For Mr. and Pastor Mrs. Fadairo, marriage is a lifelong commitment. Guided by this philosophy, the couple found joy in loving each other unconditionally according to God’s precepts. In this interview with BIANCA IBOMA-EMEFU, they amplify the necessity to rely on God, and the benefit of commitment and hard work in a marital journey, principles, they have, over the years, discovered to work, since they tied the nuptial knots on December 9, 1995. Excerpts of the interview:
Give us a brief detail about your backgrounds
Husband: My names are James Babajide Fadairo, a native of Akinmorin in Afijio Local Government Area of Oyo State. I had my primary and secondary school education also in Oyo State. I worked with one oil company as a clerk before moving to FFA at Iyana-Ishashi. I started as a petrol attendant and then grew up to become a supervisor and then the station manager.
Wife: My name is Pastor Helen Emamoke Fadairo. I hail from Idhenze and Ivrogbo-Irri in Isoko South Local Government Area of Delta State. I was born in Ivory-Coast to Late Mr. Edwin Ekpekpemu Okpagba and late Mrs. Roseline Okpagba, I spent six years in that country before we came back to Nigeria. Part of my primary school was in Warri- Delta State afternoon session then. I later moved down to Lagos, around Iyana-Isashi. I completed my primary education in FOA- Okokomaiko and my secondary education at Ajangbadi High School in Ajangbadi,Lagos. I lost my father and could not proceed further with my academics. I decided to learn a skill from a vocational centre, where I was trained as a beautician.
How did you meet your spouse?
Husband: I met her close to where I worked at FFA fuel station as a petrol attendant. When I noticed she was sad on a particular day, I went to meet her and to inquire from her what was wrong. I became disturbed. But at the end of our discussion, I was able to make her smile. Thereafter, we became acquainted with each other because I was always visiting her at intervals, whenever the need arose or I had the chance. As days rolled by, our relationship grew as I was concerned about her well-being.
Wife: I met my husband at Iyana-Ishashi, where I was working as a salesgirl. He was a petrol attendant at a petrol station very close to where I worked. I was sitting outside the shop on a particular day and I was very sad. When he saw me, he made enquiries and asked why I was moody. But didn’t I tell him. He kept on pestering me until he eventually made me smile before he left. Shortly after the encounter, he became a regular visitor as he was always coming to see me.
How did you propose?
Husband: It was a festive period, although we became very fond of each other after we met. I visited her at home, in her family house and her people were hospitable. I took her out on a particular festive period and expressed my feelings to her. I informed her about my decision and she accepted. Initially, she thought I was joking until she saw that I was keen before she accepted.
Wife: My husband was already my friend. He used to visit me at home and my place of work at intervals whenever he had the opportunity. As time went by, I guessed he fell in love with me. One day after work as he was seeing me off, he asked me if I would marry him and I said yes because we were already fond of each other.
What was the attraction?
Husband: She is industrious and very respectful. I saw other traces but what attracted me is her level of maturity. She is beautiful inside and outside. A woman of virtue, even at a young age, she was able to manage me.
Wife: When he expressed his readiness to marry me I was very happy. But from my heart, I asked him why he wanted to toy with my emotions. His response was that he was not playing, that he was serious. He is very caring; that was what attracted him to me: his character and attitude towards me. He usually tries to find out how I was faring; it was one of the features or qualities that I admired in him.
Considering the fact that you are from different ethnic groups, what were some of the challenges that you experienced in the earliest part of your marriage?
Husband: Youthful exuberance. I became a fun-lover and moved around with friends. This made my wife very sad. I didn’t quite realize it until a doctor spoke to me about it. I equally got counsel from the church. I made up my mind to fix my home, so I cut off a lot of friends I used to keep then. I apologised to her and if I must go out, I would go with her and my kids or with her alone.
Wife: I was already familiar with the Yoruba ethnic group considering where I grew up. I spent major part of my childhood with them. So when we got married, December 9, 1995, I had a little bit of understanding about his people and culture. Also, I understand and speak their language. I eat their food, wear their attire, so it was not really strange to me. The challenge I had then was my husband had too many women around him and I usually cry because I felt he was hurting my emotions. I would always speak to my pastor about my experience at home but she would counsel me and direct me to pray which I did. When I had our second son my husband became something else. This is because at that point, he increased the way he was involved with women. It was at that point that an elderly doctor in the hospital where I had the baby called him and spoke to him. Coupled with prayers, he changed his ways. So, the doctor and my pastor, Rev. Monisola Olorunponmi ,were used by God to set things right. When he came home that day after they spoke with him, he became sober and apologized. He made a decision to prioritize things and made it up for us. He became a very loving husband and things changed; peace was restored back to our home.
How would you view the institution called marriage?
Husband: Building a happy marriage is a whole lot of hard work. Contribution by couples to the success of a marriage is scarcely equal, but the most important thing is that both spouses are bringing something into the marriage to make it work. Also, I have been married to a loving wife for 25 years. And, I have come to realize that all of a sudden, she could begin to have mood swings, irritability, depression and unnecessary anxiety because of changes that occur in women and I know exactly how to calm her, reassuringly that she can overcome this phase.
Wife: Trouble starts in a marriage when there are external forces governing the home. A spouse can never know what he or she will meet or take in marriage. Also, there are people, who cannot stand liars and will never marry one, but you also see people who lie with impunity and they are people’s husbands/wives. In a nutshell, know the core values of your potential spouse. It helps to determine your marital relationship.
What do couples really need in marriage?
Husband: Well, I will say happiness and peace of mind. If you agree with me, like Rome, there are a number of roads to achieving peace and happiness in marriage, so each couple should travel on the legitimate road that suits them. If it suits you that as a man to achieve peace and happiness in your marriage, is to allow your wife to influence you then do so. If it is what it takes in order for your home to be peaceful, so be it.
Wife: Marriage takes a lot of patience, tolerance, commitment, love and sacrifice to enjoy it.
If it suits your husband to do dishes at home and even wash your clothes, including undies, to express love, people should leave them alone. It’s the spouse’s hand that was used; they did not borrow your own. Every spouse needs to avoid listening to a lot of gossip and wrong advice that would affect the marital journey. Once their actions are voluntary, done out of love and not by coercion, there will be no problem. You may be an awesome spouse but without a life partner, life seems worthless. It doesn’t make you less human when you assist your spouse. When a woman is stubborn and is always challenging the authority of her man and questioning his decision it would definitely affect the marriage negatively.
What is responsible for many failed marriages in the society today and what’s your advice for younger couples?
Husband: Young married people need to get close to older marriages and study the recipe and value applied that made their marriages happy and successful. Those marriages were built on successful management of spousal differences, patience, tolerance and perseverance. We are all imperfect human beings, each full of good, nonsense and rubbish; it is a whole package. Do not bother going into marriage if you cannot take nonsense and rubbish. Hopefully, during courtship, potential couples will take enough time to understand their potential spouses to know the kind of nonsense that awaits them in marriage. This is very important because the portrait of our different characters means there are some abnormalities that we can take and others that we cannot take.
Wife: ‘I no gree’, ‘I no go gree’ don make many clothes (marriages) tear anyhow. Some spouses are now in their graves, some are scarred forever and many marriages have packed up. My advice to young wives is not to be rude to their husbands. Wives must adore their husbands. In fact, when they talk about their husbands, it should be with respect. They should make everyone know and feel that the men have found the magic wand for a happy and successful marriage. Many people are held prisoners by their primordial cultural beliefs and see certain show of love by husbands to their wives as weakness or being a “woman wrapper.” Marriage is relationship management and our men should find a way to manage their wives and vice versa. That is what all married people need to learn. Some women calling men “woman wrapper” might be divorced, to put it mildly, be carefull of talebearers.