The story of transformation after Maphelo Magodla and his fiancé attended the Marriage Course
When I joined the Marriage Course with my then fiancé in 2014, I did not know what I was getting myself into. On the first day of attending the course, I listened attentively as I was trying to make sense of the whole thing and trying to see where I fitted in, in the whole equation. The course was designed and meant for couples that were already married and given the fact that we were not married yet, I felt that most of the things did not apply to us. But in all that, something about the message being conveyed and the commitment from the Bikwanis, made me do a lot of introspection on my life and lifestyle – this was now after having attended some sessions on the course and I would do some introspection on my own when I was alone.
My lifestyle was characterised by partying, heavy drinking, lot of swearing, heavy smoking, clubbing with friends and women until the early hours of the morning.
More often than not, the last time my memory would have served me would have been the time I would have been drinking at the taverns and lounges in Gugulethu and only realise the next day that I was actually in my bed next to my fiancé and our few months old boy. As to how I would have gotten home, in the early hours of the morning, driving a car, drunk and very sleepy, would be something I would ponder in my head all alone when I get up, full of guilt and feeling so bad and irresponsible. Mind you my fiancé has never drank or smoked in her whole life.
The tendency was that when I was with friends at the lounge/tavern, the music and women joining us after midnight from all other hot spots in the township, would have been the main attraction and motivation to stick around, even though there would have been no advances towards the women most of the time, but just their presence would be enough to stimulate our egos to buy even more bottles and packs of beers.
Looking back now, it was all about some childish sense of showing off and male competitiveness just so we were seen as “the men" who could afford.
When I woke up in my bed next to my fiancé, the first thing I would do would be to touch her and test if she would push my hand away or not, which would indicate if she was upset and angry or not. Every time I would do that, she never pushed my hand away.
Next I would greet her, full of guilt, and the way she would greet me back began to be the main pain and hurt in my heart. She greeted me with so much sadness, pain and pity.
One day she went on to say that every time I am away with friends at night she finds it difficult to sleep as she keeps praying for me that I return home safe. Further she told me that until she hears the car pulling up the driveway, she does not rest and she stays anxious and scared for me.
She told me she worries about me getting into a fight at the lounge/tavern, getting involved in a serious and tragic accident while driving drunk back home, getting arrested for drunken driving or even worse, killing somebody while driving drunk.
It was always through God’s grace that I would get home safe all those nights and mornings, driving dead-drunk.
This was the turning point for me
The fact that while I was busy enjoying myself and playing big in some tavern and the person I was supposed to be with and protecting was at home crying and worried sick because of me, was just not what my mother would have been proud of about me.
Most especially with our small child, who could have ended up an orphan even before he had gotten to know me, just because of my selfish and irresponsible lifestyle. I knew right at that point that I had to make drastic changes with my life.
As the time to get married had arrived and some of the friends I had as part of my life were going to be my groomsmen, I decided I could not change them but as soon as I tied the knot, I had to choose between them and my wife.
Immediately after I tied the knot in April 2014 I did away with the drinking binges. Since then I have not returned to any of the taverns/lounges I used to frequent. I became a stay at home husband and father to my kids.
I stopped swearing and became very serious about church.
During the course our leaders, Mr and Mrs Bikwani, requested us to be helpers at the Isiseko Family Institute (IFI) exco and later we were requested to lead the IFI events management team until my wife and I relocated to Johannesburg.
At church I joined the Bernard Mizeki Guild and I am really enjoying my new life.
At Isiseko we found a home and a family that was always there to guide and support us. Growing up I never had a father figure and most of the time was alone as my mom was always at work and returning home only on Saturdays from her domestic work job. So for me marriage was an effort of trial and error.
I had never really been exposed to a normal family life where I would see how to be a husband and a father, except for a very short time when I stayed with my older sister who had a decent husband. That was only two years of my life.
At the IFI Marriage Course we found a very strong support structure and family to consult every time we needed help or anything. Most of all I personally found a place that motivated and inspired me to take my relationship with God more seriously than I had ever done before.