The marriage of Prof. Hope Eghagha, the Head of Department of English, University of Lagos, Akoka to his lovely wife, Mrs. Patricia Eghagha is a story of love at first sight. But the journey to the 35-year-old marriage blessed with children and a grandchild began after they built friendship based on Christian principles. But that love was greatly challenged on September 30, 2012, when one of them was kidnapped and held incommunicado for 16 days. In this interview with GLORIA IKEGBULE, they share with readers their marital victory and what makes their union an ideal and fulfilled one.
What in your opinion is an ideal marriage?
Husband: An ideal marriage in a sense is not possible. You can talk about a realistic marriage. In human term, an ideal marriage would mean a marriage in which the husband understands the wife and vice versa. It is not a marriage in which there are no errors, mistakes or imperfections. It is a marriage in which the couple as individuals try to minimize their errors, respect each other, care, show affection, disagrees and resolves their disagreement. The best marriage, in my own view, is one in which both have agreed to stay together as husband and wife, show understanding, tolerance of each other, believe each other, forgive easily and are blessed with children. If there are no children in the marriage, it will be a problem.
Wife: An ideal marriage is one in which couples come together from their different backgrounds, manages themselves and communicate effectively. There can be misunderstanding, but the way you resolve them and how you resolve them matters. Then, you understand that both of you are not perfect and where there is love, you will learn to forgive and overcome all the problems. Marriage is a great institution you never graduate from. As you two get older, the palm wine gets stronger and sweeter. You know when things are going well, when they are going out of hand and you have to pray well.
Would you say what you have is an ideal marriage?
Wife: Our own marriage is an ideal marriage. We came together because we loved ourselves and still love ourselves; we have gone through our own trials and know how to manage ourselves. We communicate and shun distractions that tend to destroy relationship.
Husband: Ours is an ideal marriage in the sense that we have learnt how to live together as husband and wife, brothers and sisters. We are friends. She has become my best friend and a mother to me. She is somebody I can confide in and we don’t hide things from each other. We got married at a time when finance was not the attraction but love. It was love that brought us together. It is not as if we do not have disagreement, but we do not have ones that are violent where people will gather and the children are crying as they watched. We thank God for our kind of marriage.
Wife: If we hide things from each other, things will become difficult and I will not believe he does not have when he gives me small money.
How did you meet your wife?
Husband: We met in Church – God’s Kingdom Society in Sapele, Delta State. At this time, I just finished secondary school. I was attracted to her immediately I saw her. I liked her. The very first attraction was her beauty and she was vibrant in church. As I got closer, I began to see other qualities in her. She was not attracted to me initially, but with time we became friends. As we got closer in a purely Christian relationship, she developed likeness for me. We sustained our relationship for seven years before we took it to the next level. At this time, family was involved and church was involved. She was the first lady I saw for the first time in my life that I liked and winked at. Like they say, the rest became history.
Wife: I visited their house to collect tract from his brother who was my leader in church. I was wearing a dress on which was written, ‘I love London. It’s got a touch of class’. While in the parlour, a slim guy came in and winked at me. I said, ‘What rubbish!’ On my way out, I saw the sister who was my friend. I asked her, “Who is that slim guy in your house?” She answered, ‘He is my brother, Hope. Don’t you know him?’ I said, “Oh, okay. But why did he wink at me?” She asked, ‘Did he wink at you? He has never winked at any girl before’. I said to her, “You people should go and talk to him. It is not good’.
Would you say yours was love at first sight?
Husband: That’s right!
Why did you not find him attractive on your first meeting?
Wife: It was not in my mind then to be attracted to a man or a man attracting my attention. I had plans to go to school and graduate. I was 18 then and all I wanted was to further my studies. With time, we became friends and all of us including our friends were moving together and having nice times. We were never alone together. He was a very friendly person and I started liking him.
Was it difficult getting family to endorse your marriage?
Husband: It was not difficult when I said she was the person I wanted to marry. Both of us were from Urhobo and we also attended the same church.
Would you say you have a fulfilled marriage?
Husband: Yes, I have! I mean, what does a man require in a marriage if not a woman who loves him and is ready to go through the good and rough times with him. I wanted a real friend in marriage; somebody I could depend on. One thing about her is that she is a very loyal friend. She is steady, firm, supportive and very prayerful. Her love and prayer was put to the test when I was kidnapped for 16 days on September 30, 2012.
I was then Commissioner for Higher Education, Delta State. Immediately she heard I was kidnapped, her first reaction was prayer. She stood firm and strong despite threats from the kidnappers. She believed I would come back alive and was able to mobilize resources to pay for my ransom. When I came back, everybody spoke highly of her faith. Her faith paid off. I thank God.
Wife: Yes! We are happy alone. We enjoy each other’s company.
When did you tie the knot and how many children do you have?
Wife: We got married in 1984 and we are blessed with four children. One of our sons is married as well as our only daughter. We did traditional marriage because that was what was in vogue then. We also did court registry.
What project have you executed together to impact lives?
Husband: We have been instrumental to the lives of very many people, training them. There are those that lived with us we sent to school and those that did not live with us that we also sent to school. We have also given some empowerment.
Wife: We have sent many to school and have empowered many, sending them to fashion school and the likes.
What have you enjoyed most in your marriage?
Husband: The experience of discovering each other, sharing our dreams, sharing same faith, praying together and impacting lives together has been fun.
Wife: He has not given me cause to regret or caused me pain. He is not a womanizer, a drunk or the type I have to stay up at night waiting for his return. We go out to have fun together and he helps with the care of the children.
What is it that you don’t like about each other?
Husband: She can be spontaneous. She can go out of her way to show kindness and bring people into the home without consulting me. I used to be very angry until I got to understand her.
Wife: I used to be angry with him before on his attitude of neglecting my health complaints of maybe a mild headache. He would not take it serious or may even forget I complained but he can go the extra mile to help other persons with similar issue by getting them drugs. With time, we now understand each other better and such does not happen anymore.
At what point should a couple bring in a third party into their marriage?
Husband: There are certain things you keep with each other until you have explored all avenues in addressing the issue. For instance, if the man is a drunk and keep late nights, if you are going to share it with a third party, it must be with someone who is experienced and mature. It does not have to be your parents but must be one who is mature that will not gossip and mock you before others.
What is your advice to intending couples?
Wife: Marriage is very interesting if you meet the one God has purposed for you. Couples should plan their marriage based on their budget and should treat each other highly before their respective families.
Husband: When you plan, it helps you cut off things not in the budget and don’t accommodate things not in your budget to please people. Once you marry, from day one, start setting aside money for rent, children, and school. You can join a cooperative if you have access to one. The most important thing in marriage is mutual understanding.
What’s your take on young couple doing elaborate wedding?
Wife: After your elaborate wedding, what next? Let the wedding be within your budget. Remember, you will eat after the marriage.
Husband: Yes, It is good to be elaborate if the couple has the means. But the important thing is not the elaborate marriage, but the love the couple have for each other. Hence, do the marriage you can afford. It is good to have people come and visit your wedding but don’t go out of the way to borrow in other to impress people. No, it is celebration of your union and you have to be modest about it. Some people are lucky to have rich parents that can cater for the expenses. Like when our first child was getting married, we decided to make it elaborate. That was our first child and our only daughter. We were very happy because she married a young man we love and he is like a son to us.
We advise couples, don’t overstretch yourselves. Remember that marriage is not a wedding. Wedding is the ceremony and marriage is the living together. Look at us. We did not do the English wedding. We did not do any elaborate wedding, but we are living fine and are happy today. We do not have any cause to regret. Some who felt we did not have money are the ones coming to us for help now. Don’t try to please people. Concentrate on your marriage and remember you need to meet obligations after marriage.