Mr Ogechi and Mrs Josephine Ariwodo met in a church 29 years ago, before they hit it off. But almost three decades later, their love still blossoms as if they just started cultivating each other’s company. In this interview with BIANCA IBOMA and REBECCA KALAOWUBO, they reveal the secret of their seemingly ever effervescent marital bliss.
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Give us a little details into your background?
Husband: My name is Ogechi Ariwodo, a Nigerian based in South Africa. I was born on April 14th I963, in a village called Okaigankwe,in Umuahia North Local Government Area of Abia State. I had my primary and secondary education in Abia before I came to Lagos.
Wife: My name is Josephine Ariwodo I was born 55 years ago in a village called Nkpa, in Bende Local Government Area of Abia State, on October, 28th. I worked in Nigeria Port Authority (NPA) for 25 years before venturing into business.
How did you meet your wife?
Husband: I was twenty-six years-old then and working with UBA, I thought it was time for me to get married though I did not have any woman around me, let alone a date. I was a worker in the church, a Sunday school teacher. I informed the young man, the Pastor-in-charge of my intention and worked towards it. I was not having a particular girl in mind but started a search. I admired my colleague in the department where we served as children teachers. Although she was married, I wanted to find out if she still had other siblings I could get married to because of her character. She was well-behaved and I believed if she has good morals then I would marry her sister. I carried out an investigation and found out about my spouse. The day I met her, I made up my mind that she was the one I would marry.
Wife: I met my husband in Assemblies of God Church at Ajegunle, Lagos.
How did you propose to your spouse?
Husband: I saw her and told her immediately that I wanted to marry her. There was no ceremony. I was confident. I did not need to beat about the bush or entice her with words; I was direct. As a man, I want to end well. I didn’t want to make a mistake in marriage.
What was your reaction when he proposed to you?
Wife: I actually was taken by surprise. l could not give an answer immediately. I told him to give me one week to think about it.
When she requested for a week what was your reaction?
Husband: I was calm because I strongly believe that God was in the centre of it all.
What was the attraction?
Husband: Her elder sister had good character, so character attracted me. Though there was the spiritual attraction, but in the physical she was well-behaved. She was cultured and I admired her personality.
Wife: My husband had a caring personality. His boldness, sincerity and honesty attracted me.
Can you tell us some tips that make a marriage to last in this era where divorce is high?
Wife: Couples should understand that the institution of marriage is sacred; they have to make it work. They must be committed to being together through thick and thin for it to work. Our marriage is over two decade; in fact, by February 2019, it would be three decades. My husband and I had contributed to this marital bliss. While some other unions that started the same time as is still floundering, ours is still working. My husband and I are into each other. We are mentally and physically close. We plan on daily basis; we are not too busy to interact, because we created time for it. We keep romance alive the way we understand it. When there are minor transgressions we forgive each other. I don’t hang on to the past and he equally does not hold anything against me. Sometimes, when my husband is angry, I smile and pet him. I try and calm him down. I try to find out his frustration at the moment in love, not by nagging because if I do, I would incur his wrath, so I try to maintain a stable atmosphere and fix things.
Husband: My wife and I are a team; we deal with crisis, adversity and turbulence together, because we understand the season and times. It is not only when there is money in a home that there would be peace. We depend on each other for solution. Standing in oneness is very important as a couple. Most marriages suffer neglect and some couples operate separately thereby creating chaos in the home. There should also be commitment to the marriage institution, you must honour it through good and bad times. Life and love involves fun through being friends. I create time for my wife to laugh, do things that both of us enjoy. I still give her space so she can do other things, closeness does not mean staying together always. Respect your spouse, it is equally important.
How do you resolve conflicts in your marriage?
Wife: There are no perfect marriages, it’s human nature to fight and disagree. We do; my husband and I often fight but it is always fair fight. I remember when my husband travelled out of the country, some rumour mongers came to feed me with so much lies, that I was filled inside with the nonsense but I decided to wave it away because I did not have any reason to believe what I was told. Due to what I was fed with, when my husband got back from his journey, I opened his suitcase and saw packs of condom in it. The signal got to my brain and I started analysing the things which I had been told, but I was calm and decided to find out from him where he got the condom. When he came into the room, I called him the pet name we had adopted in the marriage. My husband responded and I asked him why he had so many condoms in his suitcase, he said they gave them in the plane. It was the time when there was so much stigmatization of HIV/AIDS sensitization campaign. If I did not give him the opportunity to speak and I just reacted, the story would have been a different thing entirely. Patience and tolerance are vital recipes in resolving conflicts in the home.
Husband: I normally apologize to my wife. She is my wife and I love her dearly. If we are having issues, I will not hesitate to apologise and she would burst into laughter, that way that particular issue ends at that moment.
What is your suggestion to younger couples especially those who fight violently when there is a marital issue?
Wife: Fighting dirty cannot solve any problem. What is needed is for younger couples to take things easy and be more patient. Every woman needs wisdom to sustain her home. The success of every marital home lies in the hand of a woman who needs to be very patient, close her ears to side talks. Love is never the challenge of marriage, but anger. This is a spirit that enters and after one has been destroyed it would leave you. As a woman, it is not every battle you must fight, you have to cleverly choose your battles. The fight does not worth it, when you are angry, why not control it by taking a deep breath? I think the younger couples should be mentored about family values. There are certain ingredients needed to sustain marriage. There is no need to stress yourself fighting someone you love.
In the face of rising cases of domestic violence, what’s your suggestion towards curbing the menace?
Wife: Identify the right purpose. Don’t go into marriage because of lust. The beauty of a woman doesn’t last, but love is something much bigger. Most at times, what brings breakages and troubles in homes is lust. Lust has nothing to do with God, it’s basically what you see and what you think you can do with what you see. And when the opposite becomes the case, you get frustrated, and out of frustration, you start to do funny things, and when the centre can no longer hold, the devil comes in, that’s why we see marriages break. So I will advise anyone who wants to get married to do so for the right reasons. Define your purpose for being in that relationship, because every relationship has it’s own challenges. It’s the purpose in you that will make way for you.
Apart from wisdom, understanding and communication in marriage, what are other things?
Husband: Money, you must look for money. Let’s be honest, poverty is not a friend of anyone. The man should be the provider. God will give him the grace to provide. This doesn’t mean that the woman cannot make money, but if you are the head of the family, it must be in spirit and in truth. If my wife gets angry now and starts making noise, and I write her a cheque, her anger will subside. I will advise anyone who wants to get married to do so for the right reasons. Define your purpose for being in that relationship, because every relationship has its own challenges. It’s the purpose in you that will make way for you.
What do you admire in her?
Husband: I admire her loyalty, beauty. I said earlier that the older the better and sweeter. I also admire the grace in her, the God in her. I admire everything.
What would you have loved to change now in your wife if you have the chance?
Husband: There is nothing really to change now, we are getting older, except maybe if I had met her a little younger, because now she can’t climb the stairs fast, but you know that is what comes with age. Myself, I’m already chasing sixty.
Do you have any names for each other?
Husband: To be honest, I’m not a rosy man, I’m not very romantic. I call her “Mine”, I find it difficult to call her by any other name. I believe any man that has too many words is a liar. I don’t really wear rings because I forget a lot. Though I flatter her occasionally, I really love her and I show it.