This week’s edition features Very Rev. Yarima Peter Aya and his wife, Felicia, serving with the Evangelical Reformed Church of Christ (ERCC). The couple who is in-charge of ERCC Gloryland, Lafia, Nasarawa State are blessed with four children. In this interview with FAITH AWA MAJI, they share their experiences from their 30 years of marriage. Excerpts:
I understand that you have spent about 30 years in marriage. While we thank God for keeping you together as husband and wife all these years, could you tell us how you met before you people got married?
Husband: It’s a long story but I will cut it short. We actually met in secondary school, form one to five. We are the last set that ended Form Five. We met right from Form 1 and I happened to be the class rep then. I was in the same class with her and I’d been observing her. I guess she too must have been observing me. Somehow, I couldn’t complete my secondary school education there. But before I left the school, I had already approached her to ask for her hand in marriage and she had given me the yes. We were in courtship for at least five years before we eventually got married. The marriage was conducted in the Church on the 31st March, 1990. So last March, we actually celebrated our 30th marriage anniversary. We thank God Almighty who brought us together as husband and wife. We all agreed to live together despite challenges.
How old were you then when you approached her?
Husband: I was getting close to 19 years when I approached her but I got married to her at the age of 24.
How old are you now?
Husband: I am 54-years-old
Was it the same thing with you, or are there details you would like to add, at least on your own part?
Wife: What he said earlier is correct but before he approached me, I always prayed to God to give me a God-fearing life partner. That was my prayers before we got married and seriously I am satisfied with who God Almighty has blessed me with as a husband.
Are you satisfied marrying him?
Wife: Yes, dear. I am satisfied. In fact, I couldn’t have asked God for anything more.
Sir, was there any opposition from anywhere – relatives, friends – concerning your marriage?
Husband: Well, in the process of getting married there were diverse opinions as to the issue of why did you chose this partner? Why do you want to do that? In this life, people must say something about the intention of the partner you want to marry. But the whole issue that is making us to stand today is that marriage is not something that somebody should decide for you. Whatever people say did not stop us from getting married to each other because it is a choice. I had seen her and I love her, so whatever anybody could say couldn’t stop us from getting married. I remember vividly she told me when we were preparing to get married, then I had finished my certificate course in Theology, that her mother felt somehow when she learnt she was going to marry a pastor. She said pastors are one class of poor people we see in the society. They struggle from one place to another and they move from one place to another like nomadic people. So you want to marry a Pastor? But because my wife felt that it is the man that God had given her to spend the rest of her life with, she accepted to marry me. People who judge marriage on the basis of social status, level of education or academic excellence, prosperity or wealth, make a serious mistake. I think marriage is basically about love. Do you love the person you want to live with for the rest of your life? That doesn’t mean the person is an angel. There may be crisis. There may be trouble. There may be temptation. But the key issue is: let it be that you are the one deciding; nobody should decide for you. And when you do, you will be prepared to bear the consequences and blessings that come with the marriage.
Are you from the same community?
Wife: No! I am from Awonge and he is from Awuma.
Husband: Let me be specific. I am from a typical village. The houses there are not up to fifty. My village had no church, no primary school. I happened to come from a tropical area. Very remote! If you have one house here, you may have to trek for about two kilometres before you find another house. That is the kind of village in which I was born and brought up. Today, there is nobody in that village. It was from the village that we moved to Awuma and some moved to Kwandare. That is why she could only talk about Awuma. She doesn’t know much about the village.
Sir, what made you decide to go for your wife out of the many ladies available for you to pick within that period?
Husband: I have earlier told you that marriage is about love. Certainly among all people, you must settle for one person that is dear to your heart. It is all about inner love.
Did you have crush on other ladies before you met and married her?
Husband: Yes, about one or two but if your mind is not speaking ‘that is the woman I want to settle down with,’ then don’t just go and meet and talk to her. I thank God that I couldn’t get those ones because if I had done so I don’t know how the situation would have turned out. Marriage is all about getting someone with whom your spirit agrees and not someone whom you are being compelled either by yourself or others, to marry.
Ma, what qualities made you choose him above other eligible bachelors or suitors within that period?
Wife: Well, the qualities that made me choose him is: when we came for our common entrance examination in Lafia then, we were actually looking for a road to General Hospital, now Dalhatu Araf Specialist Hospital. We met some guys and asked them. They didn’t give us attention. He was the only one that did. In fact, he did not only direct us, he brought us close to the venue, pointed at it and then left. By then I never knew he was going to be my life-partner. But when I was praying for a life-partner that will help me serve the Lord faithfully, the Lord showed him to me. All the same, when he approached me, I didn’t agree. I took my time to pray.
Were you in any relationship before he approached you?
Wife: Yes. Some boys were coming but I didn’t give them attention.
Sir, how did you propose to her? What exactly did you say to her as to make her accept to marry you?
Husband: I just approached her and I told her that I want to marry her. You see, as a prefect in the school then, I was the class representative. Then you didn’t play with the class representative. Ordinarily, the class representative was a key person in the school system. When they make noise I would just write their names. The lady who later became her chief bridesmaid was punished several times because of noise-making in the class. But my wife did not join them to make noise in the class. I saw her as a quiet and responsible lady. And she had the quality of the type of woman I would want to settle down with.
What was your response, Ma?
Wife: I didn’t agree at the first time. I took my time to pray about it.
Sir is that what happened?
Husband: You know women are naturally shy. They will pretend that they want to go and consult. She said no but I know it was natural with ladies of those days. Nowadays, ladies even want to approach men to marry them. In our own time when you approach a lady, even if she loves you, she would pretend and she would not say “yes” to you.
Sir, what do you remember most about your courtship and wedding?
Husband: She really cared for me during our courtship. I remember she used to buy clothes for me even before we got married. She used to get little income from farming because we grew up in the village. Because of her love for me I remember she bought safari jacket for me. I cannot forget that. Sometimes she would want to give me money in those days. But me too on my own part I used to give her yams because in their village they don’t really farm yam. So I would take yams to her as an expression of my love.
Ma, how about you? What do you remember most about your wedding?
Wife: He sewed blouse for me. That blouse is something that I cannot forget. We had our wedding at ERCC, LCC Aridi in Lafia Local Government Area, presently in Lafia North Development Area. The wedding gown was the property of the church. We hired it.
Husband: For my suit I borrowed my elder brother’s suit because we didn’t have the financial strength to buy suit. The suit was given to me for the purpose of the wedding. After the wedding, I returned it. While the gown was hired, my elder brother couldn’t give me gift. He temporarily gave me the suit to use for the wedding day.
What do you like about her?
Husband: She is all in all. She is a mother. She is caring. She loves. I think I must say this. My mother saw her and welcomed her as a good daughter-in-law. My mother loved sharing with her before she was called to glory. She loved to partner with her. In fact, sometimes my mother whenever she wanted to get something from me would go through my wife. She would say: ‘this your husband; you are the one that understand him ooh. Go and talk to your husband.’ But she was my mother. She is all in all and I like that.
What advice do you have for a bachelor who intends to marry?
Husband: God says it is not good for a man to be alone. So anytime I see single people my heart bleeds. I ask God to open doors for them to have their life partners. Anything that God condemns nobody should pretend it is good. I want the singles to be patient and look unto God. And they should not have selection of partners. They should just believe God for a person He will give them. Let them not begin to look at the partner on account of what the person earns or what status the person might have obtained or whatsoever. Marriage is about love.
What advice do you have for spinsters who intend to get married?
Wife: Don’t marry because of material things. Don’t marry a man because he has a car or a good job. Marry the person you love, not the person with material things. When you are contented with what you have, you will live in peace. Like me, when I married my husband, he didn’t have all the things that he has now. We were patient. And due to the patience we have for each other the Lord blesses us. So my advice to young ladies is: go with a man you can respect. Without respect, there won’t be love and without love, there won’t be respect.