What teaching has joined together, let no one put asunder. This is what could be said of the union between Mr Ademuyiwa Akanni Craig and his wife Atinuke Titilayo. Both are professional teachers and had met during their course of study as teachers. Eventually, fate brought them together again in life and they became husband and wife.
They recounted their 37 years’ marital experiences to Temitope AINA in this interview.
How has it been?
Wife: It has been great, tasking and challenging. But God has been faithful to us.
How did it all start?
Husband: It was a seed planted by the riverside, which doesn’t lack in any season. It started after our teacher’s training college. I was playing table tennis with some of my colleague at Ewekoro, some of my friend used to call her “SU” because she doesn’t talk to boys and would abuse whoever talked to her. Then I was wondering how a sane person should be abusing one when the person hadn’t done anything wrong. So I felt that, that person must have done something to earn the insult. Since our meeting at the Teachers’ Training College, I knew her name, so I called her Miss Olojede. She then waited and I asked her where she was heading, and if we could follow. She said we could. My friends behind were surprised, because they thought she would abuse me. When we returned they were praising me, saying that I was a super challenger, because she listened to me. The following Sunday I just saw us attending the same church. After that day, we were praying at the Gospel Assembly and our pastor said that before I would go to college I would get married. By that time, I had no girlfriend, how was that going to happen and I said that anybody that entered the church that moment would be my wife. Behold when I looked up and opened my eyes, it was her. Then I asked the pastor how I was going to do it. He told me to go ahead and propose to her, which I did. In the long run, I got admitted to school and we did the introduction.
Wife: We met at Olomu road at Ifo when I went to pay my sister home visit after my holiday at the college of education, where I was teaching at Ipokia. That day he was playing table tennis, he saw me and called, and I waited to greet him because he was one- year my senior at the college. Then he asked if he could follow me to my sister’s house and I said yes. He accompanied me to my house and went back to his house. After that time, he moved to his uncle’s house closer to my sister’s house, that made us a little bit close. He proposed, I accepted and we got married. The rest, they say, is history.
How did you propose to her?
Husband: God just made it in a funny way. She had a brother called Simeon Olojede who was close to me. I did not know he had been telling his sister that she was going to marry me. The day I proposed to her she didn’t give me any difficulty to get the right answer.
What was her reaction?
Husband: She reacted positively and normal. The only thing she did not say was “Yes” or “No”, but her reaction gave the answer and we moved on.
Did anyone oppose the marriage?
Husband: Not really, but my mummy’s younger sister just said, “Ha!. You want to go and marry “Alakowe”, that means educated person. She asked if I checked her background because she was from Ago Oko Area in Abeokuta and I told her that my wife didn’t live there, so she had nothing to do with that. Apart from that, my mother accepted her, because she doesn’t have another male child. That makes her to take my wife as her daughter and her family took me in too, because they didn’t have any other female child, which makes us one plus one, equals one.
Wife: We actually had someone that opposed the idea, but she’s late now. She said my husband hadn’t consulted oracle or checked our family background before trying to get married to me. But, I won’t say she opposed me anyway, she was just trying to safeguard his brother in the way she knew. I later decided that I was not going to marry him again, because that woman would be antagonistic to me.
Didn’t that cause enmity between you?
Wife: Not at all, she later loved me when I got married and I didn’t hold that against her in as much as we were not living together, but she’s late now.
Why did you accept his offer of marriage?
Wife: I was matured to marry and I saw the choice of my life- tall and slim then. He was my dream man, so that made me to accept him.
Was it love at first sight?
Wife: Not at all, it was a gradual thing, but we knew each other at the Teachers’ Training College in Ifo, but he didn’t propose, so we never discussed anything called love, we only knew each other as students, but getting to Ifo, we became much closer when we began to attend the same church. My husband is a gentleman to the core, but with the help of God we are able to get on well.
What has kept you going these past 37 years?
Wife: What has kept me going is God’s love and grace, followed by perseverance, endurance, tolerance, and patience. What really sustained us is unconditional love. When you love, there’s nothing that can happen that you would not forgo irrespective of what has happened.
What were the early marriage challenges you faced?
Wife: There were many challenges. First, he was in school when we got married, so I was the one catering for myself, and after we had our first daughter; I was still the one since he was yet at the College of Education. He went to National Youth Service Corps and it was after this that we settled down together at Imasayi.
What is so special about your husband?
Wife: My husband is a caring and a loving person, he won’t allow anything to touch us. Also, he loves to crack jokes with his children and tell stories.
Is there anything he does that you don’t like?
Wife: The only thing I think I don’t like is sometimes when you give him an advice, he won’t want to yield to it. But maybe later when he thinks about it, he would still do what I advised him to do. The other thing he does is, when we were still young, he used to keep a diary in order to write anything that I have done wrong, but later he dropped this habit. Although I know I’m a tough person.
What is your happiest moment?
Wife: The day my husband gave his life to Christ and he ceased to bother me on anything again.
What food is his favourite?
Wife: He likes to take tea every time. There was even a time that tea wanted to cause our fight when we were still young in our marriage, but we thank God. He loves bread with egg anyway.
Considering your experience in marriage, why do you think marriages crash these days?
Wife: In my own opinion, I would say that it is lack of patience, tolerance and endurance. Without these things, marriage cannot not last. Lack of trust and not being contented are constraints also. You should be able to manage whatever you have.
How do you know when your husband is angry?
Wife: That’s very easy for me because he would keep quiet, and he would not talk. Even when you are bringing down heaven, he won’t say anything, neither would he respond to you, but you would see him frowning, and he would go and lie on the bed.
When you get angry at each other, what do you do?
Husband: When I’m angry, I keep quiet, because everything I say I would want to achieve it. So, no matter how angry I get, I would keep quiet.
Wife: I would keep talking, but immediately we settle the grouse, everything would end.
How do you resolve your differences?
Husband: We settle our differences together and for the past 37 years, nobody has come to intervene in our marriage. Whenever we are at loggerhead, our children do not know.
Wife: I would say Christ is the cornerstone of this house, it’s not by my making, but with Christ, we have no differences because we understand each other.
Have you ever been suspicious of your husband?
Wife: I have never suspected my husband, because I trust him so much. Before we got married, my belief was that he didn’t have any girlfriend, but when we were teachers at Imasayi, people used to tell me that my husband had girlfriends. I would always reply them jokingly that if he had, I would seize his “something”. and I would tell them the padlock of his “thing” is with me, he would never use it outside. That joke never allowed me to think much on that and because he respects me, since we have got wedded, I cannot pinpoint his girlfriend. Even if he has, they stay away.
How do you cope with your in-laws?
Wife: In fact, I don’t have in-laws, I took my mother in-law as my mother, and my sister in-law, as my sister. With that they are very good to me, I never regretted that I married my husband even when he’s the only male in his family. I love them all as my own. That’s my secret. My mother –in- law lived with us from 1987 till her death in 2012. So, I don’t have any problem with them.
Tell us about your children?
Wife: By the grace of God, we gave birth to four children, (three boys and a girl, namely Temitope, Akindeji, Omotoyosi, and Damilare. They are all grown -ups. The girl is married with kids and the boys are preparing to get married. In terms of training, God helped us and we also tried our best, we inculcated discipline into them and love them at the same time.
Describe your wife?
Husband: My wife is a great no- nonsense, supportive woman, but as tough as she is, she has never abused me for once.
Any pet name for her?
Husband: When we were still young I usually call her ‘Ifunanya’, meaning “My love”, but now I call her “Honey”
Have you ever regretted marrying her?
Husband: No, I got married to her because she’s awesome, caring, loving, a good mother to my children and a great wife to me.
When was the last time you said to her “I love you?”
Husband: I tell her every day.
What’s your advice to young couples?
Wife: The only advice I will give to the wife is to take their mothers in-law as their own mothers. Even if they have done anything wrong, don’t try to revenge, because it would bring problem. In as much as you can’t hold grudges against your own mother, let it go. And take your sister in-law as relatives. To the husband, make sure you love your wife and your mother in-law. Always remember that sometimes the wife and the mother in-law would be jealous of each other. The man should know how to behave when he gets married, always know the love of mother will be there and that of wife is there, he should know how to maintain a balance.
They must pray before getting into marriage, because without God there’s nothing you can do in marriage. They need to make God their number one priority. Love one another and be supportive. Also, they must be contented with what they have.
Satan doesn’t want a united family, but with fervent prayers before embarking on this journey, it would be well.
Husband: Marriage is the school that you graduated before you start. They would have issues because they are not of the same family. But my advice to them is to respect one another, be patient enough to accommodate, love and cherish each other. Women like pampering and loving them.
What advice do you have for married men?
Husband: Always listen to their women and pick the best. Be patient and tolerate them. Again, any man that wants to get married should have a source of livelihood.