What began like a child’s play between Moses Ali and Deborah, his sweetheart, about 34 years ago eventually led to marriage two years later. This is because Moses, a motorcycle mechanic, made up his mind to marry the lady of his choice. Despite strong opposition, the two love jailbirds were able to weather the storm and get married. Thirty-two years later, the couple shared with ROSE EJEMBI, in Makurdi, their marital experiences. Excerpt:
Tell us a little about yourselves
Husband: I am Mr. Moses Ali, formerly a motorcycle mechanic but now, a commercial motorcyclist popularly known as Okada rider. I’m from Ajaokuta Local Government of Kogi State.
Wife: My name is Deborah Ali. I’m a businesswoman. I am from Okene Local Government Area of Kogi State.
How long have you both been married?
Husband: Our marriage clocked 32 years on January 5, 2020.
How did you both meet?
Wife: I met him when we were young. He was a friend to my elder sister’s husband. My elder sister who is a businesswoman would always select good kola and send me to give them to him because he likes kola very well. From afar, I liked him because he had a good dress sense and is very jovial. One of those days when I went to deliver kola to him, he told me he wanted to see me. He asked for my name and I asked him why he wanted to know my name. I told him to stop that or else I would stop bringing him kola and he apologized. After sometime, one thing led to the other and we started dating. But when my aunt whom I was staying with got to know about our relationship, she kicked against it because she had arranged for me to marry one Alhaji in Lagos. That Alhaji already had two wives and I was meant to become his third wife. Although we were from Muslim background, all my life I had never planned to marry any man who already had a wife or wives. My aunt tried everything to ensure that I didn’t marry my husband but that Alhaji. I stuck to my guns. I thank God for my mother and my sisters. They stood by me and respected my opinion. They were the ones God used to talk to my Uncle who in turn, talked to my aunt to accept my choice of a life partner. Eventually, he was accepted and asked to bring his family to perform the marriage rites. That was how we became husband and wife.
Husband: What she said is exactly what happened. I only want to add that the kola she was bringing to me then was an arrangement between her elder sister and me. I had confided in her that I liked her sister and wanted to marry her. The plan was that she would be sent always to bring me kola so that through that process, I could familiarize myself with her and make my intentions known to her. That was exactly what happened but my wife was oblivious of the plan then.
What attracted you to her?
Husband: What attracted me to her was her character. I also love her family especially the mother and her immediate elder sister. They are very sincere people. I love my wife for her confidence. Even though she knew at that time that I had other girlfriends, she didn’t bother because she was sure she had gotten a husband in me. I also knew that she was my wife-to-be.
Wife: Like I said earlier, my aunt wanted me to marry a wealthy Alhaji who already had two wives and many children. He was rich and already built houses at that time but I never saw myself going to become a third wife to anybody. My husband, on the other hand was young, agile and very neat. He would always pass through our house to his workshop and he was always very neatly dressed. He was always very jovial and serious with his work despite the fact that he was an apprentice then. These were the things that attracted me to him.
What made you to choose her above other girls then?
Husband: Like I said, what made me to choose is her character. Her sister was into business and she was always helping her sister in her business then. I saw her as a very zealous and business-minded woman. She is also very beautiful. If you knew my wife that time, you would know that she was a very beautiful lady. Though she is still beautiful even now but that time, she was a combination of beauty and elegance and in my mind, I knew I had seen my life-partner. Those were the things that made me choose her above every other lady in my life then.
How did you propose to her? What exactly did you say to her that made her accept to marry you?
Husband: We were from a Muslim background and all this idea of kneeling down to propose is alien to us. I just invited her to my place and while we were talking, I looked into her face and told her point blank that I wanted her to be my wife and mother of my children. I told her I would like to spend the rest of my life with her.
Wife: When he proposed, I asked him: is that how to marry? I didn’t take him seriously at first even though I had fallen in love with him before that time. I didn’t take him seriously because I knew three of his girlfriends. In fact, I knew their names. So, when he proposed, I thought in my heart that I hope he would not turn out to be one of those men who would use marriage proposal as bait to get what they want from ladies and then vanish into the thin air with other ladies. But after sometime when he kept singing the same song, I gave him the go-ahead to see my people.
What do you like most about her?
Husband: Her boldness, her sincerity, her beauty and her simplicity yet hard nature. I remember there was a time while we were dating, one guy wrote a love letter to her and she brought it to me and told me that I’m the one she loves and can never go into any love relationship with anyone else.
After she agreed to marry you, what next step did you take?
Husband: One day, after I made my intentions known to her and she accepted to marry me, her uncle called me and asked if I was the one who they told him wanted to marry his daughter and I said yes. He then asked what I was doing for a living and whether I could feed his daughter and I told him I was a motorcycle mechanic and that I could feed his daughter. He asked if I was sure of what I was saying and I said yes. Then he said I could bring my family so that the formal marriage rites could commence. That was how we began our marital journey.
What was the first challenge you had after marriage?
Wife: The first thing I noticed after marriage is that he started throwing his things anywhere in the house. I told you earlier that my husband was a very neat person who had good dress sense. His room was always spanking clean while we were courting and I loved this about him and was always proud to introduce him to my friends. But as soon as we got married, he would just dump whatever he used anywhere in the house. I said this was not the man I knew before. This was a man who would wash his bedsheets every three days before we got married. When I complained, he would say if I can do it I should do it and if I can’t, I should leave it. I also noticed that he could wear one shirt for two to three days after we got married. This was the exact opposite of what he was doing while we were courting. I started seeing the other side of him after we got married and it got me worried. But I came to realize that it’s because he has now gotten somebody that is helping him to take care of his things. Also, I came to the understanding that I am in his life as a helpmate to help him be whom he wants to be. So, after thinking along that line, I put his weaknesses behind me and took it upon myself to compliment him in those areas. I started washing his clothes and cleaning the house all by myself and I do it till now. The children too have been trying to assist me in that regard.
Husband: The first challenge I had with her is in the area of sex. I discovered after we got married that she didn’t like sex as much as I did. We would quarrel about it and sometimes, in those days, I would even beat her because of that. Secondly, she found it difficult to forgive whenever anyone offended her. Gradually, by the grace of God and the fact that we are now believers in the Lord Jesus Christ, those things are passed away and she is now a new person.
Wife: My first misunderstanding with him was when he tore my underwear because of sex. To me, I didn’t believe that lovemaking should be a daily affair but he felt otherwise. So, that caused some problems between us and this fateful day, we had a fight and he tore my underwear. He later apologized and bought one dozen as a replacement for that one that he tore but I was always talking about that one because it was my best and one of the things they bought for my marriage rite.
How were you able to handle your first quarrels?
Husband: You know as they say, love conquers all. So, my love for her helped me to accept and appreciate her for who she is and with time, we began to understand ourselves better. As time went on, I started devising other means of approaching her for sex. I would beg her or even buy her things she loves so that I could have my way and it worked like magic. And that is why I want to advise younger couples to allow love conquer every trouble in their homes.
What do you like most about her?
Husband: She’s somebody who can boldly tell you your fault to your face no matter who you are. I like that about her. She used that to change me from some bad habits.
Wife: He is somebody who can easily say sorry. He can say that as many times in one day. He is not puffed up or arrogant. He easily accepts his faults and apologists accordingly.
What is your advice to young couples and intending couples?
Wife: Like my husband has said, love conquers all things. If you love each other, no matter what comes your way, if you learn to forgive each other, you will discover that the problem will not break you but make you stronger together. Several times, we have faced many challenges in this marriage but we soon realized that sometimes we couldn’t even do anything on our own until we take such problem to the Lord in prayer by telling God our mind and He rose to our rescue. Couples can also adopt that means and they will see how God will step in and help them. As I said earlier, we married as Muslims but when we came to know the Lord, we began to study the word of God things became a lot better for us. These 32 years in marriage have not been easy. We have passed through a lot but the love we have for each other has always helped us to prevail. Whenever there is a problem, I think about when we first fell in love, the sweet things we used to tell each other and before I know it, I would just forget about the pain and concentrate on the good times. I also thank God that the children didn’t come to separate us. The children love their father more than anything else and he loves them too, especially the way he loves our only daughter, you would think she’s the younger wife but it doesn’t bother me. Those things bring problems to family but for me, it doesn’t matter because we are family. So, I want to advise young couples and those intending to marry, let love be at the centre of their relationship. If there is genuine love, nothing can break them apart. Also, the woman must constantly develop time to pray for the family.