How did you meet your wife?
Festus: I met my wife, 38 years ago in Kano State. I was through with my Standard Five School Cert. But before I met her, I had already heard about her from a friend. What I heard was a good report about her outstanding character. So I watched her closely because we were living very close to each other. I later confirmed what I heard. Then I started showing interest in her, though we never thought of getting married. I informed my parents about her and they liked her. So when my parents gave their consent, I opened up to her. She didn’t hesitate to accept me. I never knew she loved me.
How did it start? What was your first reaction when he approached you?
Francisca: I believe it is the handwork of God. God ordained us to be one. While my husband was making his intention towards me, there were other men who were also interested in me but my eyes was on him and I showed him love. He told his mum about me. Good enough, my mother and his mother hail from the same locality. So it was easy for them to inquire about me.
Was there any objection from any angle?
Festus: No, not at all. Normally some opposition comes when a man wants to marry especially from family, friends and age group. But in my own case there was no opposition. Should there be, I am the one marrying the woman. I know what I wanted. So friends’ opinions would have counted unless it’s very clear that the woman has a very dubious character or other some family abnormalities.
Francisca: No. There was nothing like that. Both families accepted us and blessed us.
Was there any demand placed on you as a condition for marriage?
Francisca: No, there was nothing like that. I made it clear to him that it’s only my husband that would see my nakedness. So he respected himself. Then in Kano, he came with one of my brothers who unknown to me was watching and monitoring me on his behalf and giving him reports. I was in school then. This young man would trail me to school. He would hide somewhere and watch me. But thank God I didn’t misbehave because if there was any bad report about me, maybe he wouldn’t have married me. So I thank God he was my choice among all the men that came for me.
Then he had no bicycle, so what motivated you to accept him for marriage unlike these days when wealth and other material things are the basis for some ladies to agree or not, to marry?
Francisca: I have deep love for him. And I made a vow to God that the first man to see my nakedness would be my husband and so it was. While men were coming to me, I was very careful not to jump into bed with anyhow man because of the vow I made. So I made my choice, just one man, that’s him. He had nothing then. But I was schooling and working so I was buying him some things. And, I do even till date.
What are the distinguishing features of your spouse?
Festus: First, naturally I love dark-complexioned women. More so her physique, I mean her body structure. It was and still very okay to me, not fat, not slim. I don’t hate fair women, but I prefer dark-complexioned ones.
Francisca: He is very principled, disciplined and kind. He gives and he hates lies and lairs. He has a well-defined lifestyle; he doesn’t behave anyhow. He is honest and just in his dealings. No wonder people always come together to bestow on him chieftaincy and leadership portfolios because of his transparent lifestyle. He has held many leadership positions because of his honest and faithful qualities.
Sometimes people come in God’s name that God revealed to them on who to marry, and most times it turns out to be successful while some turns out to be total deception. Do you you really believe in such clergymen telling a young man who to marry in God’s name?
Festus: Yes and no. The truth is that there are a lot of fake clergymen. A song artist sang; “Those who worshiped God in the old days are really the ones who understand the art of worship, not this generation.” You see, there was sincerity in those days than nowadays. These days some men falsely claim that God sent them to prophesy just because they are looking for money. Such prophecies cannot work, but now we have few pastors but majority are fake. So if I hear, “Thus says the Lord, you must marry this man or woman,” we go down on our knees for prayers to seek God’s face for confirmation. We can’t just accept any prophecy from anywhere hook, line and sinker. Of course, God can answer anybody. Let me tell you, you can pray out yourself. God can speak to anyone, not only to pastors or Rev fathers. When God said: “All have sinned and come short of God’s Glory”, he didn’t exempt clergymen. He said everybody has sinned. So we must be careful when we hear: “God says.”
How do you resolve conflict in your home?
Festus: An African man would tell you men don’t apologize to their wives. Do we need to kneel down to our wife when we err? The answer is no, but we show remorse by buying them gifts, taking them out and doing some extra things for them in order to make peace. Just show them some love. Women respond to love quickly than men. But nothing stops me from saying: “I’m sorry.”
Some men have maintained that women are not only unfathomable but full of surprises in character. How have you been able to manage those complexities from your wife in over 35 years of marriage?
Festus: It’s not an easy task, to be honest with you. Our music legend, Dr. Sir. Warrior once said “Okorobia ji nwanyi shiri ike”, meaning, a man who keeps a woman or wife in the house is a strong man. The high life music icon was telling us that it’s not easy at all to maintain a woman. So, it’s by God’s grace. You cannot keep a woman by muscle or by any mystical power. It requires deep wisdom to manage the affairs chemistry of women. If God is involved you will sail through in marriage. Remember how God created them: the man was sleeping when the woman was created. How do understand them, someone who was created while you and I were sleeping? So you can’t predict them naturally including our mothers. Sometimes, they behave in an annoying strange manner, most times, intentionally, but you don’t need to use force; you take it easy, they love softness. Most importantly, talk to her like a child you are training, yes, like a child you are nursing. She will turn a new leaf.
Do you involve third party in dispute resolution?
Festus: I personally don’t do that and I don’t advise it either. Even when couple invite me for dispute resolution, I don’t involve myself fully. I counsel them privately to go and settle themselves. I don’t come in-between because it’s shameful. Unless where there is threat to life, third party has done more harm than good.
For intending couple, how do young people in courtship know when either of them is lying? There are too many lies and deceptions.
Festus: This is where courtship comes in. This issue of lying between intending couple is always the case. In our day, there was no such lies as we have it now because our parents know everything about the other’s family, unlike these days. But during courtship both must find out before they eventually get married. But it’s easy to find the truth with the advent of technological gadgets in our palm. We can quickly make travel, make calls, inquiries and get any information we want. With discerning spirit, with time, with little test you would know when your intending partner lies to you.
When there is a clash between God’s will and personal conviction, what advice will you give a confused woman?
Festus: Actually, it happens sometime. Except that person is not a Christian that is the last bus stop for any human being. Whatever you are in life, you must know that God is everything. So in this case the confused person should yield to God’s will because his Will is the best. But you must be very sure it’s God speaking.
What has been the secret of your peaceful home for over 30 years?
Festus: As for me, the secret is that my wife loves me more than I do. I love her too, but she loves me more. She never hides her money from me. She is a retired civil servant; she supported me in all ramifications. Most importantly, understanding is a requisite. Try to reason along with your spouse. Think of it that it could be you the next moment. Note that no behaviour is permanent. Anybody can change for better unless those with reprobate minds.
Francisca: It’s simple. When the husband and wife do all those things that the Word of God spells out pertaining marriage without struggle, peace must reign. Husbands, play your role very well; wives, do your part. God has His part to play. All will work out good. There will be challenges but if God is involved the home will not crash as the devil wants it. But when one party is found wanting on duty, it affects the other parties in functioning very well.
What was courtship like in your day and now?
Festus: There is a big difference. In those days, a lady comes to the man’s family first. The man’s parents takes her to the farm, he does some domestic work like how to process palm oil, cassava, cooking etc. It could be for some days or weeks. The same thing applies for the lady. During that period, her real personality would be exposed. If she’s industrious and enterprising, it would show, and if she is the lazy type, it will definitely show. Nothing is hidden. There is another thing: home management in times of affluence and poverty, can she manage? Remember, after wedding, the life of the man is being watched, he either makes progress or otherwise. Whichever, naturally we apportion blame to the wife. It is either she brought good luck or illluck to the man. That’s why mothers are very conscious about who their sons married in those days. But nowadays, they do courtship in township. Most parents don’t even know till when things begin to fall apart.
How should wives handle unfaithful husbands? Have you had such experience?
Francisca: As long as I hear the word of God, discerning spirit would tell me that the devil has crept in. It is the work of the devil because Satan’s target is the family. I would go into prayers because you may not win the war by fighting him, abusing or insulting him. Note that something triggered him to move out, so I would strive to discover that thing. If it was food, love or anything, I would begin to change the way I do things to bring my husband back. Look for that thing that pushes him outside and fix it. Most men go out owing to the fault of their wives.
How do we stop incessant cases of divorce and domestic violence?
Francisca: The truth is that there is no true love in such cases. You know there are a whole lot of manipulations. I must sound it clear: women as you dip yourself in Jesus Christ, as you go to church, make sure your husband goes with you when he is opportune to do so. Carry him along. Two are better than one. So stay close to him. Do his best bidding. And let him be, allow him to be what God has made him to be. Don’t try to rule over him no matter how huge, influential your financial muscles are. Give him his due respect.