Mr. Sam and Mrs. Christiana Obukelihor’s marriage is like something covered with one big cloth such that you can’t see what is going on, on the inside. This is not surprising: they met and began their marital journey while they were working with the Nigeria Textile Mills PLC. So, it is proper and fitting if the cloth metaphor should be used to describe their marital relationship. Now when we say it is covered such that you cannot have a peep at what is going on, on the inside, the truth is that more good things than bad have been going on within the confines of their marriage. In this interview with LAWRENCE ENYOGHASU, Sam, a Delta State-born human resources professional, and Christiana from Ogun State shares the tips for a successful marriage, which theirs, from all indications, has been.
How did it start?
Mr. Sam: We worked in the same company.
Why did you accept his offer of marriage?
Madam Christiana: It was because he loves me and is kind, generous and ambitious
What was her reaction when you proposed?
Mr. Sam: She accepted my proposal joyfully
Did anyone oppose the marriage?
Madam Christiana: Nobody
How about you? Is there any opposition from your own side?
Mr. Sam: None
How long have you been married?
Mr. Sam: 29 years
What were the early marriage challenges you experienced?
Madam Christiana: Language because we are not from the same tribe
How has it been?
Mr. Sam: Simply great.
How were you able to surmount the challenges?
Madam Christiana: With the help of God and patience.
What is so special about your husband?
Madam Christiana: He is a loving and caring husband to me, and a generous and honest father to our children.
Is there anything he does that you don’t like?
Madam Christiana: He shouts. I hate it when somebody shouts at me.
What has kept this marriage going?
Mr. Sam: Grace of God and not allowing interference from our families.
Tell us about your happiest moment in this marriage?
Madam Christiana: The day I buried my father and mother, he gave me his full support. I was so happy.
What is his best food?
Madam Christiana: Banga with fresh fish and beans.
How can you describe your wife?
Mr. Sam: Submissive, understanding, and recognising the head of the family. She is always ready to allow me to have the final say even when it appears wrong
Why do you think marriages crash these days?
Madam Christiana: Lack of submission and love. Ladies of nowadays are not ready to submit.
Any regrets in the marriage?
Mr. Sam: No regrets at all.
Tell us about your children
Madam Christiana: My children are wonderful; they don’t misbehave. The Bible says: “train up a child in the way he should go, when he is old; he will not depart from it.” Right from the beginning, we showed them the way of God. And, I believe that they are still in it.
Have you ever thought of quitting this relationship?
Mr. Sam: Not really.
How were you able to cope when the kids were growing?
Madam Christiana: I resigned from my office work when my first child was four months old so that I could take good care of, not only my first child but also others. I thank God for that decision because it has really helped me to monitor them from the cradle. That gave me some peace of mind.
Have you ever had interference from a third party in your marriage?
Madam Christiana: No
How does your wife act whenever she is angry?
Mr. Sam: She becomes withdrawn.
How do you solve problems?
Mr. Sam: We just start by talking about them especially by taking them to the family altar. I never get tired of talking about my objections.
Do you have a pet name for your wife?
Mr. Sam: I have but she says it is not romantic. My wife is quite submissive, understanding and a lawyer to my children. She learnt quickly to adjust to my people’s way of life, especially food.
How do you know when your husband is angry, and how do you handle that?
Madam Christiana: Anytime I notice that he is angry I would just walk away and leave him alone for some time. At such times, he keeps quiet unnecessarily when you ask him something.
How do you cope with your in-laws?
Madam Christiana: My in-laws are wonderful, especially my mother-in-law of blessed memory. My husband did not give people the chance or opportunity to poke into our family affairs. Even me, I knew my boundary and did not cross it.
How do you handle difficult situations in your marriage?
Mr. Sam: I shout to let off steam and it ends there
What does she do that you don’t like?
Mr. Sam: The lawyer business for our kids and her undue defence of her tribesmen!
Why do you think marriages crash these days?
Mr. Sam: People come into marriages with too much claim of rights and entitlement mentality without corresponding submission and responsibility. There is also the issue of parental interference and no fear of God.
What is your advice for married women?
Madam Christiana: My advice to married women is they should be submissive and obedient to their husbands. They should love their in-laws. They should not allow communication to cease in their home. They should study their husbands very well to know as to know their likes and dislikes. They should stop checking through their husbands’ phones because men don’t like that. They should cook good food for them. Lastly, they should always take their problems to God in prayers.
When was the last time you expressed love to your wife?
Mr. Sam: I don’t remember. I believe action speaks louder than words.
What advice do you have for intending couples?
Madam Christiana: My advice is, they should marry with the determination to make their marriage work or succeed. The woman should never think of coming back to her parents’ house. Always submit to your husband as if all your life depends on him. Never take your family problem to your friends that are yet to be married because they will not have any good advice to give you. This is because they had not been in your shoes. Do not report your husband to your parents except only in exceptional cases. Lastly, always pray together.
What is your advice for young men who want to go into marriage?
Mr. Sam: They must truly leave their parents and be ready to meet the basic needs of their wives under the guidance of God. They must not be mummy’s boys.
What is your advice to married men?
Mr. Sam: They should allow God and His word to be the standard of their relationship. They should love their wives as themselves without keeping secrets from them especially when it comes to finances. If your wife cannot cook, allow her time to learn how to cook if you missed it during courtship.