Bishop Michael Oludare Olorunponmi and Pastor Mrs. Elizabeth Monisola Olorunponmi founded the Glorious Living Spring Apostolic Ministry, popularly known as the Glorious Chapel, Ijanikin Lagos. For 42 years, they had gleaned from the wisdom of God to honour their marital covenant which began on August 1, 1977. One of the things they do is to ensure there is no room for suspicion by pursuing the policy of openness in their marital communication on virtually everything, from child discipline to phone use. Over the years, this has helped to put their marriage on an even keel, on a sound footing. In this interview with BIANCA IBOMA-EMEFU, the couple who participated in the first edition of Maltina Dance All, shared their experiences.
Can you give us a brief detail of your background?
Husband: My name is Michael Oludare Olorunponmi. I hail from Ayere, Ijumu Local Government Area of Kogi State. I was born on October 22, 1952. I grew up in the village. I was born and bred there. I moved to Kaduna, where I secured a job in Pacris Nigeria Limited. At that time my educational qualifications was just a primary school certificate. I had lost my parents and I had to fend for myself, so I did not further my education. But when I became 45 years old, I wrote General Certificate of Education (GCE), Joint Admission and Matriculation Board (JAMB) and gained admission to study Christian Religious Studies, at the Lagos State University (LASU). After the first degree, I proceeded for my Masters, and then PhD in Education.
Wife: My name is Elizabeth Monisola Olorunponmi. I was born on October 1, 1960. I hail from Kabba, Kogi State but grew up in Kawo, Kaduna State.
How did you meet your spouse?
Husband: I met her in Christ Apostolic Church (CAC), Kawo-Kaduna State. My uncle was the presiding pastor at the branch we both attended. We were both in the choir and belonged to a gospel band called “Ago wa”. She was just a Sister-in-Christ to me, because we were in four singing group and had days of rehearsals. We normally saw but as friends. I was engaged to one Ebun, but she had another relationship unknown to me. When I discovered, I broke up with her and I became devastated.
Wife: I met him in the Church, Christ Apostolic Church,(CAC) Kawo-Kaduna. Like he said, we were choristers in the same choir group, and a band called “Ago wa” and four other music groups, so most times we were together because of the things we do in the church.
How did you propose?
Husband: I discovered that Ebun, a woman I intended to marry initially was unfaithful, because I did other church work. I was in charge of letters and I normally saw a particular letter addressed to her and I became curious. On one occasion that I received a letter for her, I made a photocopy and read the content. After discovering that my wife was cheating on me with another man in Ilorin, Kwara State, I was devastated but encouraged myself in the Lord. One night, I saw a revelation about my wife and developed interest, so I wrote a letter to her inviting her to my office and there I proposed to her. Later,her father heard the news and invited me over. The same day I proposed I got a wife.
Wife: He wrote a letter and invited me to his office, and proposed to me.
What was your reaction?
Husband: She was annoyed when I made my intention known to her, because she knew about my relationship with Ebun before explaining to her with a documented proof. She considered my request but didn’t show any excitement because her brother who was a soldier had reported to her strict father.
Wife: I was furious when he declared his intentions because Ebun was younger to me and I felt why would he jilt her, but he explained to me and gave me a document, an evidence that shows the girl had an affair because she was already in school. After the explanation, I accepted him. While I was about going home, as I stepped out of his office my uncle saw me and reported to my father that he saw me with him, and my father, an old military man summoned him. I was present while he interrogated him. After he declared his intention, my father told him that he should not impregnate his daughter until he brought his parents to perform the traditional rites. We courted for about one year before we finally tied the knot on August 1, I977, but we knew each other around 1975 as church members.
What was the attraction?
Husband: My wife is someone who thinks before she acts. She is very comported. She never does a thing without a thought-out plan.
Wife: He sings very well and I equally sing. We belonged to a gospel band “Ayo wa” and I admired his singing talent.
Your marriage is over 43 years, what is your success story?
Husband: God is faithful. The one who instituted marriage gave us the wisdom to work it out. It is a journey of grace and we have been able to learn from each other. A successful marriage requires commitment for a lifetime. Remember, you made a vow to God and to your spouse. Love is a choice. Walk in love. Walk as children of light. Be filled with the Spirit, and women should submit to their husbands. Submission is never a challenge to my wife. She follows the scripture. ‘Submit yourself to him as unto the Lord” (Ephesians 6). We pray and play together. Our family participated in the first edition of the Maltina Dance All. We didn’t forget our first love. She kept making me woo her like the first time I proposed.
Wife: Marriage is a task, as a wife, you must build your home. A woman’s responsibility is to manage her home. She must be skilled and prayerfully take charge of her home. If you don’t, then you will open the door for the enemy. Always forgive; it’s always your turn, till the weed in your garden of love is removed. In marriage, you give and take but mostly learn to give. Be best of friends always. Life isn’t always sunshine; learn to survive the storms with the Lord’s help by praying. Don’t try to change him. You loved him the way he was when you married him. Glorify God together.
There is so much violence in today’s marriages and the rate of divorce very high. Considering the fact that the problem in marriages are same till date, what is the challenge?
Husband: Offences are bound in every marital journey but don’t let the sun go down on your wrath (anger).You must agree to wait when you disagree. Don’t insist on always having your way. You aren’t always right; a woman is commanded to submit. Don’t share the most intimate or the most controversial issues with your mom or your friends. A wife should never override her husband’s decisions with their children. Always have a united front.
Wife: The storm is everywhere, women should be diligent, faithful, virtuous, knowledgeable, and have self control. They should have perseverance, Godliness, kindness and love. For if they do these things ,the challenges in the marriage becomes a testimony. Women should be more diligent in marriage. If they do these things, they will never stumble in their marital journey. Women must prayerfully keep their home.
Can you share some of the challenges you experienced when you newly got married considering the fact that you are from different background?
Husband: Every woman should learn to have patience. I am an extrovert. I talk when something happens. I don’t think before I act. Whatever comes to my mind I say it. My wife would just be looking at me. She observed and watched her words and I was able to learn. Due to my nature, after I have acted then I would apologize and I would regret my attitude. That is how God used my wife to take out certain characters from me, because she is calculative. She would never answer you without weighing her actions.
Wife: I was raised by a military man, Air Force personnel, so submission was easy for me, because of the training I had growing up. God made me a wise wife. I know and understand that I have to manage my home in a peaceful atmosphere, so I try to watch my words, reactions and attitude even when I am hurt. I go to God and pour out my heart. I do this that is why I said it is a journey of grace. That understanding helped my home to be in peace. Women must learn to respect their spouses. Friends and people you complain to about your husband leads you astray. Every man is unique in his own way. Stop comparing them; we are not in any competition. Life is in phases, support your husband. The Lord has equipped you to live Godly and will empower you to be an example to others.
Tell us how you were able to raise your children especially when it comes to the issue of discipline?
Husband: Marriage is companionship, the kids must be corrected by both husband and wife. They must support each other when scolding or disciplining the child. If a particular spouse feels that the punishment is severe, what is needed is a non-verbal communication using signs without the child knowing and they must be polite.
Wife: They must work together at all times. Women should not over-pamper their kids and must allow room for correction. No argument. Be wise in the dealings so there would be balance. In unity and one voice they must speak same language in the same space.
Mobile phone has caused a lot of chaos in marriages today. What is your advice to address it?
Husband: I use a password in my phone but my wife has access to it, because I gave her the permission. I share everything with her, trust has kept us together. I equally know her password and have access to her phone. But every spouse should apply the culture of their home. If the man didn’t give the woman permission, let her not probe him. In one accord means respecting individual boundaries. Always answer the phone when your husband/wife is calling. When possible, try to keep your phone off when you are going together with your spouse.
Wife: A woman must understand her husband and operate by the rules. They should not look for what is not missing by ensuring peace in the home.
What is your advice to younger couples who had been struggling with their marital vows?
Husband: Married couples must love each other, even in those moments when you struggle to like each other. Love is a commitment, not a feeling. The type of love that is unconditional and do not record wrongdoings. They should be able to make laughter the soundtrack of their marriage, sharing moments of joy. Even in hard times, find reasons to laugh.
Wife: Younger couples who are in love but have been pretty clueless especially on how to handle issues, must be fervent in prayers. In every argument, remember that there won’t be a “winner” and a “loser.” You are partners in everything so you will either win together or lose together. Work together and find a solution to your problem. Also, they should realize that a strong marriage rarely has two strong people at the same time. It’s usually a husband and wife taking turns being strong for each other in the moments when the other feels weak. They should as well prioritize what happens in the bedroom. It takes more than sex to build a strong marriage, but it’s nearly impossible to build a strong marriage without it.