Prof. Olusola Bandele Oyewole is a former Vice Chancellor of the Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta (FUNAAB). In this interview with LAIDE RAHEEM, he and his wife, speak about their life together in the last 34 years. They also offered recipes for a successful marriage. Excerpts:
While we thank God for blessing you with a successful marital life spanning over 34 years, can you tell us how you met before you got married?
Husband: We met in the church. We are Christians. I had been praying for a divine guidance and God just spoke to me that she’s going to be the one. That was in 1983 here in Abeokuta. By May 25th 1985, we got married.
Wife: I remember that my sister and her husband had always lived in Abeokuta since 1980 when they got married. While I was working at Ife, I used to come to Abeokuta, because I was very close to my sister and my husband now was attending the same church with the couple – Ibara Baptist Church. That was where we got to know each other.
Was there any opposition from family, relatives and friends before you got married?
Husband: No, there was no opposition to our marriage because I took it as a personal decision. Before I proposed to her, I had spent a lot of time praying and seeking the face of God. I was very sure I was doing the will of God. There was no doubt and no cause for anyone to oppose.
Wife: There was no opposition but then, they had to come to me through my Father in the Lord whom I was very close to at Ife where I was working. We had a lot of prayers. We prayed, they prayed along with me. I prayed like never before. To the glory of God, I was able to pray through.
What made you settle for your wife out of all other ladies in church or around?
Husband: At that time, I was not looking at other ladies. I had made up my mind that I would not break anyone’s heart. I promised to not propose to anyone. So there’s no record that I was engaged to someone and I broke up with the person. I decided in my mind that I was going to propose when I’m ready. And I was ready so there was no cause for any issues with anyone.
What were the qualities you saw in him when you settled for him?
Wife: I became a born again Christian in 1980 and I made up my mind that the person I would get married to must be a born again Christian. That was the first quality because I remember I was engaged to somebody. But by the time I became a born again Christian, I went back to the person and said: “I’m sorry, I don’t want to have anything to do with you again” and we had to call it quits. That was how we separated. I had made up my mind to marry a child of God who has the fear of God.
Husband: As at then, I knew what I wanted to be in life. I wanted to serve God. I also made her to know my vision. I shared that vision with her. My vision was to be in academics and then to serve God.
How did he propose? What did he say?
Wife: It was not proposal like that. He wrote a letter and dropped it in my Father-In-the-Lord’s house. So as soon as I got there, I was told I had a letter from Abeokuta. He further told me that the person said he knew my sister very well. So when I opened the letter and saw that it was a proposal, I started wondering if people still wrote letters to propose. I was so surprised. I would have expected the person to walk up to me and propose in person. So my Father-in-the-Lord advised me to go and pray to ascertain if it was the will of God or not. And incidentally, there was no phone then. So I went to go and pray. It was not an immediate thing because somebody else assumed he proposed, and he was bringing CDs, songs of my choice. I prayed so hard like I’d never prayed because I wanted to know the will of God. So eventually, God said this is the person.
As a couple, can you remember your first misunderstanding and how you managed it?
Wife: It will be difficult to have any misunderstanding because the first wedding ceremony we attended after our marriage, the message preached by the pastor was that men always find it difficult to say they are sorry to their wives. He pondered on it that why will it be difficult to say sorry to his wife. At a time I said, your sorry is too much, everything he would say sorry. He made up his mind that we would never have a misunderstanding.
Husband: It is almost difficult to talk of a misunderstanding in the last 34 years.
Wife: Even to the younger ones, he would say sorry whenever he feels he offended them. That is my husband for you.
What do you like about most about your spouse?
Wife: He’s very caring; always concerned about the welfare of his family. He would always ask me, “Are you okay? Am I disturbing you? Is anything troubling your mind? I hope you are happy?” He wants me to be happy. He would even say that the difficult house chores should be handled by men. I remember the first house we lived in. We used to wash our clothes together and our neighbours would say, a whole doctor washing clothes. He used to fetch water into all the containers in the house. He cooked. Sometimes he bathed the baby and even washed the napkins. We used to do things together.
Husband: She’s not like other people who would demand. If we have, she takes, if we don’t have she would not complain. She is very hard working. She’s highly responsible. She knows what she wants. She knows what the husband does not want and she won’t do it. She does not associate herself with friends that don’t know God. Those she calls her friends are that responsible ones like her. She does not go from one person’s house to another. We have a triangular life. Apart from our work and our home, our commitment is the church.
No one is faultless, which area will you want your spouse to improve on?
Wife: He is a workaholic. On Saturdays, most of the times he won’t sleep; he would be preparing the messages for Sunday service. He studies a lot; he is always in the study. Sometimes I tell him to leave what he is doing, rest and then go back later to his study. That is the only thing I will want him to change. Tuesday he goes for Bible study, Thursdays he would engage in another church programme and then Sundays, he would preach in the church. He has always been a workaholic.
Husband: I want her to remain what she is. I can’t point at any area of deficiency. She should just continue to serve God and live her life to serve God.
What is your advice to intending couples?
Husband: First, they should fear God. They should not use their intelligence alone to choose their spouse. If you get the right direction, there’s no need proposing to two or three people at the same time. If you are not ready for marriage, don’t go into it. I always tell my children too, don’t marry a man or woman without a vision. You should have a plan and purpose before marriage. I should also appreciate my wife, she has supported me totally in what I do. She has never said no to anything but asks, “Have you heard from God?” We have never had cause to doubt ourselves. Once I tell her I have heard from God, she gives 100% support.
Wife: Just like he said, people need to allow God to lead them. They should pray and allow God to lead them so that they can be sure God will allow them in what they want to do. But people nowadays are too lazy to pray. They don’t know the will of God about their relationships; they just go into marriage anyhow. Marriage is something from heaven, it is an institution from God and we need the same God to direct us. We should always pray and allow God to lead us so that we won’t marry wrongly. I thank God that I have no cause to complain like other women because I allowed God to lead me.
Husband: There’s something I always say. I enjoyed her support from when I was a secondary school teacher till I finished my first degree, Masters, PhD and became an Assistant Lecturer. Through her support, I became a Professor in record time. All these achievements might not have been possible without her at home as the wife. Somebody would look at her today and say her husband was a Vice Chancellor, but they did not know that she never married me as a Vice Chancellor. Without her, I wouldn’t have been able to rise up on the ladder of academics. I became a Professor 18 years ago. She allowed me to use a whole room for study out of our three bedroom flat. We lived like brothers and sisters, that’s the way I see her.
What your advice to newly married couples to achieve lasting marriage?
Husband: First, they need God; God is real. You need a life of prayer. There will be forces that would want to challenge you. Again, be faithful to your marriage. If you make the decision to be faithful, you will have no problem with your marriage. Then, play your role as a wife or the husband. Don’t get into marriage with the thought that the other person is to serve you, think of the things you can contribute to that marriage to make it successful and lasting.
Wife: In addition, I’ll talk about submission on the part of women. Marriage is an institution by God. God has called the men heads of the family. Don’t equate yourself as the head. The Bible says that you should submit; if you submit, things will just be in place and they will work out fine. Men like submissive women but submission is in addition to the fear of God. The fear of God will not make you do negative things, you will not listen to wrong advice and you will be focused. Submission goes a long way. When he used to help me, I did not impress it on him before he decided to help me in house chores.
Did you agree on the number of kids to have?
Husband: Yes, I wanted four children but my wife wanted three. Eventually, we agreed on three. But as God would have it, we ended with four children.