Once the cupid arrow called “love” has struck, it is usually a journey of no return for some, while for others, time, distance and other intervening relationships pull them apart. In the case of Mrs. Jumoke Justina Adeyanju and her sweetheart of 28 years, Mr. Adewumi Raphael Adeyanju, both from Okemesi, Ekiti State, the first scenario was it, even though Jumoke’s elder brother initially frowned at the affair. Theirs was not love at first sight but one that developed gradually and steadily with time through true friendship, comradeship and companionship, over the years. Mr. Adeyanju, Chief Correspondent of BusinessDay newspaper, Ekiti State, part-time lecturer with the International Institute of Journalism, and currently, a doctoral degree student at the Department of English, University of Ibadan and his wife, Jumoke a teacher at a government primary school in Okemesi Ekiti in this interview with WOLE BALOGUN, tell the story of how they met, married and have been able to weather the storms in their marriage, over the years. Excerpts:
How did you meet?
Husband: I met my wife around 1982. She was a very young lady and very beautiful. We were neighbours. I was like a mentor to her. She was then a Form 3 student of Community High School, in Okemesi. I was her senior in Form 5 in another secondary school. We began our rela- tionship as friends. I was like her elder brother. You know, in the village then, it was a communal thing as everyone knew one another and we related as brothers and sisters. I was helping her in some of her subjects and that drew us together more.
Why were you drawn to him during the time you were first seeing each other?
Wife: There are so many gentlemanly attitudes of his that drew me to him. He was always with me and played with me and really devoted his time for me. Even my par- ents were always complaining then that he was staying too late into the night in our place, but I would tell them that he was assisting and teaching me. He was very different from other men who were coming around. He was consis- tent and far more caring than others. He is handsome and fair in complexion, and these qualities, I liked so much. He used to be a lady’s man and I was seeing other girls around him but I wasn’t bothered because I believed him because I love him so much. The fact that there was a disparity in the financial status of our parents didn’t even bother me. It was God’s will. He always promised me that I would be his only wife and only love. And I believed him because I loved him so much. Initially we had quarrels but later we straightened things out.
Husband: We began our love relationship when we got to the higher institutions. I had gone to the Obafemi Awolowo University to read English Studies while she went to the Oyo State College of Education now, Osun State College of Education, Ilesa. Ours was love that grew with time. It was gradual and later became very deep.
When did you realize that he could be more than a friend or brother?
Wife: We began from the secondary school, he was my elder brother’s friend and my brothers got annoyed at first but later when they found out we were undeterred they let us be.
What attributes endeared you to her?
Husband: Some of these attributes were that she was humble, gentle and easily satisfied. Her father then was a rice miller while mine was a farmer. Her father was a village champion then. He was financially okay. I really didn’t have anything to impress her. So the little I had to give her then she appreciated it. If I gave her as little as N10 she would appreciate it. I knew she could give me twenty times whatever I offered then but she appreciated the token I had. She wasn’t possessive at all. She wasn’t jealous and she was always good and courteous to other girls that I had as girlfriends then. These things made me to love her the more and eventually chose her as my life partner.
How did you propose to her?
Husband: I had proposed to her in a dramatic manner. I was seeing her off during one of those visits and as we were about to part, I held her jotter and wrote “Mrs. Jumoke Adeyanju” indicating indirectly that I wanted to marry her. When she read it, she laughed and thanked me. Our love grew deeper after our graduation from the university; we both moved to Lagos and began teaching in some private schools. I began teaching at Yemi lnter- national College in Agbado Oke aro area in Ogun State, border town of Lagos, while she was at Barachel Nurs- ery and Primary School in Iju area in the neighbourhood. Later we started our own private school in Agbado Station. This was around 1995 but in about 1996 I left teaching job and joined Newswatch magazine as a reporter. In 1999, l joined politics at instance of my community and became the Councillor of my ward, ward 08, Okemesi in Ekiti West Local Government.
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At a time, I discovered that I couldn’t manage going from Ekiti to Lagos. So I moved my family down to Ekiti and later she got a teaching job with Ekiti State Universal Basic Education Board.
How did you feel when he proposed?
Wife: I laughed heartily and was very happy. We had been very close and I had seen him as a confidant. I knew it was coming and somehow, I had prepared my mind for him. It didn’t actually come as a surprise to me. So when he eventually proposed in that dramatic way, by writing my name and his surname on my jotter, (he had written Jumoke Adeyanju on the paper) and I welcomed it. Ours had been a relationship built on trust and true love from the beginning. I did not need anybody to tell me he was my “Mr. Right.”
What had held you together during trying times?
Wife: During the trying and tough times, what saw us through was that I knew that we had bright future. Everything in life needs endurance. He was a very caring man and he was always encouraging me and urged me to be patient. I like those soothing words and per- sonally I am a persevering woman. When we began to earn money for ourselves we kept the same accounts. We love each other so much. We love our children. His family likes me so much and I also like them very much. Our children are also very lovely and they enjoy our relationship. When I am angry especially when I suspect him of having girlfriends, he was always assuring me that he would never marry another woman. In most cases, I was always pulling his legs.
Husband: It has been mutual understand- ing. My wife and I really understand each other. We quarrel but we never allowed a third party to settle our disagreements. Today, it is our children who settle our quarrels. Another thing is that because she doesn’t like a third party to be involved in our matter, whenever we have quarrels, though she drags it longer, but she relates better with me whenever we have a visitor in the house, and with that the matter is settled.
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When you are in a relationship, believe that you are starting a partnership. So do not think about yourself alone. Always think on how you would satisfy your spouse behind your own personal desires. What has been working for us is that we daily try to satisfy each other in this marriage.
Whenever we quarrel, and if I was wrong, I have discovered that my wife likes to go out to have a drink with me. So whenever I want to end that quarrel I would invite her to join me to have a drink. I remember that I did this a lot when we were in Lagos. I would lure her to a place called Abeigi in our area and that was an invitation I know she can’t resist so she would eventually join me and that would be the end of the quarrel.
How do you resolve your quarrels?
Wife: Whenever he gets angry, once l have said “sorry” to him, that is all. I’m the one me who takes time before I let go of my anger. I advise young women and men today to ensure they truly love the man or woman they want to marry first. Secondly, they should be patient and enduring.
How do we prevent violence in marriages?
Wife: Ladies who are young in marriage nowadays over-react and get too much angry. They should desist from this. It is very dangerous for women to hold weapons during arguments or quarrels with their partners.
What’s your most memorable day?
Wife: My wedding day was my most memorable day; it was the day I got married formally to him after our second child in 2001. Another memorable day was when I also had a baby for the first time.
What areas do you want improvement and what areas do you want your spouse to keep up?
Wife: Sometimes my husband could be stubborn and he behaves like he knows so much more than me. I want him to continue to be caring and very understanding. He is very romantic and he is a very good father to our children.
Husband: She is a very caring woman and very loving. She takes very good care of our chil- dren and I want her to continue doing these, but she is too protective and she is always protecting me like a mother hen.