Dr. D.O.C Ezeigwe and wife, Ngozi, hail from Aguluezechukwu in Aguata Local Government of Anambra State. The couple who are legal practitioner and civil servant respectively, have been married for nearly 40 years. In this interview with GEOFFREY ANYANWU in Enugu where they reside, they told the story of their love adventure as well as gave the young ones advice on how to build a united and strong family. Excerpts:
Can you tell us when and how you met your spouse?
Husband: We met more than 35 years ago; in a few years time from now, we will clock 40 years in marriage. We started first as undergraduates at College of Education, Awka before we crossed over to the University of Nigeria, Nsukka (UNN). I’m one of those opportune to see more number of girls in the campus by virtue of my political, social and academic activities. And looking at so many girls, including Reverend Sisters, I had a reason to pray to God to help me choose a partner for life before I leave school. I chatted with my parents as their last son. They blessed me that if I want to go for early marriage I should do so.
Wife: I met him in the higher institution. I think I was in my second year then and he was in his final year. It was while he was doing his youth service that we got married. Then I was still in school.
What was the proposal like for both of you?
Husband: In my boldness, one day I drove to her village alone, escorted by nobody. But surprisingly, I was not too well received because they had not heard about me. After hearing that I came for her, they said: ‘ok, you can go for now, marriage is not done this way, by you coming alone.’ Thereafter, I called her and said, ‘I have chosen you for a life partner. I have prayed about it. Pray yourself and if you would manage me, let’s tell the world that we are getting together as husband and wife, not minding the fact that we are not yet through with our academic programmes.’ But it took her quite some time to decide even though I had told her that the decision is between two of us, not our parents, because we are of age.
Wife: As I said earlier, we met in school. Then he was the President of the Students Union. Actually, when he was coming close, I wasn’t inclined towards him at the initial stage but he started showing a lot of care. So, when I saw that he was a caring person, I started showing some interest in him. He proposed to me when he was doing his youth service. He did it here in Enugu. I came to Enugu then and he proposed to me in the Lodge where he was staying and I accepted.
With all the spinsters and bachelors in the world, what was the attraction for both of you?
Husband: I saw her as a girl that is inclined to Christian way of life. She is not into too much partying. She is not into madness of fashion. Rather, she is a simple and fine girl, attractive, very humble and focused. She likes talking about her academics and going to church and fellowships more than any other thing. Sometimes, she wouldn’t accept to go to a social party with me. But when I come back, I would look for her and give her a gift and she would accept. I felt that I was too hot a guy and needed someone that was not as hot as I was as a life partner. I saw that she was devoted, faithful and reserved and I counted that as luck for me. But one thing that gave me a little worry was that she was not the partying type.
Wife: Actually, I wanted to focus on my studies. I don’t believe in moving along with someone that is in the same school because I don’t want anybody that would distract me from my studies. But he started showing a lot of care. At times, when I was in the class reading, he would send some people to me with gifts. At times, he would take me out and say, ‘Nne, eat chicken. Eat everything you want to eat.’ You know, he showed me a lot of care and I said, probably this one is the caring type and that’s the kind of person I wanted. I needed someone that would care for me, that would understand my problem and all that. Another thing that attracted him to me was that I saw him as someone that had some form of wisdom because most of the times when I had a problem I would tell him and he would give me an idea that would help me solve the problem. He was really caring. I remembered that I did an appendicitis surgery at Ajali hospital. He came and slept outside. With all the mosquito bites, he still he kept faith. Those are the things that endeared him to me.
What was your parents’ position? Did they accept your agreement to marry?
Husband: No, initially her parents saw me as a playboy out to catch whatever fun he could with ladies he fancied at one time or the other. They saw me as just a guy, wearing jeans and sneakers. They felt that I hadn’t got what it takes to marry and take good care of their daughter. From the look of things, they wanted their daughter to marry a custom officer or may be a multibillionaire somewhere. On my side, my parents said whoever I decided to go for must be good.
Wife: My parents actually didn’t accept him at the initial stage because my father felt I was a very bright child and needed someone probably with better qualification in terms of academics, somebody like a medical doctor and the like. They felt that he was not good enough for me. They felt that I should have married someone better academically, a professional or someone that is high in society.
How were you able to overcome the opposition at last?
Husband: Well, I had to become diplomatic and tactful in dealing with her parents. Some of her younger relatives were inclined to us because we showed them care too. In fact, while they were trying to consider whether or not to accept me, one or two of them were already living with us. During my youth service, I served under Governor Jim Nwobodo and was given a super furnished flat in New Haven. In fact, one wing of the duplex was left for me while the other was left for COC Egungbe, who is today a Commissioner in Enugu State. So my place was attractive to the younger ones. And, when her parents saw that they were already inclined to us, they began to relax and from relaxing we became friends. I became like a son to them and they became like parents to me. Today, the rest is history. That is why when we had our first child, a boy, they joined me in giving him a name: Okechukwu, Chukwuagoziwoanyi, meaning, ‘This one is truly God’s portion for you’ and ‘God has blessed us or this union.’ Today, we are proud parents of four boys and two girls.
Wife: I actually explained certain things to my parents. By then, my husband has not become a lawyer. I told them that this guy has some potential. At that time, there were other suitors but I saw some potential in him and I felt that after some time those potential would develop. I tried to convince my mum, telling her that this guy is not the way they were actually seeing him. Again, I prayed about it and I thank God that after some period of persuasion they gave in and blessed our union.
What was the cause of your first misunderstanding/quarrel?
Husband: I am by nature outgoing while she is not. So the first misunderstanding and quarrel we had came from that. One day, I forced her to join me at a party in a hotel on Agbani Road where we hosted some army generals. She obeyed and came along. She was about five months pregnant but within one hour or two she started disturbing me that she wants to be taken home and it became a serious matter. It was about 2am and I wondered why she couldn’t be patient till morning. Even the ADC to Gen. Ibrahim Babangida and others joined me to beg her but she rebuffed their entreaties and insisted on being taken home. I arranged for that but she said I must join in taking her home. I later did but on getting home she insisted that I would not go back to the party. I pleaded and promised I would commit no sin there but she refused and an argument ensued between us. That was the day I realized that no woman is simple. But in marital relationship quarrels would arise once in a while not for anything serious but based on one sentiment or the other but what is important is how you manage it.
Wife: I told you earlier that he showed a lot of care to me while we were unmarried. But when we now got into the marriage proper, I saw a decline in that kind of care, so I asked him: ‘are you not the one who had been doing all these things before now? What is happening?’ I was expecting him to continue that way and even increase it but I didn’t see that again in full force. After a while, I realized that he did all that to woo me. There’s nothing wrong with that anyway! But I now told myself that I needed to show some maturity because I am now married. I am no longer being wooed. Secondly, I quarrel with him when I tell him something and he doesn’t agree to it, especially when I said or saw something reasonable and he didn’t understand it the way he should. But I always pray for us to have that point of agreement.
What do you call your spouse?
Husband: I call her what I feel like depending on my sentiment. Sometimes I call her NG which is a short form of Ngozi. Sometimes, I call her NgoDave meaning Ngozi Dave. I am Dave. Sometimes I call her Ngozi DOC because DOC now became more popular than Dave. Sometimes, I call her ‘Baby’ but I always say ‘Baby DOC.’ Sometimes, when I feel that I am not well recognized, I would call her ‘Mama Agozie’, and she would know that the tune has changed. What I have not done is to call her ‘Nwanyi a’ (this woman!).
Wife: His name is Chukwudilim. So I do call him a short form of that, ‘Dilim’ but when I am angry I call him DOC with a very harsh tone.
What are your spouse’s likes and dislikes?
Husband: My wife likes fashion, moderate fashion, very moderate one because she is never wanting in looking fashionable, solemnly fashionable. She doesn’t pretend about being unhappy and what makes her very happy is when you are agreeable to fellowship arrangement in the house, call it vigil or whatever.
Wife: Firstly, he likes good food. When you give him good food, he feels happy. He also feels happy when you address him respectfully. If you want to talk to him, do it respectfully, and not in the presence of the children; he doesn’t like it. Again, when you decide on something to buy and he gives you money for it, he wants you to do it immediately and not postpone it till tomorrow; it makes him happy and it encourages him and when you ask him again, he would give you.
What makes you proud of your spouse?
Husband: She is a focused personality, in any area of challenge, she is focused and when she aims at something, she would always get it. And, in fact, she does not joke with encouraging me and the children; we are her major project.
Wife: What makes me proud of him is his boldness; he conquers the crowd and then his oratorial skills, he’s an orator, then his intelligence.
What is the cause of the high rate of divorce today?
Husband: There are many reasons for it and one of them is insatiability. A woman would like to copy the wife of a governor when in actual fact she is the wife of a civil servant. So the woman is living with the man but she is living with many other influences out there. The same thing applies to the man. He is living with the wife but he is living with some other influences and so when they now come together they become strange bedfellows. The way out is: don’t enter marriage under pretences.
Wife: Marriage requires a lot of commitments on the side of both the woman and the man. Another problem that is experienced is lack of good communication; communication has to do with having listening ears and understanding hearts. When there is good communication in the home even if there is a problem, you’ve communicated to your partner; he or she would understand and would listen. Another problem is unforgiving spirit. When your spouse hurts you, you can never forgive. There is also the problem of infidelity. And we know that sexual sin brings along with it every other sin; it brings lies, it can result to anything; it brings distrust and distrust doesn’t make for a healthy relationship.