Tonye Cole, an oil magnate and co-founder of the Sahara Energy Group, can’t be happier. He has so many reasons to be thankful to his Creator.
Tonye, one of the world’s most astute business leaders covers ThisDay Style magazine’s latest issue to mark his 50th birthday celebration which was in January.
In a recent chat with the magazine, Tonye, a cool father of three, talks about his life at 50 and his marriage to his wife of over 20 years, Dr. Sylvia Cole.
He also shares some interesting insight into the early years of his marriage, how he and his wife were able to rebuild their trust, which in turn resulted into building a strong family ties, his career and a whole lot more.
Read excerpts from the chat below…
On life at 50:
Life at 50 is a culmination of all the experiences you have garnered over the years and being able to look back at your life with no regrets while looking forward to the years ahead with excitement and expectation. that is certainly how I feel about myself at this moment.
On how he has been able to save his Marriage:
On this score, I have to put the credit down where credit is due and say only the almighty God made it possible. I caused my wife way too much pain in our early years of marriage and betrayed her trust too many times to mention. It was a period in my life I look back on in amazement knowing that by my own directions I was destroying the very fabric of my marriage, creating an unhealthy relationship at home and eroding the love that had brought us together in the first place.
All I can say is one day my eyes opened and I had to make a choice. Love God and save my marriage or continue on said path and irrevocably destroy everything held dear to me. The second I chose to love God, the slow but steady task of repairing our foundations, rebuilding my home, and regaining her trust began. It took years but it has been an incredible journey of rehabilitation and commitment which has not only resulted in the unashamedly public adoration for my wife you witness today but has blessed me to no small end in a far closer relationship with my God than I would have ever thought possible.
On factors that cause major problems in their marriage and how they can be addressed:
Money, Sex, and Religion are probably the three key things that cause incredible stress with marriages. An attempt to describe how best to address any on of them will require volumes of books yet unwritten. However, speaking from my own personal perspective, I would say trust, communication and living a life of integrity would largely address these issues.
Money used to be a divisive force in my house until the day I decided to become completely open with my wife, Sylvia on my finances. Not only did she know what my total income was, joint accounts were opened and she was given all the bank accounts to manage as she deemed fit. Amazingly, she did a far better job than I ever could have, the expenses dropped and peace as I hadn’t known descended upon our home.
Sex in marriages have been a battleground from time and whether it is dissatisfaction from within or the introduction of another party from without, the consequence is the same. Things simply deteriorate rapidly once that begins; the end result is that love dies in the home. I discovered that to deal with the first, i.e dissatisfaction, I had to banish the second and maintain the newness and pleasures needed to sustain monogamy, we needed to be able to talk freely about our needs, likes and dislikes.
On the things he finds most endearing about his wife:
Her honesty. Sylvia does not know how to pretend and will make known in short order the minute she doesn’t like a person or an action. I can trust her to filter people who come to us because I am the exact opposite in that department, overly trusting and open to welcoming and inviting any and everyone into my space. I also love the fact that she is a homebuilder. When I look at how our children have turned out and I reflect on how often I am on the road traveling, I can only marvel at the character of a woman that could produce such amazing children.
On steps he takes to ensure lines are not crossed with unwarranted female attention:
As long as there is life, even without money, there will be a sexual attraction of all sorts, male and female. It is only magnified by wealth. Two things keep me un-waveringly focused. Firstly, I do not forget experiences of many years that brought my marriage to its knees, nearly destroying it completely and how long it took me to rebuild all that was lost, especially trust. Secondly, I know the pact that I had to enter with my God before I was able to free myself from the self-created mess I found myself enmeshed in. I am totally conscious of the severity of the consequence of breaking that vow and I am unwilling to pay that price with a betrayal of God and my wife. It is absolutely a no-go are for me.
On advicing today’s youth not to lose hope in a better tomorrow:
Nigeria is like a refiner’s fire. If you set up a business and it survives the battles, hurdle, trial and tribulations of our business environment, there is nowhere in the world you will not succeed in and nothing you face that would frighten you.
On the advice, he gives people who are faced with challenges, despondency, and general low self-esteem:
I guess the answer to encourage the youths of today in a Nigeria that seems si challenging in every way is to look inwards at what you carry. Believe in yourself, as you are the best hope you have to overcome whatever you face that is deterring you. Look well beyond the challenges that are staring you in the face and stay focused on that vision you have in your mind that you believe is yours to attain and keep at it.
Someone once shared an Ikwerre fable with me, which has helped me immensely whenever challenges, trials, tribulations and/or prosecutions threaten to overwhelm me. It goes ”The mother bedbug and junior bedbug were chilling in the mattress when suddenly hot water was poured all over them in a bid to flush them out in the open to kill them. As junior, preparing to flee the hot temperature, attempted to run outside, the mother bedbug said to him ‘Endure even hot water dey cool down’”. To Nigerians I say endure this too shall pass.
Photo credit: THISDAY