Solomon Olumese and his wife, Mercy, nee Oziegbe have been married for 54 years. The couple met while Solomon was working at Ministry of Trade and Industry, Benin, and she had just left high school at Agbede.
In a new interview with Daily Sun, Elder Olumese, former Liaison Officer, Auchi Polytechnic, Edo State, and later, Deputy Administrator, Church of God Mission International and Mrs. Olumese, who retired as Administrative Officer, Auchi Polytechnic, shared the secret behind their long-lasting marriage as well as some pieces of advice for both the old and newly married.
While we thank God for keeping you together as husband and wife through these years, could you share with us how you met before two of you got married?
Husband: It was in January 1966 that my uncle, Prince Henry Okojie, of Uromi introduced a young lady from Obiedu to me. He was a tax collector and knew the Oziegbes well and wanted me to meet one of their pretty and well-mannered daughters, by name Mercy Ifada Oziegbe!
When my uncle introduced her to me, I was able to observe a striking similarity between us. She was the last of her three siblings and I was also the last of three siblings! That really touched me and I wanted to get to know her more.
I did keep more appointments with her and was very impressed with her amiable meek personality. And, I made the decision to get more acquainted with her. I eventually proposed to her and we got married in June 1966.
Was it the same thing with you, or, are there details you would like to add, at least on your own part?
Wife: I was a very young girl then and my father had already started planning for me to be married to a very wealthy man who was already married! I did not welcome this development. I wanted to be married to a husband I could call my own.
My mum was the only support for me as others wanted me to abide by my father’s decision without anyone asking for my opinion. However, when I met my husband, he was very handsome and bold. We started talking and soon got the approval of my mum but not my dad.
But later he had no choice but to accept when he knew I was adamant and convinced about whom to spend my future with. The rest is history! My father had to bless us and did not regret doing so, until he passed on.
Was there any opposition from anywhere, relatives, friends, to your marriage?
Husband: There was no opposition from my family. My dad, Prince Olumese Eromesele Ativie, had just passed on in April 1966 and there was a vacuum that needed to be filled! It dawned on me that there was need to have a suitable life partner that could fill that emptiness that the death of my father created at that time! I was fortunate that my family did not oppose my decision but stood by me from the onset.
Wife: There were several oppositions from my father and his brothers. They did not seem to want me to marry a struggling young man. Instead, they wanted me to be a second wife to a wealthy man. My uncles were not supportive because they supported my father’s wish to marry his daughter off to a rich married man.
I did not blame my father because he thought he did not want his daughter to suffer with a young man who was just starting life. Initially my mum was castigated for supporting me. She was molested for not persuading me to marry the other suitor who was rich but married.
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What made you decide to go for your wife out of the many ladies available for a pick within that period?
Husband: I discovered from my few visits from Benin to Uromi that she was very calm and from a good family! They had a good name and protected their name so well that I was very impressed. And, my uncle gave me his words that she was different and would make a good wife! I didn’t really have the time to know her for long but trusted my uncle’s recommendation and my instincts.
These days such may not be enough yardsticks to aid others in their lifetime decision-making! I also believe that what worked for me may not work for others. So be guarded in making any of the life’s major decisions like marriage which, to a large extent, will determine your future happiness.
What qualities made you choose him above other eligible bachelors or suitors within that period?
Wife: I was so young and naive and didn’t have a clue about marriage! However, I knew I was not cut for a married man. I wanted to marry a young man who, despite his lean resources, could work hard and earn a living that would give us a bright future together.
I was born into a polygamous home and didn’t like to marry into one. So when my husband came and I knew he was a young bachelor, that was it for me. I discussed with my mum who stood by me. I saw a handsome young hardworking man. I didn’t know too much about him but I loved what I saw when we met.
Could you remember your first misunderstanding in marriage and how did you handle it?
Husband: I vividly remember the first big misunderstanding we had as a couple. That was in late 1966 and my wife had relocated from Uromi to Benin City, where I was working with Ministry of Trade and Industry on Sapele Road Benin City. One day, I was at work and her uncle’s wife came on a visit and was, apparently, shocked by our state of penury.
The room was almost empty of any good furniture and luxury of life! She tried to convince my wife to pack out and come to stay with her. She would introduce her to a rich man, she said, who would help her life! Unknown to her, I was by the window and heard some of what she said! I walked in and confronted this relative.
She was shocked at my action! My wife felt bad that I walked her uncle’s wife out of our house and we had a big quarrel that evening! However, we were able to settle the matter amicably without calling on any of our relatives living in Benin with us at that time.
Wife: We had a big disagreement after my uncle’s wife who had come to check on me after moving to Benin City, was walked out! She was concerned about my welfare since I was very young and inexperienced. Her husband really loved me before he died suddenly.
He had promised to help me further my education! She was not happy that I was married at so young an age, and worse still, to a young civil servant who could barely feed himself. She advised me to pack up my things so that she would take me to meet and marry a military officer who was wealthy and well-connected in society.
My husband walked into our discussion and stopped by the window and heard everything. We were able to resolve the issue between us because I didn’t say a word but went on to make him a dinner without complaint. I did not argue with him but went on, for days, as if nothing happened.
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And, what do you like most about your spouse?
Husband: My wife is very beautiful inside and outside! Her beauty from outside speaks so much about the inside! She is an amazing and amiable, easygoing woman, so gracious and gentle! She is patient and kindhearted! She is non-judgmental and minds her business! She does not get on the phone to discuss other people’s matters like it is rampant these days.
My wife is God-fearing and purpose-driven. She is resilient and sacrificing at all costs without blinking an eye. My wife is a loyal friend that is born for adversities. She is a problem-solver and a good cook. She is very neat and homily! She is very peaceful and caring! She has a calm spirit and is not proud! She loves to help others without complaining. She is respectful. She is an honourable, virtuous woman. She is humble and very accommodating. My family is now her family.
Wife: My dear husband is a selfless, sacrificial provider for his family who can go the extra mile to ensure that we are all safe and secured! He does not play with his wife and children and can wear same clothes to make sure we have enough food and resources!
He loves God and serves Him faithfully with full allegiance. He is a doting husband and dedicated father and grandpa! My husband is kindhearted and caring! He is very industrious and hardworking! He cares for his family and others! He is passionate about helping widows and orphans! He is full of wisdom and knowledge of everyday living.
He is not greedy! He is tenacious and strong. He is a role-model for his children and future generations. He loves to dress nicely and to eat good food. He is very intelligent and knowledgeable! He does not forget easily and he is a good writer.
What advice do you have for a young bachelor who intends to marry?
Husband: A young bachelor should be able to tolerate his wife. There is no perfect marriage but a perfect God can always help us perfect all that concerns our marriage. Know that marriage is a journey and school with several different courses and we should handle it with care at all times.
Be resilient in keeping your marriage vows! Know that weddings are short but marriage is a lifetime commitment. Make preparations to fight for your marriage at all costs! Put God first and He will guide and guard your ways throughout the journey.
Issues or problems should be settled at home without external interferences! Third parties have done more harm than good to marriages. Always look for the good in your wife and there are many to see! Know that to become a man is not a day’s job because “the difficulty in attainment increases the value of the object.”
So never forget this in fighting for your marriage. If Jesus is the centre of your marriage then challenges are mere bread for you by the grace of God.
What advice do you have for a spinster who intends to marry?
Wife: Spinsters should be tolerant and not open to looking out for faults! We are mere humans and at such likely to have faults, so we should overlook those faults which are weaknesses and build on the strengths of your partner. Pray together, plan together and eat together!
Enjoy sleeping in the same room in order to enjoy unlimited love and time together! Do not involve third parties in your marriage! Only God should be allowed in your marriage! Do not compare your husband with other men. Men don’t like to be compared with others.
Comfort your husband. Let him walk through the door and find comfort and solace in his wife. Do not insult or degrade him at any time! Motivate him at all times as much as possible! Be his greatest cheerleader and do not let him down!
Like the virtuous woman, help him to build a formidable family that is hinged on the mercies of God. Share in his pains and glory in his success! Decorate him with accolades that will sustain his spirit when he wants to be down.
In the light of rampant divorce cases these days, from your own personal experiences, what pieces of advice would you want to give to newly married couples on how to make their marriage last as long as your own has lasted?
Wife: From our 54 years experience, we should forget our family backgrounds and stop being controlled! Even if you are the bread owner, you have no right to insult and debase your wife. If your husband is the sole provider he has no right to molest his wife! You both own everything together! Marriage carries with its assets and liabilities. So we must not forget!
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Husband: Tolerance is a big factor. Never forget the phrase “tolerance of the intolerable.“ We do not support abuse or neglect in any form. New couple should not keep secrets from each other and should be open. But do not tell your family secrets to others.
I was a young man from a poor background but my wife chose me. I was a poor man but today God has been faithful to us! We have seven children with nine grandkids to the glory of God. He has kept us through the storms and waters and kept our feet from falling. Have a family altar where you meet to discuss with God and plan for the future together! Read the Bible together and pray together always. Worship together! There is greatness in togetherness.
Learn to appreciate each other and do not take your union lightly! Value each other and don’t forget to express your love to each other. Stay in love! It’s easy to fall out of love if we do not sustain it. It’s like having a garden. You must groom it to bring out the best.
Tags: Advise, marriage, Mercy Olumese, Solomon Olumese, Young couples
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