Michael Ameh, from Okpokwu Local Government Area of Benue State, is a Chief Statistical Officer retiree from High Court of Justice, Makurdi.
Michael is married to Lucy, nee Ijagwu, from Apa Local Government Area of Benue State and a worker with the State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB), and the duo are blessed with four beautiful children: two boys and two girls.
In a recent chat with DailySun, in Makurdi, the two lovebirds share the experiences of their marital journey.
How did you meet before you eventually got married?
Husband: Well, by the grace of God I worship in Evangelical Church Winning All (ECWA). Many years ago while I was in the youth fellowship, we were having a sporting activity one fateful day when she came into the church with my sister-in-law, Mary Adaji, who is now a retired regional manager of UBA, to fetch water. That was the first time I set my eyes on her.
As soon as I sighted them, I went to greet them by the tap situated in the premises of ECWA church. When I got close, I greeted my in-law and jokingly told her that she had brought my wife. We both laughed about it. I then told her I was going to visit them the following day.
As I promised, I went to their house in the evening of that day and met her there. I greeted my sister-in-law and told her that I had come because of the person who came with her to fetch water at the church. After a day or two, I went back and told her that I was interested in her and I wanted to marry her.
I told her I hadn’t come to say “I love you” or anything but for marriage. She told me to give her some time to think and pray about it. That was in 1991.
Wife: That first time there was no attraction per say until I got closer to him. When we met at the tap, he came to give me tracts because their sports period was also a time for evangelism. So, he gave me tracts and said he was coming the next day. I didn’t know what he discussed with my aunty with whom I was staying.
I thought the visit was a follow-up on the tract he gave me. But when he came to the house, he told me he wanted to marry me and I told him that he should give me time. But when I saw him, I knew that he is actually born again. His faith in the Lord is what attracted me to him. He is a mature Christian.
What was the attraction? At what point did he propose? How did he propose and what was your response to his proposal?
Wife: Like I told you, there was nothing like ‘I love you’ when he came to propose to me. He didn’t come with sugar-coated words but he just went straight to the point that he wanted to marry me and I told him that he should give me time to pray about it. About three months after he proposed, I gave him a yes and we left Makurdi to go and see my parents in the village.
What were the hurdles, if any, that you had to cross when you followed your would-be wife to the village?
Husband: When I got to the village, I had no hiccups because I had done my homework very well. My late brother married Adaji’s younger sister. Then, when I got to the village, I didn’t go straight to my wife’s family house first. I had to follow due process by first going to my in-law’s house because my wife’s family is from the same village with my late elder brother’s wife.
I went through my in-law’s parents and told them why I came. I told them that I saw a lady in her sister’s place and I proposed to her and she had agreed to my proposal. My in-laws’ parents had to wade in to clarify if I could marry from that family. When they gave me the go-ahead, we now moved to my wife’s family house and everything went well.
How long did you have to court before you took her to the altar?
Husband: We courted for one year although we had few weeks of broken courtship. One day, I was in the house when she came with one of her friends who is now late. I served them food and they ate and then they broke the news that she’s no longer interested in the relationship. I asked if I did anything wrong and they said no.
I told her that if we were meant for each other, we would definitely come back together by God’s grace. I shared my views with my Pastor, Rev. Matthew Ameh, and some other brethren in the church and they all encouraged me that she would come back as they were praying for me. With that consolation, I was not worried. One day, I traveled and saw her and we reconciled. Six months later, we came together and got married.
Wife: I was still a teenager when we started courting. I think I was about 19-years-old then. And I was doing my NCE programme at the college of education. When he came to visit me in school, my friends would say: don’t I see the age gap between him and me? Some would say he’s your senior now.
Others would say he’s your father now. So, my friend and I just decided it was time to put an end to this whole thing. We packed all the things he bought for me, came and dropped them in his house and then dropped a letter under his pillow saying I was no longer interested in the relationship.
But he kept praying and I was praying too. Then, one day like he said, he was traveling and on his way, he stopped over in the school and we reconciled. He asked if he could come and visit me in the village and I said it was okay. Not too long after that period, we had our wedding.
Tell us the most memorable moment on your wedding day?
Wife: It was when we were exchanging rings. You know my husband plays a lot. As he was saying those vows, you could see him laughing and joking and you could hear side comments of people saying: ‘Kai! Mike is never serious about anything at all.’ So, I was really thrilled and happy that even things that people fear and take seriously, he’s not too serious about them. That gave me confidence that God would help us in the marital journey.
Husband: In addition to what she has said, I grew up without my mother and I looked at her as coming to replace my mother. I was emotionally moved that day that I lost my mother at a very young age and God is giving me another mother and a friend. There’s this saying that ‘after the wedding, comes the marriage.’
Could you tell us the challenges you faced after your wedding and how you were able to surmount them?
Husband: I can’t remember any challenge because when she agreed to marry me, I had nothing at all other than one bed in one room and parlour. I had no chairs but a mat in the parlour. When we were wedding she asked that I buy this big rubber for fetching water. So, I can’t pin down any serious challenge in our first few weeks of our marriage because I saw her as coming to replace my mother.
Could you recall your first quarrel?
Husband: We didn’t quarrel but we disagreed over issues. I can’t remember ever quarreling with my wife. Before venturing into marriage, I attended series of marriage seminars. That gave me that privilege of knowing the pros and cons of marriage. That has helped us a lot and that is why I can’t pinpoint a particular time when I had a quarrel with my wife.
Wife: After the wedding in the church, we came home with some of my relatives who escorted me: my parents, siblings and some cousins. The first challenge we had was that because we didn’t have any seat in the parlour, we were going to neighbours’ house to borrow benches whenever we had visitors.
So, I expected that after the wedding, the little money people sprayed on us at the reception would have been used to get a set of chairs but he said no. It was then he told me that he borrowed some money to transport some of our guests especially my people and others who came for the wedding. He said he would prefer to offset those debts than use the money to buy seats.
I got angry because I felt that we could use the money for seats before offsetting the bills later. That day we didn’t talk to each other. I think it was about six days later that we sat together, reconciled and started talking to each other and started discussing wedding gifts and the rest of them.
That was the first challenge we had but we prayed about it and asked God to give us wisdom to know what to do. Then, I made up my mind to calm down and follow him; if he says we should use the money to offset debts, then that’s what we would do and we did. Then, much later, I entered into contribution and we were able to raise money to make seats available in the house. That’s how God helped us to resolve that issue.
People believe that in-laws are necessary evil. From your experience, would you say that the saying is true?
Husband: From my experience, that saying is not true because I can sleep in my in-laws’ houses without any issue. They’re too kind. I’m not saying so because my wife is here but because that is the truth. I can drive to the village and sleep anywhere in my in-laws’ house. I have no problem with anybody and they have no problem with me. We are like a family.
Wife: One of the things people fear in marriage is the problem of in-laws. But I thank God that my in laws are good people. I didn’t meet my mother-in-law because my husband lost his mother before he married me but his father, though elderly, was very fond of me. My father-in-law would come to my house and whatever food I offered him, he would praise my cooking to high heavens.
So, I had no problems with him. One of the challenges I had earlier was when we were staying in a self-contain room and parlour apartment and my sister and my cousins were staying with us. Then my sister-in-law who graduated from the university and was looking for job also came and was staying with us. The house became crowded and she had this habit of going out and coming back late.
So, one day, she came and was offended. She quarreled with me but I knew she was having some challenges and that she was a little bit depressed that time. I knew her issue and I didn’t react. She was even insulting my mother and calling me all sorts of names but I understood that these people are just passing by and wouldn’t stay with us forever no matter how long they stay.
One day, they would have their homes and move out from my home. So, it was not a big deal for me. We prayed and counseled her and I think she saw with us. In later part of her life, she discovered the hurt she caused me and she apologized to me. As you can see, there are many children in my house. My sisters’ children are here. So, we don’t have problems with in-laws knowing that they cannot live with us forever.
What’s your advice to young and intending couples?
Wife: My advice is, if you enter into marriage with your own wisdom, you cannot succeed. The first thing then is to hand over their marriage to God. I also tell people, including my children, that they shouldn’t set standards that they cannot give. You want a tall man, a rich man and so on. Those standards are they God’s standards? Another thing is to respect your husband.
Many of us women, especially the Idoma women believe that provision of everything in the home should be the responsibility of the man. Time for those things are over. Whatever you can do to support your husband, do because times have changed. I remember when I was working in a private school, I was teaching as well as doing home and school lessons. I was making soap to sell.
I was doing all manner of things to support my husband because I know that his own resources was too meagre to fend for all of us. But these days, the young lady wants the young man to do everything. You will kill your husband before his time. So, they should learn to support and not to leave everything for the man. They must also respect their husbands no matter who they are or have.
Husband: My advice is: they shouldn’t walk by sight. Don’t wait to have all that you think you must have in life before you marry. If that person has a means of bringing food to the house, please, marry him. Intending couples and young couples should learn to be patient.
I have seen graduates who are butchers, Okada riders and so on. All they need is one breakthrough. Don’t look down on anybody because those graduates can be anything tomorrow. Parents too should be mindful of the kind of high standards they set for their children in marriage because this has led many young people into violent and abusive marriage.