Every marriage usually starts on the note of hope that children will soon start coming to cement the bond of love between the couple involved. But it is not always that such turn out to be the case. For some couples, the children take a long while in coming or, in some cases, never come at all. When such is the case, how does the affected couple cope? How do they keep the embers of love they started with burning amid the challenge? That is the story that Francis Monday Davou, Warrant Officer (retd) of the Nigerian Air Force and his wife, Mrs. Margaret Hundung Davou, formerly of the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA, Jos) set out to reveal in this interview with GYANG BERE. Married in 1979, it took them 38 years before they could have their first baby through IVF (In Vitro Fertilisation), at the age of 67 (for Francis) and 63 (for Margaret), respectively. Best-Hanni, their baby girl, is one- year-six-months old.
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We thank God for the miraculous thing He has done for you and your wife. Could you tell us how you met before two of you got married?
Husband: We were childhood friends in the village. I knew her during our primary school days; we used to play together when we were kids. The relationship became strong when we met again in Kano when I was in the Nigerian Air Force and she was staying with her sister in Kano. I started visiting her at the sister’s place and from there the relationship grew. I traveled to Russia for about five months in 1978 I came back. After some months, we married in 1979.
Wife: Yes, I knew him from the village; my parents’ house is not far from their family house. I used to see him and we played when we were younger in primary school but there was nothing in between us until we met in Kano where I was staying with my sister.
Was there any opposition from anywhere, relations, friends concerning your marriage?
Husband: There was no resistance. My people knew their family to be good people, there was no questionable character: that made the marriage easier for me. My own mother knew her and so supported the marriage without any reservation.
Wife: My parents knew him too, so they had preview knowledge of who he was; they all supported it, including my sister whom I was staying with in Kano.
What made you decide to go for your wife out of many ladies available for you to pick within the period?
Husband: I believe it was God that led me to her because, like you said, there were other ladies around me, being a young man working in the Nigerian Air Force. But my love for her was immeasurable, she was the only lady whose name was ringing bell in my heart and that was why I went for her.
Was there any particular thing that enticed you to her?
Husband: She was very respectful and a quiet girl. She wasn’t jumping from one man to the other; she was not the type that made trouble or fought with her friends. When we were about to marry I observed that she was very quiet and that made me believe quietness was part of her behaviour and truly that is how she is up to now.
What qualities made you choose him above other eligible bachelors or suitors within that period?
Wife: He was also a calm and quiet person. So, his calmness was what endeared him to me. It is very difficult for you to hear him raise his voice anywhere. He is still with that habit up to now; he has that nature in him.
Can you remember the first misunderstanding you had as husband and wife?
Husband: There was a church programme she was attending because we used to attend Roman Catholic and they were having thanksgiving in the church and we had planned to go somewhere together but she couldn’t come on time. I had to wait and wait endlessly to a point that I was very angry and she was there in the church.
How did you handle it?
Husband: I went to meet her and she was very busy there, but I was so concerned about my time which had been wasted. I called her out and asked her if she had forgotten that we had planned to go somewhere, and she apologised and explained that it was the church programme that held her back. This thing happened at the initial stage of our marriage and I had to forgive her and we forged ahead because it was a church programme.
How did you handle the problem?
Husband: We just discussed it together and I cautioned her after she pleaded with me. I understood her because it was a church programme and she was deeply involved. There was no occasion that we had misunderstanding that we stayed away from each other for a long time. But at the time I repented and accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and personal Saviour, in 1982, at Deeper Life Bible Church, I came to know more what marriage was all about, our love was very cordial.
At what point did you start feeling that it was taking time to have a baby in the house?
Husband: That was a very big issue. After we waited for some years and the baby was not coming, we had to examine ourselves, what happened at what point. We decided to visit doctors in the hospital after about six to seven years. We started checking ourselves medically and we discovered that her body was not very good after we ran some medical tests but I was pronounced medically fit. She was given some medications by a gynaecologist, we carried out so many tests and treatments and I spent a lot of money in Abuja but there was no positive result. She went through surgery twice, yet there was no positive result. We spent about N700, 000 in one of the treatments in Abuja. Before the operation, she was receiving treatment that gulped huge sum of money.
Wife: After few years of marriage, there was no sign of having a child and we felt the whole thing was becoming too long and we were becoming depressed, but I was praying and trusting God that one day, I would have a baby.
As a woman, were you disturbed?
Wife: Very well. I was bothered on most occasions, particularly at the end of the month when I would see my period. I did a normal treatment in Abuja. Afterward, I did IVF twice in Abuja but I couldn’t succeed until I discovered this hospital in Jos.
What was your most trying moment during this period of waiting, and how did you cope?
Husband: I felt disturbed each time I look at myself, with my age and having no child, it was indeed a challenge to me. God had blessed us with resources but we were not complete without a child, it was too bad on my part as a man to be childless. It was challenging and that motivated me to pray more and look up to God. I believe it was because we all trust in God and we look up to Him, that was why we survived the period. My mother encouraged me very well, she always advised me not to divorce my wife. She admires my wife very well and she was encouraging us to stand by each other.
Has there been any time you felt like quitting the union?
Husband: There was no time I thought of quitting the marriage and this was because my mother supported me. She contributed a lot to where we are today. My mother told me that after she gave birth to two children, it took her a very long time to conceive me. It took her seven years. She said my conception was a miracle and that I should not attempt to divorce my wife and that it is God that gives children. My mother encouraged me very well to remain with her; this was in the 1990s.
Wife: No. There was no time like that since my husband was patient with me.
Apart your mother’s advice, what else has kept this marriage?
Husband: As I told you earlier, since I gave my life to Jesus Christ, the word of God encouraged us to remain together, no matter the circumstances, there was no need for divorce on the basis of not having a child. At a point, I made up my mind that child or not, I was going to spend the rest of my life with her and we focused on medical treatment to finding the solution.
Wife: He truly loves and accepted to live with me despite the challenges that we have.
What temptation did you face during this period and what advice do you have for couples passing through similar experience?
Husband: There were so many temptations. Sometimes friends who appeared to be showing concern were giving me all manners of advice. During that period, I engaged myself in church activities and, by the grace of God, I am one of the Pastors in Deeper Life Bible Church today. Church activities helped me to be focused, we prayed and read the Bible and there are a lot of assurances in the Bible that strengthened and kept me moving to a point we are today. That helped me to remain faithful to my wife and even to myself.
Can you share with us some other temptations that you went through?
Wife: My problem was to get a child and because my husband loves me and my mother-in- law was also with me, I had less challenges and temptations.
How would you advise couples who are passing through similar experience today?
Husband: My advice to couples out there is that, it is not the length of time without a child that matters but commitment in serving God and faithfulness. They should be faithful to each other. They should not allow the enemy to come in-between them. They should remain faithful and steadfast to each other and I know that with time, God will visit them.
Wife: They should submit themselves to their husbands and accept Jesus Christ. They should pray to God to give them grace to tolerate each other in all difficult situations.