Submission: Why my Marriage survived this long – Councilor

Submission: Why my Marriage survived this long - Councilor

Mrs. Oyeboade Akinola, a marriage counselor, speaks with AJIBADE OMAPE about the importance of submission and other strategies for fostering enduring and joyful marriages

 

How did you meet your husband?

My name is Mrs. Oyeboade Akinola, and I retired as a director of media at the Federal Ministry of Information.

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I met my husband while we were undergraduate students at the University of Lagos. He captained the football team, and I played basketball, leading to our initial encounter on the field. We travelled together for competitions in Cotonou and Togo during that time. We participated in the 1982 Nigerian University Games Association (NUGA), where the basketball team won silver, although the football team didn’t perform as well.

 

He captained the 1982 UNILAG’s NUGA football team, and our friendship evolved into a relationship by 1983 when we were leaving the school. We got married in 1985 as we had already decided on marriage. We are blessed with three biological children, two of whom are married, and we have grandchildren. Additionally, we have many spiritual and adopted children.

Currently, I work alongside my husband in the ministry, overseeing the women’s ministry and other assignments that come my way.

 

How long have you been married?

We got married on the 4th of May, 1984. That’s 39 years and counting.

 

What qualities attracted you to your husband when you first met him?

I think I just saw him and fell in love. We were friends, and we interacted as friends, but he told me that the first day he met me, he said to himself that he would marry this person. I cannot say that it was God because I wasn’t a Christian then, to the point of praying and saying that God was leading me to marry this man. He wasn’t a Christian either, but our parents were Christians and very prayerful. When my mother came to pick up my things after school in June 1983, I introduced him to my mother, and my mother just knelt and started thanking God. She said she had prayed and told God that before I left school, she wanted to know who my husband was. So she felt that it was an answer to her prayer, and my father-in-law was a prayer warrior. He wasn’t doing anything at that time because he was old. His only work was to pray, and he could go for hours and pray. So I think we saw each other, we liked each other, but our lives were guided by the path we chose because we had praying parents.

 

How would you describe the early years of your marriage?

We were friends, but we didn’t have money. At the time we decided to get married, some of our friends were mocking us because we could not even afford a set of chairs in our sitting room. We started planning for marriage immediately after our youth service. We put our resources together, and we were able to rent a house. We bought a gas cooker, and we had a ceiling fan in the sitting room, and we had a bed. So at night, we would move the bed to the sitting room and sleep, and then take the bed back in the morning. This was to ensure that if we had visitors, we could use the fan in the sitting room, and some of my old friends especially would come and visit us. However, because we loved each other, the material things we lacked were not considered too much. Our first TV was the black and white television that was given to us by our landlord. He just felt that there had to be something that would be making noise in the sitting room. So those early years were years of fun.

 

Have you ever regretted marrying your husband?

No, I have never regretted the decision, though it hasn’t been a rosy journey altogether. I remember in 1994, the year I had my last born, there was a transfer from my office that I should go to Abuja. That was the time civil servants were transferred to Abuja and were given incentives, with a promise of accommodation. At that time, my husband’s business wasn’t going well. My own salary was N3,000, so it came as a good opportunity for all. But when I got home and I shared with my husband, he said, well, you know you cannot go to Abuja. You cannot leave these three children with me, what will I do with them? So I declined and didn’t go. At that time, things were very difficult. But today, with the benefit of hindsight, I thank God I agreed with him. This is because eventually in the year 2000, my husband allowed me to go to Abuja when another opportunity came. This was because each time they raised the idea of me going to Abuja, I would come home and pray, we wouldn’t hear anything about it, but in the year 2000, I didn’t hear anything. It was only the letter that I received stating that I should move to Abuja, and my husband said, well, it’s just time for you to go. So I left. At the time, my firstborn was about 14 years old. That was in the year 2000. So I left and I kept on coming home. I would come by night bus, I would come by road.

And so the two of us over the years have developed a bond, a bond of love. Our friendship has grown even more, even better. So now that we are at home, we are managing our lives. We are working together. We are playing together. We go on vacation, and over the years, we built a network of friends. His friends and their families have become my friends and family. I met a lot of people in the course of my career in the civil service, and everybody that I introduced to him, including my bosses, became his friends. So today we thank God that he has helped us. But I’m sure you are going to ask, what has helped us? One of the things is that both of us share God. And I know what God expects of me as a wife, to submit. God has helped me to submit to my husband, who has submitted to God. So in submitting to my husband, I never felt like being subjugated. I never felt that I was missing anything. He has supported my career. I had my master’s in his house, even in those days when we didn’t have money, he was selling cameras at the bus stop because he wanted to ensure that I was comfortable where I was doing my master’s. I finished my master’s in 1991.

 

What were the most significant challenges you encountered in your marriage, and how did you overcome them?

The only challenge, if I may call it that, is that there were some years when we struggled financially. In the house we lived in Ojota, there were plantain trees around, and sometimes we would go without food if there were no ripe plantains on the trees. It was a difficult time, but we stuck together. It never crossed my mind that I was suffering. I think I coped better than him. One morning, there was nothing to eat, so we gave our children a small piece of bread and “Eruku Oshodi” (sachet tea), a type of beverage common at the time. I just had some garri, but my husband said he was hungry but refused to have garri. He was ready to go to his office without food, and I had the garri because I was hungry and it was okay for me. Then a friend came by with roasted yam, sauce, and oil, which my husband had never eaten before. He believed it wasn’t a suitable food, but he was hungry and accepted it, seeing it as God’s provision.

Another challenge was in 1993 when we lost a child shortly after birth. We were supposed to be discharged from the hospital on the day he passed away. Those were the two main challenges we faced. The hospital mentioned congenital malformation as the cause of his death. He would have been our third son. I got pregnant again two months later, perhaps as a way to console myself, and I gave birth to another child 11 months later. I faced complications during her birth, including severe bleeding for about 12 hours. It was a Sunday, and we had trouble finding blood for a transfusion. The doctors said I had a ruptured uterus and needed immediate surgery to repair it, or I could bleed to death. After 12 hours, we managed to gather enough blood for the operation, and I woke up after four days. If you ask my husband, he would consider my health scare during that childbirth as his major challenge, as he was unsure if I would survive. But thank God, I’ve been doing well since then.

 

What are the most significant moments you’ve experienced during your 38 years of marriage?

I believe that every day has been memorable because I’m married to the best man on earth. Husbands and wives may quarrel, but we always resolve our conflicts every night, ensuring a chance for new beginnings.

If we don’t resolve today’s quarrel, how can we face tomorrow’s challenges? We make sure to settle any disputes before bedtime, and every time we reconcile, it becomes a memorable moment, a time to restore harmony.

Our marriage has been enjoyable despite challenges, thanks to God’s help in overcoming them. Imagine having no food, yet not quarrelling or nagging.

Our marriage has been joyful because we both know and fear God. We obey God’s commands, including the principle of submission, which has sustained our marriage for 39 years. Submission establishes a hierarchy in marriage, preventing conflicts.

Our children once remarked that they believed we never fought.

 

What advice would you offer to individuals aspiring to cultivate enduring and prosperous marriages?

For those experiencing challenges in their marriage, I advise them to submit to God. All crises can be resolved if you allow God to intervene in that situation. Additionally, every couple, whether facing issues or not, must realise that marriage is not solely about them, it’s about God. When you examine Malachi chapter 2 verse 16 in the Bible, you will gain further insight. God desires our homes to be nurturing environments for children, and if there is discord in the home, the children are at risk. Many of the issues prevalent in our society today stem from the breakdown of family values.

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