By Maria Immaculate Owechi
Isaac Nabende, a graphics designer at Prime Clear Images Limited on Nasser Road, and Julie Iculet Nabende wedded on July 7, 2001. They have been blessed with six children; one daughter and five boys. As they celebrated, their 18th anniversary, they shared their love story with us.
When and how did you first meet?
Nabende: We first met in March, 1999 at Deliverance Church, Makerere during a family day celebration. Afterwards, I continuously spotted her during regular church services.
Iculet: We met at church and I knew him as a Sunday school teacher.
What attracted you to each other?
Nabende: By then, Iculet had a four-year-old daughter from a previous relationship called Mercy Ntuulo Ademeri and I liked the way she nurtured her. So, I definitely saw a caring and loving mother to my future children.
Iculet: He got attracted to me at first sight but I only started noticing his good qualities after we became good friends.
He was humble, loving and caring, especially towards my daughter. Even today he has been able to love unconditionally and raise my daughter as his own.
What happened next?
Nabende: After we became friends, she would visit me occasionally. After two months, that’s when I gained the confidence to ask her to be my girlfriend.
She agreed and we dated for a year and three months until I asked for her hand in marriage.
What made you very sure she is the ideal woman you wanted to raise a family with?
Nabende: She came from a good Christian family and her mother, Jane Opolot, was my best friend.
Aunt Opolot was such a nice woman who interacted with young people and always checked in to see how I was doing. Having her daughter as a wife was definitely the best choice for me.
Iculet: After he made his marriage intentions known, Nabende introduced me to his family members; his mother who lived in Jinja plus brothers and sisters that lived in Bugema. They all approved of me as the right choice.
Even when he visited my mother in Mengo, she had no objections welcoming him as a son-in-law.
What makes your times different from today in terms of dating?
Iculet: Back then, we communicated through phone calls. Buying enough airtime to sustain a conversation was a luxury. This made our dates more meaningful as we had a lot to talk about.
My husband first contacted me using his office line since he did not own a phone. So, I had to call during lunch hours because he was busy yet I had all the time to chat.
Since we had agreed that our dates had to take place once a week, that phone call was specifically to communicate the plans.
But today there is an alternative of just loading data of as low as Shs500 to chat on Whatsapp or Facebook messenger.
This has downplayed the importance of having face-to-face conversations so that you can read someone’s actions to tell if they are genuine.
You can find a young man busy WhatsApping a girl that he loves her yet at the same time they are telling another the same words on a date with them.
Nabende: These days, young people meet their lovers online and then the face-to-face meeting takes place after. Actually, that’s when they get to discover someone is the opposite of what they portrayed online.
Yet for us you first observe the person’s character in real life before dating them. Then when you are chatting online you know very well your partner’s character.
Tell us about the traditional wedding?
Nabende: We had six months of planning with the traditional ceremony taking place on March 31, 2001, at her home in Pallisa. I was told to bring five cows and three goats as bride price.
Iculet: Actually in our days our weddings were not as expensive as now. You just had to choose one nice Gomesi for the whole ceremony, unlike today where people wear multiple outfits. That business of hiring matching outfits for your entourage, showing off with lavish gifts and hiring comedians and musicians to entertain your guests was nonexistent.
How was the church wedding?
Nabende: After three months the church wedding took place at Deliverance Church, Nsambya (the head office). The reception was at University Hall, Makerere University and there was an after-party at Sheraton Hotel, Kampala.
For the entourage, my best man was my best friend Sam Tsapwe, my wife’s aunt Ms Margret Emaju was the matron, her daughter Ntuulo was the flower girl, of the two-page boys, one of them was a son to the current Land Commission boss, Catherine Bamugemereire and two bridesmaids.
Iculet: We tried to go for the best service providers at the time. For example, for my hairstyling and other bridal necessities, I went to the trendy Lady Charlotte Boutique and Saloon, we hired four Jaguar cars and for the reception, we wanted Makerere University’s main hall but it was booked so we had to settle for University Hall.
Was honeymoon vital the year you got married?
Nabende: It was very vital and trending then. We also made it a point to first spend three days at the Silver Springs Hotel, Bugolobi.
Thereafter, friends offered to sponsor a two-week trip to Kenya where we visited places such as Eldoret, Mombasa and Nairobi.
Iculet: That is our best wedding memory because we had a great time exploring the neighbouring country.
How have you kept it together for this long?
Nabende: Having open communication wherein case there is a misunderstanding we sit down and sort it among ourselves. Also being patient and understanding with each other’s weaknesses.
Iculet: One thing I thank God for is my husband’s ability to listen and find a solution in case I raise an issue. Nabende has done his best to ensure we have a happy married life, that is why we have come this far.
What lessons have you learnt from your marriage?
Nabende: I have learnt to be patient and submissive to my wife thanks to the guidance I receive from what I read in the Bible and church sermons.
Also, that life has challenges and it is a skill of learning to adapt that can take you through the storms.
Iculet: Love and patience have been the greatest lessons in our marriage.
How have you celebrated your anniversaries in all these years?
Nabende: We always take ourselves out for dinner, except last year when it was a joint celebration at a dinner organised for married couples by Deliverance Church.
We renewed our vows, listened to different guest speakers, had a couple’s dance and memorable photo-shoots.
Why didn’t you organise a big celebration for this anniversary?
Iculet: We didn’t organise because we are saving and planning to have a grand celebration for our 20th anniversary.
And this time it fell on the same day as our children’s visitation day but it didn’t deter us from going out for a nice dinner at Acacia Mall like we always do.
What marriage tips would you like to pass on to the younger generation?
Nabende: You should be open with each other about your finances, family background and character. But if you enter the marriage with a lot of pretense, then that’s where the conflicts start when another realises the relationship was built on lies. That’s why you find very many marriages are short term today.
Iculet: It is important to first cultivate friendship with your partner so that you marry a friend who understands your character well. These days young people just rush to fall in love without getting to know the person they are opening up to. You totally meet a couple that is like strangers to each other.