If you don’t want your marriage to fail, get this

Ayo, in Yoruba, means joy. Alayo… literally means a person who owns joy. The word also means someone who’s spoilt rotten. When I was growing up I had a friend whose name was Ayo and he was also spoilt rotten.

That was a problem.

As far as my mother was concerned, if Ayo’s mother didn’t start handling the boy with iron-hand, he would not amount to anything in life. I agreed with my mother.

But my mum and I were wrong. Ayo has amounted to something in his life. He sells furniture now and he does it very well. Sometimes he makes me wish I could sell furniture.

I said, “How come you’re this well baked. Your mother spoilt you. Now, look at you, you can even stand up on your own.”

He said it wasn’t like that. “You guys didn’t see the full picture. My mum and I always had a conversation and I knew my limits.”

A conversation.

It’s not like Ayo was a bad boy when we were younger, it was just that it seemed his parents gave him everything and rubbed his head constantly. Which was why we thought he was spoilt silly.

But what really happened was that they were preparing him for life—in a way that seemed strange to us old-school Africans. They gave him what he wanted when he asked because they’d found a common ground on when it was okay to ask and how to ask.

Till today, Ayo and his parents are still tight. They’re his support system. And the support system was built on trust.

But it wasn’t blind trust. There’s no such thing as blind trust. Trust has to be earned. Even though Ayo’s folks supported him, it wasn’t indiscriminate support.

Support systems are great for when the road I’m on is forked and I need guidance; or someone to call me out on my bulls**t—but in a sensible way; or I need a cheering squad. Everyone needs a cheering section once in a while, because, come to think of it, how do you know what you’re working on is any good if there’s no applause?

Even science insists that a good support system is good for your health.

Back to the title of this post. Marriages fail when the partners are not each other’s support systems, which also means the trust between them is fickle at best or nonexistent at worst.

That sounds meta.

But that’s it. This night, I’ll be having peppersoup and drinks with my support system. You nko?

A little bit about the whale above

Although it came to be known as the Failwhale because Twitter used it on its error page in those days when the site crashed a lot, the original title of that illustration, created by artist Yiying Lu for a birthday card, is Lifting a Dreamer.

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