspiration and insight into married couples who’ve made it work. Take from it what you may and leave the rest.

Today, I’m happy to present to you a couple full of love. Everything about them reveals the love they have for each other. Their story is one that I know will provide some hope to those who feel like love isn’t real. It is real and exists!

Vanlee & Aamira Garba

Married 3 years

2 children

Getting to Know You

Van and I met through mutual friends.  He was friends with a group of my guy friends that I had known since middle school. We didn’t go to school together, but we’ve always lived in the same town.  He hounded my guy friends about me. So finally, after catching him stalking me at a high school football game, I gave him the time of day.  We were friends for a few months and then on 11/24/00, he made the bold move of asking me to be his girlfriend (over the phone may I add, lol).  We’ve been together ever since.

The ONE

Knowing that Van was the one for me happened gradually. I guess because we started off so young (14 and 17). I just saw him becoming my best friend by every definition of the phrase and knew he loved me with everything he had.  If you ask Van, he knew from the moment he saw me at that football game.

Taking that Step – The Proposal

Van proposed in front of my entire family and friends.  It was Jun 2, 2007 and I was having a 90s themed birthday/college graduation BBQ.  We had already discussed marriage and had shopped around for rings beforehand so I knew it was coming, just didn’t know when.  However I knew I didn’t want him buying me just any old ring so I made sure he knew the 4 C’s. He actually ended up doing a GREAT job on my ring. I’m quite proud (lol).  By the time we were engaged we had been together for 7 years so my family knew and loved him.  However, he still asked them during his proposal for my hand in marriage.  I believe he said,  “Wright Family, do I have your permission to marry her?” and everyone screamed “YES!!” I later found out he even asked my grandpa since my father isn’t in my life.  My grandfather never likes the men the women in my family date, but he LOVES Van.

The Wedding

I remember everything about our wedding! It was such a stress free day.  Nothing like you see on TV.  Van made sure I didn’t worry about a thing, well at least on his part.  He made sure he and all his groomsmen showed up early and sober! That was really my only worry,  that he and his friends would show up late and drunk (lol). My day was perfection.

OUR Marriage

Our marriage works with unconditional love, trust and friendship. When we have disagreements, I must admit Van is usually the first to settle.  I’m quite stubborn.  He usually just forces us to talk and apologizes for whatever I claim he did wrong.  The motto “Happy wife happy life” rings true in my household (lol).

Van I have been together almost 12 years straight now, and we are still happy. The road hasn’t been easy, but love has never been lost. Throughout our relationship we’ve never lost a sense of ourselves, hence why I was able to attend college and maintain a long distance relationship, graduate and begin a career. Two words, UNCONDITIONAL LOVE. Nowadays, people are so afraid of losing themselves and “missing out” on something that’s not even there, rather than have someone there who is a constant support system.  I am still an independent woman who happens to depend on my best friend and biggest supporter, my Husband. And I never let society dictate my relationship. If I had listened to other people I probably would not have the life I have now.

Van probably isn’t the ideal man I should be with in society’s eyes, (not college educated, blue collar worker, etc). But next to God he is my provider, my protector, my lover and my friend. Because of his work ethic, heart and soul, we were able to pay for our dream wedding without financing, own our own home, raise our two daughters and provide for them in a way we never thought of (or had ourselves). To most people I have it all, but for a long time I felt the opposite. The truth is, “having it all” is relative.  What I have is a partner who continues to push forward with me, who continues to encourage me to want more out of life.  He loves me for me. Still calls me beautiful on my ugliest of days. And he puts his family first.

Sweetest Thing

There’s honestly too many to think of over a 12 year relationship.  But once, I had been mentioning that I had never had a surprise party and always wanted one. Van threw me the best 25th birthday surprise party ever. He planned it all by himself (he’s NOT a party planner so I was very grateful and proud). Honestly, Van has done it all: candy, flowers, trips, jewelry, dinners.  He’s definitely Mr. Romance.

– G

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