About 37 years ago, on August 4, 1984, 64-year-old Chief Adulphus Ikechukwu Igwe, and his adorable wife, 57-year-old Mrs. Gladys Ihechinyelum Igwe, got wedded at St. Bartholomew Anglican Church, Asata, Enugu. The natives of Ojebeogene Clan, of Ubiagu Okpatu in Udi Local Government, Enugu State, and Amagu Ifite Okpatu, respectively, live in Enugu and are blessed with seven children – four girls and three boys. While Chief Adulphus is a general contractor and a politician, Madam Gladys is a civil servant. They spoke with GEOFFREY ANYANWU, on their marital journey which has been blessed with children and grandchildren.
You have been married for about 38 years now. But looking at the two of you, one would think you just got married. What is the secret?
Chief Adulphus: I thank God that the Bible said he who finds a wife finds a good thing. I am so lucky that by the time I got my wife I knew that she was God’s allocation to me. I just knew that she is my own. So as I am talking to you, it is like we haven’t started. I must be honest with you. I can’t give her to anybody.
Madam Gladys: Jesus is the secret because our marriage was ordained by God. We started in Christ. I could remember one of the days we were attending a marriage course, late Rev. Okeke of St. Bartholomew Anglican Church, Ogui, Enugu, said that marriage does not need a third party. He gave us that teaching. We started to put it into practice. So since then whatever trial that came to our marriage we presented it before God. And He has always shown us the way out.
Has it always been all roses? Can you remember the first misunderstanding in this marriage and how did you handle it?
Madam Gladys: Well, I can say that my first misunderstanding in our marriage was not with my husband but with his sister. I thank God because but for God’s grace, I would not have been alive today. My husband was trying to be a mediator between us. He could not drive his sister away; he could not leave his wife. So, he was in the middle. The first day I came into his house, he said: ‘this is the only sister I have.’ He said she cannot leave the house unless she got married. He said that I should bear that cross. So whenever trial came through that girl I remembered that word. I said, ‘God, is that how marriage is?’ I said no problem. I started enduring and kept enduring. She did a lot of things to me but for God, I wouldn’t have forgiven her. That was my first misunderstanding and after then and up till today I don’t think I have had any misunderstanding with my husband that we could not resolve.
Chief Adulphus: She said it all. Even I didn’t remember that side. In fact, my sister became a test to us because of what she did. How she followed issues and the experience we encountered was unbelievable. It is only God that helped us. That’s why you cannot find disagreement between us. We made sure we followed Christ the way He said: ‘don’t keep your annoyance or disagreement to the following day.’ At a time, her own sister became another problem. Again, we understood that it was another temptation and we disregarded her actions.
So how did you meet your wife?
Chief Adulphus: It is a great testimony. That is why I said she is a gift. I had many girls I thought I was going to get married to. In fact, one of them, I started renovating her parents’ house at Iva Valley where I lived. But one thing or the other would bring disagreement. I was living in a one-room apartment. One day, we went to the village of the girl I wanted to marry in Amaukwu. She is late now. My friend, Justus Onuke, said to let us go to their village, Amagu Ifite Okpatu in Udi Local Government Area. On getting to Amagu, he said he would like to go and greet his father. It was while he was trying to do that that we saw my wife. She was going to a Block Rosary. She was rushing and I said: ‘Justus, see that girl going?’ He asked: do you like her? I said that it was not only about liking her, that I would marry her. I didn’t know they were living together. Their boundary is a local fence. After going to Justus’ house, he said: ‘let us go and greet the mother of the girl you said you like.’ We went. I told Justus that I would marry her and asked how to go about it. Fortunately, her elder brother was my friend. He said she is the younger sister to Tai (Titus). I called Tai and we talked.
Before your people went to her place, did you talk with her to profess your love?
Chief Adulphus: I didn’t. You know, in our own time, it is not like now that things have changed and there is all manner of nonsense everywhere. It’s my in-law, Tai, that’s why I don’t play with that man. I won’t forget what he did for me. At a time, there was one man that is rich. He was a blacksmith. He was interested in marrying her. And, it was like we were competing. But Tai liked me more than that man. So he played the game for me. He went to my mother-in-law and tried to carry her along. My father-in-law was interested in the other man. But Tai came to me one day and said: ‘I want you to know that you are going to marry my sister. She likes you.’ So by the time I asked her: will you like to be with me, everything had been concluded. They have talked to her about me.
Where did you meet him the first time? And, how did you know he wanted to marry you? What was your reply?
Madam Gladys: Actually, before that time, he had approached me. I told him that he should put it in prayer. And secondly, I would only go where my parents asked me to go. I said that I could not say yes or no. It is my parents that would say ‘go.’ I said that I would not disobey them. I said anywhere they say I would go, I would go. So that is how the marriage started. The first time he approached my father, he refused. He came back to me at Aguabo. I was staying with my brother and going to school at Commercial School, Awuja. He asked what my mind was. I said I cannot go where my parents had not approved. If my parents are not in support I cannot. Just put it in prayer. He appealed to me to please wait for him to try his best to convince my father. It took a long time, I mean, nearly one year before they could convince my father. Within me, I was praying. I said: ‘God, I cannot force myself on this man unless my parents asked me to go. I cannot disobey my parents.’ So, after consultations and meeting people that know my father, he went to so many places to meet people until my mother stepped in. And, in their meetings, I never showed up. I stepped aside. My parents would argue about the matter until they agreed. I can say it is the work of God. He intervened before my father accepted.
You’ve mentioned one blacksmith that was also interested. Were there other oppositions on your way then?
Chief Adulphus: Some of her relations did not agree initially. But because God was on my side, He melted the heart of my father-in-law. My mother-in-law was so much interested in me. She was the one who made it possible because my brother-in-law was using her to talk to my father-in-law. By the time he agreed and saw reasons for loving me and having me as a son-in-law, things changed.
You said before you met your wife you were already renovating the house of a would-be-in-law. But when you saw your wife, you changed your mind. What was it that you saw in her that killed the affection and love for the other lady?
Chief Adulphus: Yes, there were many ladies around. But what tied me down to her is her simplicity and humility. And when you see her, you would know that she is a child of God. She loves God. I didn’t see her as someone with many friends. All this gossip team, she was always going to church which is my lifestyle. And she has a shape I like. She is fair in complexion.
Before him, there might have been other suitors. Why did you decide to go with him?
Madam Gladys: During that time I did not have friends because I am the only daughter of my parents. They had two sons. As I grew up, I decided to assist my mother as I did not want her to suffer. I started at the age of 14 to struggle. I started primary school. At that time, parents were not training their female children. So, it was like an adult school. It was my mother that trained me in primary school. I was going to primary school and selling okpa. I went to school three times in a week, at times twice. This was in order to assist my mother because she suffered so much. We are from a polygamous family. My mother was the first. But the second wife was somehow lazy. My resolve to assist my mother kept me busy so much that I didn’t have friends. So, I did not have anybody in mind that would marry me. The other man he talked about, it was my aunt that wanted me to marry him because he is a family friend to them. I didn’t have anybody in mind.
You had a white wedding. What can you remember about that usually joyous event, and when was it?
Madam Gladys: That was on August 4, 1984. That day, I was very happy that I was wedded, that I was not pregnant before my wedding. My sister-in-laws gathered and made things smooth. I was just excited that day.
Where did your wedding take place?
Chief Adulphus: We were wedded at St. Barth’s Cathedral by late Ven. JDJ Onyereri. Our wedding is another testimony because it was at the heart of the rainy season. It was one of the times I tried God and He showed me He was indeed God and there is no reason I should not continue to worship and serve Him till I meet Him. My father-in-law had a land case against a very rich relation. And, the judgment was to be delivered the same week as our wedding. My in-law said to me that he won’t be happy coming to the wedding if he loses the case. I said okay let us pray because that was almost the time I repented newly, I said: ‘God, let there be no rain and my in-law won the case. The judgment was given in his favour and there was no rain until we went home after the reception.
Today, cases of divorce have risen to the high heavens. From your experience, what is the cause and how can we curb it?
Chief Adulphus: The devil is responsible for the rising cases of divorce. Immediately, you wed and promise God that you want to marry one wife, that is the time the devil would come to torment you. That is the time you see a girl you chased that rejected you making herself available. But if you know the God to whom you made the vow, you will be focused. My advice is that new couples should be in a covenant relationship with God.
Madam Gladys: I think that the main cause of rampant divorce is greed. Love of money and wanting what you cannot ordinarily get is one of the causes. Many people want to be like someone else. But don’t try to another person. Be yourself. More especially, know God and remember the vow you took before Him that it is for better or worse, richer or poorer until death does you part. If you maintain that oath you took at the altar, I think the marriage will last. I took a decision that nothing would make me leave my marriage or compromise. So once we are contented with what we have, I think the marriage will last.
What will be your advice to our spinsters looking forward to getting married?
Madam Gladys: My advice is to know God and ask Him to give you your own husband. Don’t marry another person’s husband because you saw that he has money. The most important thing is that love is there; money is not everything.
What do you have to say to bachelors wanting to get married?
Chief Adulphus: They should, first of all, have a covenant relationship with God. Do whatever He asks you to do and do not compare yourself with others for you do not know where they are coming from. Carnal comparison is the most dangerous thing that can come into marriage.