Dr. Thomas (Tom) Aaze Adaba, first Director-General, Nigerian Broadcasting Commission (NBC), and, Theresa, his jewel of inestimable value have shared their thoughts on the increasing cases of divorce and how couples can avoid traveling the path.
The diamond couple who are retirees, parents of six children, four girls and two boys met and married through the assistance and recommendation of their parents. That was some 53 years ago.
“My contact with her in primary school made me have a fair idea of who she was,” Tom said about his impression when he eventually came, face-to-face, with his then wife-to-be, for the first time, during his posting to their school, as a trainee teacher.
“He was posted to teach us but I didn’t know that all the while he had his eyes on me,” his wife said while reacting to the revelation by her husband, of his secret admiration for her.
In an interview with DailySun– an interview in which the couple playfully poked fun at each other, from time to time throughout the duration – the duo briefly tell their love story.
They also spoke about how they gave birth and brought up their children, about five of whom are, today, accomplished broadcasters in their own right, just like their father, even though some of them read academic courses quite unrelated to the profession.
So how did you cope managing the home front and the kids while your husband was away?
Wife: I really thank God. It is God’s doing, it is not by my power. One thing is that in marriage, once you are determined that this is what you want to do and you met your parents doing the same, you have to exercise patience. When I was young, I observed my parents when they had misunderstandings, my mother would be the one to let things go and life would still continue.
So I had to handle anything that came my way in marriage with patience and with prayer. Because, once you believe in God and surrender everything to Him, there is nothing He cannot do. He has been faithful in many areas. So in marriage, you have to exercise patience, look unto God and don’t look outside.
Listening to both of you, it would seem as if you never quarreled in your marriage. Is that the case?
Wife: Since we got married he has never slapped nor quarrelled with me, not for once to date. Because if there is an issue particularly when I know that I am at fault, I would quickly apologize and adjust myself. And that is how life has continued to be. It is not that there had been no problems; there had been but you have to look unto God and take it easy especially when there are children involved. You need to think twice before you act.
Husband: Let me say that, yes, there were times that we had cause to quarrel but these are domestic things. Two plates cannot be in a basket without clinking but not anything that would go outside us, no. I thank and praise God Almighty for that, that He gave us that resilience.
Things that she didn’t like which I did or I didn’t like which she did, we quarreled about them and then went into our rooms and surrendered it to the Lord. By the time we get out, there is reconciliation, you know that the very presence of the Lord Jesus Christ has helped us a great deal in finding solutions to our problems. We beg for guidance, the Lord gives us.
Like she said, if she is at fault she accepts and apologizes, I do the same but not all the time. The good thing is that we have understood between the two of us that we have no reason whatsoever to take our issues to anybody else for adjudication.
It is the Lord God who does it for us. We have Him as the centre of our lives. The children grew up seeing that too. It is not as if we have not had misunderstandings but I think the only time I have had cause to invite anybody to any issue related to us, was when I invited our first daughter. She was already grown up.
I don’t remember what it was then but I was very hurt about it, so I had to call my daughter and I said: ‘this is what the situation is and it must stop’. And she also saw reason and we sorted it out. I said foreign body but she is not a foreign body, she is a serious insider, in fact, she is the first insider. But that is what I am talking about, we don’t need anybody to resolve our issues for us; the Lord is the only one we call upon.
Did you agree on the number of kids to have from the onset?
Husband: No, no, no. We never talked about it. Whatever the Lord brought our way, we accepted.
Did you play any role in the courses your children eventually studied in university or the careers they later decided to pursue in life?
Husband: Not at all. We were very, very free about this and I am very serious. Incidentally, the Lord blessed us with six children. What else are we asking for? We have four girls and two boys. It may interest you to know that Margaret, our firstborn, is into broadcasting; she is into communications with the United Nations now.
Elizabeth, our second born, is the one that is out of the system; she is an educationist and a pastor. She is married to a pastor in Jos. The third is Oyiza; she is a hardcore broadcaster, producer; she is doing a film now which will be out, by the grace of God, sometimes this year. It’s a big-time film, an autobiography. She is based in New York. The fourth one, Onimisi, is a broadcaster.
He started with Cool FM but he is now with TVC. The fifth one who is Inya, who we thought was going to be a vet doctor ended up being a broadcaster. One day, I asked her, ‘Inya, if you knew this was your interest, why did you make me waste my money, seeing you through all those years in veterinary medicine in school?’ and she had a very apt answer for me.
‘Daddy, that is my profession but what I am doing now is my passion.’ I said, ‘you knew it was your passion that is why you should have known much earlier on and saved me the money.’ Anyway, I have no regrets whatsoever; I am very, very proud of her.
In fact, the first day she took up broadcasting, her very first programme I listened to very, very intensely and very critically too. I must tell you I was very proud of her production, I told her a few hitches here and there. I expected much more but what I got was nothing compared to what was done. So she is doing well in broadcasting.
The sixth one, Inda, is a banker even though I hear him talking about broadcasting and I said: ‘look, I don’t want to hear that, when you guys were going into all these you didn’t tell me’. Anyway, there was no direct influence as such. But I believe that they saw what I was doing even though there is no money in it, but there was joy, commitment, dedication to that.
You know what you are giving out has an instance response, which could either be positive or negative and you, therefore, must work very hard to ensure people respond positively to what you are giving out. So it makes all the difference.
There are a lot of broken marriages today and domestic violence is on the increase. What is the secret of your marriage that you will want to share with couples out there?
Husband: The problem is societal. We have become too acquisitive; today, we have made money a small god, which it is not. We are after riches and unfortunately, our own religious leaders are into that and they are very bad examples of acquisition of wealth.
Even in prayers, they are praying for people to be rich as if that is the only prerequisite for making it on earth here and into heaven. I think that must be discouraged a great deal. Because, unfortunately, the younger minds are imbibing it and they are looking at money as the all-in-all.
If you are an ordinary person without money, nobody is going to marry you and as a result our younger ones are looking for ways and means of making that money by hook or by crook. And that is not leading us anywhere. If she had seen me that I was a teacher and as a result, she wouldn’t marry me even though teachers were some dignitaries then, what would have become of us? But she saw some innate qualities in me and I saw some innate qualities in her and we said we were meant for each other. Come thick or thin, we are together.
So, what advice do you have for younger ones?
Husband: The young ones these days must be ready to look at the individual, the inside of the individual rather than the acquisition of the individual. What does the person have? It is not what the person has that makes a good marriage. Yes, what somebody has will help to give you comfort alright but you know sometimes that comfort could just not be very intoxicating but very ruinous, it could destroy.
I have seen that over and over in quite a number of families, where the children were born into good money but they don’t know how to handle it. They ended up being drug addicts and what have you and in tatters. So I advise the young ones to look at what the person is and look at what the person can make in your life, with or without these external factors.
Ask yourself: am I going to find a companion, a brother or a sister who will understand me even more than my parents, in this person? If you are able to get that, then give thanks to God because all these other things will come in. And when marriage is contracted, know that the two of you are two individuals with very different individualities that are now being brought together; there has to be a spirit of give-and-take, there has to be a spirit of sacrifice.
If she was doing this before and then we get closer and I melt that out, if I was doing this before and she gets closer and melt that out, then a family is being formed. Not just the number of children but what you yourselves are at the point you get together, matters a great deal. That life of sacrifice, when the children begin to come in, both of us also begin to give it to our children
. That is sacrifice and it continues on and on. Let there be a very clear understanding that it is not what you have but what you are and what you mean to me that will make a whole lot of difference in marriage itself. In marriage, if there is no communication, it is a problem.
There is a story of a guy who made loads of money so much that he forgot about the wife. It got to the point that the wife was praying that the big contract that her husband was expecting to fail. This is because, when the man had nothing at the earlier stage of their marriage, he was a lot sweeter, a lot more human, a lot more interesting than this time when he has made this money.
He comes back to the house at 3 am tired and he is ready to go again at 7 am when breakfast will be ready. So these are all aspects that need to be taken seriously. Consider your partner in all that you do. Communicate but above all, you must have God. You must have Christ Jesus as the centre of your marriage.
I am not talking necessarily to a Christian audience but let God determine for you what you want to do. It doesn’t make you a robot but if it makes you a robot for God, so be it. But let God be at the centre and you will be the better for it.
Wife: My advice to young couples is that they should be patient in everything in life. Like my husband has said, when you are ready to get married, you have to realize that marriage is a journey, both of you have to be open to each other, respect each other so that things will go on smoothly. Let God be the only third person in your marriage.
Leave people out of your marriage and concentrate on your marriage. Be careful of friends especially the ladies. Yes, there are friends who are good but there are others with an unclear mind concerning you. Listen to the voice of God not people. Be careful about what you share with people concerning your home.
And the key thing is communication with your spouse. Keep malice out of your marriage. If you don’t talk how will he know what is bothering you or how will she know what is bothering you? Apologize to each other and life continues. When you understand your partner, hardly will you have problems. For the ladies, treat your husband with respect, no matter what because he is the head of the family. Even if your husband is weak, lift him up in prayers and things will become normalized.