Mr and Mrs Gabriel Gbanger have been married for a over thirty years. In this interview with SYLVANUS VIASHIMA, they share their experience of life journey together.
How did you meet?
Husband: I met my wife in Tella, here in Taraba state. She is from Akwa Ibom State and in those days, it was not very common to have people from that part of the country around here. She was visiting her aunt when I saw her and I developed an interest in her immediately. But I had to keep it to myself so that I would observe her. What really happened was that someone told me there was this young, pretty lady visiting and since it was in the neighbourhood I went there. That was how we met.
Wife: He came to my aunt’s house in Tella. I still remember that first time I saw him, though I thought nothing of it. He kept coming to the house and I had no idea it was because of me.
Was there any form of opposition from either family?
Husband: None at all. In fact, my parents were already waiting for me to bring in a wife so when I told them I have found one, they were really excited. The fact that she was from a far away different tribe was additional spicing and they just could not wait. My in-laws were so very wonderful people. My wife’s aunt welcomed me wholeheartedly and so did the family. In fact, I can’t forget the look on my mother in law’s face when we went for the traditional marriage. I knew there was so much she wanted to say but the language barrier would not let her so she was just smiling all through. It was glorious.
Wife: No opposition whatsoever. When he asked me to marry him, I went and told my aunt about it. She was excited and told me I should accept because he was a very good young man. She was the one that told my parents about it eventually.
What qualities made you chose her?
Husband: First, she was very attractive and proactive. Just like most girls in that part of the country, she was a very active woman and it was clear to me from the onset that she would be a good and supportive wife. As I got to know her more, I also realized that she was well brought up and highly cultured.
Why did you accept his proposal?
Wife: I had no reason to turn him down. He was a handsome young man, in school, and clearly a very serious-minded and intelligent person. He was very neat and no one could say anything bad about him. He was just a dream husband for any lady at that time.
How did you propose to her?
Husband: Even though I knew I already had strong feelings for her and was ready to settle down with her, I was a bit reserved at first. But eventually, I owned up to and told her that I would want us to be together forever. And she said she would need to talk to her aunt. I knew she was doing that out of respect because I could see it in her eyes that she was happy.
What was your response when he proposed to you?
Wife: I just felt short of telling him yes right away because I was so excited. But you know, back then, things were not the way they are today. So I had to, first, seek the consent of my aunt with whom I was staying. So I told him I would have to discuss with my aunt first. I knew he was aware that I could not say no to him because it was clear to us that we were meant to be together.
What do you find most memorable about your wedding day?
Husband: After our traditional marriage rites, we moved in and stayed together for ten years before our wedding. As a Catholic, it means I stopped taking Communion for these ten years. So when I started receiving the Holy Communion again for the first time in ten years. I felt excited. I felt so relieved.
Wife: Getting to receive the Holy Communion again made my day. I was also very happy because I had always wanted a white wedding even as a young girl growing up. So it was a dreams come true.
What was your first misunderstanding about?
Husband: Our marriage was so blissful until after our first child started school. He was not serious with school and I was very busy with work at that time. So I expected my wife to always make sure that she took him to school and ensure he stayed there. Unfortunately, she didn’t have the same zeal as I did so we had a serious quarrel over the issue. That was our first misunderstanding.
Wife: It was over our son’s school. He was behaving as if the boy was not just a child. He had high expectations and would not take anything for an excuse. Thank God that it didn’t destroy the marriage.
What is your spouse’s favourite food?
Husband: She loves white rice and stew.
Wife: He loves pounded yam and egusi soup. He loves swallow generally but pounded yam especially.
What areas would you expect your spouse to improve?
Husband: Education. I just want her to further her education the more, but it seems she is only concerned with her children’s education now. Otherwise, she is an ideal wife.
Wife: He should stop getting angry too quickly. He is temperamental and it could be very frustrating. That is just the only fault I have found in him all these years.
What is your advice for singles?
Husband: I will advise young men trying to get a wife to please be patient, take their education to a certain level and have a means of earning a living before going into marriage. And then they should look beyond physical beauty, it is deceptive. Look for the inner beauty and if you can’t find it, please, don’t go into marriage.
Wife: Young girls need to realize that every man wants to marry a decent wife. It is not about how much body you can expose or how much paint you can apply. What really matters is your ability to manage a home. Don’t try to impress people. Be yourself.
What is your advice for young couples?
Husband: Marriage is not a bed of roses. They are going to rediscover their partners all over again. Condition your mind to put up with even the worse and enjoy the good moments.
Wife: Marriage is an everlasting covenant and so be prepared to build your marriage. It is only the couple that can build their marriage either to fail or to flourish. Leave the channels of communication open at all times and try to listen to your spouse first before drawing a conclusion. Your marriage is only for you two.