Sir Stanley Chukwudi Adiri, a businessman and knight of the Lagos Diocese of the Anglican Communion, has been married to his wife, Lady Patricia Adiri, a professional nurse and petty trader, for more than 30 years. In fact, their marriage will clock 32 years by October this year. In this interview with BIANCA IBOMA-EMEFU, husband and wife share their marital experiences and reveal, in the process, some of the hiccups couples do have in marriage. They also proffer some solutions to matrimonial challenges, drawing from their own experiences. Enjoy it.
Could you share brief details about your background?
Lady Patricia: I am a trained nurse and once worked with Tin Can Island Hospital, Lagos. I come from Umuduruebo-Okwelle in Onuimo Local Government Area, Imo State. I had my primary school education at Imo Central School in my hometown. After that, I came to Lagos and attended a nurse-training institute. It was after the training that I got the job at Tin-Can Island, Hospital.
Sir Stanley: I am from Ubonukam Onicha, Ezinihitte Mbaise, Local Government Area of Imo State. Although I was born in Benin, I lived in Imo State for some years before I came down to Lagos. After my secondary school education, I started work with a factory at Agbara in Ogun State
How did you meet your spouse?
Lady Patricia: I met my husband for the first time at Amuwo-Odofin, Lagos, in his mum’s business place. That day I went with my brother, Kelvin, to visit her and purchase some items when his mother started making enquiries about me, from my brother. It was then I was introduced to her children, including the man that later became my husband.
Sir Stanley: My mum introduced her to me and I made her my wife. When I eventually met her, one-on-one, I informed her of my intention. I was already a grown-up man and had a job. Because I was financially independent, I had other girls in my life. But I never had the intention of marrying any of them.
How did he propose to you?
Lady Patricia: He invited me to his place after his mother visited my place of work, and after he had informed me of his intention to marry me. I asked my elder brother what he thought about him and his intentions and he was positive about the whole thing.
Is this true?
Sir Stanley: My mother did not relent but kept troubling me about the lady she introduced to me. I had to give in, though I had other girls I was going out with. I told my mum to let her visit me and she did.
When he proposed, what was your reaction?
Lady Patricia: I was shocked but I asked him to give me some time.
Sir Stanley (cuts in): After about three weeks, none of us knew her response. I told my mum, to let her know that if she didn’t want the relationship, she should tell me on time. I didn’t want to be played upon. My mum went to visit her at work and she later accepted.
What was the attraction?
Lady Patricia: I saw care in his eyes and he is handsome.
Sir Stanley: She has radiance and charisma. I also love the fact that she is calm and equally tall.
Considering the fact that you came from different backgrounds, how were you able to cope with some of the differences during the initial stage of your marriage?
Lady Patricia: Actually, there was no much difference: we come from the same place; our values and beliefs are the same. During the early stages of our marriage, he used to come home late due to the nature of his job. I was not happy about it. It gave me a lot of concern. I had to wait and stay up late before I could eat because I usually ate with him.
Sir Stanley: My wife is a good woman. Few months into our marriage, I became severely ill. I was admitted at LUTH (Lagos University Teaching Hospital). I battled for my life. She just had a baby and I was in the hospital. My siblings, six of them, used to live with me. As the eldest child of seven children, I used to accommodate them. They all lived with me before they eventually got married and moved out. It was the most trying period. But this woman was given to me by God. She went through much, yet she managed the home very well in my absence. There is this notion that marriage is very difficult but how much work is needed to ensure a long-lasting relationship?
Lady Patricia: Marriage is not always easy but God’s grace is sufficient. It is absolutely a beautiful experience for those who are in it. It can be extremely rewarding to have a partner in life with whom you can share experiences and be able to spend time with. But life is not always rosy; there are moments of thorns and rough waters. Marriage can be lovely and beautiful but it takes a lot to make it enjoyable. A lot of prayers are required.
Sir Stanley: Marriage can be difficult for any couple. So, the first thing to acknowledge is that it is not just you or your partner but a combination of two of you! These difficulties often come and go and are a common experience for those who are married. You must understand marriage is hard work! Although there could be problems and challenges, tolerance and patience can help to strengthen and develop the marriage.
How have you been able to stay together? What is the secret?
Lady Patricia: We grew together in the marriage as a young couple. Although we didn’t have a period of courtship and he used to drink then, our children had never seen us fight. Yes, we usually do have misunderstandings but we settle amicably when we are alone. My husband knows I hate the word “divorce.” We are of the same mindset. We reason together. When I entered into the marital relationship, I had it in mind that it would be for life. My belief is that there’s no ingredient, therapy, treatment, or cure that can create the atmosphere couples want in their homes. The partners must do it themselves, day after day, and year after year. That is a piece of wisdom I got from my mum about marriage. Elders tell us you must enter into a marriage believing it will last forever. And they believe that it’s a goal worth striving for. I married my husband because I love him and I entered into the marriage with an unbreakable commitment.
Sir Stanley: We built trust from the beginning. We communicated with each other and prayed. We decided to have a strong relationship. There was no agreement to be committed to each other for just a few years. After we fell in love, it became a relationship for our entire life. Marriage should be treated at every stage as a lifelong commitment. Marriage vows represent an ironclad commitment; that is the way I think marriage should be viewed. During tough times, we recommit ourselves to each other. Our approach to marriage is to forgive, be innovative, and get better in our attitude.
How can married couples tackle frictions when they arise? When you feel offended, who apologises first?
Lady Patricia: I say sorry to my husband when I feel offended over any issue and sometimes he does and jokes about it. Then we laugh over it. Frictions cannot be avoided. In as much as we seek to move in the same direction, we may not be of the same mind or motivation on every issue. We are different people with different experiences, passions, expectations, and desires. On a regular basis, the direction I am going and the direction my husband is going can vary on some occasions due to preferences but we always eventually work things out.
Sir Stanley: Frictions in marriage may be inevitable, normal, but that doesn’t always spell marital doom. The difference is often found in a commitment to do the hard work every relationship needs in order to thrive. When couples fall in love, it might seem simple but staying connected in that love is where you need to tackle. Although some marriages have been damaged by emergencies like abuse, infidelity, or addiction, in such cases, you need to make serious changes under the guidance of a trained professional.
How do you resolve conflicts and misunderstandings?
Lady Patricia: Many things you can’t tolerate ordinarily, you have to humbly take them because you are determined to make the marriage work. Whenever I’m angry, he knows because he would see it on my face. I would always keep to myself and drastically reduce talking. Most times, he would call me into the bedroom and we trash it out and apologise to each other.
Sir Stanley: My wife apologises. Although it depends on my mood, sometimes I get tough and everyone is silent. At such times, it’s her that usually brings back the spark.
What is your advice for younger couples?
Sir Stanley: Pray before marriage and be sincere to each other. Don’t marry out of pity. Learn to tolerate each other.
Lady Patricia: A woman should reduce nagging and know what can make her husband violent. Avoid whatever can make your husband want to raise his hand on you. If it’s too much talking and insult that can cause it, avoid it or stop the moment you know his anger is getting out of hand. Trust each other and stop checking your husband’s phones for any reason because it causes unnecessary suspicion in a marriage that can lead to a problem or divorce. When my husband’s phone rings, I give it to him or pick on rare occasions; that is, if he’s not around. I have never asked or questioned him over any call or text messages except he decides to tell me. We are open to each other and we don’t hide anything from each other. This has really gone a long way in making the marriage work.
Both parties must be determined to make the marriage work. If one party doesn’t want it to work, then it won’t work. The woman should be very supportive at home––let the man feel your impact in the marriage as a virtuous woman. As a young couple, the woman should see the man as the head and when there is a misunderstanding, they should not seek advice from a third party because some would say negative things about them until they are separated. Of course, they may seek counsel from their parents or a genuine minister of God, as the case may be, but the best adviser or counsellor on marriage is the Most High God. Whatever you don’t want or like in your spouse, settle it on your knees by praying to God always. When marriage storms rage, be it financial, loss of life, or what have you, couples should stand together in oneness until the storm blows over. Make sure you are a praying woman.