Theirs is wedlock not only of two personalities but also of two cultures: Yoruba and Urhobo. While Dr. Adesida Adeniyi Abiodun, is from Ondo state, his wife, Odemero Edna, hails from Urhobo, Delta State. Adesida is an anaesthetist with the Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH) and a lecturer at the College of Medicine, University of Lagos, while his wife holds a Higher National Diploma Degree (HND), a degree she acquired after having her children. In this interview, the couple who celebrated the silver jubilee of their marriage in August this year, spoke to VIVIAN ONYEBUKWA on their marriage experiences.
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This is your 25th year of marriage. Tell us how you met and how it has been.
Husband: We got married on August 7, 1993 at Eku Etiop Local Government Area of Delta state. Ours was a traditional marriage, but blessed by a cleric. I had completed my National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) in Kaduna and was 26-years plus on the 17th of December that year. But before then, I had always had the vision of getting married early. I was working with a private hospital and had an income that I felt that could sustain my home. We met in Ibadan when I was working with a private hospital called MENDS Hospital owned by Dr & Mrs. Owolabi while my wife was working with Kabo Holdings. They used our hospital as their official hospital.
Wife: Our courtship wasn’t all that long, just two years. We met in 1991. I was living with an aunt, Lilian Erefagha. He used to come around and when he did he would jokingly tell my aunt that he liked me. And, that my aunt is a no-nonsense person. She was working with Bayelsa Broadcasting Service at that time. When we started, my aunt was not in the picture, but by the time we agreed to go from friendship to marriage, my sister did not find it funny because she thought he would take advantage of me.
Husband: The decision to marry her was taken on the fateful day she was going to take her maiden flight as a cabin crew with Okada Airline. Personally, I did not want her to fly because of the fear of what might happen to a young lady who was going to face and meet different kinds of people. I was not really sure of what would happen if she commenced the job. But I was not favourably disposed to her flying. However, she dressed up and left. In less than one hour, she returned home, removed her uniform and said she was not flying again. That was a singular action, apart from love, that convinced me that this is my wife.
Wife: His friends liked me and would always say that I was a wife material, and that was how he proposed. But before he proposed, I had a rival, and one day I left in anger. But his friends kept telling him that I was a wife material until one day he came back to me. Whenever I am talking to my girls, I always use that as an example. It is not by education or beauty, but if you want to have a successful marriage, your character, inner beauty counts. You must be good at home chores. I have trained my girls to know those little things like grinding tomatoes with stone because you never can tell where you may be tomorrow.
Husband: In most marriages, extended families have one or two things to suggest to the man or the woman. All manner of suggestions came up, but we stood our grounds that this marriage must hold. As at the time we got married, she had a school certificate and I had a degree, so a good number of people did not support it, but we decided that we would develop ourselves and she accepted. Today, she is an HND holder in Secretarial Studies. Over the years, we have lived together and respecting one another’s opinions. We have had a level of communication that is good enough for us to live together and be happy together.
Wife: He has been a wonderful husband, a loving one. On my 25th anniversary, I wrote that, in theory, marriages are made in heaven but in reality, 25 years long marriage is made by the timeless efforts of the two involved to ensure it works as they lean solely on God.
Describe your wife?
Husband: She is like my mother. In deed, that was what I saw in her that made me seal my relationship with her. She is painstaking. Whatsoever she believes in she goes for it until she gets it. She encourages me a lot to achieve. If you don’t have someone that encourages you when you are discouraged then you don’t have a wife. She has been the mother of all my children. She is a helper indeed in terms of the training – morally, spiritually, and financially. I cherish her because on two occasions when I never believed that she would obey me, she did. First was when we met, and the other one was when I insisted that she must work though the pay was not good. But I encouraged her to go and develop herself while she was working because of the pay. I encouraged her to work to relieve her from gossipping and all that. I won’t say it has been all rosy, but couples should understand each other.
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Is there anything your spouse does that you are not comfortable with?
Husband: Whenever I am driving and probably the driver of the oncoming vehicle puts on his headlamps in a way that would make me not to see well, if I decide to put on my own she would blame me saying that two wrongs do not make a right. If someone drives against me she would continue to blame me that I am the one at fault and our quarrel would start from there. The next problem was that of keeping the room neat, but I got a housekeeper and that problem was solved.
Wife: If you don’t give him food on time, he would bring the roof down. Aside that, he is a quiet person, you would force him to talk. But when he wants to make trouble you won’t force him to talk. But he is a very good cook.
Husband: The marriage has lasted because whenever I am angry, my wife knows that I am hungry. It is solved by her saying, ‘there is water on the fire,’ or ‘there is rice in the cooler.’ Even in the office, whenever I raise my voice, they know that I am hungry and one of them needs to go and get food.
Wife: My children would say that with daddy you can finish the pot, but with mummy, no way.
What’s his best food?
Wife: Okro soup.
How do you know when your spouse is angry?
Wife: His countenance would tell you.
Husband: Whenever she is angry, she would take it out on her children. She would shout and I would tell her that shouting would not solve the problem, and I try to resolve it. When the marriage was young, when she starts to cry I would know that the quarrel was over.
Wife: He says things that hurt.
Husband: Whenever I do that she would go into her room, and in the morning we would only see and greet.
Have you ever thought of walking out of this marriage?
Wife: It has never crossed my mind because I am from a polygamous home. My father married eight wives and had 39 living children as at the time he died and my mum left. I know what I passed through. So based on that experience, I never wanted another woman to raise my children. But in 2008 when my mother died, we have this culture of husband paying condolence visit. To my husband it was strange and to my mother’s family, it was a big slap, even to me too. It took a toll on our home. After my mum’s burial, I stayed at home for two months, but he finally did it when my father died. He also did it for my mum to avoid trouble. He wouldn’t have done my dad’s without doing my mum’s because my mum’s people would not allow that. If he had refused to do it then, whatever action my mum’s people take to cause trouble would be justified because that in their culture.
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Husband: Most homes are broken today because couples can’t tolerate the deficiencies of each other. Over the years we have learnt to believe in each other. My wife is from Urhobo, I’m Yoruba but somehow we have been able to blend. She blended more than me because she can speak Yoruba, but I can’t speak Urhobo.
Wife: Being from different backgrounds (Yoruba and Urhobo), we have different cultures and beliefs. But you have to be flexible for the home to move forward; you can’t be rigid. In cases where he stands his ground, I let go for the good of the home.
What’s your advice to men?
Husband: A man must understand his wife. My wife is domesticated to a particular level. In Yoruba land, you know the men, when we look back to the way our parents related, sometimes you want that kind of thing to happen in your marriage but some of us are born in jet age. She has tried in that area but you should also know that you can’t leave everything for your wife because sometimes misunderstanding erupts in doing these things. So you should be able to understand the capacity of your wife. We have travelled to England and spent about 2-3 years so we have been exposed. It has helped our marriage especially in Africa where they believe that the woman should do all the house chores, and go to the farm. Couples should be helpmate to each other.