It is a challenge being married to a US soldier

His story

Do logisticians go to the frontline?
No. I do not. I support the frontliners.

Do you carry a gun?
Carrying a gun is part and parcel of being a soldier. You are a soldier first and then whatever other job you have is secondary.

What went through your mind the first time you saw Pherrie?
To be honest, the first time I saw Pherrie I thought she was cocky and she had attitude and I would not understand why she would be like that, but when I got to know her, she was different. When you meet someone, you might not get it right the first time and you have to apologise to them because you made an assumption.

What did you find out when you got to know her?
When I got to know her, I found out that she is genuine, honest, loving and self-driven.

When you laid eyes on her the first time, did you immediately get intentions?
No, there were no intentions. As a matter of fact, it was business-related. I did what I did and went away and when I returned, I kept going to the club. When I went back to work I would at times be in war zones and scroll through my phone and send her a simple message. But first there were no intentions because I openly told her that she was not my type.

What was your type at the time and why couldn’t she qualify?
At the time she was petite and my type wasn’t really petite, so I would see her as a little sister and a friend.

So I imagine you like big women?
I did not say I like big womenha ha haI had seen full-bodied women in the US but they have attitude.

How did you reposition your mindset to appreciate petite women like Pherrie?
She used to be skinnier than this. Besides, many people fear dating soldiers and she is comfortable with me.

At what point did you start seeing her in a different way?
When she made sure I was taken care of, for example, when I went to the club. Our friendship grew. I started calling her, asking what I could bring her or her friends. Sometimes people do things for you and you can never pay them back in kind. With time, we started going out more often and sharing good times and that is how I fell in love with her.

What were some of the good times?
The good times included her making me a nice meal. I remember one time I had just come from Afghanistan and she made me a nice meal with a nicely laid-out table. It was local food. I hate fast foods because it is all I am used to grabbing while we are in the field.

If you were to compare, how does she rate against your ex-girlfriends?
She is lively and she brings out the best of me. I have been a sportsman and coaches tell you the reality and what to do to bring out the best in me. She is my mirror and my other conscience, I listen to her and the results are good.

You are sometimes away because of your job, what is life like away from her?
It is difficult, but we communicate as much as we can through phone calls, text messages and WhatsApp.

What do you talk about?
It could be something as serious as building a house or something as unserious as our inside jokes. That is the element of friendship. If you are not friends, it is always going to be business.

How do you deal with challenges as a couple and how much say does Pherrie have as your wife when you are making decisions?
The way I face challenges is to try and avoid them, like some time I was in Korea and she could not come because it was restricted. I made sure that the next assignment we were together, to deal with the issue of distance. We agree on things because we bring our perspectives together.

When do you plan to have children?
As soon as yesterday.

How much influence does religion have in your lives?
Religion grounds us and helps us appreciate that there is a higher being and when we are praying, we are vulnerable, praying to someone bigger. This gives us relief and strength and makes us feel better. We are Muslims, and no matter the situation, we are hopeful that the best will come out of situations. Without hope, you cannot go on.

Dedicate some songs to your wife
Kiss of Life by Sade and Rita Ora’s Grateful

What message do you have for her?
Just keep on being you and understand that people have different ways of looking at things. Do not make decisions when you are mad. You have to put yourself in someone’s shoes.

Her story

How and when did you meet Mr Lubwama?
The craziest thing about meeting my husband is that it was not once. I kept meeting him on several occasions but not in any way romantic. He did not ask me out. The first time I officially met him was at Guvnor in 2011 and it was business. I remember someone from US called me and told me someone wanted to host a party at the club. I passed on the information to the general manager and I did not bother to follow up because I was busy with other projects. The two later became friends but I saw him as a client. I also helped him with some marketing work for his events. I cannot say we met on a certain day and fell in love. It was gradual. We would meet and talk and when he came to see me, he brought me a gift or so.

At what point did you realise he was not just chatting you up for the sake of friendship but was building momentum to win your heart?
I do not even know. It is unbelievable but I cannot tell when that happened. I kept seeing him. He would give me surprise calls to check on me and know how I was doing. He would also come around to check on his businesses so we would meet. Before I knew it, he proposed for us to go meet my parents, and here we are. It is not very romantic like everyone wants to believe.

What did you like about this man that kept him in touch?
He was different from all my clients, all the people who kept hitting on me, and all my ex-boyfriends. Everyone hits on me, I think it is only you (the writer) who has not. When you are female and in the public eye, many people reach out to you. Some come as clients and before I know it, they are asking me out for dinner or asking me to leave my boyfriend so they can buy me this or that.
I am talking about single men, married men and ministers. And then I met this guy who was not bothered. He did not pursue me. He was different and refreshing. He was very sweet but not in a way that made me uncomfortable, so I put my guard down. When he sent messages, he was sweet and when he called he was nice.

Did you have to endure long telephone conversations?
They were very pleasant. I think it was destiny. He made it comfortable for me to relate with him.

What was it like when he visited your parents?
My parents knew him and the people he had come with. His father and my father had known each other for years. My father is from Ishaka, Mbarara. When I was about 10, his father often visited my dad.

Was he your childhood friend?
He knew me and my parents but the reason I did not know him was because he had been in the US for so long. I was in the US, but we never met. We had many mutual friends. When he came home, my father said, ono mutabani (this is my son), which gave me a scare… I thought we were cousins but it turned out that there was no blood relation. Then we proceeded with our wedding.

Did you move in?
No, we did not live together until we were officially wedded in the Islamic way. That is when I moved to his place in Texas. I lived with him there before he was transferred. Because of the nature of his job, he gets transferred to different places around the world, so he was transferred to Korea for a year. Now we ar for a break and he has been transferred to Germany. We will be in Germany for three years and we will see where we go next.

What is it like being in a relationship that is so geographically rotational?
It is not pleasant because when you get married, what you visualise is living together. For example, my parents have been together for 42 years. I have never seen them apart and I have never gone to bed with either of them missing, so when I got married I visualised it the way I know.

How do you deal with sometimes waking up without him by your side?
It is frustrating, but I think this is going to be the last time we will be apart. I am always on a plane. I have been on a plane four times this year and the year before. I have been living in suitcases since I met him, which I do not like.
I do not like being unstable. I like having my things here, my hom and probably that is the reason we have not had children yet, so I will pre-empt that question before you ask it. It has been hectic for me that I cannot imagine what it would be like if I was pregnant. Before I settle in to get used to the food and weather, we are moving.

When you met Abdi, did you know he worked for the US army?
No, I did not know he was a soldier. I found out when I was already deep in love with him.

How did you feel?
I knew partly what to expect because I have lived in the US before and I have watched movies. I know what it entails. When your husband is in the army, going to bed with him is not guaranteed. There are times when he will not be there. Sometimes he is sent on a mission where family cannot be.

How did Abdi change your definition of love?
The love I have with my husband is friendship. My husband is a committed person. When he says he will do something, he means it.

How important is friendship in a relationship?
It is important because, for instance, we recently had a misunderstanding and I kept telling him that he was not my friend. When a friend does something to you, you know they did not intend to do it and you easily forgive. Friendship is important in marriage because it brings empathy. I have empathy for him. It would be different if he married me and put me in a house and went away.

Besides the issue of distance, what other challenges have you faced as a couple?
We have been raised differently, so the way he sees certain things is not the way I see them so we are still trying to marry our different backgrounds and slowly integrating into a balance.

If you were to dedicate three love songs to you husband, which ones would they be?
Ha ha ha, his are all going to be ragga mine are Whitney Houston’s I Believe In You and me, Joe Thomas’ I Believe In You and Naava Grey Ninga Omuloge.

What is your message to your husband?
I have so many messages for him, but the message that sums up everything is: “I am your ride or die chick, whatever happens”.


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