For this couple from Agbor, Delta State, their love story started when a young school leaver, Patricia, walked into the premises of University of Benin Teaching Hospital, (UBTH), to seek for a job.
But little did she know that fate had a different role for her. From seeking for a job she eventually found not only a job but a husband. Four decades and a half down the line, Engineer Ukor, 75, and wife, Patricia, 70, have enjoyed conjugal bliss.
It is safe, therefore, to say that what UBTH has joined together has remained intact for all these years. It took the spirit of give-and-take, among other things, to keep it going. The couple shared the secret of their, apparently, successful marriage with Daily Sun… It is an interesting read.
Can you give us a brief of who you are?
Husband: I am Engr. Samuel Ukor. I retired as a Director of Works in the Local Government Service Commission, Delta State. I was the first engineer in the system in the local government service and retired in 2006. I am from Ute village in Ika North East LGA, Delta State.
Wife: I am Mrs. Patricia Ukor. I am an Ishan woman from Irrua in Edo State.
How long have you been married?
Husband: We have been married for about 45 years now to the glory of God. After the traditional marriage ceremony, we wedded in the Catholic Church at the Holy Cross Cathedral, Benin City in 1977. So, I can say that from our wedding day, it’s been about 42 years but we had been married traditionally, before we consummated it in the church.
Was there anything like courtship in your time?
Husband: Yes, of course. There was courtship.
How did you meet your wife?
Husband: We met in Benin when we were working together at the University of Benin Teaching Hospital. (UBTH) She was in the nursing services, while I was in the engineering department. I started service before her. It all started when she came to look for a job and she met me.
I told her that I wasn’t in a position to employ her but I knew someone who could help her in that regard. From that conversation, she got home and told her uncle who later followed up, called the man who eventually offered her a job opportunity.
Why didn’t you meet someone else?
Wife: Frankly, I didn’t go to him with the hope that he would marry me, someone told me to go to engineering department that I might find someone to make inquiries from. That was how I met him. I actually went with my sister. On our way, we saw two men. In our determination to secure any available employment opportunity, I told my sister to talk to the other man while I talked to him. That was how I met him.
After I had greeted him, I said: “Oga, I am looking for job”. And he told me that he was not an indigene of Benin but that he would direct me to someone who was in a position to help me. He directed me to one Prince Eweka. In excitement, I got home and informed my uncle. Prince Eweka later helped with all the process of getting me employed.
All this while, I didn’t see Engineer Ukor again. Then, after one week, the man who would give the appointment letter came with the letter to the engineer because he thought I knew him well since he saw us together. The man made inquiries about me from engineer but surprisingly he found out that the engineer didn’t know me beyond the hospital premises.
He promised to look for me and the man gave him my appointment letter. He traced me and came to give me the letter. When I came back to the hospital for documentation, we met again. He asked if I was married or single, I responded that I was not married then he told me to fill in his name in my form.
I laughed it off and told him that I wasn’t his wife. That was how we started. After I got the job, he started coming to help me. He would take me home on his motorcycle. One thing led to the other, like they say, and our relationship began.
What was the attraction?
Husband: The qualities I found in her was her truthfulness, humility and cheerfulness.
Wife: I had always disliked fat people from my childhood days. So, when he indicated his interest to marry me, I had seen that he was slim-figured and a quiet person and I liked him just the way he looked. Again, I concluded that he would not fight or beat me. These were my main attractions for him. I am happy that he still looks slim and fit even after these years.
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Was there any objection from your family for any reason?
Wife: I won’t say that it was a strong objection. However my junior brother had tried to dissuade me from marrying him saying that he was not rich and that he didn’t have anything. At that time, my parents had died but my sister had given us her consent.
When her brother raised an objection on the basis of your low financial status, initially, did it bother you?
Husband: I didn’t hear about it. It was her brother who told her and even if I had heard, I don’t think I would have bothered because the truth is that we don’t bring money from heaven. After all, when you struggle and work hard, riches would come and poverty would creep out. To the glory of God, for these years, we have managed to live well. It hasn’t been too rough or a complete smooth sail but that’s life. I think we have been comfortable.
Given the fact that both of you are from different cultural backgrounds, have you any regret in the union?
Wife: No, we have been living together like brother and sister. We help each other and he is a wonderful husband and family man. After working for some years, my husband said that he didn’t like me to work in the hospital again. I left the job and proceeded to Teachers’ Training College Abudu, in Edo State for my Teachers’ Grade 2 certificate courses. He saw me through college.
What has sustained your marriage since all these years?
Wife: I can say that it is based on understanding and our ability to accommodate our differences. Naturally, he is a very quiet man while I am hot-tempered. The secret is that when I am angry, he would keep quiet until when I calm down before he would reprimand me for not doing the right thing. But we settle our differences amicably without involving a third person.
What do you think is responsible for discord and problems in today’s marriages?
Wife: Money does not bring happiness in a marriage. More of what brings joy is your ability to understand yourselves, taking into consideration that both of you come from different backgrounds. Naturally, when you are courting, there is a tendency for the woman to hide some of her traits. They would begin to show as you journey into the marriage.
It takes the grace of God and one’s ability to tolerate in order to cope with such issues otherwise, he would begin to seek alternative options of either separation or outright divorce. So, it is on the other hand. But again, if both parties find it difficult to continue with the marriage on issues that are irreconcilable, it is better and advisable for them to separate. If the issues are not so difficult to cope with, you can accommodate each other and let things go.
You have lived together for a long time, what would you say is the guiding principle?
Husband: Like she said, when she is angry, I would go away instead of sitting down to trade issues with her. When she is talking, instead of aggravating the issues more by talking back, I would rather leave the environment. I like being myself and let things die down naturally. I like to have my peace.
How do you manage in times of disagreement?
Wife: I have learnt to accommodate and it is the magic of every successful marriage.
How do you settle your disagreement? Do you go to her?
Husband: She initiates the settlement.
Wife: When we quarrel, he would be moving up and down, maybe in the evening, I would sit him down and tell him that I am sorry for what might have happened. From time, I never wanted our children to know or see us quarrel. I had always liked us to settle our quarrel in our own way. It has always been let bygone be bygone. Even when he is supposed to buy something for me and hasn’t bought it, I won’t compare him with other men. That has been our style and it has been working for us.
Why did you ask her to change from nursing profession to teaching?
Husband: Teachers have a lot of time for themselves and I thought it would be good for her as we were getting ready to start a family. With teaching, she would have enough and quality time for the family. I just love teaching job for women.
When he asked you to change your profession, did you object to it?
Wife: No, I didn’t object to it because I knew that it was for the benefit of our young family. I still remember that it was when he was in the university that he suggested that. He was in his third year and one day, he came back and told me that he wouldn’t like me to continue with the job anymore.
Instead, I should prepare for the Teacher Training College in order to become a teacher. Initially, I didn’t want to, because of my young children but my sister encouraged me. That was how I went back to school, even as I was having my kids. It wasn’t easy, though, but with determination, I pulled through.
How did you cope with raising the kids and schooling at the same time?
Wife: I took them along with me to school where I was a day student. With the help of my sister and mother-in-law, I managed through it all. My husband was also very supportive.
Tags: Engineer Ukor, marriage, Patricia
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