It’s been two years since Ghanaian British couple Flavia and Kwadwo Benko got married and though they have had extreme highs and some extreme lows, the ride has been worth it, they say.
Flavia was born in Italy and grew up there before moving to England with her parents, who are both from Ghana. She is currently a flight attendant on maternity leave, looking after her cute little son, Mateo, whom she shares with her loving husband, Kwadwo.
The two live in London, where Kwadwo works as a trainer. They met at a party six years ago in London and at that moment, Kwadwo knew he had found his missing rib.
“It was a day that I was actually not meant to go out,” says Kwadwo. “I get to this party, looking to leave and I was just sitting down and someone walked past and said Hi to someone I knew and she said Hi to me. She then spent the rest of the party trying to talk to me, asking me If I was okay. I asked for her number and I told her I was going to marry her cos that’s the level of confidence I had.”
The two then went from casual chats, maneuvered through the highs and lows of a long-distance relationship, and then ultimately tied the knot after three years of courtship and welcomed their baby boy, Mateo.
Flavia would never forget the night Kwadwo proposed, which happened to be his 25th birthday at the famous Tower Bridge in London. “Very very emotional day. It was a finally proposed to me day,” says Flavia. “So then we planned the wedding. From when we got engaged to when we got married, it was like a year and a half,” she says.
The traditional wedding
Kwadwo and Flavia found it necessary to have a Ghanaian traditional wedding mainly for their parents and tradition though Kwadwo thought either the traditional or white wedding would have been enough.
“We had that [traditional marriage] at my parent’s house,” Flavia says, “because we’ve got like a pretty decent size garden so I thought there was no way I was gonna spend a lot of money on a venue for a traditional wedding.” The ceremony went amazingly well, with the greatest moment for Flavia being the heartfelt prayer said by her dad to solidify the marriage.
The white wedding
Flavia, being meticulous, took charge of the white wedding preparations and made a conscious effort to involve only Black vendors for the small but awesome ceremony which had 70 guests.
“I had a Black photographer, a Black videographer, a Black DJ, a Black wedding planner. I had a Black wedding decorator, I had a Black baker…” says Flavia of the ceremony which saw the couple dance to “This Is Why I Love You,” by Major — one of the highlights of the night for them, especially Flavia.
The first year of marriage
“I think for me, the first year of marriage was extremely hard,” recounts Kwadwo, who lost his job right before the wedding. “We had a nice place, Flavia was working at the time, I just lost my job and I had to find a temporary job while looking for a job. There was just a lot going on in there for the first six months,” he says.
The two however pulled through like pros and looking back, they are both proud of what they have been able to achieve together and individually.
What marriage means to them
“Marriage to me is happiness,” says Kwadwo. “The end goal is to get into a situation where my children and children’s children don’t have to work. So set something up now that will not only influence Mateo at the moment but his children.“
For Flavia, “marriage is actually living with a best friend; living with a team player; living with a partner; living with someone that can actually allow you to be yourself,” amid the advent of social media which puts a lot of pressure on young couples to live up to an unrealistic standard.
Essentially, the long term goals of the Benkos is to create a lovely home and comfortable life for Mateo and their future children.
“I want Mateo to see his parents happy,” says Flavia.
Dealing with roles and conflict in marriage
Being on the same team as a married couple, Kwadwo and Flavia, with their unique roles and abilities, have worked together throughout their two years of marriage to manage everyday responsibilities and have also found better ways to deal with conflicts.
“Gone are the days when I will be like I’m trying to set my roles so every little thing I will contest it. Now, I’m just like, ‘you can have that’,” says Kwadwo. “Guys, listen to me, even if you are right, let her have it. Stand your ground, but let her have it,” he advises.
Flavia lost her job when she was eight months pregnant. As a matter of fact, the company closed down when she was just about to enjoy her maternity leave, she says. “Just before the wedding something happened, and now just before the baby something else happens, so it was very difficult,” Kwadwo recounts.
For Flavia, she had to calm down and pull through, and in the end, everything worked out. “Every time, God proved he’s got us,” she says.
Advice for young couples
“My advice for a young couple getting married is focus on you guys; focus on becoming a husband, becoming a wife, focus on the after, don’t focus on just the wedding,” says Flavia.
“And I know sometimes especially as the female you get caught up in this whole fantasy of what you want but the day after is probably the most important one,” she advises while urging young couples not to let anyone sway them to what they think it’s best for them.
Catch the full interview of Flavia and Kwadwo Benko on ACB TV’s Odo2TheWorld.