Some people talk of marriages made in heaven, but the fact remains that there is no perfect marriage anywhere. There is no marriage without its challenges, its ups and downs. But true and sincere love covers multitude of sins for the couple involved. What a couple who dearly loves each other does is to work through their differences and learn to live with some of the spouse’s eccentricities. In this interview with ROSE EJEMBI, the Asens reminisced on how they met and fell in love and how the relationship which culminated into marriage after a few years has continued to blossom for almost three decades after, in spite of personal differences. The two love birds also have some words of advice for younger couples on how to steer their marriage from divorce.
May we meet you?
Wife: I am Dr. Rosemary Asen. I am originally from Akwa-Ibom State. We were three from my mother, all female. I’m a twin. Later on, my father remarried because he was looking for a male child. From that side of the family, all together we are eight. So, I have three step brothers and two step-sisters. I attended Federal Government Girls College and then, University of Jos where I got my first degree. I then proceeded to the Benue State University for my Masters degree and PhD. I am a lecturer in the Theatre Arts Department of Benue State University.
Husband: My name is Kwagh-Har Asen. I am from a family of seven. I am a qualified Chartered Accountant. I worked with the Benue State government and retired as the Accountant General of Benue State. God has blessed us with three children and our last child is presently in her third year in the university.
How did you meet your husband?
Wife: We met around 1988 or thereabout through his cousin who was my mate at the University of Jos. We lived near each other around the same street. His cousin and I used to visit each other when we come back to Makurdi during holidays because our houses were near each other and we had known each other in school. So, on one of those days, he came with my husband to visit my twin and I. That was when we met for the first time. I noticed that from that first time that my husband saw me he was just steering at me. Then in my mind, I said who is this person and why is he starring at me like that? From then, he started coming regularly to the house with his cousin. Later, we started noticing that we were attending some fellowships together including that of the Scripture Union, CAPRO and the rest of them. That was how we started relating as brother and sister in the same fellowship. Then, later, it became a personal relationship.
At what point did your relationship graduate from a platonic one to a marital relationship?
Wife: By then, I was lecturing at School of Basic Studies, Akampa, Cross River State. He started writing letters to me and we began corresponding until he later proposed to me.
What was the attraction?
Husband: I saw her as a beautiful lady. Like she said, we were meeting at Christian fellowships and I could see sincerity and commitment in her. She was also determined in terms of what she was pursuing and I knew that she was the kind of person I need as a wife. So, when the time came, I proposed to her and she took me through a drilling time to find out what my life had been, my Christian conviction and what exactly God wanted me to do. It was after all these that she was able to give me a “yes”. I waited for sometime before she gave her consent. Although, she took about a month to respond to my proposal, to me it was like a year.
How did you propose to her? Was it on a bended knee?
Husband: It wasn’t on a bended knee but on a bended heart in the sense that I had prayed concerning the matter and I was convinced that God was leading me to go ahead and talk to her about this issue of marriage. And I went with the simplicity of heart and genuineness of intention and told her that I wanted to marry her. It wasn’t because I had seen a vision or anything but I was sure of the conviction that I got from God concerning marriage. I also saw her as a beautiful and lovely person. I knew that she’s the type that I can live with.
When he proposed, what went on in your mind? Did you notice he was going to propose before he eventually did?
Wife: Yes, I noticed that he was going to propose. I even told my twin sister that, that brother wants to propose to me. One day, he asked me to come to his house that there was something he wanted to tell me. I knew what it was all about and so, I told him that he should rather come to my house. So, it was in my own parents’ house that he proposed to me.
What made you to go for her out of many ladies around at that time and considering the fact that she’s not from same tribe with you?
Husband: Apart from my primary and secondary schools which I did in Tiv land, I studied in Ugbokolo where I mixed with many people from many other tribes. From there, I proceeded to the University of Lagos where I met with people from many other tribes. My heart became enlarged in matters of who to marry but I had one nagging issue. I lost my father when I was in Form One which is the present day JJS One. And so, I was left with my uneducated mother. So, my desire was to marry somebody that my remaining parent would be able to communicate with. But I also knew that my mind had already been enlarged about this matter. So, wherever I get somebody that I think is fit and good for me that can be an overriding influence.
Was he the only person that came for your hand in marriage at that time?
Wife: Of course, many others came but I had one reason or the other to say no to them.
What were the qualities that made you choose him above other eligible bachelors?
Wife: I saw that he was a committed Christian and was very responsible. I also noticed that he was mature not just in the Christian Faith but in other aspects too. He was also very caring.
What did you tell him when he proposed to you?
Wife: When he proposed, I told him I was going to pray about it and I really meant it. I really wanted to be sure I was doing the will of God. So, I had decided that I was going to fast once a week for a period of one month. The second week of prayer, I was convinced but I continued that I would make it up to a month. I was really convinced that God was in it in the course of my fasting and prayer.
Can you recall what was your first misunderstanding in marriage and how you were able to resolve it?
Husband: I can’t remember.
Wife: I think our first misunderstanding had to do with the way of praying. I was from a Pentecostal background and he is from evangelical background. So, when we were doing our morning devotion, he would just give out prayer points and say: “you, pray for this and me, I will pray for that”, and I was not satisfied. I felt we should take each point and pray in details. So, because of that, I said, ‘okay, let us resolve it this way; in the morning, you do your morning devotion personally and in the evening we would all come together and pray.’ That was how we were able to resolve that issue.
What’s your spouse’s favourite food?
Wife: He loves vegetable, fresh fish, dry fish and he takes a lot of fruits.
Husband: She enjoys rice with fresh fish and plantain. She can take that as many times as possible in a day.
What do you like most about your spouse?
Wife: What I like most about him is that fact that he is very selfless. He places his wife and his children above his own personal interest.
Husband: She has given me a lot of confidence in her since 1990 in the sense that when she does some things I am able to say whether she did a genuine mistake or a wilful kind of action. And she tells me the truth in all aspects. For instance, in the area of finance, when she handles it and she has some issues, she would tell me. If she’s going to do something for me from my money and by any reason, she gets it at less than the money I gave her, she would tell me that this is how much you gave me but I got it at a lesser price. She can decide that she’s not going to give the change anyway but I know that she has told me the truth about the matter. So, when she tells me anything, I believe that she’s telling me the truth and that gives me confidence in her that I am not living with somebody who is not sincere. And that has given me a kind of peace because living with somebody who you cannot really say which direction he or she is going can make you to be uptight.
What don’t you like about him?
Wife: He doesn’t take action on time. If he decides on something, it takes time before he would make up his mind. If I want to take permission from him for something, it takes time before he would answer me. He takes his time and I am the opposite. Once an idea occurs to me, I want to do it immediately but he would want to take his time to think about it before taking his decision.
So, what areas will you like to see him improve?
Wife: I’ll like him to be faster in taking decisions.
What advice do you have for young spinsters who are intending to go into marriage
Wife: The most important thing to look out for is a God-fearing person. They should also look out for somebody who genuinely love them. I think it’s better for the man to love the woman more than the woman loves the man because as women, we can easily adapt. Let them look out for genuine love rather than material things. Let them also be willing to be patient and endure any kind of temptation that they will meet.
In the light of rampant divorce cases these days, what piece of advice would you have for younger couples?
Husband: When you are coming from a Christian background, you know that God hates divorce. It’s not a matter of jumping in and jumping out. If you start doing that, you are going to do it many more times in the days ahead because you will never meet that man or that woman that is exactly the exact mental picture of the person that you have in your mind. There’s no graph of life that is very smooth. Life goes up, life comes down and then it starts going up again. Just like in the business cycle, there are times that business will boom and there are times that you experience slowness in business. In marriage the idea is that you drive it out of the bad weather into the good weather and more so, when you are trusting God to help you and sustain your marriage, you will really want to make it to succeed. The truth is that no matter how much you want to cover it up, by the time you have linked up with the man or the woman, then one day you wake up and separate, the pains are there and they can even affect you for life. So, I would advise young people that marriage is what you work on. You get in, you work on it you succeed. It’s your bed and how you make it is how you will lie on it.