When it comes to marriage between Adebowale Adediran and his wife, Olanike, nobody will sue you to any court on earth, much less the one in heaven, if you say their love started in a classroom before it was consummated in bedroom. It has been 26 years since, as young teachers in a secondary school in Ibadan, Oyo State they discovered that they were meant for each other. And, for close to three decades, they have been living together as husband and wife. In this interview with CLEMENT ADEYI in OSOGBO, the couple who hail from Osun State shares their experiences in marriage that have made it possible for them, as they say, keep keeping together. Excerpts:
How did you meet before you married?
Husband: We met as young teachers at Emmanuel College High School, Oke Ayo, Ibadan, in Oyo State in 1995. The meeting was arranged by Providence because before then, I had been teaching at AUD Grammar School, Ile-Ife, Osun State. I was also a part-time lecturer in English Studies in the Department of English at Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife where I was also doing a part-time Masters programme. I taught in the university for a few years. When I finished the programme, I moved to Ibadan in Oyo State in 1989 to do a PhD programme at the University of Ibadan (UI). During the period, I had the opportunity of choosing a secondary school where I wanted to teach to be able to run the programme. So, I chose Emmanuel College High School because of its proximity to UI. That’s how I got transferred from AUD Grammar School to Emmanuel College High School. That was in 1990. It was the same period that she too was posted to the school as what used to be known as Olure corper under General Adisa Olure teachers recruitment scheme. When I saw her I was moved to “toast” her for marriage. But when I made my intention known to her, she said no. The ‘no’ was so emphatic that whenever I saw her afterwards, I steered clear of her but I didn’t give up. One day, one of her cousins who happened to be my friend visited her in our school. The guy and I were friends and ardent players of chess game. On that day, we played chess for several hours until the closing hours. So, we agreed to go to my house to continue the game. Then her cousin asked her to follow us to my house and she agreed reluctantly. That was the beginning of our relationship.
Wife: I didn’t really know what came over me when he toasted me and I said no. But I think it was because I was about leaving the school where we met. But one thing led to the other and I later changed my mind from no to yes. I felt that we could give it a try and here we are today happily married.
Was there any opposition from your parents, relatives or friends?
Husband: Mine was a case of love at first sight. I was under pressure from my mum to bring a wife home. I had graduated for a long time and had a relationship that didn’t work. Ever since then I never brought any woman home. So when I brought her, it was a welcomed development for them. But there was an opposition from her family because one of her cousins had been married to someone from my hometown, Iree, in Osun State before but it was not a pleasant one. So, her family had a misgiving about Iree people. But they were subtle about it. They were reluctant in supporting our marriage but I didn’t know until later on. Later, they saw my sincerity. She, too, was resolute. I can’t really say that it was an opposition but reluctance from her family.
Wife: There was no much opposition. It was only my mum who said she didn’t want me to get married to an Iree man because of my cousin’s marriage with an Iree man that crashed. But after much deliberations and prayers, she agreed.
Why did you decide to go for your wife out of the other ladies around then?
Husband: I never even thought of marrying a fair-complexioned woman. I was always passionate about dark-complexioned ladies. But when I saw her, something just struck me that she could be my wife. I was attracted by her smartness. She was quite agile. She wasn’t a typical female that walks slowly. She walked smartly. Whenever she was climbing a stair case I would be amazed at her briskness like an Oyinbo person. She still has these qualities up till now. Her sincerity too attracted me. She is so forthright that sometimes she talks bluntly unedited. The major attraction was the sincerity and forthrightness.
What qualities made you choose him above other eligible bachelors or suitors within that period?
Wife: I was about 24 years then. My prayer was that any man I would marry must be a straightforward person and God-fearing, regardless of the town he hails from. I saw a great future in him because he was a career person as a teacher and even a lecturer. I felt that he was somebody who would love me with all his heart and be able to take care of me too. Many men were coming to woo me, but when he declared his intention to me, I started watching him and I saw his sincerity. It is his determination and interest in me that really convinced me that he was sincere and that his intention was born out of love. I also discovered that he is God-fearing. That was why I agreed.
How did you propose to her?
Husband: It wasn’t like these days when a man would have to kneel down and put a ring on a lady’s finger and propose to her. According to the doctrine of the Baptist Church where we fellowship, we had to follow all the necessary steps in order not to fall into a frivolous relationship. We knew from the early days of our relationship that it was headed for marriage. The proposal was not official or an occasion. Everybody knew that we were going to marry. People that were close to us were even asking us when we would get married. Our courtship lasted for about three years. I only asked her where she wanted it to be. There wasn’t anything like a formal proposal such as “Would you want to marry me?” I can just say that the proposal was when we met initially and I said to her, “Look, this relationship has to end up in marriage. Would you want me to be your husband? Have you studied me very well and do you think I qualify to be your husband? Would you want to spend the rest of your life with me? Would you want us to settle down as husband and wife?” That was during one of her visits to me in my house in Ibadan.
What did you say when he said that to you?
Wife: I said let’s go and pray first. After the prayers, I replied that I would like to spend the rest of my life with him.
What do you remember most about your wedding?
Husband: One thing I will not forget in a hurry is that there was fuel scarcity on the day of our engagement. I was in Ibadan and my parents were in Osogbo. My dad was the pastor of the Union Baptist Church. He was the one holding fort pending when the substantive pastor would come. The engagement and wedding were considered to be big events in the church in Ibadan because it was a son of a church leader, that is, my very self, was getting married. The fuel scarcity made it difficult for guests to travel from Osogbo to Ibadan for the wedding. It was so tough that my wife got worried due to late arrival to the event. At a point, she broke down in tears, especially because I too had not arrived. The wedding coincided with my birthday. Till today, we celebrate the anniversary and my birthday together. Many of my friends as well as prominent people came. I never knew I was so much valued. Since then I have never pulled such crowd except during my dad’s burial.
Wife: On that day I was really worried because I knew my father-in-law as a very strict and time-conscious person. Though there was fuel scarcity, I didn’t know it would get to a level where people would find it difficult to travel for our wedding. In fact, I cried that day. The programme that was supposed to start by 2 pm started by 5 pm. The wedding was on the following day. But we thank God that it was a success.
Can you recall your first misunderstanding in marriage and how you resolved it?
Husband: It was her tight schedule at work as a banker that led to our first misunderstanding. She was a branch manager. She would leave for work very early in the morning and come back very late. It took me a while to adjust. For long hours I would wait for her to return from work. She used to return very late in the evening and I would be wondering what kind of job is this? Whenever I complained bitterly, she would ask if I had another job for her or if I wanted her to resign. There was a bit of unhappiness. But we were able to resolve it when I got used to her schedule and started supporting her.
Wife: He likes cleanliness. So, whenever the children messed up the rug in the sitting room, he would get angry. There was no pampers then but napkin, which gave the baby rashes. I told him that he should rather remove his rug if he could not tolerate the baby’s urine that was messing up the rug. But we later resolved the issue amicably.
What do you like most about your spouse?
Husband: She is very hard working. She doesn’t cut corners. She demonstrates this in every assignment. When I was a Vice Principal, I got posted to a suburb and I was not ready to sleep in that village. So I started playing truancy. One day, my wife challenged me and said if I was being paid salary, then I must maintain regular attendance. It takes a very hard-working person to give such encouragement. She is also very loving and takes good care of the family as a responsible mother.
Wife: He is very loving and caring. When I was working, whenever I travelled to Lagos for a conference, before I arrived, he had gotten an accommodation for me because I used to go with the children and my sister who used to help take care of them for me. To the best of his ability, he takes care of us as a responsible husband and father.
What’s your advice to couples on how to make their marriage successful?
Husband: One key word here is perseverance. If truly you love your partner, you should be able to persevere. I know a couple who started contemplating divorce within the same week of their wedding. As I speak, they are already divorced. They got married in February last year. I had known that the marriage was not going to work because of the characters of both of them. Before the marriage, both of them were complaining about certain idiosyncrasies they didn’t like about each other. But they assured each other that they would adjust. But immediately after the marriage, there were no changes. Within a week after their wedding, they started quarrelling. The wedding was in London and they spent a lot of money. They hired a limousine, entertained guests with the best of dishes you can imagine and danced till daybreak only for them to part ways not too long after all the jolly jolly society wedding. They now live apart in London. I advise the young ones to persevere, endure, tolerate and love each other even in the wake of misunderstanding or quarrel or whatever the problem might be. The problem may not last forever. There must be a time of respite. Things must get better. There is a saying that tough times never lasts but tough people do. Divorce should not be the last option but love which is the only cord that can bind marriage. Another important thing is learning how to say sorry to your partner in a circumstance of offence. They should be able to apologise to each other and not taking it for granted. I learnt this from my dad and I still apply it with my wife. My dad was a man of discipline. After meting out a punishment to you, he would later draw you closer, put his hands round your neck and tell you “I am sorry. Don’t be offended.”
Wife: They should make God the central figure of their marriage. They should pray to succeed and not end up in shame. They should persevere in whatever circumstance. They must be resolute that their marriage must work; That should be their mindset.