Peter Ewuzie Ikegbule got married to former Miss Eucharia Chidinma Onyekwere on December 24, 1981 at Christ the King Catholic Church, Anara, Imo State. The couple who celebrated their Silver Jubilee 12 years ago in Lagos said marriage is most productive when couples are intentional about it and build it on the foundation of God. They equally pointed to love and sincere communication as the magical wands that have helped them to remain strong and united through the years. Peter, a trader, in his 70s, an ex-official of the Nigerian Railway Corporation, Kafanchan, in Kaduna State, enjoys writing and, had worked as a secretary in many socio-cultural organizations, one of which is his town union, Anara. His wife is a homemaker and a businesswoman. In this interview with GLORIA IKEGBULE, the couple shared the story of their marital journey. Excerpts:
Did you keep a girlfriend or boyfriend before you met each other?
Husband: No, I did not have a girlfriend because I was finding it difficult to spend more than my income. And when my wife came along, she became my girlfriend.
Wife: No, I did not have a boyfriend. I was very committed to the service of God in my youth.
How did it all start?
Husband: When I was in dire need of a wife, I went in search of one, but I had my expectations. I wanted a woman that was tall, robust, fair, mannered and from a good background. The first woman I met did not meet my standard. The same thing happened with the second and third, they just were not my taste. One of my brothers, late Mr. Denis Onwuegbule, took me to a family. Before then he had described the lady’s character and posture. His description of her aroused my interest and we visited them at their house in Onitsha. At the first sight of her, she attracted me to the extent that I exclaimed, ‘This is my heart’. She was the fourth lady in the roll of girls I was introduced to during my search. I would say I fell in love with her at first sight. Fortunately, she has had the premonition that I was her husband. She too said I was her heart after confirming my proposal prayerfully. Without wasting time, we started the process of the marriage immediately. There was no room for courtship for us. Our traditional rite started late 1981 and ended in December 1981 when we got wedded in the church in my hometown.
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Wife: After my secondary school education, I had suitors. But I disagreed because I wanted to be a Reverend sister. My grandfather said my choice was unacceptable. He counseled me that I was the first daughter and cannot be a Reverend Sister. That was when I adjusted my decision and made up my mind to marry. I started praying towards marriage. Then I got a revelation that the next man coming for me was my husband and if I didn’t accept him, it would be difficult for me to get a good man to marry. The day he and his people came to check me out having heard of my good character I was in church. My parents sent for me and I was surprised to see strangers in our parlour. Only my parents and Mr. Denis Onwuegbule who happened to be married to one of my sisters was known to me. I greeted them and my mother told me to go inside. I was wondering what the people came for until the next day when my mother told me the purpose of their visit. I started another round of prayers and the Lord confirmed him as my husband. Aside my personal convictions, some people in our prayer group attested of him being my chosen husband. My parents sent back message to him through our in-law, Mr. Denis, that I had agreed and, the marriage process began immediately.
Why did you not practise courtship in the marriage?
Wife: During that time, in the 70s and 80s, courtship was not pronounced. People monitor ladies and make recommendation to their brothers who are ready to marry. Mr. Denis was our in-law. He married one of my sisters. He was the one who deemed me suitable for my husband and when we met, the chemistry was mutual. We just moved on to marry.
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What was the attraction?
Husband: She was beautiful, tall, robust and fair. And there was a testimony about her being a good girl.
Wife: He was handsome and I saw him as a person who would take proper care of his family. I saw the love in his eyes for me and I felt same way for him too
How did he propose?
Husband: I did not formally propose as it is done these days. Rather, having been convinced that she was what I wanted, I went on to start our marriage process.
Wife: He asked me what cream and soap I used, bought it for me and even gave me some money. He used every opportunity to shower me with love. These actions of his strengthened our love.
What pet names do you call each other?
Husband: I call her Dianyi. It means “my love” in Igbo language
Wife: I call him, Obim. It means “my heart” in Igbo language
Did you experience any opposition to your marriage?
Husband: No, we enjoyed the supports of both parents.
What were your early years marriage challenges?
Wife: I experienced a miscarriage and did not become pregnant until my second year in marriage. My husband’s stepmother started putting pressure on me to return to the village to take traditional medication. But I was advised by my family to put my trust in God as there was no barren person in our family. Two years later when the children started coming, I was having only females. And complaints and pressure started again. My family and my counselors again came to my rescue assuring me that all was well with me. Glory to God after my third girl, the males started coming. I gave birth to 3 girls and five boys and they are all doing well in their chosen fields.
Husband: When I was a bachelor, I was living alone. But when I got married and moved to a bigger apartment, brothers and sisters came over to live with us. We always had people living with us in our house. So I started having more mouths to feed, and other financial obligations that I did not experience when I was a bachelor came as a result of it.
How did you overcome your challenges?
Husband: Through prayers and applying the wisdom of God
Wife: It was through prayers and surrounding myself with people who gave me the right counsel.
What is the reason behind your marital success?
Husband: We have enjoyed the grace of God because since we married we have never exchanged blows. We have been living in harmony, showing understanding and support for each other. Our marriage was built on the foundation of God. However, my wife was stronger in prayer and service to God. Then we love each other, we were intentional about our marriage in that we were determined to make it work. And again, we practised sincere communication. We were open, sincere to each other, communicating our grievances in the best manner possible.
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Wife: We have maintained a Godly atmosphere in our home and if by chance we have misunderstanding, we do not let it cross to the next day.
Describe your husband
Wife: My husband is a dark-complexioned man. Some people call him Prince because he is the first born of his father. He is a handsome, strong, kind, jovial, hardworking, generous, honest and very caring. Up till today, when he goes out and sees something good, he buys for me.
What qualities do you admire in your wife?
Husband: She is very respectful, not quarrelsome, takes instruction, knows what will suit me and does it and she generously gives her support to the growth and wellbeing of the family.
Is there anything you would like to change about his character?
If you were to choose again, will you still choose your husband as your own?
Wife: Of course yes. I will do that again and again.
If you were to choose again, will you still choose your wife as your own?
Husband: Certainly, I will go for her. She is the best thing that ever happened to me. She is my better half. She has indeed been a good companion. In the past 35 years of our marriage, she has demonstrated strength, boldness, prayerfulness, wisdom in handing our family affairs. And most importantly, she help raised our 8 children in the fear of God. I am proud of my children.
What is your husband’s best food?
Husband: My husband’s best food is rice garnished with onions and fresh tomatoes.
What is your advice to new couples?
Husband: The men should always be patient with their wives and tolerate any misdeed of their wives at any given time.
Wife: Couples should know that marriage is not a bed of roses. They should learn and understand each other. They should not take everything too serious or overstretch issues. They should also not listen to all pieces of advice but rather choose the ones that would be of benefit to them.